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CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
January 19, 2000
Robots have moved out of the realm of science fiction. Today, these human-like machines can retrieve books for library patrons, assemble products for manufacturing companies, assess damage in radioactive accidents and investigate the wonders under the sea and in outer space. Explore the world of robots and learn about their history, uses and construction through the direct links on The Times' Launch Point Web site: http://www.latimes.com/launchpoint.
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CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 14, 2014 | By Bob Pool
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.
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SCIENCE
February 14, 2014 | By Amina Khan, This post has been updated. See note below.
Imagine a team of workers that can tirelessly build and rebuild complicated structures even under daunting and dangerous conditions. They already exist - they're called termites. Now, inspired by these mound-building insects, Harvard University scientists have created a mini-swarm of surprisingly simpleminded robots that can work together to construct buildings much larger than themselves. The findings, described in the journal Science, present an important step toward designing robots that may one day be able to build research facilities in the deep ocean, buildings on Mars or even levees at a flood zone during an emergency - jobs that are far too hazardous or expensive for human workers to do. [Updated 11:28 a.m. Feb. 14: "It's a very impressive accomplishment," said Hod Lipson, a roboticist at Cornell University, who was not involved in the study.
SCIENCE
March 13, 2014 | By Amina Khan
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.
NEWS
November 13, 2012 | By Jon Healey
In my previous post, I described the potential for a new era of automated manufacturing in which it's easier for entrepreneurs to create products but harder for workers to find jobs on the assembly line. A contrary note was sounded, ironically, by a robotics executive, who insisted that the next generation of smart machines would make human employees more valuable, not more dispensable. The executive, Rethink Robotics' Rodney Brooks, didn't offer any concrete examples to support his argument.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 14, 2014 | By Bob Pool
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.
BUSINESS
September 29, 1997 | LEE DYE
If I remember the Popular Science and Mechanix Illustrated magazines of my youth correctly, by the end of the millennium we are supposed to relax in our easy chairs while robots mow our lawns, wash our windows and vacuum our rugs. Well, the year 2000 is nigh upon us, and around my house, humans are still the only robots doing those chores. But while I still have to mow my own lawn, there is a growing chance that if I ever need brain surgery, a robot will do the job.
HEALTH
October 17, 2011
Paro may be the most famous companion robot around today, but he's likely to have some competition before too long. Here are a few others currently in the works: The "emotion bear. " It laughs. It sneezes. It waves. It strikes up a conversation. And if nothing much is going on, it falls asleep. A concept currently being tested by Fujitsu in Japan, the "emotion bear" can sense when people are near and turn to face them. And when it gets to know people well enough, it can tell what mood they're in - and behave accordingly.
SCIENCE
January 2, 2014 | By Amina Khan
Gecko's sticky feet seem to let the little climbing lizards crawl wherever they want. Now researchers have used the gecko feet's trade secrets to let robots use that climbing power in space. The idea, which received backing from the European Space Agency, mimics the pads of the gecko's feet to allow small robots to climb up the hulls of larger spacecraft to maintain and even repair them. Such repair bots could extend the lives of expensive spacecraft, save them from sudden and untimely deaths, and perhaps one day minimize risky spacewalks for future astronauts.
HEALTH
October 17, 2011 | By Chris Woolston, Special to the Los Angeles Times
Robots aren't known for their soft side. They build cars and defuse bombs; they don't, as a rule, make friends or deal with feelings. But a few groups of researchers around the world are working to build robots for an unusual purpose: Making emotional connections with autistic children who often struggle to interact with humans. There's something about machines that really seems to resonate with many kids with autism, says Maja Mataric, co-director of the Robotics Research Lab at USC. These children often have trouble reading human emotions and social cues - complexities they don't have to worry about when they're around a mechanical being.
NEWS
March 12, 2014 | By Amy Hubbard
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.
ENTERTAINMENT
March 5, 2014 | By Oliver Gettell
The new trailer for "Transformers: Age of Extinction" warns that "The rules have changed," but based on the images glimpsed within, there's still plenty of the robotic mayhem, booming explosions and large-scale destruction that Michael Bay and his blockbuster franchise are known for. Written by Ehren Kruger, who penned the previous two "Transformers" movies, and directed by Bay, who has directed each installment but says this fourth one will be...
