Archive for December, 2009

Robot arm opens doors for wheelchair users

Door Opening Bot

OPENING a door is trickier for robots than you might expect, but a gripper designed to help wheelchair users seems to have cracked the problem.

A door-opening robot must be able to grasp a variety of designs of door knobs and handles. It also needs to calculate “how much force is needed to open the door, the twisting angles to unlatch the door, and how much force is needed to unlatch it”, says Erin Rapacki, now at Anybots in Mountain View, California.

The door-opening robotic arm (Dora) cost just $2000 to build and was able to open doors with 14 different handles in 85 per cent of tests involving pushing the door and 65 per cent of pulling tests.

Source:  New Science

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If the Delivery Guy Drops Your Package Senseaware Updates You Online

senseaware  If the Delivery Guy Drops Your Package Senseaware Updates You Online

FedEx unveils Senseaware, a drop-in sensor for packages that monitors everything from nasty falls to boxes being opened.

Speed isn’t good enough when you’re shipping something like transplant supplies for emergency surgery or tissue samples. You also need to be perfectly sure that what you’re sending hasn’t been compromised for even a second along the way. FedEx has come up with an answer: Senseaware, a drop-in sensor that pings the status of its contents to the Web, including temperature, exact location, and whether the shipment has been opened or exposed to light. There’s even an accelerometer, for detecting drops. Having already completed a beta test, Senseaware will now be deployed with 50 FedEx medical clients this spring.

“Four years ago, we started thinking about the next-generation alternatives to RFID,” says Mark Hamm, FedEx’s VP of Innovation. What they came up with is a Web-platform, combined with a sensor the size of a Blackberry, loaded with temperature and light meters, as well as GPS and a cellular antennae. (During plane rides, the device automatically goes into sleep mode, monitoring data but temporarily silencing the data relays.) Thus, as a shipment goes out, its location can be tracked to within feet of where it is at any second, and the Web interface registers its condition in real-time–a device/platform ecosystem that Hamm likens to iPod/iTunes.

Source:  Senseaware

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