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The World’s First Cyborg Olympics Will Take Place In 2016

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powered leg prostheses competitionBefore he tragically shot his girlfriend, South African runner Oscar Pistorius was known as the blade runner, or the fastest man with no legs. Pistorius was the first amputee to win a medal in track at the 2011 World Championships, and he was the first double amputee to race in the 2012 Summer Olympics (he didn’t medal there, but he took home a couple golds and world records in the 2012 paralympics). Before those Olympics, Pistorius was initially disqualified by the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) on the grounds that his prosthetics gave him an unfair advantage. At the time, I remember thinking that was ludicrous — the guy is a double amputee, after all. How could he possibly have an advantage over runners who have their own legs?

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World’s First Start-Up Competition For Robotics Is Taking Entries

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robot launch 2014Have you ever been engaged in some dull or repetitive task and thought, “I’d love a robot to do this for me?” If so, you might be able to make your vision a reality. The world’s first start-up competition for robotics is underway, and is accepting entries until March 30.

Robot Launch 2014 is looking for ideas for robot start-ups. They want business models, prototypes, and just plain old great ideas. If you’re wondering what exactly constitutes a robot start-up, their definition is pretty broad. We could be talking about some kind of conventional robot, an appliance, some other connected device, a sensor, an actuator, artificial intelligence — you get the picture.

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Guy Hoffman’s TED Talk Tackles The Task Of Making Robots Seem More Human

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robot and musicianEven though it’s in the title of this TED Talk, “souls” is a bit misleading. What roboticist, musician, and actor Guy Hoffman is actually talking about is imbuing robots with a sense of intuition and adventure, which makes them less the calculating, rational machines we expect them to be, and more like us.

Hoffman was first inspired by Pixar’s short film Luxo Jr., which features a desk lamp. When watching the film, Hoffman says, you actually feel something for this lamp, which blew his mind. So he went to NYC to study animation, wanting to learn how Pixar could arouse emotional feelings for something inanimate and commonplace. While there, Hoffman learned two main rules: first, eliciting an emotional response has more to do with how an object moves rather than how it looks, and second, that animators should be actors — they should use their own bodies to act out scenes and gauge movement, and then use what they find in their animations.

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Robots Galore At This Year’s CES (Plus Doc Brown And A DeLorean)

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AlibabaI officially have a new entry on my bucket list — someday, I will attend CES, the Consumer Electronics Association’s (CEA) international conference showcasing the best inventions and innovations from around the world. With over 3,000 exhibits and 300 conferences and sessions, this is a tech geek’s dream. They’ve got electronics, computers, gaming, telecommunications, driverless cars, and, most importantly, robots. And more robots. For those of us who didn’t get to attend the conference, I’m sure we’ll see some of these bots on the market soon. Until then, here’s a preview to get you all excited and ready to shell out dough for these robots that perform very specific tasks.

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DARPA’s Robotics Challenge Narrows The Field To Eight Finalists

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SCHAFT robotDARPA’s Robotics Challenge, where teams compete to design and develop disaster response robots,
kicked off in June, with the software-based Virtual Robotics Challenge. For this first phase, teams create software and ran it on a robotic simulation. The challenge has now moved from virtual to physical, and the trials have just wrapped up, leaving a field of eight finalists that will compete in the Grand Challenge next year. In case you were wondering, the winner walks away with $2 million in prize money.

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Scientists Make A Breakthrough With Mind-Controlled Robotic Limbs

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We’ve come a long way over the years when it comes to robotics technology and prosthetics for the disabled. While we’ve almost completely mimicked the robotic arms that we saw years ago in Empire Strikes Back, we’re still working on getting a good level of control and articulation when it comes to legs and feet. Now a researcher at the Long Beach Veterans Affairs Medical Center in California has managed to create a system for controlling robotic legs with an EEG that could make wheelchairs a thing of the past.