SCIENCE
February 14, 2014 | By Amina Khan, This post has been updated. See note below.
Imagine a team of workers that can tirelessly build and rebuild complicated structures even under daunting and dangerous conditions. They already exist - they're called termites. Now, inspired by these mound-building insects, Harvard University scientists have created a mini-swarm of surprisingly simpleminded robots that can work together to construct buildings much larger than themselves. The findings, described in the journal Science, present an important step toward designing robots that may one day be able to build research facilities in the deep ocean, buildings on Mars or even levees at a flood zone during an emergency - jobs that are far too hazardous or expensive for human workers to do. [Updated 11:28 a.m. Feb. 14: "It's a very impressive accomplishment," said Hod Lipson, a roboticist at Cornell University, who was not involved in the study.
BUSINESS
January 27, 2014 | By Salvador Rodriguez
Google has purchased DeepMind, a British artificial intelligence company whose goal reportedly is to make computers think like humans. The Mountain View, Calif., tech giant confirmed the deal with technology blog Recode , formerly known as AllThingsD, which first reported on the deal. The British Independent said Google is paying more than $500 million. The Independent also said Google beat out Facebook for the acquisition of the London startup. PHOTOS: 10 ways to use the sharing economy With the deal, Google appears more interested in talent than anything else.
SCIENCE
January 2, 2014 | By Amina Khan
Gecko's sticky feet seem to let the little climbing lizards crawl wherever they want. Now researchers have used the gecko feet's trade secrets to let robots use that climbing power in space. The idea, which received backing from the European Space Agency, mimics the pads of the gecko's feet to allow small robots to climb up the hulls of larger spacecraft to maintain and even repair them. Such repair bots could extend the lives of expensive spacecraft, save them from sudden and untimely deaths, and perhaps one day minimize risky spacewalks for future astronauts.
SCIENCE
December 30, 2013 | By Amina Khan
Among all the challenges of sending robotic explorers to other planets and moons, nailing the landing has to be the most nail-biting part. Now, a team at NASA's Ames Research Center in Mountain View has devised a strange, flexible "super ball bot" concept that could take a rough landing on another world's surface and use the same structure to start rolling like a tumbleweed around the terrain. The super ball bot is unlike any landing gear ever sent to another planet. For example, the 2004 Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity essentially used a giant airbag ball to cushion the spacecraft as it bounced across the surface.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
August 22, 2009 | Nicole Santa Cruz
A Torrance hospital held a baby shower this week for an unlikely addition: A 7-pound robotic baby named Simantha. The $35,000 baby "born" May 30 will serve as an educational tool for students and staff members in the clinical skills lab at Torrance Memorial Medical Center. Simantha joins three robotic adults: Stan D. Ardman (a play on the phrase "standard man"), Brittnay and Jake, who is called Jessica when staff members use her as a female. John Edwards, the clinical skills simulation technician who runs the lab and maintains the robots, was beaming like a proud father at the baby shower, he said.
BUSINESS
December 30, 2013 | By W.J. Hennigan and Richard Simon
WASHINGTON - Although California is home to some of the nation's biggest drone manufacturers, the state was passed over Monday when the federal government picked six sites across the nation for testing the use of robotic aircraft in U.S. airspace. The testing is designed to help the Federal Aviation Administration meet a 2012 congressional mandate to open the skies to remotely piloted aircraft, or drones, by 2015. Disappointed California officials were at a loss to explain their failure to land a test site, though some suggested the state didn't do enough to win in the fierce nationwide competition.
SPORTS
December 27, 2013
As we finish off 2013, here are a few things I'd like to see in the sports world for the New Year: •An official announcement from the NFL that Los Angeles will finally have a team again (preferably the Rams, back where they belong). The end of sideline reporters. There is nothing more annoying in sports than a sideline reporter shoving a microphone into a coach's face during the game or as he's trying to get to the locker room at halftime. Speaking of annoying, it's time for Fox Sports to lose the NFL robot jumping around the television screen.
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