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Robotics

Japanese researchers develop six-legged "Asterisk" robot that can pick up objects

Fans of the sci-fi film Minority Report will no doubt recall the autonomous insect-like searcher robots deployed to find Tom Cruise's character mid-way through the flick. While not as elegant (or sinister) as its film counterparts, the Asterisk robot being developed by the Arai Robotics Lab at Osaka University in Japan does an excellent job of resembling a big, mechanical bug with some interesting skills. After over six years of development, this unusual "limb-mechanism" robot now boasts an impressive array of functions that may soon find it performing vital tasks in numerous areas of society, including search and rescue.Read More

Bicycles

Pedal Powered Talk Show combines a cargo bike and a TV interview set

The guys over at Portland, Oregon’s Metrofiets are a pretty talented bunch when it comes to designing cargo bicycles for more than ... well, for more than hauling cargo. Not long ago, they made headlines with their Beer Bike, that incorporates a tap-equipped wooden bar, space and hardware for two kegs, and a rack created specifically for carrying pizza boxes. They’ve also built bikes that have served as a mobile coffee shop, and as a go-anywhere bicycle repair station. Their latest creation, however, is aimed at the world of broadcasting – it’s a two-wheeled human-powered talk show set.Read More

Drones

Vision-based system that imitates insects designed to improve navigation of UAVs

Along with the well known defense applications, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are also used for crop dusting, bushfire and environmental monitoring, and infrastructure inspection. Such applications can see them flying close to the ground and amongst obstacles meaning it is of the utmost importance for pilotless craft to be able to accurately determine their heading and orientation to the ground. By imitating the method insects employ, Australian researchers have designed a vision-based system to provide real-time guidance for these eyes in the skies. Read More

Computers

Dell launches Alienware Aurora gaming rig

Alienware, Dell's subsidiary responsible for designing gamer-centric PCs, has updated its lineup of desktop PCs with the Alienware Aurora R4. Like all Alienware offerings, the specs are customizable with the Aurora R4 offering a choice of Intel Core i7 3000-series six-core CPUs, dual high-end GPUs from AMD or NVIDIA and up to four HDDs or SSDs. It's also equipped with liquid CPU cooling, active venting and an easily openable micro ATX chassis with external and internal lighting, while the famous alien head logo serves as a power button. Read More

Robotics

Oculus telepresence robot incorporates user's existing netbook

When you think about it, telepresence robots are quite a neat idea. Not only do they allow you to see and converse with people in another location through video conferencing, but you can also move them about within that location – almost as if you were there in person, walking down the halls. Such devices typically don’t come cheap, however. As with other robots, part of what you’re paying for are their computerized “brains,” along with all of their input/output peripherals. The Oculus Telepresence Robot, however, takes a different approach. It utilizes a user-supplied netbook to serve as its brains, eyes, ears and vocal cords. This results in a lower price, potentially opening up telepresence technology to people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford it.Read More

Children

Santa gets his own Google Voice number, makes and receives holiday calls

Who wants to send Santa a wish list when you can just call him instead? Santa has scored his very own Google Voice number, a number you or your children can call the jolly old man at and say hello, or detail what you'd like to see under the tree. Santa is obviously pretty busy this time of year, so chances are you're going to get his voicemail rather than the man himself. This morning his outgoing message indicated he and Mrs. Claus were working on decorating the tree, but offered the option to leave a message he could check when the tree decorating was complete.Read More

Laptops

GammaTech unveils its rugged Durabook R13C convertible notebook

Laptops and now tablets are essential to our daily lives – both business and leisure – but take that computer outside beyond a sidewalk café, and you'll realize this device is really out of its element. For those who work in the field, more than just a plastic or thin metal shell is required to protect their hardware. The R13C convertible computer from GammeTech has all the features to pass Military Standard 810G certification, and then some.Read More

Computers

Orange Amps upgrades OPC specs, reduces cost

The combined computer and guitar amp introduced by Orange Amps last year - and which subsequently found itself being used in a successful Guinness World Record attempt by fingerboard speed king Tiago Della Vega - has just had some of its internals upgraded, and been given a bit a price cut, too. The Windows 7 OPC is now available with up to Core i7 processing power and 8GB of DDR3 RAM, USB 3.0 port connectivity and hundred of dollars worth of bundled music-related software.Read More

Space

Undersea neutrino observatory to be second-largest human structure

An audacious project to construct a vast infrastructure housing a neutrino observatory at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea is being undertaken by a consortium of 40 institutes and universities from ten European countries. The consortium claims that KM3NeT, as it is known, will "open a new window on the Universe," as its "several" cubic kilometer observatory detects high-energy neutrinos from violent sources in outer space such as gamma-ray bursts, colliding stars and supernovae.Read More

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