Friday, October 12, 2007

Robot Love

Press Release from Universiteit Maastricht in The Netherlands:

A Ph.D. thesis submitted to the Universiteit Maastricht contains some controversial forecasts about the future of human-robot relationships. The thesis is entitled “Intimate Relationships with Artificial Partners” and its author is David Levy, an International Master at chess from London. Levy’s thesis argues that trends in robotics and other areas of artificial intelligence will, within a few decades, result in robots that are so humanlike in their appearance and functionality, in their personality, and in their expression of emotions, that many people will be falling in love with them, having sex with them, and even marrying them.

Levy’s Ph.D. research has encompassed the fields of psychology, sexology, sociology, robotics, artificial intelligence, and gender studies. His forecasts are based on his analysis of certain trends and on what he sees as the inevitability of how these trends will continue in the future. One of these trends follows the objects of human affection – at first this was only for other humans, then it expanded to include pet animals, then virtual pets such as the TAMAGOTCHI and Sony’s robotic dog AIBO, and in the future, according to Levy’s thesis, for robots. Another trend examined in the thesis follows our attitudes to various sexual practices, as these attitudes have become steadily more liberal. The thesis also examines the principal reasons, identified by research psychologists, why we fall in love and why we have sex. Most of these reasons are shown in the thesis to be equally applicable to the human-robot relationships of the future as they are for human-human relationships today.

Love and Sex with Robots - press releases 2007 - Press releases - Press - Universiteit Maastricht

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

3000th Argo Ocean Probe Launch

The 3000th Argo ocean sensor probe is to be launched from the RV Kaharoa off New Zealand.

The Argo program started in 2004 collects temperature, salinity and pressure readings from all of the worlds oceans with the 3000 sensor probes.

The robot sensors sink in the water to a depth of up to 2000 meters. When they reach the target depth they pump oil into an external bladder to allow them to float to the surface. As they rise they record the temperature and salinity readings. At the surface they transmit their position and data to a satellite then begin the cycle again. Each cycle takes about ten days.

The objectives of the Argo project are to get a better understanding of the oceans and the world's climate. The program has worldwide support.

Each probe is expected to last about 150 measurement cycles and they plan to replace 800 per year.
That is a lot of robots. Do not be surprised if one of the floats up in your bathtub one day.

Scoop: Maharey launching 3000th robot of the sea

See also: Legions of Ocean Robots: 2000th Launch

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Monday, October 01, 2007

iRobot In The Gutter

Roomba maker iRobot has introduced a new household robot, the Looj, made for cleaning rain gutters.

You just drop the small Looj into you gutter and it "augers" it way through and ejects the crappy buildup out and away. Just in time for the fall season.

The price range from US $100 to $170 depending on the options you get. Available now from the iRobot web store. I would guess that it will be available in suburban Home Depots soon. And also available to clear the rain gutters in your third world countries.

I like the belt holster. I can help you to climb the ladder sure, but also wearing it around the yard would make you the coolest guy in the 'hood.

iRobot Corporation: About Looj

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Nuclear Powered Lunar Prospector

The folks at Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Institute have come up with another unique robot creation.

The Scarab is a 4-wheel robot is designed for prospecting on the Moon. The design has been optimized for drilling into rock in cold and dark environments.

The drill in the center of the robot body can drill out a core sample up to meter deep. The body is shaped so the relatively small drilling robot - only 250 kgs ( 550 lbs) - can get enough weight on the bit to drill.

The Scarab can run in the dark bottoms of moon craters with its nuclear power source. The advanced sterling radioisotope generator (ASRG) converts the emissions from a radioactive isotope to electricity. According to the article the generator can provide 100 watts of power for 10 years.

The robot has a laser navigation system so it can see the local terrain in the dark and find its way around.

So far NASA does not have have any specific plans for sending the Scarab to the moon but the robot is being used to test technologies for the task.

There is no mention if CMU is thinking of fielding a team for the $30 million Google Lunar robot X-prize.

The Tartan Online : 'Scarab' the robot

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Sacramento Police Train Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Helpers

The Sacramento, California police department is developing a specialized Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, UAV, as a low cost alternative to helicopter cops.

They currently have two helicopters that can stream live video to remote terminals in police cars or command centers.

Their UAV's are 5 feet long, weigh 12 pounds and hand launched. They can keep their multiple video cameras aloft for 45 minutes. They are almost autonomous and have the capability to track subjects with their camera eyes.

The police are looking forward to reduced costs and better availability of the flying robots compared to expensive helicopter teams.

They also like the silent operation of the spy planes.

"Police Chief Albert Najera, who said the department gets many complaints about the noise of the helicopters. "The noise factor is huge. This is almost silent, you can't hear it," he said. "Not many police departments can afford a helicopter, but most will be able to afford this.""

The aircraft still need to get FAA clearance before they are put on duty.

Sacramento Police Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Program Gaining Altitude - Government Technology

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