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  • Robot Printer Brings Documents To Your Desk

    mrspoonsi sends this news from the BBC: Fuji Xerox has developed a new robotic printer that can move around a lounge or office to bring documents to the person who printed them. The printer is designed to be used primarily in public places as a way to keep sensitive documents secure. Sensors on the machine prevent it from bumping into people on the way. However, some analysts argued that the idea was not cost effective when compared with other secure printing methods. Fuji Xerox — a joint venture between the two firms — has been testing the printer this month at a business lounge in Tokyo. Each desk in the lounge is given a unique web address from which to print. Users access the address and upload documents to be printed. Once the printer receives the job, it moves to the intended recipient who then has to display a smart card to activate printing.

    64 comments | 3 days ago

  • Robo Brain Project Wants To Turn the Internet Into a Robotic Hivemind

    malachiorion writes Researchers are force-feeding the internet into a system called Robo Brain. The system has absorbed a billion images and 120,000 YouTube videos so far, and aims to digest 10 times that within a year, in order to create machine-readable commands for robots—how to pour coffee, for example. From the article: "The goal is as direct as the project’s name—to create a centralized, always-online brain for robots to tap into. The more Robo Brain learns from the internet, the more direct lessons it can share with connected machines. How do you turn on a toaster? Robo Brain knows, and can share 3D images of the appliance and the relevant components. It can tell a robot what a coffee mug looks like, and how to carry it by the handle without dumping the contents. It can recognize when a human is watching a television by gauging relative positions, and advise against wandering between the two. Robo Brain looks at a chair or a stool, and knows that these are things that people sit on. It’s a system that understands context, and turns complex associations into direct commands for physical robots."

    108 comments | about a week ago

  • FarmBot: an Open Source Automated Farming Machine

    New submitter ErnieKey writes: Farming has been stuck in a bit of a rut, when compared to other industries. Businesses across the globe have been innovating for decades, while farming has been using techniques that have been handed down from centuries ago. The FarmBot Foundation is creating a machine, similar to that of a CNC mill and/or 3D printer, which is capable of being run by sophisticated software and equipped with any tools you can imagine, including seed injectors, plows, burners, robotic arms (for harvesting), cutters, shredders, tillers, discers, watering nozzles, sensors and more. The goal? To increase food production by automating as much of it as possible.

    133 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Introducing Slashdot's New Build Section

    Along with the rest of the mix that makes this site work, Slashdot has nearly two decades now of spotting and showing off interesting projects, inventions, technologies, and hobbies. Some of them are strictly personal, some are frankly commercial, and some are the fruits of ambitious organizations (or tiny teams) motivated by curiosity and passion (or even politics, or just plain fun). As outlined earlier, we've been gathering a lot of these into our new Build section; read on to learn a bit more about what that includes. (And watch out later today for the first part of our conversation with technology-inspiring Rennaisance Man Tim O'Reilly, and later in the week for answers to the questions you asked Bunnie Huang.)

    34 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Selectable Ethics For Robotic Cars and the Possibility of a Robot Car Bomb

    Rick Zeman writes Wired has an interesting article on the possibility of selectable ethical choices in robotic autonomous cars. From the article: "The way this would work is one customer may set the car (which he paid for) to jealously value his life over all others; another user may prefer that the car values all lives the same and minimizes harm overall; yet another may want to minimize legal liability and costs for herself; and other settings are possible. Philosophically, this opens up an interesting debate about the oft-clashing ideas of morality vs. liability." Meanwhile, others are thinking about the potential large scale damage a robot car could do.

    Lasrick writes Patrick Lin writes about a recent FBI report that warns of the use of robot cars as terrorist and criminal threats, calling the use of weaponized robot cars "game changing." Lin explores the many ways in which robot cars could be exploited for nefarious purposes, including the fear that they could help terrorist organizations based in the Middle East carry out attacks on US soil. "And earlier this year, jihadists were calling for more car bombs in America. Thus, popular concerns about car bombs seem all too real." But Lin isn't too worried about these threats, and points out that there are far easier ways for terrorists to wreak havoc in the US.

