Carnegie Mellon University

News Clips - April 27, 2007

From April 20 to April 26, Carnegie Mellon Media Relations counted 397 references to the university in worldwide publications. Here is a sample.

Special Section: TeRK Internet-Controlled Robots

How to build your very own Internet-controlled robots
Washington Post (PC World) | April 26
Carnegie Mellon University researchers say building robots doesn't have to be rocket science. They've unveiled a set of recipes for building Internet-controlled robots with off-the-shelf parts. The Telepresence Robot Kit (TeRK) features one key piece of Linux-based hardware called a Qwerk controller, but otherwise calls on would-be robot builders to use off-the-shelf parts. Qwerk has USB interfaces and controls a robot's motors, cameras and other components. It also allows for wireless connectivity to the Internet, from which the robots can be controlled. One example of a robot that could be built with the kit is a three-wheeled rover with a camera attached that could keep an eye on your house or pet. Other examples are a flower loaded with sensors and an Internet-controlled teddy bear. The TeRK project is led by Associate Professor of Robotics Illah Nourbakhsh and members of his Community Robotics, Education and Technology Empowerment Lab. Charmed Labs of Austin also developed Qwerk.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/26/AR2007042600109.html

 

Robots make house a home
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | April 26
When Caley the beagle began chewing at furniture, Emily Hamner did what any resourceful computer scientist does: build a robot to baby-sit her 1-year-old puppy. Equipped with a video camera that connects to Hamner's wireless home network, the soccer ball-sized robot allows Hamner to log on to any computer and check on Caley. She can command the robot to rove around her Squirrel Hill home in search of the puppy and plans to install a dog-treat dispenser to reward good behavior. The robot is one of three introduced Wednesday by Carnegie Mellon. But unlike many of the university's new high-tech devices, the inner-workings of these machines aren't a closely guarded secret. In fact, the scientists want the public to copy them and build their own versions. It's part of a project to demystify robots for the public and make computer science more attractive to students in middle and high school -- particularly girls. "Our dream was (to create) truly sophisticated robotics systems for the public," said Illah Nourbakhsh, an associate professor of robotics and director of Carnegie Mellon's Community Robotics, Education and Technology Empowerment -- CREATE -- lab.
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/s_504631.html

 

Internet 'recipes' make home-built robots for household use take shape
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | April 26
As it began ambling about the kitchen, it captured the whole jaunt on its Web cam and then lost track of its surroundings, as any stranger would in an alien environment, and crashed into a set of dishes before it plunged off the Carnegie Mellon robotic professor's kitchen counter. While the episode taught Illah Nourbakhsh never to publicly log in to his Telepresence Robot in a room full of computer scientists -- you never know who might want to hack into your robot -- it also demonstrated the amazing capabilities of a home-built robot that could be controlled by a click of a button through the Internet.
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07116/781134-96.stm

 

Carnegie Mellon unveils robot kits
Pittsburgh Business Times | April 26
Wheeled robots with mounted camera and flowers with infrared sensors may soon be available for anyone to build. These devices and more were introduced at an event Wednesday held by Carnegie Mellon University. The university unveiled the Telepresence Robot kit (TeRK), a recipe for robots that wirelessly connect to the Internet but are simple enough to be built with off-the-shelf parts. "The Internet connection means the robots are much more global," said Illah Nourbakhsh, associate professor of robotics at Carnegie Mellon and a developer of the kit. "We want robots that don't just subscribe to geeky notions of what robots should be.
http://milwaukee.bizjournals.com/pittsburgh/stories/2007/04/23/daily26.html

 

