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December 2004

  • Pyro (Project) - Pyro, Python Robotics is a top-down approach to programming real and simulated robots. It is a library, GUI, and set of objects in Python that allows beginning and experienced roboticists alike to easily control mobile robots. It comes with a simulator, and also works with Player/Stage/ Gazebo. Hardware supported includes ActivMedia's Pioneer, K-Team's Khepera and Hemisson, Sony's AIBO, Evolution's ER1, and others. It also contains Python code for artificial neural networks, genetic algorithm/programming, vision (V4L), self-organizing maps, mapping, localization, and more AI-related code.
  • New EU Cognitive Robot Project (Robots.net) - There is a new four-year, €6.25 million European project to develop a cognitive robot capable of learning, internal representations, planning, understaning language meaning, and social interaction. According to a new ElectronicsWeekly.com article, researchers plan to put the robot together using the best existing AI components that have been developed to date for things like natural language, voice recognition, machine vision and other cognitive and sensory processes. Researchers at the Univeristy of Birmingham describe the process of combining all those bits and pieces into something that works as ambitious and hard.
  • The ten secrets of embedded debugging (Embedded.com article) - Debugging your system may be the most important step in the development process. Here are ten hard-won lessons from the embedded trenches. The article covers common problems like memory leaks and optimization problems as well as more unique issues such as debugging software that has to interface with the world through noisy sensors.
  • The Real da Vinci Code (Wired article) - Is his mysterious three-wheeled cart a proto automobile? A remote-controlled robot? A rolling Renaissance computer? The quest to rebuild Leonardo's "impossible machine."
  • Supercomputer breaks speed record (BBC article) - The US is poised to push Japan off the top of the supercomputing chart with IBM's prototype Blue Gene/L machine. DOE test results show that Blue Gene/L has managed speeds of 70.72 teraflops.

November 2004

  • Duke Wall Climbing Robot (Robots.net article) - A recent PhysOrg.com article describes a Duke University wall climbing robot, name Walter, that took first prize at the seventh annual International Conference on Climbing and Walking Robots.
  • Organised chaos gets robots going (New Scientist article) - A control system based on chaos has made a simulated, multi-legged robot walk successfully. The researchers behind the feat say it may have brought us closer to understanding how people and animals learn to move.
  • Early Language Acquisition: Cracking the Speech Code (Nature Review article) - Infants learn language with remarkable speed, but how they do it remains a mystery. New data show that infants use computational strategies to detect the statistical and prosodic patterns in language input, and that this leads to the discovery of phonemes and words.
  • The Single Neuron Theory of Consciousness (paper) - Steven Sevush of University of Miami School of Medicine takes this idea down to the level of individual neurons in a 2002 paper, The Single Neuron Theory of Consciousness, just released online. Sevush believes "a single brain at any given moment harbors many separate conscious minds, each one assumed to be associated with the activity of a different individual neuron". He suggests that because all these "conscious beings" that reside in a single brain have very similar experiences, it feels like a single "stream of consciousness" to us instead of a "chorus of minds".

October 2004

  • Combat robots wow crowds (New Scientist article - not so new but cool) - Humanoid robots go at each other in Japan.
  • Unusual pair team up on battle-ready robot (MSNBC article) - In a trailblazing pairing of robotics and tractor companies, iRobot and John Deere announced plans Monday to build a 9-foot-long semi-autonomous battlefield vehicle.
  • When Robots Rule the World (Wired article) - The adoption of domestic robots is predicted to have increased seven-fold by the year 2007 according to a report issued by the U.N. Economic Commission.
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