    239 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Humans Need Not Apply: a Video About the Robot Revolution and Jobs

    Paul Fernhout writes: This explanatory compilation video by CGP Grey called "Humans Need Not Apply" on structural unemployment caused by robotics and AI (and other automation) is like the imagery playing in my mind when I think about the topic based on previous videos and charts I've seen. I saw it first on the econfuture site by Martin Ford, author of The Lights in the Tunnel. It is being discussed on Reddit, and people there have started mentioning a "basic income" as one possible response. While I like the basic income idea, I also collect other approaches in an essay called Beyond A Jobless Recovery: A heterodox perspective on 21st century economics. Beyond a basic income for the exchange economy, those possible approaches include gift economy, subsistence production, planned economy, and more — including many unpleasant alternatives like expanding prisons or fighting wars as we are currently doing.

    Marshall Brain's writings like Robotic Nation and Manna have inspired my own work. I made my own video version of the concept around 2010, as a parable called "The Richest Man in the World: A parable about structural unemployment and a basic income." (I also pulled together a lot of links to robot videos in 2009.) It's great to see more informative videos on this topic. CGP Grey's video is awesome in the way he puts it all together.

    304 comments | about two weeks ago

  • A Thousand Kilobots Self-Assemble Into Complex Shapes

    An anonymous reader writes "Researchers at Harvard's Self-Organizing Systems Research Group—describe their thousand-robot swarm in a paper published today in Science (they actually built 1024 robots). In the past, researchers have only been able to program at most a couple hundred robots to work together. Now, these researchers have programmed the biggest robot swarm yet. Alone, the simple little robot can't do much, but working with 1,000 or more like-minded fellow bots, it becomes part of a swarm that can self-assemble into any two-dimensional shape. These are some of the first steps toward creating huge herds of tiny robots that form larger structures—including bigger robots."

    56 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Twitter Reports 23 Million Users Are Actually Bots

    An anonymous reader writes: In its most recent quarterly report to the Securities and Exchange Commission, Twitter disclosed that approximately 8.5% of its users are actually bots. Some of these 23 million bots were created to make revenue-generating URLs, others were created to collect followers that would later be sold to whoever needs a ready audience, and a few were created to mimic stereotypes just for fun. Now that Twitter is a public company, some wonder if these bots help or hinder Twitter's stock value.

    84 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Driverless Buses Ruled Out For London, For Now

    An anonymous reader writes The office of the Mayor of London went into a bit of a panic this week after their own paper suggested that driverless buses could appear on the streets of the UK's capital at some point in the next four decades. The Mayor's office went so far as to suggest that they were really talking about driverless underground trains. Even more bizarre was the reaction of the city's taxi drivers' association — whose spokesperson claimed that the failure to deliver 'simple' software tasks such as speech recognition meant there was no chance of driverless buses appearing on London's streets.

    84 comments | about a month ago

  • NASA Announces Mars 2020 Rover Payload

    An anonymous reader writes with news that the Mars 2020 experiments have been chosen: In short, the 2020 rover will cary 7 instruments, out of 58 proposals in total, and the rover itself will be based on the current Curiosity rover. The selected instruments are: Mastcam-Z, an advanced camera system with panoramic and stereoscopic imaging capability with the ability to zoom. SuperCam, an instrument that can provide imaging, chemical composition analysis, and mineralogy. The instrument will also be able to detect the presence of organic compounds in rocks and regolith from a distance. Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry (PIXL), an X-ray fluorescence spectrometer that will also contain an imager with high resolution to determine the fine scale elemental composition of Martian surface materials. Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics and Chemicals (SHERLOC) — This one will have a UV laser! The Mars Oxygen ISRU Experiment (MOXIE), an exploration technology investigation that will produce oxygen from Martian atmospheric carbon dioxide. Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer (MEDA). This one is basically a weather station. The Radar Imager for Mars' Subsurface Exploration (RIMFAX), a ground-penetrating radar that will provide centimeter-scale resolution of the geologic structure of the subsurface.

