Swiss robots planning to build houses using 3D printers

ETH Zürich, a university in Switzerland, has unveiled a plan to build a three-storey house – dubbed DFab House – using robots and 3D printing. 

Structural engineers and sustainability experts from ETH Zürich have teamed up with business partners on the project, which is designed to bring numerous building technologies from research labs into the real world.

The project is overseen by the National Centre of Competence in Research Digital Fabrication, and its architects, robotics specialists, and materials scientists.  Continue reading Swiss robots planning to build houses using 3D printers

Genome surgery with CRISPR-Cas9 to prevent blindness

IBS study proves that CRISPR-Cas9 can be delivered directly into the eye of living animals to treat age-related macular degeneration efficiently and safely

It is estimated that almost one in every ten people over 65 has some signs of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and its prevalence is likely to increase as a consequence of the aging population. AMD is a form of blindness, common in Caucasians, which causes distorted vision and blind spots.

Scientists at the Center for Genome Engineering, within the Institute for Basic Science (IBS) report the use of CRISPR-Cas9 in performing “gene surgery” in the layer of tissue that supports the retina of living mice. Published in Genome Research, this study combines basic research and mouse model applications.

The most common retinopathies causing blindness are “retinopathy of prematurity” in children, “diabetic retinopathy” and “AMD” in older adults. In these diseases, abnormally high levels of the Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) are secreted. Continue reading Genome surgery with CRISPR-Cas9 to prevent blindness

Scientists develop genetic path to tastier tomatoes

tomatoes
Picture credit: UF/IFAS

Some consumers crave tastier tomatoes than those available at the supermarket.

Now, scientists at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) and their partners have found a way to get tomatoes to produce the compounds that make them more flavorful.

Their findings were published today in the journal Science. Continue reading Scientists develop genetic path to tastier tomatoes

Nasa robotic spacecraft to drill holes in Mars to look for aliens

nasa mission to mars

Rio Tinto area of Spain to play part of Martian landscape in project to test alien technology  

Nasa is planning to drill holes in the surface of Mars to look for aliens, and it’s preparing by conducting field tests around the world.

In the latest development, the Rio Tinto region of Spain has been invaded by scientists who say they plan to carry out a series of tests designed to simulate Martian exploration.

The scientists say they will leave within a few days after they’ve conducted their alien technology tests.  Continue reading Nasa robotic spacecraft to drill holes in Mars to look for aliens

NASA to send robots in search of aliens under Antarctica

stone aerospace spindle antarctica
Are aliens hiding underneath the ice in Antarctica? Photo: Christopher Michael

NASA has awarded almost $3m to a team comprising scientists from Stone Aerospace and Louisiana State University to look for aliens beneath the Antarctic 

Stone Aerospace founder and explorer Dr Bill Stone and Louisiana State University geologist Dr Peter Doran have assembled a diverse team of polar and planetary scientists to develop a state-of-the-art cryobot (an ice-penetrating robotic vehicle) to search for life in lakes and oceans under miles-thick ice in Antarctica.

With nearly $3 million from Nasa, the team will develop, integrate and field test Spindle (Sub-glacial Polar ice Navigation, Descent, and Lake Exploration), an autonomous cryobot that will melt through some of the thickest ice on Earth to access the pristine water beneath. And look for aliens. Spindle will be the first cryobot system to carry a second stage hovering autonomous underwater vehicle (HAUV). The HAUV will conduct reconnaissance, life search, and sample collection then return to the cryobot for subsequent data uplink and possible sample return to the surface.  Continue reading NASA to send robots in search of aliens under Antarctica

Humanity’s loss at the hands of artificial intelligence is no big deal, says top robotics expert

robot playing chess
Intel robot playing chess. Picture courtesy Jiuguang Wang

The current struggles human player Lee Seedol is facing while playing the ancient Chinese board game Go against an artificially intelligent machine learning program is being watched with interest by the world’s media as well as computer scientists everywhere, probably.

One of those computer scientists, however, says he’s not that bothered. Professor Alois Knoll, co-ordinator of the European Clearing House for Open Robotics Development (Echord), says Google DeepMind AlphaGo is essentially just a software program inside a computer, which is much easier to develop than a mechatronics system.

“A machine or helper that can only help you play Go probably not something on which you’d spend much money,” says Knoll, who is one of the key scientists involved in the $1.5 billion-dollar Human Brain Project.  Continue reading Humanity’s loss at the hands of artificial intelligence is no big deal, says top robotics expert

Tiny swarm robots could become first responders after earthquakes

The 1,000 swarm robots of the Kilobot Project at Harvard University
The 1,000 swarm robots of the Kilobot Project at Harvard University

It seems obvious now that in the event of an earthquake, tiny, swarm robots would be the most effective way of locating survivors in huge piles of rubble through which human emergency workers and first responders cannot make their way or even see.

So obvious that you wonder why they haven’t been developed and even deployed for that purpose already. Certainly the technology seems to be advanced enough – research into the area has been going at an accelerated pace for some time.

Looking at pictures of the collapsed building in Taiwan after the earthquake there on Saturday, there looks to be no way to go in for the emergency workers trying to rescue the survivors. The magnitude-7.6 quake is reported to have killed at least 41 people and more than 100 are said to be trapped in the rubble in that building alone. Continue reading Tiny swarm robots could become first responders after earthquakes