Scientists unveil internet-controlled robots that anyone can build
PhysOrg.com | April 26
Carnegie Mellon University researchers have developed a new series of robots that are simple enough for almost anyone to build with off-the-shelf parts, but are sophisticated machines that wirelessly connect to the Internet. The robots can take many forms, from a three-wheeled model with a mounted camera to a flower loaded with infrared sensors. They can be easily customized and their ability to wirelessly link to the Internet allows users to control and monitor their robots’ actions from any Internet-connected computer in the world. The new tools that make this possible are a single piece of hardware and a set of "recipes" that people follow to build their 'bots. Both are part of the Telepresence Robot Kit (TeRK) developed by Associate Professor of Robotics Illah Nourbakhsh and members of his Community Robotics, Education and Technology Empowerment (CREATE) Lab. Their goal is to make highly capable robots accessible and affordable for college and pre-college students, as well as anyone interested in robots.
http://www.physorg.com/news96720341.html

 

Carnegie Mellon unveils hobby robots with WiFi control
Ars Technica | April 25
It's the 21st century, and let's face it, fellow sci-fi fans, we were let down. No Moonbase Alpha, no flying cars, hardly anyone wears silver lamé jumpsuits, and apart from the occasional vacuum cleaner or industrial welder, there is a distinct absence of robot action in our lives. Perhaps that might be about to change, thanks to a project from a bunch of smart people at Carnegie Mellon University. They have been working on developing a series of DIY robots that can be built with off-the-shelf parts and controlled via WiFi and the internet. The project, the Telepresence Robot Kit (TeRK) is controlled by a module called Qwerk, developed by Carnegie Mellon researchers and Charmed Labs of Austin, TX. It's this Qwerk module that allows users to remotely monitor or operate the robots via the internet.
http://arstechnica.com/journals/science.ars/2007/04/25/cmu-unviels-hobby-robots-with-wifi-control

 

Robot recipes hit the Web
PC Magazine | April 25
No one is born with the ability to cook. We either watch others do it or, more likely, buy a bunch of recipe books that can guide us to delicious finished products. Now imagine if nascent roboticists followed a similar path and instead of trying to come up with robot ideas on their own, followed carefully-laid out "recipes" that showed them how to use readily available components to build remote-controlled and semi-autonomous, Internet-connected robots. Such is the path researchers at Carnegie Mellon researchers have set forth for college students, high-schoolers and ultimately anyone interested in learning the ways of the robot.
http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1895,2122081,00.asp

 

Google, Intel, and Microsoft fund robot 'recipes'
Electronic Engineering Times | April 25
Google, Intel, and Microsoft are funding what may become a robot invasion. Money from the three tech companies has enabled researchers at Carnegie Mellon University to create a new series of Internet-connected robots that almost anyone can build using off-the-shelf parts. As part of the Telepresence Robot Kit (TeRK), a joint effort unveiled last summer between the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Institute and Charmed Labs, associate professor of robotics Illah Nourbakhsh and members of his Community Robotics, Education, and Technology Empowerment (CREATE) Lab have created a series of "recipes" for robot building.
http://www.eetimes.com/showArticle.jhtml;jsessionid=HHN5RWOBQVW5QQSNDLOSKH0CJUNN2JVN?articleID=199201519

 

Carnegie Mellon unveils build-your-own-robot plans
WTAE | April 25
Some local scientists believe consumers are savvy enough to build and program their own robots for under $400. For years, Carnegie Mellon University has made advancements in robotics, but it said anyone could do it. "You will have a list of parts where you can order each part and build it yourself," said Carnegie Mellon student Tom Lauwers. "It will have detailed instructions for how to build it." The robots can take many forms, from a three-wheeled model with a mounted camera to a flower loaded with infrared sensors. They can be easily customized and their ability to wirelessly link to the Internet allows users to control and monitor their robots' actions from any Internet-connected computer in the world. "It's about taking robotics to the masses in the same way the Internet has made it possible to grab information from the world in a way they could never dream of before," said Carnegie Mellon robotics professor Dr. Illah Nourbakhsh.
http://www.thepittsburghchannel.com/news/13107530/detail.html

