Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?
Take advantage of Black Friday with 15% off sitewide with coupon code "BLACKFRIDAY" on Slashdot Deals (some exclusions apply)". ×

Humanoid Robot Wakes In Space, Tweets 91

DeviceGuru writes to note that "Robonaut 2 (aka R2), the first humanoid robot to become a permanent resident of the International Space Station (ISS), was awakened from stasis this week after six months in orbit. R2s first words? 'Those electrons feel GOOD!' The success of R2's activation on the ISS paves the way for putting R2 through its first movements in orbit on Sept. 1, when R2 will be sent commands for moving its arms and hands. Assuming these and other tests proceed without a hitch, R2 will start assisting the ISS crew with simple tasks in 2012. Coffee? Tea? Cigarettes?"

Submission + - SD cards: the cheap way to boost laptop storage (

Barence writes: "Many modern laptops come with only a limited capacity SSD that cost hundreds of pounds to upgrade. PC Pro has investigated whether SD cards make a cheaper alternative to upgrading your SSD. The biggest problem is that SD cards have limited number of guaranteed write cycles before the card risks failing, so they’re best considered for storing files you don’t update often – a media collection, for example. Read and write speeds are also much slower than those available from SSDs. Nevertheless, "if you’re after only a quick boost in capacity for non-critical files, the sheer convenience of being able to leave an SD card in the laptop at all times makes it a great way to save money," PC Pro concludes."

Robots Successfully Invent Their Own Language 159

An anonymous reader writes "One group of Australian researchers have managed to teach robots to do something that, until now, was the reserve of humans and a few other animals: they've taught them how to invent and use spoken language. The robots, called LingoDroids, are introduced to each other. In order to share information, they need to communicate. Since they don't share a common language, they do the next best thing: they make one up. The LingoDroids invent words to describe areas on their maps, speak the word aloud to the other robot, and then find a way to connect the word and the place, the same way a human would point to themselves and speak their name to someone who doesn't speak their language."

Walking HECTOR Robot Inspired By Stick Insect 46

Zothecula writes "In an effort to understand how animals move elegantly and in turn provide robots with the same ability, researchers at the University of Bielefeld's Center of Excellence 'Cognitive Interaction Technology' (CITEC) have developed the hexapod walking robot called HECTOR (Hexapod Cognitive autonomously Operating Robot). Designed within CITEC's multi-disciplinary Mulero project, the robot possesses the scaled up morphology of a stick insect and will be used as a test bed in various departments and projects at the University."

Robots Find Wreckage of AF447 148

Last week we reported on an army of robots searching for Air France 447 over a nearly 4,000 sq mile patch of the Atlantic ocean. Today mriya3 noted that "BEA, the French air accident investigation office, reports that the wreckage of Air France flight 447 has been found. The plane, an Airbus A330, crashed June 1, 2009 while flying from Rio de Janeiro to Paris. Investigators hope to find the cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder. A press conference will be held today."
The Military

MIT Drone Finds Its Way Using Kinect Vision 77

garymortimer writes "This MIT multicopter is able to fly in GPS denied environments by creating a 3D map of its surroundings on the fly (no pun intended) based on point clouds generated by a Kinect. Also pretty handy for avoiding trees and other obstacles outside at low level. This processing is onboard, unlike other systems that depend on motion capture rigs."

Mars Rover Down? Spirit Stays Silent 91

astroengine writes "One year after NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit stopped communicating with Earth, mission managers have announced that they will give the stranded rover one more month to send a signal before they scale back the search. But things aren't looking good. In the words of JPL-based Mars rover driver Scott Maxwell, 'Spirit was so close to us, just a year ago. Snap your fingers, and she's a hundred million miles distant and we can't even prove she's alive.'"
The Media

Replacing Sports Bloggers With an Algorithm 120

tesmar tips a report up at TechCrunch that begins "Here come the robo sports journalists. While people in the media biz worry about content mills like Demand Media and Associated Content spitting out endless SEO-targeted articles written by low-paid Internet writers, at least those articles are still written by humans. We may no longer need the humans, at least for data-driven stories. A startup in North Carolina, StatSheet, today is launching a remarkable network of 345 sports sites, one dedicated to each Division 1 college basketball team in the US. For instance, there is a site for the Michigan State Spartans, North Carolina Tar Heels, and Ohio Buckeyes. Every story on each site was written by a robot, or to put it more precisely, by StatSheet's content algorithms. 'The posts are completely auto-generated,' says founder Robbie Allen. 'The only human involvement is with creating the algorithms that generate the posts.'"

Toy Robots Can Guard Your Home 151

Orome1 writes "Worried about burglars ransacking your house? Buy yourself some toy robots! It is what Robert Oschler, a Florida-based programmer, did. He bought a Rovio — a Wi-Fi enabled mobile webcam robot that can be picked up from toy sections of many stores — and modified it to suit his needs. The robot already has a camera, a microphone and speakers, but the improvements he made to the software allowed him to enhance the audio and video quality of this existing equipment, and to create specific routines for the robots. This way, every time he feels the need to check what's going on in the house, he simply goes online with his laptop and directs the robot through the house."

Robots Guarding US Nuclear Stockpiles In Nevada 128

kkleiner writes "The US National Nuclear Security Administration recently announced that it has started using autonomous robot vehicles to patrol the vast desert surrounding its Nevada National Security Site (NNSS). The 1360+ square miles of territory is home to millions of tons of low grade nuclear waste, as well as Cold War Era nuclear weapons, and cutting edge nuclear testing research. Guarding those precious nuclear materials is the Mobile Detection Assessment Response System (MDARS) robot, which is essentially a camera on a mini-Hummer. The MDARS can roam and scout the desert on its own, alerting a remote operator when it encounters something that shouldn't be there."

Robots Taught to Deceive 239

An anonymous reader found a story that starts "'We have developed algorithms that allow a robot to determine whether it should deceive a human or other intelligent machine and we have designed techniques that help the robot select the best deceptive strategy to reduce its chance of being discovered,' said Ronald Arkin, a Regents professor in the Georgia Tech School of Interactive Computing."

Robonaut To Escort On Space Shuttle Mission 74

An anonymous reader writes "The STS-133 crew will deliver robot Robonaut 2 (R2) to the International Space Station. Cocooned inside an aluminum frame and foam blocks cut out to its shape, R2 is heading to the station inside the Permanent Multipurpose Module in space shuttle Discovery's payload bay. R2, with its humanlike hands and arms and stereo vision, is expected to perform some of the repetitive or more mundane functions inside the orbiting laboratory to free astronauts for more complicated tasks and experiments."

South Korea Deploys Killer Robot In DMZ 243

shikaisi writes "Not content with just killing people in computer games, South Korea has gone one better and is deploying remotely controlled sentry robots on the border with the north. According to the article 'If the command centre operator cannot identify possible intruders through the robot's audio or video communications system, the operator can order it to fire its gun or 40mm automatic grenade launcher.'"

Virginia Tech Students Build CHARLI, a Human-Sized Robot 82

smackay writes "As CHARLI takes his first steps, anxious onlookers stand ready to catch him if he falls. His stride is short, but upright, as one foot is placed in front of the other in the basement of Virginia Tech's Randolph Hall. But CHARLI is no toddler. He is a 5-foot-tall humanoid robot. Video of this ground-breaking robot included."

If it's worth doing, it's worth doing for money.