The team tries out robot exoskeletons that help people to move and asks where robotics and ethics meet. Plus the launch of some new gear from tech giant Google.
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This week, robotic legs, robotic arms, and, robotic needlework?
Another day, another tight, black suit.
Torso is live...
Torso is live.
Stretch your arm behind you as far as it goes.
I'm having my motion captured, but not like that, nurse.
This is a prototype of a system that doctors may one day to assess
patients who have limited mobility, who can't use their limbs fully.
And that's with a view to building them their own own robotic arm!
I'm at The Human Assistive Robotic Technology Lab, that's the
Heart Lab, at the University of Berkley near San Francisco.
Oh, an interesting side note about this motion capture suit,
it doesn't use those reflective balls we're so used to seeing.
It uses LEDs which pulse at different speeds
so they can be uniquely identified by tracking cameras.
It makes tracking all the points in a 3D space easier, and it also makes
me look like a Christmas tree.
By doing this test they are not just measuring the motion of my limbs
but also my centre of mass.
They can see how my balance compensates
as I move my arm, for example.
And this doesn't have to be done at the doctors'.
Using a Kinect motion sensor instead of a suit, patients may
also be able to do this at home.
The result is a sphere showing where the patient
can reach and where they can't.
And that will help design their own personal robotic limb.
The most common loss of mobility is in the upper range.
So you lose the ability to feed yourself, you lose
the ability to brush your teeth.
The main objective of this device is to move the shoulder, raise it up,
to give you some assistance.
This will assist your shoulder, give you increased range of motion.
It should be easier to move your shoulder up.
This is to help those who can still move their limbs but need a bit
of help to do it.
But there are those that cannot use their limbs at all.
For that we need the kind of suit we are looking at across campus.
Being in a wheelchair, it is like being in a bubble.
'Cause, I can come up to you, I don't care, but you might not
want to be next to me.
It is like, "I don't want to touch them or get in their way."
Stephen broke his back in a BMX accident in 2004 when he was 17.
He was instantly paralysed from the waist down and has been
using a wheelchair ever since.
But over the last three years he has been able to get up and walk
for short periods of time.
Working with Suit X, he has been a test pilot for what this company
hopes will be the world's lightest and most affordable exoskeleton.
When I am wearing the suit nobody cares.
You can walk right up to me and hug me and there is no bubble.
There is no, like, "Oh, I might hurt you!"
The first time I used this suit my parents came
and I was able to hug them for the first time in who knows how long.
Suit X was borne out of this robotics laboratory.
They recognised many people could not afford to access exoskeletons
for physical therapy and set about designing one with a comparatively
cheap price tag, $40,000 US.
It only weighs 27 lbs.
It has a battery pack that only weighs two lbs and allows you to
use it all day, 4-8 hours.
We have an active knee.
That means when I stand up my knee doesn't bend and I fall.
It has other properties that allows the knee to bend when I am walking
so it makes it look natural.
As you might have seen when he was walking, the terrain,
there is debris, rocks, cracks in the sidewalk.
What is cool about our system is it can naturally
handle things like that.
The system is commanded through a wireless crutch.
What is neat about this system is it can be attached to anything.
So, if you had a walker it can be connected to the walker.
This allows you to communicate to your device.
If you wanna make a step you can make one.
And we can also talk to a tablet at the same time in real-time.
So we can get somebody up in the device quickly, tune the parameters
to where their natural posture is supposed to look like, and then see
how they are progressing.
The other devices make me feel like I'm riding the robot.
But with this device I can move certain aspects of the machine
around without it trying to do something that I don't want to.
While the device is giving Stephen and others testing it freedom,
it will not replace wheelchairs for its users yet.
But it could be critical in physical therapy sessions and allow people
with paralysis to experience the sensation of walking.
In my world, what I would be using this device for is every day
in my life I would keep them on and then probably every couple
of hours also put on the device, get up, stand up, walk around for
ten minutes, that is all I want.
That relief right there will give me ten years of my life back.
Pending FDA approval, Suit X is hoping to have 30 suits
ready by this summer.
Hello, and welcome to the Week in Tech.
It was the week that Android Pay finally came to the UK.
And, Twitter was reported to be changing the way they Tweet
by no longer making pictures take up your 140 characters.
If you are tired of your favourite games turning
into terrible films, look away now.
It has begun!
Threshold Global Studios, responsible for such classic skasg
horrible game adaptations like Mortal Kombat and Mortal Kombat
Annihilation say they have acquired the funding to make not one,
not two, but three Tetris movies.
Shooting will begin in China next year.
And finally, in things we thought we would never see,
the Simpsons this week had a live, yes, live, three minute segment.
Actor, Dan Castellaneta, AKA Homer, chatted to US viewers over
This feat was achieved using Adobe software that takes 2D animations
and maps them onto an actor's actions via webcam.
More exaggerated actions were available at the touch
of a keyboard shortcut.
Always wear glasses with eyes glued on to them.
Ay carumba, eat my shorts, etc, etc.
Do you ever get the feeling that tech billionaires
are getting younger?
The developer world descended on the massive Googleplex in California to
hear about their latest products.
But before that, a day for children to learn how to code with robots.
But once the adults had arrived, it was time to get
down to the new stuff.
This is a slightly Cockney-inspired app called Allo that has
a chat box which is claimed by Google to be intelligent enough
to predict what you might say based on what it knows about you.
You can also ask Google specific questions or make it do things
like book a table or order food.
