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Smarty pants: Robot trousers could keep the elderly mobile

Smarty pants: Robot trousers could keep the elderly mobile

Science
Johnathan Rossiter proudly displays his new trousers. Brightly coloured and fit for the running track, but packing more than just Lycra. They'll be robotic."We are all going to get older and our mobility is going to reduce," he says. "What we want to do is give people that extra bit of boost, to maintain their independence as long as possible."A team of British researchers thinks the future lies in wearable soft robotics. They've developed robotic muscles; air-filled bubbles of plastic that can raise a leg from a seated to a standing position.Getting this technology into the trousers might be 10 years away, but it is set to give that added boost to our ability to stand and walk when we need it most.Who wears the trousers?Prof Ros...
Robot boat sails into history by finishing Atlantic crossing

Robot boat sails into history by finishing Atlantic crossing

Technology
All summer, the small boat drifted steadily eastward across the churning North Atlantic until it neared the Irish coast, where it made history by becoming the first unmanned sailboat to cross the Atlantic. The SB Met, built by Norwegian company Offshore Sensing AS, reached the finish line of the Microtransat Challenge for robotic boats on Aug. 26, two and a half months after setting off from Newfoundland, according to preliminary data. It's a milestone that shows the technology for unmanned boats is robust enough to carry out extended missions that can dramatically cut costs for ocean research, border security, and surveillance in rough or remote waters. They're part of wider efforts to develop autonomous marine vessels such as robotic ferries and cargo and container ships that could be ...
Fetch rover! Robot to retrieve Mars rocks

Fetch rover! Robot to retrieve Mars rocks

Science
UK engineers will design a robot that can retrieve rock samples on Mars so they can be sent to Earth for study. The European Space Agency is issuing contracts to industry to spec the technology needed for what will be a complex joint undertaking with the US. Aerospace giant Airbus will scope the concept for a surface "fetch rover" at its Stevenage centre north of London. Esa and the American space agency (Nasa) expect to send the sample-return equipment to the Red Planet in 2026. "It will be a relatively small rover - about 130kg; but the requirements are very demanding," said Ben Boyes who will lead the feasibility team at Airbus. "The vehicle will have to cover large distances using a high degree of autonomy, planning its own p...
SpaceX launches AI robot, strong coffee for station crew

SpaceX launches AI robot, strong coffee for station crew

Technology
A SpaceX rocket that flew just two months ago with a NASA satellite roared back into action Friday, launching the first orbiting robot with artificial intelligence and other station supplies. The used Falcon rocket blasted off before dawn, hauling nearly 6,000 pounds (2,700 kilograms) of cargo including the spherical AI bot named Cimon, genetically identical mice and super-caffeinated coffee for the crew of the International Space Station. The shipment — packed into a Dragon capsule that's also recycled — should reach the station Monday. It was an especially gorgeous launch, delighting spectators as the rocket plume expanded in the clear night sky like a giant halo beneath a nearly full moon and a gleaming Mars. SpaceX's Jessica Jensen described the high-altitude plume, illum...
IBM to send 'friendly' floating robot head named CIMON to International Space Station

IBM to send 'friendly' floating robot head named CIMON to International Space Station

Technology
An 11-pound, artificially-intelligent, floating robot head is being sent to the International Space Station (ISS) this week to assist astronauts there, IBM executives announced today. The astronaut assistant is named CIMON (Crew Interactive Mobile Companion) is the product of a joint project between the German Aerospace Center, Airbus, and International Business Machines Corporation, better known as IBM. The group project developed and integrated artificial intelligence (AI) components into CIMON and have been training it to demonstrate a personality. CIMON is scheduled to be launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket bound for the ISS on June 29 at 5:41 am EST, and is set to arrive there on Monday, July 2 - when it will join the Horizons mission as an astron...