National

Of beer and bubbles: The formula for a perfect pint
The New York Times (Reuters) | April 25
A mathematical formula can now predict how the frothy head on a beer changes over time, a finding that may have a wide range of commercial uses beyond pulling the perfect pint, U.S. researchers said on Wednesday. The formula explains how the tiny bubbles that make up foam grow -- an explanation that could lead to the development of products such as metal shrink wrap. ... Foam is made up of many tiny bubbles that scientists think of as cells with boundaries. The new formula calculates how these microstructures grow. These tiny structures or grains are abundant in nature, making up the foam on a beach or the pebble in your shoe. They also can be found in man-made materials such as ceramics or metals.  ... David Kinderlehrer, a mathematician at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, said the finding will help materials scientists concoct a number of newfangled materials by rearranging the grains in various materials using computer simulation. It tells you how an individual grain grows by itself until something happens to it. That is very important for understanding how to process material, Kinderlehrer said in a telephone interview.
http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/news/news-beer-formula.html

 

Women's pay: Lagging from the start
Time | April 23
If you heard a lot of fuming or sighing around the water cooler on Monday, it's because word is spreading about new data that shows women are already earning less than men before the ink on their college diplomas has dried. The study, which looked at more than 10,000 people who received bachelor's degrees in 1999-2000, found that just one year after graduation, women who are working full time earn only 80% as much as their male counterparts do. ... One possible explanation offered by the study: Women expect less and negotiate less pay for themselves than do men. Linda Babcock agrees. An economics professor at Carnegie Mellon and co-author of Women Don't Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide, she points to a host of cultural factors that influence women's expectations and actions practically from the day they are born. As the founder of Carnegie Mellon's PROGRESS (Program for Research & Outreach on Gender Equity in Society), Babcock is developing ways to teach negotiation skills to women and girls. One such tool is the Girls Scouts' new negotiation badge, launched last fall, which girls can earn after completing a seminar on negotiation skills.
http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1613829,00.html

 

Scientists help restore aging artworks
Fox News (AP) | April 22
When white masquerades as yellow and green might actually be blue, a call goes out to Henry DePhillips. DePhillips, a Trinity College chemistry professor, is among a cadre of specialists using cutting-edge science to solve the color mysteries of paintings and other cultural treasures often several centuries old. Art collectors and museums, including Hartford's Wadsworth Atheneum, increasingly are turning to DePhillips and other experts to analyze artwork that has deteriorated over time. ... DePhillips, who has been a chemistry professor at Trinity since 1963, has a lengthy waiting list for his class, "Science and Art." Several other universities, including Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh and Truman State in Missouri, have recently launched similar course.
http://www.foxnews.com/wires/2007Apr22/0,4670,PreservingArt,00.html

Education for Leadership

College degrees in the fast lane
WTHR (ClassesUSA.com) | April 26
It's a concern among educators, certainly, but students should also ask themselves: Is the accelerated degree worth the rush? Ongoing research being conducted by cognitive scientists and education experts at Carnegie Mellon University suggests that it is. Carnegie Mellon's Open Learning Initiative (OLI), funded by $5.6 million in grants from the Hewlett Foundation, designed a series of high-quality introductory college level courses available for free on the Internet to anyone with an interest. Unlike other open-courseware that simply posts the class syllabus online, Carnegie Mellon's OLI offers a Web-based interactive classroom complete with diagrams, real-time feedback, and a virtual tutor that provides hints when needed. Last fall, Carnegie Mellon took students enrolled in an introductory statistics course and divided them into two groups. The first group served as the control, attending the traditional three lecture hours per week in person and completing hundreds of homework problems. The second group took the course online. They didn't buy a textbook, and only met with an instructor once a week. Students in both groups took three midterms and a final. In the end, the online group performed as well or better than the traditional group. This semester, Carnegie Mellon is studying whether online learning could be just as effective as traditional classroom-based instruction, but finish the material in less time. The university chose 23 students to take an accelerated statistics course, which lasts only eight weeks--half the normal semester length. "We wanted to make OLI better, faster," explains Candace Thille, director of the Open Learning Initiative at Carnegie Mellon. "Now we're testing to see whether we can get the same outcome with less work and less time." ... "It's not just that they learn quicker, but they maintain the same depth of learning and they do it faster," says Marsha Lovett, the associate director of Carnegie Mellon's Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence. "The best word for it is 'efficient.'"
http://www.wthr.com/Global/story.asp?s=6314878

