Technology

John Leonard's group in the MIT Department of Mechanical Engineering specializes in SLAM, or simultaneous localization and mapping, the technique whereby mobile autonomous robots map their environments and determine their locations.

Last week, at the Robotics Science and Systems conference, members of Leonard's group presented a new paper demonstrating how SLAM can be used to improve object-recognition systems, which will be a vital component of future robots that have to manipulate the objects around them in arbitrary ways.

The system uses SLAM information to augment existing object-recognition algorithms. Its performance should thus continue to improve as computer-vision researchers develop better recognition software, and roboticists develop better SLAM software.


3D printing technology can now include electrical components, such as resistors, inductors, capacitors and integrated wireless electrical sensing systems, and researchers have put that concept to the test by printing a wireless “smart cap” for a milk carton that detected signs of spoilage using embedded sensors.

Prosthetics, medical implants and toys are all fantastic but what had been missing from the repertoire until now was the ability to produce sensitive electronic components.
A bomb-proof lining called the  Fly-Bag has successfully contained blasts in a series of controlled explosions in the luggage hold of a Boeing 747 and an Airbus 321. Using this technology, tests show plane’s luggage hold may be able to contain force of an explosion if a device hidden in a passenger’s luggage detonates

The Fly-Bag lines an aircraft’s luggage hold with multiple layers of novel fabrics and composites and was tested under increasing explosive charges on disused planes at Cotswolds Airport, near Cirencester, this week.

Science, many people believe, is kept in check by scientists reviewing each other’s work. This has recently extended to re-analysis of data to see if results can be replicated, and has overturned important findings in medicine, economics, and sociology.

We re-analyzed an influential randomized controlled trial of deworming in Kenyan schools. We found that even for a randomized controlled trial – lauded as the most robust method to identify impact – there are aspects of analysis and reporting where re-analysis can shed new light.

The downside to computer programs is they lack the ability to interpret. A tiny human can look at a picture of a chicken and a cartoon of a chicken and know that's a chicken while a computer program cannot.

Researchers from Queen Mary University of London believe they have overcome one obstacle and have built the first computer program that can recognize hand-drawn sketches better than humans. They call it Sketch-a-Net and in their tests it is capable of correctly identifying the subject of sketches 74.9 percent of the time compared to humans that only managed a success rate of 73.1 percent.
Centralized ventilation systems that exchange heat between the air inside and outside a building often come with a lot of pipes and shafts while compact, decentralized ventilation systems distributed throughout a building can provide a real added-value both in terms of design, comfort and energy efficiency.

The Green Ventilation system promise to balance inbound and outbound air flow in such a way that it reduces heating and cooling requirements—a principle called balanced heat recovery. The advantage of this system is that it can be added to building envelope components such as windows, walls, insulation materials, terminal heating and cooling units and lintels.
CRISPR/Cas systems for genome editing have revolutionized biological research over the past three years, and their ability to make targeted changes in DNA sequences in living cells with relative ease and affordability is now being applied to clinical medicine and will have a significant impact on advances in drug and other therapies, agriculture, and food products.

The power and promise of this innovation are presented in the Review article "The Bacterial Origins of the CRISPR Genome-Editing Revolution published in Human Gene Therapy. 

Healing times for skin ulcers and bedsores can be reduced by a third with the use of low-intensity ultrasound - ultrasound transmits a vibration through the skin and wakes up cells in wounds helping to stimulate and accelerate the healing process. 

More than 200,000 patients in the UK suffer with chronic wounds every year at a cost of over £3.1 billion to the NHS, according to background information in the article. The ultrasound treatment, which also reduces the chance of wounds getting infected, is particularly effective when treating diabetics and the elderly. 


Researchers have developed an inhalable vaccine that protects primates against Ebola. 

Previous studies with primates suggest that aerosols of most biothreat agents, which are particles dispersed in the air, are infectious. Recent studies show that contact with the Ebola virus through the mucus membranes that line the respiratory tract results in infection, suggesting that airway linings may be important portals of entry for the virus. Aerosolized delivery has never before been tested for an Ebola vaccine or any other viral hemorrhagic fever vaccine.


After more than 20 years making the web a slightly more interesting and interactive place, albeit one that pandered to designers’ worst excesses and (in pre-broadband days) led to interminable download waiting times, the word on the net is that Adobe Flash Must Die.