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Artificial Intelligence

The physical robot constructed from Lego Mindstorm kits

Everyone knows that, unless you’re extraordinarily gifted, you need to crawl before you can walk. Turns out the same principle could also apply to robots. In a first-of-its-kind experiment conducted by University of Vermont (UVM) roboticist Josh Bongard created both simulated and physical robots that, like tadpoles becoming frogs, change their body forms while learning how to walk. He found that these evolving robots were able to learn more rapidly than ones with fixed body forms and that, in their final form, the changing robots had developed a more robust gait.  Read More

Newly-developed software allows computers to identify emotions in human speech (Image: Dde...

Getting a computer to understand what a person is saying is one thing, but getting it to understand how they’re saying it is another. If we’re ever to see a system that truly comprehends the meaning behind the words – and not just the words themselves – then such systems will need to be able to put the words in context. Researchers from Spain’s Universidad Politécnica de Madrid are trying to achieve this by developing an application that allows computers to accurately recognize human emotions based on automated voice analysis.  Read More

The system detects the parts of a person's upper body

Currently, computer search and classification of images is based on the name of the file or folder or on features such as size and date. That’s fine if the name of the file reflects its content but isn’t much good when the file is given an abstract name that only holds meaning to the person providing it. This drawback means companies in the search business, such as Google and Microsoft, are extremely interested in giving computers the ability to automatically interpret the visual contents and video. A technique developed by the University of Granada does just that, allowing pictures to be classified automatically based on whether individuals or specific objects are present in the images.  Read More

Studded with magnets and electronic muscles known as actuators, a prototype robot develope...

If they were real, the Transformers harking from Cybertron would be considered pretty remarkable pieces of machinery. But their transforming abilities are limited to just two forms. By combining origami and electrical engineering, researchers at MIT and Harvard are working to develop the ultimate reconfigurable robot – one that can turn into absolutely anything. To test out their theories, the researchers built a prototype that can automatically assume the shape of either an origami boat or a paper airplane when it receives different electrical signals.  Read More

Kaicheng Liang, a recent graduate who worked on the biopsy robot (photo courtesy of Duke P...

A robot guided by 3-D ultrasound and artificial intelligence has demonstrated it can locate lesions in simulated breast and prostate tissue and take biopsies without human assistance. A team of bioengineers at Duke University, North Carolina, 'souped up' an existing robot arm with a purpose-built ultrasound system which acts as the robot's 'eyes' by collecting data from its scan and locating its target. An artificial intelligence program processes the real-time 3D information from the ultrasound and gives the robot specific commands to perform using a mechanical 'hand' that can manipulate the same biopsy plunger device used by doctors.  Read More

A smoke visualization still of the actual vortex wake behind our glider during a free-flig...

Most airplane landings are less than graceful. The aircraft slowly maneuvers into an approach pattern, begins a long descent, and then slams on the brakes as soon as it touches down, which barely seems to barely bring it to a rest a mile later. Birds, however, can switch from barreling forward at full speed to lightly touching down on a target as narrow as a telephone wire. MIT researchers have now given a foam glider this same ability using a new control system that could have important implications for robotic planes, greatly improving their maneuverability and potentially allowing them to recharge their batteries simply by alighting on power lines.  Read More

UC3M's technology analyzes the actions of players to determine which plays will work best

If there’s one thing that sports fans love to debate, it’s coaching strategies. “Why didn’t he keep more players back to play defense?” “How come he had him pass instead of run with it?” “He should never have let that guy bat when the bases were loaded!” Such discussions could seemingly go on forever, as it’s impossible to definitively say what the right course of action would have been... or maybe not. Artificial intelligence researchers at Spain’s Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) are developing technology that could analyze a team’s performance, then objectively determine the best plays for specific situations.  Read More

The US Navy's Octavia robot

If members of the armed forces are going to be regularly interacting with robots, and it seems likely that such will be the case, then they had better be comfortable around those robots. The last thing a soldier, pilot or sailor needs is to be staring at some creepy-looking humanoid machine, and saying, “Um, listen, I want you to... ah, screw it, I’ll do it myself.” That’s the thinking behind an initiative from the US Navy Center for Applied Research in Artificial Intelligence (NCARAI), which has been working on natural human-robot interaction. If sailors can communicate with a robot through human-to-human style speech and gestures, it is thought, then they will be able to concentrate more on the task at hand, and less on the interface. NCARAI’s latest attempt at an easy-to-relate-to robot, named Octavia, was presented to the public for the first time recently in New York City.  Read More

Autonomous underwater vehicle to study Deepwater Horizon oil spill

With the latest attempt to stem the oil flow from the Deepwater Horizon oil well by pumping heavy drilling liquids into the well having failed, there is still no end in sight to the disaster that began more than a month ago. To help shed some light on where oil is spilling beneath the ocean surface and to aid biologists and others understand the effects of this catastrophic event, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute’s (MBARI’s) Division of Marine Operations has sent a high-tech robotic submersible to the oily waters of the Gulf.  Read More

NASA has given its Opportunity Mars Rover the ability to make its own choices about which ...

NASA’s Opportunity is a Mars Rover that just won’t die. In fact, Opportunity is just getting better – and smarter – with age. Originally slated for a 90-sol (that’s 90 Mars days) mission when it landed at Meridiani Planum on Mars on January 25, 2004, Opportunity is still turning up for work and functioning effectively in its seventh year on the red planet. And unlike some of us who are losing our faculties as we age, Opportunity has been given a new capability to make its own choices about whether to conduct additional observations of rocks that it spots on arrival at a new location.  Read More

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