 

Declining female participation may be harbinger for computer science as a whole
Nature.com | April 25
Women in computer science are like "canaries in a coal mine" according to Lenore Blum, a computer scientist at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her remarks, made in a talk at Harvard University and reported in The New York Times (17 April), were highlighting the fact that the number of women graduating in computer science in the United States is falling. Figures from the National Science Foundation say that 38% of computer-science graduates were women in 1985, but in 2003 women accounted for only 28%. Blum believes that this tailing off is the beginning of something more serious — she fears that the factors encouraging women to quit the field will soon be leading their male counterparts away too. ... Blum suggests that switching the course emphasis away from programming efficiency to problem-solving and software design might resolve these issues. That approach has certainly worked at Carnegie Mellon, where the revamped curriculum has seen the intake of women students for computer science rise from 8% to nearly 40%. Another idea might be to emphasize that computer skills are essential to many disciplines, such as materials science, astronomy and bioinformatics. Having a hearty background in IT can help both men and women excel, not just in computer science, but across all scientific disciplines.
http://www.nature.com/news/2007/070423/full/nj7139-1111a.html

 

Frisbee at fifty: Plastic disc's freestyle fun now includes organized sports
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | April 25
Acadia Klain wasn't even a glimmer in her parents' eyes when one of her enduring passions was invented. Ms. Klain is co-captain of Carnegie Mellon University's Ultimate Frisbee women's team, in which the plastic disc is used in a game that combines the skills of basketball and outdoor soccer. The senior architecture major is 23. The Frisbee itself turned 50 this year.
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07115/780619-51.stm

 

Sports briefs: Golf
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | April 24
Alex Timmons of Carnegie Mellon won the University Athletic Association individual title at the Orange County National Golf Center in Orlando, Fla. Timmons shot a two-round total of 1-under 143. The Tartans (609) finished third as a team.
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07114/780504-139.stm

Arts and Humanities

Buyouts raising regional profile of German giant Siemens
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | April 24
It is almost lunchtime in a rural Westmoreland County industrial park, and Siemens Corp. Chief Executive Officer George Nolen is strolling through one of 100 U.S. factories under his control, greeting a few of his 70,000 employees. ... The CEO promises that people will see more of Siemens as it begins a national print advertising campaign touting its contributions to American life. The goal, said Jack Bergen, Siemens' senior vice president of corporate affairs and marketing, is to "Americanize the brand." ...  Students from Carnegie Mellon University's Entertainment Technology Center are working with Siemens and Disney on a collection of arcade games designed to explain how Siemens' products influence daily life.
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07114/780402-28.stm

 

Pittsburgh Cultural Trust's quarterly gallery nights give downtown business
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | April 20
Gallery Crawl: Future Tenant, 801 Liberty Ave. Carnegie Mellon MFA2 Exhibit. Multi-disciplinary pieces by second-year Master of Fine Arts students Christopher Beauregard, Michelle Fried, Ben Kinsley, Eileen Maxson, John Pena and Allison Reeves.
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/living/arts/museums/s_503767.html

Information Technology

Hard-drive failures surprisingly frequent
PC World | April 26
Your hard drive may not be as reliable as manufacturers would like you to think. Recent studies by researchers at Carnegie Mellon and Google suggest that vendor Mean Time To Failure (MTTF) ratings for hard drives are a bit misleading. The Carnegie Mellon study, conducted at several locations, found typical failure rates of 2 to 4 percent and a high of 13 percent, in contrast to the less than 1 percent you'd expect based on vendor MTTF ratings (see chart or click on the thumbnail image below). Google's study pegged the annual failure rate at about 3 percent. Both studies were based on observations of approximately 100,000 drives, with Google looking at its own farm of consumer-grade disks and Carnegie Mellon examining both consumer-grade drives and the ostensibly more reliable enterprise variety; the latter have beefed-up actuator magnets, more-robust spindle motors, and advanced features such as rotational vibration safeguards.
http://www.pcworld.com/article/id,131168-page,1/article.html#

