Clinical autopsy numbers have been decreasing as a recent trend over the past several years. The declining acceptance of autopsies stems from the complication of getting consent from the next of kin. This results in low autopsy numbers and reduces reliable postmortem information that is crucial for quality control within the medical care system. Less and less valuable information for medical education and national mortality statistics affects not only the health care system in general, but also the planning and focusing of further research projects in health care.
Beginning with an FSTM grant, Emil Sobol and colleagues from the Institute of Lasers & Information Technologies (Moscow) joined Craig Fryar of Torquin Therapeutics (Austin, TX) to develop new equipment for non-invasive laser correction of deviated septa. The project created a feedback control system for the technology, known as laser septochondrocorrection, and included a technical and market assessment of the cartilage laser reshaping technology.
A human version of the classic arcade game Pacman, superimposing the virtual 3D game world on to city streets and buildings, is being developed by researchers in Singapore. Players equipped with a wearable computer, headset and goggles can physically enter a real world game space by choosing to play the role of Pacman or one of the Ghosts. A central computer system keeps track of all their movements with the aid of GPS receivers and a wireless local area network.
Lonely? MIT has the companion robot for you. It’s Huggable (that’s Huggable™), who’s sort of like some robotic love child between a ConnectR, a Pleo, and a tribble (a robotic tribble). The end result is designed to be a much more tactile and friendly form for robotic companionship and telepresence. Pretty much his entire body is (or will be soon) covered in touch/force/temperature sensors, and he’s got cameras behind his eyes and a speaker in his nose and servo motors six ways to Sunday. Although Huggable is packed with way more hardware than your average bear, most of the actual number crunching (audio and visual processing, for example) will probably be done off-bear on a centrally located server which will wirelessly receive data from Huggable’s sensors and send back commands.
Just as NASA and its Phoenix robot find water on Mars and search for Martian life, a key veteran of several Mars research programs—including 1996's Sojourner (the first Mars rover) and the two rovers currently operating on the Red Planet (Opportunity and Spirit)—is now turning his attention to the moon. Leading NASA roboticist Brian Wilcox was the supervisor of the robotic vehicle group at the agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory when he proposed a new kind of lunar vehicle, the All-Terrain Hex-Legged Extra-Terrestrial Explorer, or ATHLETE. The system rides on six wheels until it meets an obstacle, then it locks its wheels to step over it. His proposal worked its way through the gauntlet of the NASA vetting process, but Wilcox had a choice: stick with his job as supervisor, or engineer the ultimate moonbot. He chose the hands-on approach, and his efforts are rolling and stomping around in deserts and labs in preparation for a possible trip to the moon. PM caught up with him for a conversation about the past and future of robotic extraterrestrial exploration.
A new study from Georgia Tech shows that when patients with macular degeneration focus on using another part of their retina to compensate for their loss of central vision, their brain seems to compensate by reorganizing its neural connections. Age–related macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in the elderly. The study appears in the December edition of the journal Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience.
The Remotely Operated Mobile Platform (ROMP) created by roboticist Chris Rogers is a sophisticated RC platform. The robot is a rugged, all-terrain vehicle that is ready to do your evil or not-so-evil bidding. For you devious types out there, check out the WROMP -- the older brother of the ROMP. WROMP comes loaded with a firearm. You can drive the 'bot around and shoot stuff that you can't see. On second thought, that sounds like a really bad idea. Don't try this at home folks!
University of Pittsburgh neurobiologist Andrew Schwartz dazzled the scientific world last year when he demonstrated that a monkey could feed itself chunks of zucchini using a robotic arm powered by the animal's own brain signals.
But with its simple, claw-like gripper and limited range of motion, the robotic arm used in Schwartz's experiments was a crude facsimile of a device which someday could help amputees or severely paralyzed patients.
A rocket-powered bionic arm has been successfully developed and tested by a team of mechanical engineers at Vanderbilt University as part of a $30 million military program to develop advanced prosthetic devices for next generation of super-soldiers.
The mechanical arm mechanical arm with a miniature rocket motor can lift (curl) about 20 to 25 pounds, three to four times more than current commercial arms, and can do so three to four times faster.
This week Raven, the mobile surgical robot developed by the University of Washington, leaves for the depths of the Atlantic Ocean. The UW will participate in NASA's mission to submerge a surgeon and robotic gear in a simulated spaceship. For 12 days the surgical robotic system will be put through its paces in an underwater capsule that mimics conditions in a space shuttle. Surgeons back in Seattle will guide its movements.
MIT researchers have developed a wheelchair with unique responsiveness to human muscle pressure, so tasks that previously required the help of another person-in most cases, a nursing home or hospital aide-can now be accomplished unassisted.
The wheelchair, combined with a horseshoe-shaped bed, forms a system known as RHOMBUS (Reconfigurable Holonomic Omnidirectional Mobile Bed with Unified Seating). The powered wheelchair can be docked in the horseshoe portion of the system and reconfigured to a flat, stationary position forming a twin-size bed. The wheelchair's speed and direction are controlled by operating a joystick or by giving commands to the onboard computer.
Honda has been researching artificial mobility for a long time. In 2000, the company introduced the Asimo humanoid robot. Last Spring Honda showed an experimental model of a walking assist device which could help the elderly and other people with weakened leg muscles. Designed for people who are still capable of walking on their own, it's worn with a belt around the hips and thighs and helps to move the wearer's legs.
For all the bad news in medicine today -- studies that cell phones might cause cancer, or that widely used flame retardants could have dire effects -- there's also a lot of good news. Recent studies have moved us closer to curing paralysis with nerve bypasses wired directly into the brain. And there have been a broad variety of new treatments for cancer devised; many involving nanoparticles.
Now the world's first autonomous artificial heart can be added to that list.
When was the last time you stepped on an ant? Last week? Yesterday? Every chance you get? Yes, we do tend to take things much smaller than ourselves for granted, but a new generation of ant-sized robotics may revolutionize the future of outer-space colonization, if they don't wipe us out on Judgement Day first.
Marc Szymanski, a robotics researcher at the University of Karlsruhe in Germany, is part of a team of European researchers and scientists that is working on developing miniature autonomous robots that can work together to accomplish different tasks in many of the same ways that colonies of termites, ants or bees can work together to gather food, build nests, etc.