April 14, 2014 |
BEIJING - Investigators looking for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 have put away their towed pinger locator and are about to call off searches for surface debris. Now, it's all up to a little yellow robotic submarine to find the missing Boeing 777 in an area bigger than the city of Los Angeles. Technicians aboard the Australian ship Ocean Shield on Monday afternoon deployed the Bluefin-21 underwater autonomous vehicle in the Indian Ocean, sending it almost three miles down to the seabed and using its side-scanning sonar arrays to look for wreckage from the plane. “It is time to go underwater,” retired Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, who is coordinating the search from Perth, Australia, said in announcing the new phase of operations. Unless the robot sub gets lucky, the process could take a while: The U.S. Navy, which lent the Bluefin-21 to the search team, said mapping the area where the plane most likely disappeared could take six weeks to two months. The 16-foot, 1,650-pound sub moves at a walking pace and will be searching an area of about 600 square miles.
April 1, 2014 |
Whether you've tracked in snow, mud, dirt or sand, there's no reason you should trouble yourself with scrubbing the floors of your weekend getaway or vacation rental. Just let loose the new Scooba 450 , a little robot floor mopper from the same folks who created the popular do-it-itself iRobot Roomba carpet vacuum. The Scooba 450 is a 14 1/2 -inch-diameter rechargeable disk that automatically propels its 9-pound self across wood, tile (or any uncarpeted floor), spinning and spiraling around the room, its sensors gauging the size of the floor, and redirecting its efforts when it bumps into a wall or other obstruction.
April 1, 2014 |
Shares of Intuitive Surgical Inc. jumped more than 12% Tuesday after the Sunnyvale company said the Food and Drug Administration had approved the latest version of its robotic surgical system. The company said in a statement that its new Da Vinci Xi system has longer, thinner arms that provide greater range of motion and can be used in more types of procedures than earlier models. "Our goal is to develop technology that enhances surgical performance," said Gary Guthart, Intuitive's president and chief executive.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 14, 2014 |
Jerry Lockenour couldn't predict what lay ahead for him 25 years ago when he stashed the Los Angeles Times' Magazine on a cabinet shelf. The April 3, 1988, magazine's cover illustration showed bubble-shaped cars traveling in "electro lanes" on a double-decked, high-rise-lined 1st Street in downtown's Civic Center area. The cover's headline was "L.A. 2013: Techno-Comforts and Urban Stresses - Fast Forward to One Day in the Life of a Future Family. " Inside was a lengthy essay that described a day in the life of a fictional Granada Hills family in April 2013.
March 13, 2014 |
Think of a robot. Chances are you imagined one with legs like C-3PO of "Star Wars" fame or something with wheels like NASA's Mars rover Curiosity . Neither of these rigid body types are particularly flexible and certainly can't move through water well. But what about a robot with a tail? Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have designed a soft robot based on a fish, which can bend its body and quickly flee the way that real fish do to escape predators. Typical robots are rigid with exposed mechanisms and unnatural movement, but the fish described in the first issue of the new journal Soft Robotics is covered in a soft silicone skin.
March 12, 2014 |
It's the biggest sporting event at Caltech. Six teams competed in the annual robot competition at the Pasadena school on Tuesday. Their homemade creations -- built over 20 weeks for $800 -- rolled, climbed and flew with a goal of getting an empty can onto a 5-foot, pyramid-shaped platform. The Pasadena Star News reports the winner of the "Raiders of the Lost Can" competition, held inside the school's Brown Gymnasium, was a team named ... 40 Pc Chicken McNuggets. This is the mechanical-engineering highlight of the year in a land of brainiacs and gear heads, nerd nirvana for the people who will someday be your boss.