 

The speed of efficiency: 100 x 100 looks at Internet of the future
Pop City Media | April 25
Imagine the Internet of the future, almost 100 times as fast as most high-speed home connections today. Files fly across the Web as if you picked them up off a table. Video between grandparents and grandchildren is beamed in real-time. The Internet has come so far, so fast, that little thought has been given to how it's doing. Some researchers, however, have been thinking about the bigger issues and believe the best approach is to turn the system inside out, taking a "clean slate" approach to Internet research. Three years ago, Dr. Hui Zhang, a Carnegie Mellon computer science professor, was one of the early pioneers to suggest the idea of a "clean slate." At first he was "an outcast in computing communities." Today, the 100 x 100 Clean Slate Project he founded is one of a dozen similar programs funded in the U.S. And it's gaining momentum.
http://www.popcitymedia.com/timnews/5807100x100.aspx

 

Foster-Miller acquires two Carnegie Mellon robotics spin-outs
Pop City Media | April 25
Foster Miller, Inc., the country's largest maker of robots for the military based in Waltham, Mass., announced Monday the purchase of two Pittsburgh robotics companies, Automatika, Inc., and Applied Perception, Inc. for $9.2 million each, pending government authorization of the sale. Both companies are Carnegie Mellon University spin-outs. Automatika in O’Hara Township was founded by Hagen Schempf, a principal systems scientist in the Robotics Institute; Applied Perceptions in Cranberry is lead by Todd Jochem, a Robotics Institute grad. "Carnegie Mellon spin-outs are attracting the interest of some of the best companies in the world," says Jared L. Cohon, president of Carnegie Mellon. This a testament to how important it is to have a vigorous community of start ups in Pittsburgh and how that vigor can translate into new partnerships and the prospect of new jobs. More opportunities for developing robotics and technology related companies will follow from this for the Pittsburgh region."
http://www.popcitymedia.com/timnews/5807fostermiller.aspx

 

Regents monitoring progress at Roosevelt
Newsday | April 23
Milton Cofield, a member of the state Board of Regents, took a look around the technology room at Roosevelt's Washington Rose Elementary, and asked why the computers there were still in their boxes. Principal Perletter Wright said the computers had been delivered in January, but that district officials had yet to send workers to unpack and set up. "Honestly, I'll go put those computers together," Cofield said. Wright said she'd welcome his labor. So, with Jonathan Burman, a state Education Department spokesman offering to pitch in, Cofield took off his suit jacket and got to work. ... Then, there were those boxed-up, brand-new computers. Principal Wright said she was stunned by the hands-on assistance by Cofield, who is a former professor at Rochester Institute of Technology and is now executive director for undergraduate business administration at Carnegie Mellon University. "I was amazed," Wright said. "We always need help."
http://www.newsday.com/news/local/longisland/ny-litour0424,0,6297411.story?coll=ny-top-headlines

 

More than 87 million hours awarded on TeraGrid system
GRIDtoday | April 23
Two committees charged with allocating access to the high-performance computing systems supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) recently awarded 87.4 million service units (SUs) on TeraGrid systems. Each SU represents one processor-hour that a researcher can use on one of the TeraGrid's powerful compute systems (www.teragrid.org/userinfo/hardware/resources.php), which combined offer more than 300 teraflops. ... The five largest awards went to: Thomas Jordan, Southern California Earthquake Center, 15.2 million SUs for earthquake modeling and prediction. Colin Morningstar, Carnegie Mellon University, 4 million SUs for quantum chromodynamics. Juri Toomre, JILA/University of Colorado, 3.9 million SUs for solar convection. Michael Deem, Rice University, 3.7 million SUs to develop a database of hypothetical zeolite structures. Carlos Simmerling, SUNY Stony Brook, 3 million SUs for simulation of biomolecular structure and dynamics.
http://www.gridtoday.com/grid/1471780.html

