November 13, 2012 |
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.
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.
February 14, 2014 |
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.
October 17, 2011 |
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.
January 2, 2014 |
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.
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. Go to: http//www.latimes.com/launchpoint/