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Computer-controlled

Prof. Mo Rastgaar (left) and PhD student Evandro Ficanha, with the leg and its testing rig...

Although computer-controlled artificial legs have been around for a few years now, they generally still feature an ankle joint that only allows the foot to tilt along a toe-up/toe-down axis. That's fine for walking in a straight line, but what happens when users want to turn a corner, or walk over uneven terrain? Well, in some cases, they end up falling down. That's why researchers at Michigan Technological University are now developing a microprocessor-controlled leg with an ankle that also lets the foot roll from side to side.  Read More

ShopBot's Handibot portable CNC machine

North Carolina-based ShopBot Tools has launched a Kickstarter campaign to bring its Handibot prototype to market. Handibot is a CNC machine which, being computer-controlled, can be used to cut materials to size and shape with very high accuracy. Unlike most CNC machines, Handibot is portable, the idea being that you take it to your materials rather than your materials to it. And in that spirit, Handibot can be controlled by a smartphone or tablet rather than full-blown computer (if there's a distinction these days), and users will pay to download individual designs and functions in the form of apps.  Read More

Roger Hanson's gigantic backyard ice sculpture for this year, made using water from his ho...

Most of us living in the upper reaches of North America are getting pretty tired of winter by now, but for one Minnesota resident, the arrival of spring will mean the destruction of his incredible work of art. Software engineer Roger Hanson uses water from his home’s geothermal heating system, along with a half-inch rebar framing system and a computer-controlled robotic sprayer, to create gigantic free-form ice sculptures in his backyard. His current masterpiece is 85 feet (26 meters) wide and 64 feet (19.5 meters) tall – although winter’s not over yet.  Read More

Vladimir Kramnik squaring off against the Chess Terminator

For almost as long as we've had computers, humans have been trying to make ones that play chess. The most famous chess-playing computer of course is IBM's Deep Blue, which in 1997 defeated the then World Champion Garry Kasparov. But as powerful as Deep Blue was, it didn't actually move the chess pieces on its own. Perhaps that's a trivial task in comparison to beating the best chess player of all-time, but still I was pleased to discover this recent video of a chess robot that more closely fits the true definition of a chess automaton.  Read More

Test subject Bob Melia tries out the UCF robotic arm

Researchers have created a computer-controlled robotic arm designed to help wheelchair-bound people perform actions such as grasping and lifting objects. It has both an automatic mode, in which the computer identifies objects and figures out how to grasp them, and an option for full manual control. When physically-challenged people were selected to try the device out, the researchers were surprised to discover that most of them preferred going manual. It’s all about something called Flow.  Read More

University of Utah mechanical engineer Will Provancher uses his right hand to demonstrate ...

Keeping a steady hand is vitally important for many professions where the use of a static or purely mechanical handrest just isn’t practical or possible. A new computer-controlled, motorized hand and arm support will let doctors, artists, machinists and others precisely control scalpels, brushes and tools over a wider area than otherwise possible, and with less fatigue.  Read More

The IT system automatically regulates anesthetic (Photo: Albino Méndez et al.)

Anesthetists cannot take their responsibilities lightly. Too little anesthetic and a patient may feel the whole procedure, too much and a patient might shuffle off this mortal coil. Researchers in the Canary Islands have taken the guesswork out of this thorny dilemma and developed a computer-controlled system that measures a patient's hypnotic state and applies the appropriate dose of anesthetic.  Read More

As each barrel can contain a variety of projectiles, it can fire a sensor from each of the...

Metal Storm has been granted another round of patents and one in particular has important implications for the future of minefields. The company’s weapon technology functions somewhat like an inkjet printer, using computer-controlled electronic ignition and a system of stacked projectiles in multiple barrels. As each barrel can contain a variety of projectiles, it can fire a sensor from each of the barrels to cover an area with sensors. If any sensor is triggered, the barrel to which it belongs fires a subsequent explosive projectile to the exact same point. The system offers many advantages, including the ability to be switched off leaving no explosive ordnance remaining in the area that had been protected. With landmines being one of the most dreadful and enduring legacies of war, it’s an enormous shame that only one side will be using Metal Storm, as it represents a potential solution to the deployment of this insidious device.  Read More

Cannondale's prototype Simon computer-controlled suspension fork

After five years of development, Cannondale has unveiled a new proof-of-concept prototype that could revolutionize bicycle suspension. Called Simon, it’s the newest member of their offbeat Lefty line of one-legged shock forks. According to Cannondale, Simon’s onboard microprocessor will allow users to customize their ride like never before. If that isn’t enough, it can also send the fork from being fully-open to fully-closed in just six milliseconds.  Read More

Oshkosh recently demonstrated the capabilities of its TerraMax unmanned ground vehicles (U...

The ability of military vehicles to better protect occupants with modern designs and high-tech materials has become an increasing priority and UK firm Amsafe has already seen success with its Tarian armor plating in the U.S. Oshkosh Defense, part of the U.S. Marine Corp’s MRAP (Mine-Resistant, Ambush Protected) program, is also heavily involved and a recently-announced armor system took an alternative approach with an emphasis on mobility. Development of its new TerraMax vehicles seems almost flawless in its potential, however, at least in protecting the lives of the soldiers on board because, put simply, there aren’t any.  Read More

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