Biotechnology

Study identifies memory genes
The Post Chronicle (UPI) | April 23
U.S. scientists have identified the genes activated during learning that alter neuron activity inside the brain. Disruptions in normal gene expression within such neurons can develop into seizures and epilepsy. Now Carnegie Mellon University scientists have created a computational approach that can provide a rapid way to identify the genes involved in learning. ... "The work could ultimately lead to the development of drugs to treat neurological disorders," said Alison Barth, assistant professor of biological sciences and a member of the university's Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition. "We also expect this work to provide a valuable platform for any investigator to understand how neurons change at the molecular level during learning and the formation of memory."
http://www.postchronicle.com/news/science/article_21276565.shtml

Regional Impact

Hundreds of jobs lost in Shaler; Ivan partly blamed
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | April 26
More than 700 jobs have been lost along the Route 8 corridor in Shaler over the last five years, according to township Manager Tim Rogers. Some of those jobs were lost in the aftermath of the September 2004 floods from the remains of Hurricane Ivan, which put the corridor under water and scuttled the largest employer, Glenshaw Glass, which only recently has returned in a smaller capacity. In May, six national specialists in the field of redevelopment will come to Shaler to participate in a three-day workshop that will examine the suburb's main business corridor and chart a path toward its future. ... The Western Pennsylvania Brownfields Center at Carnegie Mellon University is a sponsor of the workshop. Founded in 1999, the center helps small business owners, property owners and municipalities address redevelopment issues. "We're bringing in fresh eyes to the area who are not jaded or biased who can look at this land and offer suggestions on what might be a better use," said Meredith Meyer Grelli, program coordinator for the Brownfields Center. "This property is an essential part of Shaler Township. It's essential to its health. It has so much potential we would like to have it live up to."
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/north/s_504365.html

 

Man who saved Kon-O-Kwee retires
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | April 22
In 1970, the YMCA sent Harry Kramer to close Camp Kon-O-Kwee, a dilapidated boys summer camp with a leaky pool and rundown buildings that were open just 10 weeks a year. Smiling, he promised to do his best and went to work. Today Camp Kon-O-Kwee/Spencer in Fombell, Beaver County is one the nation's finest facilities of its kind, serving special-need campers of every background, 12 months a year. In addition to campers and those with special needs, the camp also hosts adventure programs for inner-city, at-risk youths, parent/child camp-outs, senior citizen camping and environmental educational programs for school districts. ... Soon it will be a national training center for the Paralympic Games and Special Olympics. To prepare, Arnold Palmer is designing a nine-hole golf course, and members of the Carnegie Mellon robotics departments are creating special handicapped-accessible equipment.
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07112/779762-51.stm

Local

Bill Cosby to speak at Carnegie Mellon commencement
WTAE | April 25
Award-winning comedian and actor Bill Cosby will deliver the keynote address at Carnegie Mellon University's 110th commencement on May 20. The main ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. in Gesling Stadium on the Carnegie Mellon campus. Cosby has won numerous awards and honors for his work, including several Emmy and Grammy awards.
http://www.thepittsburghchannel.com/news/13098428/detail.html

 

The Rainbow Gala
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | April 23
Colors for a Cure was the theme of this year's benefit gala for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and the pot of gold by the end of Saturday night was filled with $1.1 million. ... The sold-out event to launch the Rachel Carson Legacy Challenge: Green Steps for a Sustainable Future began with a cocktail reception, which took advantage of a perfect (not so silent) spring evening that had guests enjoying the great outdoors from the fifth-floor terrace. The program included readings by Carnegie Mellon University vice provost for education Dr. Indira Nair, Carnegie Science Center director Joanna Haas, Chatham College president Dr. Esther Barazzone, Susan G. Komen for the Cure Pittsburgh executive director Jo Ann Meier and actress Kaiulani Lee. But the highlight was an outstanding performance by the Indigo Girls.
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07113/780204-65.stm

 

