Dogs Interact With Robots that Act Human
This week, two tech stories dominated headlines: Apple's release of it's new iPhone and the Frankfurt Motor Show in Germany. But we feasted our eyes on a handful of other items, too. Pull up a fork and enjoy images from those news stories and others.
For instance, China's TBS shipping company released a video of an ingenious bus that they first announced back in 2010. The video shows the "Land Airbus" in much more detail. The vehicle, which is designed to straddle roads and pass over cars and traffic jams, is articulated to bend around corners and has a glass elevator that drops down to street level to pick up and drop off passengers. [br/]
The Turanor PlanetSolar, the world's largest solar-powered boat, made an appearance this week in Paris, floating on the Seine river. PlanetSolar, a catamaran powered exclusively by solar energy, completed the first solar-powered trip around the world in May 2012 after traveling more than 37,282 miles in 584 days.
Kavli Institute at Cornell for Nanoscale Science
While creating graphene, a material comprised of carbon molecules just one atom thick, researchers at Cornell University and Germany's University of Ulm accidentally made a sheet of glass just two atoms thick. Here is a conceptual illustration that blends a microscopic photo of the real thing (right) with a drawing (left) of what the atoms look like. The discovery is now listed in the 2014 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records.
Gabriella Lakatos, Hungarian Academy of Science and Eotvos Lorand University
An animal behavior study tested the reaction of 41 dogs to robots and found that man’s best friend reacts sociably to robots that behave socially towards them, even if the devices look nothing like a human. Gabriella Lakatos of the Hungarian Academy of Science and Eotvos Lorand University thinks the research could inform the design of social robots.
If Syria hands over its chemical weapons to international control, what will be done with those lethal gases and nerve agents? The answer could be to destroy them. The US Department of Defense has a mobile system designed to neutralize chemical warfare agents in bulk. While not small, the Field Deployable Hydrolysis System can be moved to where it's needed. It works by mixing chemical agents with water and other ingredients like sodium hydroxide and sodium hypochlorite. Once the mixture is heated, it renders the compounds unusable as weapons.
A new 3-D display from zSpace, a California technology company, tracks the viewer's head to keep the image in the center of the person's field of view. This maintains the 3-D illusion and prevents nausea and headaches sometimes associated with 3-D video.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Apple CEO Tim Cook unveiled the company's latest iPhones that will run iOS 7: a lower-cost iPhone 5C, made primarily with colorful plastic parts and a higher-end iPhone 5S with fingerprint security technology, a faster processor and other improvements.
After Audi presented its new Sport Quattro at the Frankfurt Motor Show, it won "Best in Show" for having everything that an auto enthusiast could ever want in a high-performance vehicle: high horsepower (700 hp), a plug-in hybrid drive train, extraordinary design and impending production.
In Frankfurt, BMW showed off its i8, a plug-in electric hybrid sports car that will go on sale in the United States next spring for $136,625.
At the Frankfurt Motor Show in Germany this week, Porsche unveiled its hybrid 918 Spyder, which also in the same week set a world record at Nurburgring's Nordschleife circuit. It finished a full 14 seconds faster than the previous record holder, the gas-burning Dodge Viper ACR.
It’s official: the robotics industry is going to the dogs. Or at least, it should if engineers want to know how to design machines that can interact with humans.
In a recent issue of the journal Animal Cognition, Gabriella Lakatos of the Hungarian Academy of Science and Eötvös Loránd University led a study that looked at what dogs do around robots. She and her team thought that dogs might react better — that is, more socially — to robots that give social “cues.” It may sound odd to study how a robot interacts with dogs. But the researchers note such experiments might provide insight into the underlying mechanisms of how both dogs and people see machines.
The experiment involved a robot that looks a bit like a parking meter with arms and white-gloved hands. The scientists tested 41 dogs, divided into two groups.
One group of dogs would watch as their owner interacted with another person, and then an ‘asocial’ interaction between the owner and the robot. The second group of dogs would see the owner-robot interaction first.
To test how the dogs were seeing the humans and robots, the experimenters put a piece of food into a flowerpot, allowing the dog to see where it went. They then had both humans and robots point to the food.
They found that when the robot was just pointing, with no other gestures, the dogs were less interested in the food and didn’t spend as much time looking at the robot’s “head.” But if the robot said the dog’s name, the animals were more interested. In addition, the dogs seemed to have an easier time finding the hidden food when the robot acted more human-like.
An additional factor, the researchers said, was that the dogs, after seeing their humans interact with the robot, talking to it and behaving socially, had an easier time socially engaging with the machine, which in turn made it easier for the dogs to find the food; they were better able to “read” the robot.
A key finding was that the robot doesn’t have to look much like person. As long as it behaves like one, the dogs seem able to let the robot’s looks slide. “Roboticists who design interactive robots should look into the sociality and behavior of their designs, even if they do not embody human-like characteristics,” Lakatos said in a press release.
Credit: Gabriella Lakatos, Hungarian Academy of Science and Eotvos Lorand University