    Can't decide if the UV laser or the ground radar is the coolest of the lot.

    109 comments | about 1 month ago

  • A Look At the Firepick Delta Circuit Board Assembler (Video)

    From the Firepick website: 'We are developing a really cool robotic machine that is capable of assembling electronic circuit boards (it also 3D prints, and does some other stuff!). It uses a vacuum nozzle to pick really tiny resistors and computer chips up, and place them down very carefully on a printed circuit board.' There are lots of companies here and in China that will happily place and solder components on your printed circuit board, but hardly any that will do a one-off prototype or a small quantity. And the components have gotten small enough that this is really a job for a robot (or at least a Waldo), not human fingers. || There are obviously other devices on the market that do this, but Firepick Delta creator Neil Jansen says they are far too expensive for small companies, let alone individual makers.

    The Firepick Delta Hackaday page talks about a $300 price for this machine. That may be too optimistic, but even if it ends up costing two or three times that amount, that's still a huge step forward for small-time inventors and custom manufacturers who need to populate just a few circuit boards, not thousands. They have a Haxlr8r pitch video, and have been noticed by TechCrunch, 3DPrintBoard.com, and Adafruit, just to name a few. Kickstarter? Not yet. Maybe next year. Open source? Totally, complete with GitHub repository. And they were at OSCON 2014, which is where Timothy found them. (Alternate Video Link)

    43 comments | about a month ago

  • Household Robot Jibo Nets Over $1 Million On Indiegogo

    mikejuk (1801200) writes After seven days the Jibo project has over $1.1 million. What is surprising is that Jibo isn't a complex piece of hardware that will do the dishes and pick up clothes. It doesn't move around at all. It just sits and interacts with the family using a camera, microphones and a voice. It is a social robot, the speciality of the founder, MIT's, Cynthia Breazeal. The idea is that this robot will be your friend, take photos, remind you of appointments, order takeaway and tell the kids a story. If you watch the promo video then you can't help but think that this is all too polished and the real thing will fall flat on its face when delivered. If it does work then worry about the hundreds of kids needing psychiatric counselling — shades of Robbie in I, Robot. Even if it is hopelessly hyped — there is a development system and I want one. It is the early days of the home computer all over again.

    61 comments | about a month ago

  • Autonomous Sea-Robot Survives Massive Typhoon

    jfruh (300774) writes Liquid Robotics and its Wave Glider line of autonomous seafaring robots became famous when Java inventor James Gosling left Google to join the company. Now one of its robots has passed an impressive real-world test, shrugging off a monster typhoon in the South China Sea that inflicted hundreds of millions of dollars of damage on the region.

    47 comments | about a month ago

  • Robot With Broken Leg Learns To Walk Again In Under 2 Minutes

    KentuckyFC (1144503) writes When animals lose a limb, they learn to hobble remarkably quickly. And yet when robots damage a leg, they become completely incapacitated. That now looks set to the change thanks to a group of robotics engineers who have worked out how to dramatically accelerate the process of learning to walk again when a limb has become damaged. They've tested it on a hexapod robot which finds an efficient new gait in under two minutes (with video), and often faster, when a leg becomes damaged. The problem for robots is that the parameter space of potential gaits is vast. For a robot with six legs and 18 motors, the task of finding an efficient new gait boils down to a search through 36-dimensional space. That's why it usually takes so long. The new approach gets around this by doing much of this calculation in advance, before the robot gets injured. The solutions are then ordered according to the amount of time each leg remains in contact with the ground. That reduces the dimension of the problem from 36 to 6 and so makes it much easier for the robot to search. When a leg becomes damaged, the robot selects new gaits from those that minimize contact with the ground for the damaged limb. It compares several and then chooses the fastest. Voila! The resulting gaits are often innovative, for example, with the robot moving by springing forward. The new approach even found a solution should all the legs become damaged. In that case, the robot flips onto its back and inches forward on its "shoulders."