Speaker lineup
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | April 23
Commencement speakers and dates for local colleges and universities include: University of Pittsburgh, Oakland campus: Tom Ridge, the country's first secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and Pennsylvania governor from 1995 to 2001; 1 p.m. April 29 at Peterson Events Center. About 6,000 undergraduate students and graduate students from Pitt's main campus and four regional campuses are to receive degrees. Carnegie Mellon University: Bill Cosby, comedian, actor and author; 11 a.m. May 20 at Gesling Stadium, Squirrel Hill. About 2,100 undergraduate and graduate students are to receive degrees.
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/search/s_504112.html

International

Into the deep: Robots explore Earth's hidden depths
The Independent | April 25
What do potholing, the moons of Jupiter and robots have in common? Very little at the moment. But a high-tech, unmanned submarine is changing that. So far, it's been exploring some of the deepest, most inhospitable potholes on Earth. In the future, it could be doing exactly the same thing - in space. Next month, an "autonomous explorer robot" (AER) named DepthX will face its biggest challenge. ... "What we're looking at are concepts that could help us learn about how to do this kind of work on another world," explains John Rummel, senior scientist for astrobiology at Nasa, which has invested around $5m (£2.5m) in the scheme. DepthX is too large to launch into space, explains Rummel. It's also too large for Lake Vostok, which is buried under two and an half miles of ice, because researchers would only be able to drill a hole much smaller than the 2.5 metre-diameter DepthX. Nevertheless, the hardware concepts demonstrated by the robot are just as valuable as the software used to control the vehicle, developed by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Nathaniel Fairfield, a Ph.D. student at its Robotics Institute, who helped to develop the robot's simultaneous localization and mapping software, faced significant challenges in its design. Getting a land-based robot to navigate along a surface is difficult enough, but creating software to map a 3D environment, often in dark or murky waters, is an order of magnitude more difficult.
http://news.independent.co.uk/world/science_technology/article2484219.ece

 

Carnegie Mellon in Qatar team to visit schools taking part in Botball contest
Gulf Times | April 22
As students from 18 schools in Qatar, Kuwait and the UAE make final preparations to their Lego Mindstorm robots for the upcoming Botball robotics competitions, a team from Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar along with Al Jazeera Children’s Channel will be paying them a visit. "The purpose is to follow up with the schools and see the progress they are making on their robots," Carnegie Mellon in Qatar official Mohamed Mustafa said. Botball is a US-based organization that introduces robotics to high school students. Carnegie Mellon in Qatar brought the program to Qatar in 2005 and has been expanding it each year. ... Carnegie Mellon in Qatar dean Dr. Chuck Thorpe has announced that the team which wins the regional championship would get to take a trip to the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, under his guidance. "The institute has been building robots since 1979, ranging from millibots (a few centimetres on a side) and nanomaterials (for the sticky hairs on a robot gecko’s footpad) to robot trucks, buses and backhoes," he observed.
http://www.gulf-times.com/site/topics/article.asp?cu_no=2&item_no=145121&version=1&template_id=36&parent_id=16

 

Robot 'insect' cures broken hearts
NetDoctor | April 20
A robotic device resembling a caterpillar could crawl across the heart to deliver treatment without the need for major surgery, scientists have said. Traditional open heart surgery requires a large incision and the heart often has to be stopped to make it easier for surgeons to operate. ... Cameron Riviere, who developed the robot with colleagues at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, said that it "can reach all parts of the heart's surface".
http://news.netdoctor.co.uk/news_detail.php?id=18124133

 

Robot created to treat ailing hearts
United Press International | April 19
U.S. scientists have created a robotic device that can be inserted onto a heart using minimally invasive surgery to deliver medical treatment. Resembling a robotic caterpillar, the device developed by Cameron Riviere and colleagues at Carnegie Mellon University can crawl across the surface of a beating heart, delivering drugs or attaching medical devices. The 20-millimeter-long robot -- called HeartLander -- has two suckers for feet, each pierced with 20 holes connected to a vacuum line, which holds it onto the outside of the heart. By moving its body segments it can crawl across the heart at up to seven inches per minute. Surgeons keep track of the device using X-ray video or a magnetic tracker, controlling the movements via a joystick.
http://www.upi.com/NewsTrack/Science/2007/04/19/robot_created_to_treat_ailing_hearts/