Six tiny microbots weighing 3.5 ounces pull a 3,900-pound car

Slow but steady does it.

John Markoff at the New York Times:

A group of researchers at the Biomimetics and Dexterous Manipulation Laboratory at Stanford University has been exploring the limits of friction in the design of tiny robots that have the ability to pull thousands of times their weight, wander like gecko lizards on vertical surfaces or mimic bats.

[Modeled After Ants, Teams of Tiny Robots Can Move 2-Ton Car / John Markoff / The New York Times]

Golly, swearing is good for you

Research shows cursing helps you endure pain, but people who swear habitually experience less relief. Other research shows swearing helps strengthen social bonds and group morale. But swearing also has social drawbacks.

So swear, and swear often. But don’t overdo it, you fucking cunt.

A Strategic Guide to Swearing / Stephanie Hayes / The Atlantic

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Photo: Anna Frodesiak / Wikimedia Commons

Researchers extract audio from potato chip bag and other vibrating objects in video recordings

Salt and vinegar chipsResearchers at MIT, Microsoft, and Adobe have developed an algorithm that can reconstruct an audio signal from minute vibrations of objects in a video recording, including recovering intelligible speech from the vibrations of a potato-chip bag photographed 15 feet away through soundproof glass.

The researchers also successfully extracted audio from video of aluminum foil, the surface of a glass of water, and the leaves of a potted plant.

I wonder whether the technique might become sensitive enough to capture sound from old silent movies, newsreels, and home movies.

Extracting audio from visual information: Algorithm recovers speech from the vibrations of a potato-chip bag filmed through soundproof glass

Photo: Salt-and-Vinegar, by Gerolsteiner91. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons

This is how danah boyd works

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For years danah boyd has been watching the internet through an academic lens, studying how society interacts with technology. Her recent book, It’s Complicated, looks at how teenagers, born into an online world, are navigating social media and whether they’re better off for it.

I’m danah boyd, Researcher at Microsoft, and This Is How I Work

Dogs and robots work together on emergency response teams

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Dogs are “fast, efficient, able to cover all sorts of terrain, can understand both verbal and gestural commands, and they run on dog food.” But dogs can’t move rubble or fly. Robots can do those things.

What if robots and dogs could work together on emergency response? That’s a job for the Smart Emergency Response System (SERS), a joint project involving MIT and other universities along with National Instruments, Boeing, and other businesses. Robots communicate with a command center using whatever wireless networks are available.

The dogs are intended to be an integral part of this system, and they’re being outfitted with modular “cybernetic suits” that can be rigged up with a variety of sensors depending on the situation.

The suits also monitor the dogs themselves, sending back their heart rates so that their handlers can make sure that they’re doing okay. It works in the other direction, too, with speakers on the vests relaying vocal commands, and embedded tactile systems providing gentle nudges to steer the dogs remotely.

Emergency Response Teams Combine Mobile Robots, Drones, and Dogs – IEEE Spectrum