Fleet of robotic probes will monitor global warming’s impact on microscopic ocean life

fleet of robotic probes will monitor global warming’s impact on microscopic ocean life


Since 2014, researchers have deployed more than 150 biogeochemical Argo floats in the Southern Ocean.


By Paul VoosenOct. 29, 2020 , 10:00 AM

A single drop of seawater holds millions of phytoplankton, a mix of algae, bacteria, and protocellular creatures. Across the world’s oceans these photosynthesizing microbes pump out more than half of the planet’s oxygen, while slowing climate change by capturing an estimated 25% of the carbon dioxide (CO2) released from humanity’s burning of fossil fuels. But the scale of this vital chemistry is mostly a guess, and there’s little sense of how it will change as temperatures rise. “What’s happening out there? We have no idea really,” says Susan Wijffels, a physical oceanographer at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Soon, 500 drifting ocean floats studded with biogeochemical sensors will deliver answers. Today, the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced it will spend $53 million to fund the new floats, marking the first major expansion of the Argo array, a set of 4000 floats that for 15 years has tracked rising ocean temperatures. “This is going to be revolutionary,” says Wijffels, a leader of the original Argo program.

The biogeochemical (BGC) Argo floats, in development for nearly as long as Argo itself, will …



The Rise of the Warehouse Robot

the rise of the warehouse robot


[Stay on top of transportation news: Get TTNews in your inbox.]The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the decline of brick-and-mortar retail establishments and accelerated e-commerce, creating a massive logistical challenge for warehouse and distribution center operators.

But robots are coming to the rescue.

While much of the freight transportation industry is watching the development of autonomous trucks for the open road, regulatory and technical obstacles remain. Yet other forms of autonomous vehicles — such as small robots that select and move goods inside a warehouse and self-driving yard trucks for distribution centers — already have been working their way into the supply chain.

Companies such as autonomous mobile robot builders Locus Robotics and 6 River Systems, as well as Outrider, a developer of autonomous zero-emission yard trucks, are partnering with warehousing and logistics clients looking to improve productivity and reduce reliance on human physical labor.

XPO Logistics is one of the companies at the forefront of this transformation. The transportation and logistics provider is spending more than $500 million annually on innovation and technology that increases the efficiency of warehouses, said Ashfaque Chowdhury, XPO’s president of supply chain for the Americas and Asia Pacific.

“We have thousands of robots in our facilities that …


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MMI wins CE Mark for robotic microsurgery system – MassDevice

mmi wins ce mark for robotic microsurgery system – massdevice


MMI SpA announced today that it received CE Mark for and launched its Symani surgical system for open microsurgical procedures.Calci, Italy-based MMI’s Symani system also experienced its first human use, having been used in four successful robotic surgeries performed in Florence, Italy. Three of those procedures were complex, post-traumatic lower limb reconstructions, with one post-oncological reconstruction of the pharynx, according to a news release.
Symani includes tremor reduction and motion scaling with what MMI touts as the world’s smallest wristed instrumentation, offering seven degrees of freedom and dexterity that outdoes the human hands.
The system’s NanoWrist instruments are designed to perform free-flap reconstructions, replantations, congenital malformations, peripheral nerve repairs and lymphatic surgery, MMI said.
“There is a clear demand for robotics in microsurgery as the limits of the human hand have already been reached,” MMI co-founder & CEO Giuseppe Maria Prisco said in the release. “We founded MMI to develop a robotic system designed for and with microsurgeons that will improve outcomes and address unmet patient needs, particularly through supermicrosurgery techniques which are required for lymphatic and other extremely delicate procedures. We are pleased to be at the forefront of a new era in robotic surgery as …


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Computer Scientists Use Positive Reinforcement to Teach Robots

computer scientists use positive reinforcement to teach robots


Computer scientists at Johns Hopkins University have deployed the long-standing training technique of positive reinforcement, which is often used to train animals such as dogs, on a robot so that it could teach itself new tricks. Among those new skills was the ability to stack blocks. The robot is called Spot, and according to the researchers, it can learn skills within days that traditionally take around a month.Positive ReinforcementPositive reinforcement was used by the team to increase the robot’s skill sets. The speed at which the team was able to do this makes it easier for these types of robots to be deployed in the real world.The work was published in IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, titled “Good Robot!: Efficient Reinforcement Learning for Multi-Step Visual Tasks with Sim to Real Transfer.” Andrew Hundt is a PhD student working in Johns Hopkins University and lead author of the research. “The question here was how do we get the robot to learn a skill?” he said. “I’ve had dogs so I know rewards work and that was the inspiration for how I designed the learning algorithm.”One of the reasons positive reinforcement works on computers is that they …


