Soon, when you want your helper robot to wash the dishes or fetch you a cold one, you may have to say it in a different way. Like "butij pimo lupuma." (Get that bottle.)
Researchers at Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands are working on a spoken language for robots, built with both human brains and robot simplicity in mind. ROILA, or Robot Interaction Language, is intended to be easy for people to learn and easy for robots to understand.
An Army-funded research group at Carnegie Mellon University, working with engineers at Piasecki Aircraft Corporation, has made a huge leap forward -- or perhaps skyward -- for the future of autonomous flight. In mid-June, the team launched an unmanned helicopter and watched it land several minutes later, after negotiating an in-flight obstacle course. But unlike previous unmanned helo flights, this one required no human input whatsoever; for the first time ever, a full-sized helicopter made a fully autonomous flight.
Add gumshoe detective to NASA's resume. Last year, scientists from the space agency working with the US Geological Survey and the Menlo Park District Attorney's office solved an 18-year-old murder case using technology developed for autonomous Earth science missions, NASA has announced.
Not that soldiers on the North Korean side of the demilitarized zone can read this tale of Western decadence, but if they could they would do well to take note: South Korea has deployed two $334,000 robotic sentries armed with automatic weapons and 40-millimeter grenade launchers along the tense border region bisecting the Korean peninsula.
Next time you're marveling at the fact that Spirit and Opportunity have been roving Mars for over six years now, ponder this: the two Voyager spacecraft have been hurtling through our solar system for nearly 33 years. Today, Voyager 1 hits a mission milestone of operating continuously for 12,000 days. The spacecraft launched on September 5, 1977, while Jimmy Carter was president, and has now traveled 14 billion miles.
Nuclear energy is looking like it will be a big part of a fossil-fuel-free future in the U.S. But the big question remains as big as ever: What's to be done with the waste it generates?
By Katie Peek with additional reporting by John BradleyPosted 07.13.2010 at 12:59 pm 22 Comments
In our Future of the Environment issue, we mentioned one visionary's suggestions: self-sinking tungsten spheres that stash spent nuclear fuel deep beneath the Earth's surface. That idea is a long way from reality, but in our green-energy-starved present, it may be worth considering all options, no matter how wacky. Here are a few other pie-in-the-sky ideas.
If those new airport X-ray scanners offend your modest sensibilities, you may not want to read this. A new terahertz remote sensor may soon be able to see through walls, packaging materials, and even clothing from thousands of feet away, identifying materials contained inside through their unique spectral signatures.
UPenn's quadcopters are learning new tricks. We were impressed last month when video emerged of the autonomous 'copters ducking through very tight spaces with startling agility. Now, the GRASP Lab's tiny aircraft have learned to work in teams to lift heavy payloads with surprising grace.
A satellite that will help scientists understand the solar system's largest planet is being outfitted with some special interplanetary armor.
The Juno spacecraft will study Jupiter's powerful radiation belt, but it has to be built to survive that radiation. Engineers recently added a special shield around the spacecraft's electronics, turning it into a Jovian armored tank, says its principal investigator, Scott Bolton, based at Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio.
In orbit, debris as small as a metal screw can cripple a vehicle or kill an astronaut. Here are five ideas for cleaning up the growing band of trash circling Earth
By David KushnerPosted 07.13.2010 at 10:05 am 1 Comment
One Friday last November, the six astronauts onboard the International Space Station received an urgent warning from mission control: Watch out for space junk. A piece of orbital debris, possibly a chunk of satellite, was hurtling toward the station. A direct hit could break through the hull. The crew prepped for escape.