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Robot Octopus posted by Ralph Ewig

this robotic limb is straight out of scifi, mimicking the movements of an elephant’s trunk or Doc Octopus’ bionic arms (depending on whether you prefer cute or super villain). Powered by pneumatics and made from soft materials, it is designed to safely coinhabit a human’s workspace, but there is something vaguely creepy about it.

I am in Jochen Steil’s lab, grasping a segmented, whiplashing tentacle that resists and tries to push me away. It feels strangely alive, as though I am trying to throttle a giant alien maggot. In fact, I am training a bionic elephant’s trunk to do real-world jobs like picking apples or replacing light bulbs - something non-experts haven’t been able to do until now.

Designed to bring the dexterity of an elephant’s trunk to industrial robots, the appendage I am wrestling was launched by German engineering firm Festo as a proof-of-concept in 2010. The design showed that a trunk formed of 3D-printed segments can be controlled by an array of pneumatic artificial muscles.

Robot School posted by Ralph Ewig
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what if automated systems could learn from each other? Researchers have set up a classroom where one robot can enable others to learn from its experiences. The ultimate subject on the lesson plan is how do deal with those pesky humans. Enabling knowledge transfer between otherwise very dissimilar systems makes it possible for a machine to learn from human/robot interaction experiences in a wide variety of environments and situations.

The time is soon approaching when you will show up for class, and instead of a human behind a desk, your professor will be a robot. Taught by generations of robots before it, your professor will be the ultimate font of knowledge in its chosen subject.


The idea behind Taylor’s research is the creation of a true robot teacher, one whose hardware and software don’t have to be the same as its student’s for it to impart knowledge. Existing solely as virtual robots at present, Taylor’s creations teach by giving advice to their equally virtual students. By letting the robot profs give pointers and allowing the student robots time to implement their latest lesson, Taylor states that he has not only seen the transfer of knowledge, but that the student robots actually learn to surpass their teacher’s abilities.

The Machine posted by Ralph Ewig

a new UK cyberpunk movie which has people making comparisons to Blade Runner. Propelled by a captivating performance and raising some very thought provoking questions about machine intelligence, this definitely looks to be one of the better scifi movies in recent years.

"Set in the near-future Britain, two computer programmers fall in love as they create the first-ever piece of self-aware artificial intelligence, designed to help humanity. But things go terribly wrong when the British Government steals their breakthrough and teaches it to become a robotic weapon. The film is written and directed by new filmmaker Caradog W. James and stars Caity Lotz (Arrow) in a breakthrough role as "Ava" the machine alongside Toby Stephens (Black Sails) as the other computer programmer."

Robot Ships posted by Ralph Ewig
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using self driving car technology, robotic cargo ships are the next step in the evolution of autonomous / remote piloted vehicles. Environmental concerns are limiting the maximum speed at which Earth’s ocean going vessels can travel, prolonging travel time and leading to a shortage of qualified captains willing to spend the majority of their life at sea. Now the same technology used to enable self driving cars or flying drones is being extended to allow navigating a behemoth cargo ship from the comfort of your land based office.

If artificial intelligence is sophisticated enough to guide a car through Bay Area traffic, surely it can pilot a ship safely from port to port on the open sea. That's the premise of a European Union-funded project called MUNIN tasked with designing largely automated cargo ships by the beginning of 2015.

The project got a push from Rolls-Royce plc, the major British military contractor that splintered from the car company with the same name in 1973, when an executive hinted that Rolls-Royce may design such systems and that they would bring down the industry's costs. "Sometimes what was unthinkable yesterday is tomorrow's reality. So now it is time to consider a roadmap to unmanned vessels of various types," Oskar Levander, the company's vice present of innovation, engineering and technology said in a recent company publication.

Levander indicated that Rolls-Royce would begin suppo ...

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The Duel posted by Ralph Ewig

a great video of a table tennis match between man and machine. Not any (hu)man mind you, but world #1 German champion Timo Boll facing off with the fastest, most precise industrial robot currently available and manufactured by Kuka. While there is probably some dramatization going on, it’s still a great watch and an impressive display of engineering.

Robotic arms have been around for decades, putting together cars, deploying satellites, and trying to figure out how to kill all humans without anybody noticing. Behind the scenes, however, these disembodied robo-limbs have been growing more and more advanced. From 3D printing to prosthetics, a new generation of precise robot arms have been sweeping into use.

One company that has been designing industrial robot limbs since the mid-1970s has thrown down a hefty gauntlet to other robot manufacturers world-wide, and the human race as well. On March 11th, German robotics firm Kuka will pit its KR Agilus robot arm against table tennis phenom Timo Boll. Also from Germany, Boll has been a national and international champion for over a decade. If the robot arm can beat him, Boll just might become the poster-boy for our human inadequacies as we head into the robot-populated future.

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