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Nickel and robotic fabric: The building blocks of the future

nickel and robotic fabric: the building blocks of the future


Throughout human history, basic materials have been driven to the forefront of innovation.From the nickel that helped build everything from cars and trains (and stainless steel kitchens everywhere) to the very cloth that’s been holding things together since the beginning of time, scientists continue to expand our idea of what goes into the building blocks of modern life.As a “fabric evolution” turns thread into a robot, a world of adaptive clothing and self-deploying shelters becomes possible. At the same time, a nickel revolution is underway — but it doesn’t come without environmental risks.Heavily used in electric car batteries, companies are mining the mineral at high volume, hoping to change the future of transportation without wreaking havoc on the natural world.As we roboticize fabric and transform basic minerals, we not only create crucial inventions that can change how we live but lasting symbols of human ingenuity as well.In this episode of The Abstract, we explain how the most basic materials could revolutionize daily life.Our first story is about how one precious mineral is shaping the future of transportation. As the demand for electric car batteries escalates, companies are working tirelessly to mine nickel without …


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Breakthrough robotic system promises to revolutionize microsurgery

breakthrough robotic system promises to revolutionize microsurgery


A new robotic system aims to revolutionize how doctors perform some of the most complex surgeries. The Italian based company, Medical Microinstruments S.p.A. (MMI), developed the Symani Surgical System for open microsurgical procedures. Microsurgery is the manipulation or suturing of very small anatomy such as arteries, veins, ducts or nerves requiring magnification, specialized instruments, and fine motor skills of the surgeon. This surgery is referred to as supermicrosurgery when the vessels are smaller than 0.8mm in diameter. Microsurgical techniques are used by several specialties including plastic surgeons, orthopedic surgery, podiatric surgery, oral surgery and others.MMI’s NanoWrist instruments holding a 10-0 suture.MMIIn microsurgery, the smallest of complications can have the largest consequences. Even the slightest hand tremor or fatigue can disrupt a procedure. The Symani Surgical System offers the surgeon remote control over the world’s smallest wristed instrumentation, the NanoWrist instruments. The hand motions performed by the surgeon are scaled down 7 to 20x by the robotic system. Pre-clinical data shows Symani reduces thrombosis by 50%. Thrombosis, or the formation of blood clots is the main complication of microsurgery.Symani received CE Mark in Europe, the equivalent of FDA approval, after completing four successful surgeries in Florence, Italy. These …


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Army fires tank-killing robots armed with Javelin missiles

army fires tank-killing robots armed with javelin missiles


The U.S. Army will soon operate robots able to destroy enemy armored vehicles with anti-tank missiles, surveil warzones under heavy enemy fire and beam back identified targeting details in seconds due to rapid progress with several new armed robot programs. Several of the new platforms now operate with a Kongsberg-built first-of-its-kind wireless fire control architecture for a robotic armored turret with machine guns, Javelin Anti-Tank Missiles and robot-mounted 30mm cannon selected by the Army to arm its fast-emerging Robotic Combat Vehicles. These now-in-development robotic systems are intended to network with manned vehicles in high-risk combat operations. The fast-evolving concept is to optimize state-of-the-art networking between manned armored vehicles operating in a command and control capacity and forward-positioned armed robots capable of testing enemy defenses, performing surveillance under enemy fire or simply firing upon and destroying enemy targets when directed by humans. Made by Kongsberg, the MCT-30 turret is the first remotely-operated turret to be qualified and fielded in the United States, and a wireless fire-control has been demonstrated in ongoing testing. The system recently demonstrated “secure transmissions of video and fire-control data including command signals over radio from the weapon station and the missile,” a Kongsberg statement says. A …


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