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Metal 3D Printing

With the popularity of the 3D printer on the rise, there was just bound to be someone to think, “Why use plastics that can snap? Why not just use metal?”

Well, here it is, the metal 3D printer! While huge industrial metal 3D printers have been used for around 3 years now, Matterfab, a metal 3D printing startup, has recently developed a cheaper and smaller version. Unlike the conventional 3D printer which extrudes out plastic filament, the metal printer works by laying down metal powder on a build plate, then melting layer upon layer onto the piece with a laser.

You can trust the durability of these metal 3D printed parts; GE has been using these parts for their new engines, due out in 2016.

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Coder in Chief

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Barack Obama: Harvard Graduate, Senator, Nobel Laureate, President of the United States, … coder?

In celebration of the international “Hour of Code” event, Obama lead over 20 middle school students in the White House by writing a single line of JavaScript. And while this article has nothing to do with robots, it’s great to see how STEM is getting even the attention of our Commander-in-Chief.

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Robot Waiters

We’ve seen the robot bellhop, and now we’re seeing the robot waiter.

One restaurant in China has replaced its human waiters with robotic ones, and has been drawing in huge crowds who want to see the robots in action. The robots themselves navigate the sea of customers and the tables by following magnetic strips on the ground and using different optical sensors. The robots even have a 40 word vocabulary, aiding with some simple “conversation” with the customers.

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15000 Robots

Wow…that’s a lot of robots.

Well, I guess that’s just the right amount if you want to do what Amazon is doing with all these Kiva robots. To pack and ship all its orders during this holiday season, Amazon is using all these robots to organize and sort all its packages.

Each robot can pick up a 7 foot tall shelf, and stops by the sorting center for just the right amount of time for the needed item to be picked off, then returns the shelf to where it’s supposed to go. The robots not only have to know where the other robots are, but also who’s the closest free robot to each shelf, and how to navigate there, even with all the other robots bustling around. They can even go charge themselves automatically.

 

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Knife Finds Cancer

Usually when surgeons remove tumor tissue, they try to leave a “margin” of healthy tissue to ensure that all the cancer has been removed. This means that the patient has to remain under anesthetic for another 30 minutes for tests to come back, and may even be subjected to more surgeries.

However, thanks to the iKnife, a one cut surgery may soon be possible. The iKnife sniffs the “smoke” from the electrosurgical removal of cancerous tissue and tells the surgeon immediately if the tissue is cancerous or healthy, making the surgery process that much quicker and safer for the patient.

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Sprinting Dinosaur-Bot

It’s official: bipedal robots have now surpassed the capabilities of us, bipedal humans.

Designed by scientists at the┬áKorea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, this bipedal robot, designed after the velociraptor, can reach speeds of up to 46 kilometers per hour(28.6 miles per hour) on a treadmill. And while “Raptor” is not yet faster than Boston Dynamic’s “Cheetah”, the world’s reigning fastest legged robot, it is already faster than Usain Bolt, the world’s fastest man, whose top speed is estimated to be 43.92 km/hr.

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Robots Create Ghosts?

Ok. The title might be a bit misleading. Recently, Olaf Blanke and his team of researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne identified the region of your brain involved in such hallucinating ghostly presences –┬áthe feeling of someone near you when there’s no one there.

Robot recreates the sensation of a ghostly presence.

The robot they used had two parts to it: the master and the slave. The volunteers maneuvered the arm of the master robot while the slave robot used those exact movements to feel around their backs. The master robot also applied a force back onto the volunteers’ hands while being moved around. The two robots were offset by 500 milliseconds (0.5 seconds). This made the brain, confounded by the mismatch between internal bodily signals (movements of their arms) and the out-of-sync sensation of the touch on their backs, attribute the touch to the presence of someone standing behind them.

The researchers then picked out the part of the brain stimulated and compared that to the scans of other tests done on epileptics and others with sensory-motor problems. And while the robot isn’t the main focus of this story, it’s pretty cool how robots are helping in the advancement of physiology and psychology, fields that they are not usually associated with helping.

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