Archive for June, 2016

Blind Travellers “See” With Ease

Washington DC is a place full of spectacular sights. Everyone who visits will be flabbergasted with the busy city. Now blind travellers to the city may have expected to immune to the sights, but technology is making it possible for them to have an amazing experience there. The L’Enfant Plaza transit station is a busy, noisy junction with three levels and five different Metro lines converging.

Not exactly the kind of place a blind traveller would be comfortable navigating all on his own. That’s what you can be excused for thinking because you don’t know about the  cooperative robots Aaron Steinfeld, NSF-funded robotic scientist at Carnegie Mellon University and his team are building.

The job of the co-robots is to empower people with disabilities to safely travel and navigate unfamiliar environments. Given the scope of area and constantly changing obstacles in an area such as the station, this is going to be a huge undertaking for the team.

Essentially they hope to be able to give the person a good idea of where they are located, how they can get to where they need to be, and not making the blind person feel as awkward as they would have if they were dealing with areal person in place of a robot. This is one science project that’s really going to make a difference.


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Drone Medicine

Imagine a scenario where you are in a tough to reach spot and end up having a medical emergency. Say you went hiking and got lost. You are diabetic and your medications are not with you. You need to take that insulin or you will go into a coma. Now you are literally miles from civilisation on the side of a mountain that you were hiking up. What do you do?

A few years ago all you could have done was call on your mobile and hope that rescue workers managed to come find you in time. Then you just didn’t have the option of a drone honing in on you using a GPS system and guess what? It’s actually carrying that medicine that you need. All you got to do is wait for it to come land next to you, get your medicine off it and you are saved.

Matternet is a start – up which is looking to do more than deliver just individual medicines to people in trouble. It’s looking at making drops of medicinal packages to emergency or disaster hot areas. Places which have suffered earthquakes, tsunamis, and other disasters would not have to wait for the physical arrival of people to get help. This new drone based science project would be able to get them help much faster.

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Two Decades of Robotics in Medicine

Medical robotics has undergone a drastic change in the last couple of decades that robots have been used in treating patients. While even today the true potential of robotics has yet to be utilised in the medical industry there is no denying the fact that a number of less invasive treatments have been created using the field.

The new robotic implements in use have made it possible to get much better pre-operative and or real-time imaging for the surgeons making their job so much easier than before. The accuracy of reaching difficult spots during surgery has also been improved with the use of robotic arms. Surgery is not the only medical field that has received aid from robotics.

A lot is being done with robotics in rehabilitation medicine as well. The patients of strokes who need to relearn how to use their limbs can work rather well with medical robotic arms that allow them to progress with their rehabilitation on their own pace. A number of hospitals around the world have begun using such robots to help with patient care after recovery.

Needless to say any new science projects that deal with medical robotics are likely to be rather popular considering the amount of help they already render doctors and patients alike.

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The New Flying Car is Almost Here

For those obsessed with automobile history, the hybrid car is an idea which has been followed down the ages. Even in the popular animation movie Planes, from Disney Studio, we see a hybrid car and plane giving the main character expert advice. Having true door to door transportation for long distance travel that involves flying has been a popular dream.

A dream which may just soon become a reality. The Terrafugia TF-X is the first fully autonomous flying car under development by Boston-based Terrafugia. Its expected release date is listed as eight to twelve years. The  TFX is a semi-autonomous four-seat hybrid electric flying car with vertical take off and landing capabilities. Now this is the kind of science fiction that comes to life as soon as technology catches up.

It has  retractable wings attached with pusher propellers while aerial thrust is provided by a ducted fan at the rear.It will be able to fit in a single car garage so storage is not going to be a deterrent. Powered by two plug-in hybrid 600-horsepower electric motors and a 300-horsepower fuel engine, the TF-X is planned to have a flight range of 500 miles (805 km) with a cruising flight speed of 200 mph (322 km/h) without the need to refuel or recharge. That’s one science project people are going to want to see.

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May I lend you a robotic hand?

At the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore robotic engineers are as much in demand as physical therapists. Part of the reason is their physical therapy program developed to help stroke victims relearn how to use their limbs. It starts with a simple computer game played with the “H-man” to sharpen the movement skills and then moves on into individually tailored effort.

Associate Professor Dominico Campolo said that they want to bring these robots to homes and community centres, where you can have multiple stations for patients to play, literally, with other patients or therapists. Basically, you can monitor the patients from the hospital. They are trying to decentralise healthcare.

As per Campolo the “H-man” is a more financially viable option compared to the robots that are already in use in physical therapy units with some hospitals. These robots cost about S$200,000, while the “H-man” costs 20 to 25 per cent of that price making is far more affordable.

The H-man has a had fairly successful trials and is only likely to improve as the researchers continue to fine tune the process. This is one science project which can really change the lives of stroke victims in a positive manner.


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