Robonaut, installed on the International Space Station to perform chores for astronauts, just got its first pair of real legs.
NASA says that the new seven-jointed legs are designed for climbing in zero gravity and offer a considerable nine-foot leg span. Instead of feet, the legs feature “end effectors” designed to grapple onto handrails and sockets located both inside the space station and, eventually, on the ISS’s exterior. Robonaut’s end effectors have a built-in vision system—almost like a pair of eyes—that are designed to eventually automate each limb’s approaching and grasping.
Knocking down a concrete building usually takes brute force: Wrecking balls, huge excavators, or explosives rip apart walls while fire hoses spray water to keep the clouds of dust down. It’s an energy-intensive process, and after everything’s been torn apart, the concrete often ends up in a landfill or has to be trucked to a recycling facility. But a new concrete-erasing robot may eventually transform the messy business of demolition.
As it bounces through the Australian outback, the typical kangaroo can cover around 25 to 30 feet per hop. It’s a model of efficiency: Every time the kangaroo hits the ground, its tendons stretch to store energy like the spring in a pogo stick, so it can easily speed up without getting tired. It’s so good at hopping, in fact, that for the last two years, a German company called Festo has been secretly developing a robot that tries to copy everything a natural kangaroo can do.
We stumbled across this project, called Turbulence, over on Prosthetic Knowledge: it’s a series of paintings, done charmingly in watercolor, by a robot. The robotic arm quickly traces three-sided polygons, over and over, creating an oddly beautiful sort of geometric figure almost like a honeycomb.
Last month, prosecutors said Thomas Gagnon’s former girlfriend received an invitation to join one of his Google+ Circles. She’d recently broken up with Gagnon and had obtained a restraining order against him soon afterward. Upon discovering the unwelcome Google+ invite from her ex-beau online, she went down to the local police station with a print-out of the invitation. Roughly 90 minutes later, police arrested Gagnon for his Google+ activity and was later charged with violating the restraining order barring contact with her.
The only wrinkle? Gagnon’s attorney claims his client never sent the request, arguing that he “has no idea how the woman … got such an invitation” and "suggesting that it might have been sent by a robot."