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MIT


— Automotive

Toyota Research Institute to further AI and robotics research

Committing US$1 billion over the next five years, Toyota Motor Corporation has announced the establishment of the Toyota Research Institute (TRI), a research and development center initially focusing on artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics. The company is tasked with developing technologies to increase driving safety and improve mobility and quality of life, particularly for the elderly..

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— Drones

New algorithm allows autonomous drone to zip through trees at 30 mph

A commonly-held reservation when it comes to drones is their propensity to smash into things. Researchers at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Lab (CSAIL) are not the only ones working on this problem, but they have made one of the more promising advances in the area so far. The team has found a way to streamline the computational algorithms needed for a drone to map its surroundings, giving its autonomous aircraft a major turbo boost when avoiding obstacles.

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— Virtual Reality

Videogame technology enables real-time 2D to 3D conversion of soccer matches

Scientists at MIT and the Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI) have leveraged videogame technology to generate broadcast quality 3D video of soccer (aka football in much of the world) matches from a 2D source in real time. The resulting video can reportedly be enjoyed with any 3D TV or virtual reality headset, and could lead to much more 3D content becoming available in the near future.

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— Music

"Zoolophone" features custom-shaped keys that still produce the right notes

Scientists from Columbia, Harvard and MIT have collaborated to create a xylophone-like instrument that has keys shaped like animals. It's not just a cute toy, however. Their "zoolophone" was designed using new technology that allows objects of a specified shape to produce a specified sound. It could ultimately be used to build things like low-noise computer fans, or bridges that don't amplify road noise.

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— Space

Lunar detour could lighten the launch load for manned missions to Mars

Early last year, researchers at MIT floated the idea of "gas stations" in space that have the potential to cut the costs of future missions to the Moon considerably. Now a new study out of MIT says that, although possibly a little out of the way, the Moon would make a worthwhile refueling pit stop for manned missions to Mars by reducing the mass of a launch from Earth by 68 percent.

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— Physics

Terahertz radiation to enable portable particle accelerators

Researchers at MIT in the US and DESY (Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron) in Germany have developed a technology that could shrink particle accelerators by a factor of 100 or more. The basic building block of the accelerator uses high-frequency electromagnetic waves and is just 1.5 cm (0.6 in) long and 1 mm (0.04 in) thick, with this drastic size reduction potentially benefitting the fields of medicine, materials science and particle physics, among others.

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— Medical

Leukometer promises needle-free monitoring of the immune system

Keeping track of white blood cell levels in chemotherapy patients is an involved but crucially important task. The treatment can lead to suppression of the immune system, a decline in white blood cell count, which in turn can give rise to infections and other serious complications. As things stand, patients are subjected to regular blood tests as a means of keeping an eye on things, but an international team of scientists has a less invasive alternative in the works. With the ability to tally up white blood cells through the skin in real time, the new testing device can simply be stuck onto a fingertip to help clinicians tailor personalized and more timely treatments.

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