    69 comments | about a month ago

  • Researchers Create Origami Wheels That Can Change Size

    rtoz writes Researchers from Seoul National University have designed a robotic wheel based on the origami "magic ball pattern," which is a traditional technique used to create folded paper spheres. This robotic wheel can change its radius to create larger wheels to climb over things, and shrink back to a smaller size to squeeze under obstacles. The diameter of the wheels changes automatically to enable the robot to either be strong or speedy. The scientists think their innovation could one day be used for interplanetary rovers as the wheel can be folded up and "inflate" itself.

    52 comments | about a month and a half ago

  • Wearable Robot Adds Two Fingers To Your Hand

    rtoz writes: Researchers at MIT have developed a robot that enhances the grasping motion of the human hand. This wrist-wearable robot adds two extra fingers that respond to movements in the wearer's hand. The robotic fingers are on either side of the hand — one outside the thumb, and the other outside the little finger. A control algorithm enables it to move in sync with the wearer's fingers to grasp objects of various shapes and sizes. With the assistance of these extra fingers, the user can grasp objects that are usually too difficult to pick up and manipulate with a single hand.

    77 comments | about a month and a half ago

  • Phase-Changing Material Created For Robots

    rtoz writes In the movie Terminator 2, the shape-shifting T-1000 robot morphs into a liquid state to squeeze through tight spaces or to repair itself when harmed. Now a phase-changing material built from wax and foam, and capable of switching between hard and soft states, could allow even low-cost robots to perform the same feat. The material developed by MIT researchers could be used to build deformable surgical robots. The robots could move through the body to reach a particular point without damaging any of the organs or vessels along the way. The Robots built from this material could also be used in search-and-rescue operations to squeeze through rubble looking for survivors.

    35 comments | about a month and a half ago

  • Foxconn Replacing Workers With Robots

    redletterdave (2493036) writes The largest private employer in all of China and one of the biggest supply chain manufacturers in the world, Foxconn announced it will soon start using robots to help assemble devices at its several sprawling factories across China. Apple, one of Foxconn's biggest partners to help assemble its iPhones, iPads, will be the first company to use the new service. Foxconn said its new "Foxbots" will cost roughly $20,000 to $25,000 to make, but individually be able to build an average of 30,000 devices. According to Foxconn CEO Terry Gou, the company will deploy 10,000 robots to its factories before expanding the rollout any further. He said the robots are currently in their "final testing phase."

    530 comments | about 2 months ago

  • Are Tethers the Answer To the Safety Issues of Follow-Me Drone Technology?

    Hallie Siegel (2973169) writes Camera-equipped follow-me drone technology is hitting the scene in spades, promising extreme sports enthusiasts and others amazing aerial shots. Imagine, your own dynamic tripod that follows you on command. But what about the safety issue of having follow-me drones crowding the ski slopes? The tethered Fotokite addresses these concerns while sidestepping FAA regulations.

    88 comments | about 2 months ago

  • By 2045 'The Top Species Will No Longer Be Humans,' and That Could Be a Problem

    schwit1 (797399) writes Louis Del Monte estimates that machine intelligence will exceed the world's combined human intelligence by 2045. ... "By the end of this century most of the human race will have become cyborgs. The allure will be immortality. Machines will make breakthroughs in medical technology, most of the human race will have more leisure time, and we'll think we've never had it better. The concern I'm raising is that the machines will view us as an unpredictable and dangerous species." Machines will become self-conscious and have the capabilities to protect themselves. They "might view us the same way we view harmful insects." Humans are a species that "is unstable, creates wars, has weapons to wipe out the world twice over, and makes computer viruses." Hardly an appealing roommate."

    564 comments | about 2 months ago

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