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Thursday, 8 November 2007

Robots, robots and robots...ok, and little brain stuff

Ok, few steps closer to the AI. Check out the progress in robotics. And on the bottom, you can find an amazing progress in stem research. My personal nightmare being the breaking neck now finally can find a cure. Which is amazing. The door to true progress in our health is opening!

Sensitive robot knows when it has punched you

Sami Haddadin's robot regularly hits him in the face.The blows are no accident. Haddadin is part of a research team at the German Aerospace Centre Space Agency (DLR) in Oberpfaffenhofen aiming to transform industrial robots from insensitive drones into smart machines that can work alongside humans. He is testing the first industrial robot capable of sensing when it hits someone.

"Accidents happen," he says. "We have to accept that when people start to work more closely with robots they will sometimes hit people."

Combining human and robot skills could help a range of industries unable to benefit from existing robots, says Ken Young.

Giggling robot becomes one of the kids

Computers might not be clever enough to trick adults into thinking they are intelligent yet, but a new study shows that a giggling robot is sophisticated enough to get toddlers to treat it as a peer.

An experiment led by Javier Movellan at the University of California San Diego, US, is the first long-term study of interaction between toddlers and robots.

The researchers stationed a 2-foot-tall robot called QRIO (pronounced "curio"), and developed by Sony, in a classroom of a dozen toddlers aged between 18 months and two years.

QRIO stayed in the middle of the room using its sensors to avoid bumping the kids or the walls. It was initially programmed to giggle when the kids touched its head, to occasionally sit down, and to lie down when its batteries died. A human operator could also make the robot turn its gaze towards a child or wave as they went away.

In fact, the kids warmed to the robot over several weeks, eventually interacting with QRIO in much the same way they did with other toddlers. (source)

Stem cell shots restore lost memory

Stem cell injections might restore memory lost through strokes, Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative diseases - at least that's what experiments in mice suggest.

In previous studies transplanted neural stem cells survived and integrated into brain circuitry, says Mathew Blurton-Jones, a member of the team carrying out the experiments at the University of California at Irvine. "We've now gone one stage further in showing that once integrated, these new neurons are able to reverse cognitive deficits associated with neurodegeneration or neuronal loss," he says.


China special: The backbone of spinal research

WHEN Yang Gui-rong was taken to the Chengdu Army Kunming General Hospital more than a year ago, after an accident diving into a pool, he could move only his mouth and eyes and was struggling to breathe. Surgeons transplanted fetal cells into the injured spinal cord in Yang's broken neck. With intensive rehabilitation, he slowly regained feeling and movement in his arms. "Now his progress is visible almost on a daily basis." (source)

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