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by   -   November 4, 2018

MIT researchers describe an autonomous system for a fleet of drones to collaboratively search under dense forest canopies using only onboard computation and wireless communication — no GPS required.
Images: Melanie Gonick

By Rob Matheson

Finding lost hikers in forests can be a difficult and lengthy process, as helicopters and drones can’t get a glimpse through the thick tree canopy. Recently, it’s been proposed that autonomous drones, which can bob and weave through trees, could aid these searches. But the GPS signals used to guide the aircraft can be unreliable or nonexistent in forest environments.

by   -   November 4, 2018

MIT researchers have developed a “semantic parser” that learns through observation to more closely mimic a child’s language-acquisition process, which could greatly extend computing’s capabilities.
Photo: MIT News

By Rob Matheson

Children learn language by observing their environment, listening to the people around them, and connecting the dots between what they see and hear. Among other things, this helps children establish their language’s word order, such as where subjects and verbs fall in a sentence.

by   -   October 24, 2018

This photo shows circles on a graphene sheet where the sheet is draped over an array of round posts, creating stresses that will cause these discs to separate from the sheet. The gray bar across the sheet is liquid being used to lift the discs from the surface.
Image: Felice Frankel

By David L. Chandler

Tiny robots no bigger than a cell could be mass-produced using a new method developed by researchers at MIT. The microscopic devices, which the team calls “syncells” (short for synthetic cells), might eventually be used to monitor conditions inside an oil or gas pipeline, or to search out disease while floating through the bloodstream.

by   -   October 24, 2018

Ethical questions involving autonomous vehicles are the focus of a new global survey conducted by MIT researchers.

By Peter Dizikes

A massive new survey developed by MIT researchers reveals some distinct global preferences concerning the ethics of autonomous vehicles, as well as some regional variations in those preferences.

by   -   October 18, 2018


MIT researchers have built a system that takes a step toward fully automated smart homes, by identifying occupants even when they’re not carrying mobile devices. Image: Chelsea Turner, MIT

By Rob Matheson

Developing automated systems that track occupants and self-adapt to their preferences is a major next step for the future of smart homes. When you walk into a room, for instance, a system could set to your preferred temperature. Or when you sit on the couch, a system could instantly flick the television to your favorite channel.

by   -   October 5, 2018
MIT researchers have devised a way to help robots navigate environments more like humans do.

By Rob Matheson

When moving through a crowd to reach some end goal, humans can usually navigate the space safely without thinking too much. They can learn from the behavior of others and note any obstacles to avoid. Robots, on the other hand, struggle with such navigational concepts.

by   -   September 18, 2018

MIT computer scientists have developed a system that learns to identify objects within an image, based on a spoken description of the image.
Image: Christine Daniloff

By Rob Matheson

MIT computer scientists have developed a system that learns to identify objects within an image, based on a spoken description of the image. Given an image and an audio caption, the model will highlight in real-time the relevant regions of the image being described.

by   -   September 10, 2018
With the DON system, a robot can do novel tasks like look at a shoe it has never seen before and successfully grab it by its tongue.
Photo: Tom Buehler/CSAIL

Humans have long been masters of dexterity, a skill that can largely be credited to the help of our eyes. Robots, meanwhile, are still catching up.

by   -   August 23, 2018


By Adam Conner-Simons | Rachel Gordon

Investigating inside the human body often requires cutting open a patient or swalloing long tubes with built-in cameras. But what if physicians could get a better glimpse in a less expensive, invasive, and time-consuming manner?

by   -   July 24, 2018

MIT Media Lab researchers have developed a machine-learning model that takes computers a step closer to interpreting our emotions as naturally as humans do. The model better captures subtle facial expression variations to better gauge moods. By using extra training data, the model can also be adapted to an entirely new group of people, with the same efficacy.

By Rob Matheson
MIT Media Lab researchers have developed a machine-learning model that takes computers a step closer to interpreting our emotions as naturally as humans do.

by   -   July 24, 2018
Diagram illustrates the design of the tiny devices, which are designed to be able to float freely in liquid or air.
Courtesy of the researchers

By David L. Chandler

Researchers at MIT have created what may be the smallest robots yet that can sense their environment, store data, and even carry out computational tasks. These devices, which are about the size of a human egg cell, consist of tiny electronic circuits made of two-dimensional materials, piggybacking on minuscule particles called colloids.

by   -   July 16, 2018

MIT’s Cheetah 3 robot can climb stairs and step over obstacles without the help of cameras or visual sensors.
Courtesy of the researchers
By Jennifer Chu

MIT’s Cheetah 3 robot can now leap and gallop across rough terrain, climb a staircase littered with debris, and quickly recover its balance when suddenly yanked or shoved, all while essentially blind.

by   -   June 29, 2018

An example of a therapy session augmented with humanoid robot NAO [SoftBank Robotics], which was used in the EngageMe study. Tracking of limbs/faces was performed using the CMU Perceptual Lab’s OpenPose utility.
Image: MIT Media Lab

By Becky Ham

Children with autism spectrum conditions often have trouble recognizing the emotional states of people around them — distinguishing a happy face from a fearful face, for instance. To remedy this, some therapists use a kid-friendly robot to demonstrate those emotions and to engage the children in imitating the emotions and responding to them in appropriate ways.

by   -   June 21, 2018

A system developed at MIT allows a human supervisor to correct a robot’s mistakes using gestures and brainwaves.
Photo: Joseph DelPreto/MIT CSAIL
By Adam Conner-Simons

Getting robots to do things isn’t easy: Usually, scientists have to either explicitly program them or get them to understand how humans communicate via language.

But what if we could control robots more intuitively, using just hand gestures and brainwaves?

by   -   June 14, 2018
Doctoral student Maria Bauza has been exploring the notion of uncertainty when robots pick up, grasp, or push an object. “If the robot could touch the object, have a notion of tactile information, and be able to react to that information, it will have much more success,” she says.
Photo: Tony Pulsone

By Mary Beth O’Leary
With the push of a button, months of hard work were about to be put to the test. Sixteen teams of engineers convened in a cavernous exhibit hall in Nagoya, Japan, for the 2017 Amazon Robotics Challenge. The robotic systems they built were tasked with removing items from bins and placing them into boxes. For graduate student Maria Bauza, who served as task-planning lead for the MIT-Princeton Team, the moment was particularly nerve-wracking.