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Friday, February 16, 2001 Geek News - Robots that can kill Robots that can kill
posted 5:04pm EST Thu Aug 17 2000
The Thailand Research Fund unveiled five robots in Bangkok, including one "roboguard." The roboguard is equipped with a camera and sensors for movement and heat--it is also armed. The roboguard "can be programmed to shoot automatically or wait for a fire order delivered with a password from anywhere through the Internet."
Suggested uses for the robot include guarding museums or other places where items of high value are kept.
Read more at the Bangkok Post. Geek News - Flo the robo-nurse Flo the robo-nurse
posted 4:50pm EST Fri Nov 03 2000
Robotic nurses could save the U.S. $100 billion dollars in medical and retirement costs caused by incorrectly taken medication. That's just one of the reasons that Professor Sebastian Thrun, director of the Robot Learning Lab at Carnegie Mellon University, and his students created Flo, a five-foot tall robot that should help improve the lives of elderly or infirm people living at home.
Built with $1.4 million in funding from the National Science Foundation, Flo is designed to help health care personnel (doctors, nurses, etc.), not replace them. The primary purpose of the "nurse-bot" is to remind its "patients" when to take their medicine, but it has many other functions as well. Flo can alert others if the patient falls; it has handles so that it can be used as a movement aid; its built-in TV screen and camera enable remote communication with healthcare providers; and it can send and retrieve e-mail and info from the Web. Flo also has voice-recognition software and "the rudiments of a personality." [...]

Robots making robots, with some help.(Brief Article)
Author/s: P.W.
Issue: Sept 16, 2000
To remind themselves how much better their final products could be, robot designers need only look in the mirror. Yet the exquisite biological machines they'll see there emerge from a blind self-replication process, called evolution, and not from a deliberate design effort. In the latter, an engineer devises a robot for welding metal or baking cookies, for instance.
Betting what works for life may also work for artificial life, researchers in Massachusetts have demonstrated the first robotic system that designs and builds robotic offspring from scratch with minimal human intervention.
"The idea that a robotic system can make another robot is not self-reproduction, but it's a step along the way," says Jordan Pollack of Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass. He and Hod Lipson, also of Brandeis, describe their automated robot maker in the Aug. 31 NATURE.
Last year, Pollack and another colleague set a computer to designing simple structures by a hit-or-miss process that mimics evolution (SN: 9/4/99, p. 156). After many generations, the researchers used Lego blocks to build the computer's designs.[...]

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Battlebot: The future of sports?
By Patricia Jacobus
Staff Writer, CNET
February 15, 2001, 1:50 p.m. PT
Battlebot, billed as the next smash-hit geek sport, has launched a Web site featuring animation robots designed to, um, kick each other's bots.
The Web site seems ideal for the geek, macho crowd that can't afford to build giant steel machines with kill saws, pulverizers or ramrod spears. Instead, with a few clicks of the mouse, enthusiasts of the sport can paste together a virtual robot and engage in virtual combat.
"It's crazy how popular the sport is," said Deb McCain, spokeswoman for Iguana Studios, a New York-based Web design company that helped build the Battlebot site.
A key component of the virtual combat element involves an emerging animation technology called Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG), which is under recommendation by the World Wide Web Consortium to become a standard in online graphic designs.
According to backers of the standard, vector graphics are more flexible than other available animation technology, able to make computer images fit into any screen--from cell phone displays to monitors. SVG renders more easily because it is written in pure XML (Extensible Markup Language), a programming language that makes it as simple as tapping a computer key to exchange large amounts of information over the Web. Vector graphics can then easily move through tight bandwidth connections that typically choke on bulky bulky files, such as animation.
SVG competes directly with Macromedia's Flash, which even designers at Iguana acknowledge has a big head start. The Battlebot project is the first commercial use of the technology, which is still in a "beta," or testing, phase.
[...]The sport attracts mostly a crowd of engineers, special effects experts and mechanics who build robots weighing as much as 400 pounds that then are either reduced to tiny pieces of scrap metal after combat or emerge victorious.