When you say the words "Class Project," most folks flash back to tedious research papers, MLA-style references and boring talks about Shakespearian characters with Oedipus Complexes. In other words: BOOOOOORING. But school doesn't have to be a snooze-fest! Case in point: Penn State's Advanced Mechatronics class, which sounds like it may just be the coolest course ever. One enterprising mechanical engineering student went after his final mechatronic project with gusto and built a working, talking, tracking and firing replica of Portal's gun turret -- then put it up on YouTube for the world to see.
It’s very likely that today’s lab curiosities represent possibilities that will redesign our world. Here are a few things to watch out for. (We’ll check back in a few years and see if my crystal ball needs recalibrating.)
Okay admit it. Not only is Aliens one of the greatest movies of all time, but it instilled in you a secret lust to engage Alien queens in battle with a giant, futuristic cargo stacking mech. Okay, perhaps we are overstating this just a touch, but we were still totally excited to see Japanese engineers demonstrate a fully functional Dual-Arm Power Amplification Robot, particularly one that gives users superhuman strength, and was quite obviously inspired by the cult sci-fi classic.
The robot, which is being designed with a commercial future in mind, is capable of lifting more than 100kg, but itself weighs slightly over 230kg. Given these specs, obvious safety concerns are raised by wearing a suit that is heavy enough to crush its wearer, however, Chief engineer Go Shirogauchi claims the robot is quite safe. “The most important challenge is not to injure the operator with the amplified power” he said. “For that challenge, a delicate control and a mechanics design which does not put too much force onto a human in the worst situation is required”.
The robot is primarily being designed for the construction industry, but Shirogauchi claims they plan to have plenty of interchangeable parts to make it viable in many more situations. “Our intention is not to develop a small power shovel, but to create a common platform which can be applied to many areas other than the construction sites” said Shirogauchi.
The arms are expected to cost about $357,000 when they eventually come to market, hopefully sometime in 2015.
Remember this quote? "Linux is a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches." It was uttered by none other than Microsoft frontman Steve Ballmer himself, in an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times in 2001. It's no secret that Microsoft has put itself right in the center of the proprietary versus open-source war. But the software giant is now starting to dabble in the dark side of open-source projects itself. We're getting nothing but mixed-signals from Redmond. So what is it, Microsoft? Cancer, or cash-cow?
Read on to find out about Microsoft's newest open-source initiatives!
Intel’s CTO, Justin Rattner, delivered a pretty phantasmagoric keynote at the IDF in San Francisco. Invariably most keynotes by tech honchos are about future technologies. But Rattner just didn’t concern himself with the imminent future – the Nehalems and Larrabees - but he allowed his imagination take unbridled flight. He pictured what the world might be like in 2050, where computers would be smarter than us frizzled, frayed Homo sapiens.
“There is speculation that we may be approaching an inflection point where the rate of technology advancements is accelerating at an exponential rate, and machines could even overtake humans in their ability to reason, in the not so distant future,” Rattner said.
Rattner even demonstrated a couple of personal robot prototypes, which employ razor-sharp sensing technologies, though only crude precursors to the “2050 machines”. The first robot – a robotic arm actually - was equipped with electric field pre-touch technology that allows it to sense objects before even touching them. And, just for your knowledge, fish are bestowed with this capability. The second robot is capable of recognizing faces and performing simple tasks as commanded.
Like the American Idol finale and Superbowl Sunday, Shark Week is a hallowed American tradition that celebrates the special bond between a couch potato and his high-definition television. And in case you haven’t glanced at the big red circle on your wall calendar recently, the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week is coming up next week. This year’s line up features hour-long specials including “Surviving Sharks” and “Mysteries of the Shark Coast,” but the highlight of the event for us is going to be the Mythbusters’ Shark Special. Adam Savage, Jamie Hyneman, and gang will hit the Bahamas this year to investigate shark myths (ie. Do dogs attract sharks? Does chili powder repel them?). The highlight of this year’s show has to be their 16-foot robo-shark (frickin’ laser beams not confirmed).
Click through the jump for some photos from the upcoming episode, set to air on July 27th at 9pm (PST).
Ace Ventura vividly described women as “a temple to house the miracle of procreation” in Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, but scientists at a British University have ushered in an era in which robots will also be endowed with the divine gift of reproduction, or more precisely, replication. Researchers at the University of Bath have successfully developed RepRap, self-replicating machine that can copy itself ad infinitum.
Despite all the technological advancements you still have no choice but to click on the "Read More" link to know how the self-replicating robot might be a step closer to the ultimate sci-fi nightmare and how you can build one yourself.