Does that sound familiar?
Facebook has something very similar.
You can talk to Allo through the new Google Home Device you can
put in your kitchen and shout instructions at.
If that sounds familiar, it is because it is.
Amazon already has Echo.
Google also announced Daydream, a new VR system powered by Google
If that sounds familiar...
Well, you're right.
They are late and both of those areas represent threats to
It is crucial they come back.
That said, if Google I/O is useful for one
thing, it is showing just how many huge ideas this company has.
In case you thought Google was just a search engine,
let's look at what we have today/ Machine learning, artificial
intelligence, self driving cars, virtual reality, and of course, they
are sending balloons up into space.
This is their effort to send an Internet-enabling ballon
This one, which I think looks like a massive peeled orange,
is a miniature version of the real one, which is four times as big.
It is designed to provide wireless Internet to four billion people
around the world and make them last longer than our average of 72 days.
What is more interesting is Project Tango.
Devices with Project Tango are aware of their surroundings
so it can scan what is around it and offer useful ways of interacting.
You can get your hands on Project Tango-enabled devices later
Google designers will be excited to work with it...
After a nap.
In last week's programme, we had entries in the first
Robotic Art Competition.
A challenge to find the best robotic artist,
as voted for by the public on line.
The results are in, with Italy's Accademia di Bella Arti
di Brera, the correct pronunciation, before you ask, and
its abstract images coming third.
The Cloud Painting Project from George Washington University took
second prize, and this Taiwanese robot came first, producing this
terrific image of Albert Einstein.
Genius, in more ways than one.
Now, whether you like any of these is a matter of taste.
But it is intriguing to think that one day, in
a not too distant future, machines will be able to perform our tasks.
Self-driving cars and trucks are already here.
They are threatening to take over jobs.
Many experts believe that specialist machine intelligence will be able to
do much of what we do today, and better.
But an all-purpose general AI, one that sounds, looks,
and talks and behaves like us, the ones from the science-fiction
movies, can we create that?
It is a matter that divides the scientific community.
So, we sat down with some of those academics to find out what
sort of world our children and might live in.
Meet Alpha the Robot.
We can imagine less and less need for humans to do jobs because
more things can be automated.
That is the prospect, that all kinds of jobs will become irrelevant or
redundant in 5-10 years.
We will have AI that is more sophisticated than we have now.
Let us be clear, there are many jobs or robots.
It can help humanity in many ways.
But my fear is that we are just charging after anything that can be
solved without thinking first about the consequences.
One thing is the development of work, using mechanical alternatives.
That could liberate and free some people.
On the other hand, the structural organisation and
system which these developments are part of is a capitalist economy.
Looking at the development of artificial intelligence which
can displace many of middle-class jobs, we need to rethink that.
It is an open question whether all of the jobs today will
be computerised in 50 years' time.
If we have 7 billion people on the planet, take away any
potential for their employment, we have many people wandering
around with not much to do.
My experience of humans is if they have a lot of free time they will
think of ways to create mischief.
They could find ways to start wars in things.
This is an area where we need widespread public debate.
Paying people for not working should be on
the political agenda and it isn't.
We are still hearing the same old mantra, the way to acquire
wealth is to work and the market will continue to provide jobs.
In terms of our education system, I would see the way to protect
children from this kind of unemployment is to emphasise
creativity, learning how to learn, learning how to be creative.
It may be that jobs requiring creativity, like artistic jobs, they
may resist technological replacement in the next if the years as well.
One of the open questions in artificial intelligence is can
we build machines that are generally intelligent and have the
flexibility of human intelligence across a wide range of jobs?
One of the great ironies is that many of the tasks we thought were
simple have turned out to be much more difficult
for computers to perform well.
ARCHIVE: Introducing Mabel, the robot housemaid!
Let's think about, you know, cleaning your house.
Cleaning your house seems like a very mundane challenge but,
in fact, it is actually a very tricky one to do to the
standard that we humans can do it.
Identifying objects that you want to tidy away, that you want to pick up
off the floor, where you might want to put them.
Being able to lift them up off the floor, you know ,a huge variety of
object we get around the house, and we are a long way from being able to
build robots that can do that.
Thinking a long time ahead, 20, 30, 50, 100 years, some people have
speculated about the prospect of a kind of utopian scenario where very
very, very sophisticated artificial intelligence enables us to have
lives of leisure and it's a time of abundance. 1967, the poet Richard
Brautigan composed a work called All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving
Grace and in this poem Richard imagines a future society, with a
very small number of people, a very hippiesque society -
people frolicking in the fields, in the beautiful sun,
with all their needs catered for by an army of robotic slaves.
Equally possible is very, very dangerous AI, which sort of results
in in humanity being wiped out.
Two very extreme scenarios like that.
You can imagine these two very different kinds of scenarios.
We don't really know which of those is going to be or, indeed,
if it is going to be something more inbetween.
Next week we will continue the debate,
exploring the ethical and moral side of the autonomous revolution.
Meanwhile, back at Berkeley, in California, it is time to get back
to the people who are trying to bring about the rise of the robots.
This place is ranked amongst the top universities in the world,
especially when it comes to science, technology and robotics.
What is the collective noun for a group of Baxters?
Work being done in this lab is using artificial intelligence techniques
to teach industrial robots like this one how to do particular
tasks that might actually be slightly different every time.
So the idea is, a human shows it how to do the task the first few times
and then it picks up the common thread, the common thing
between each of these tasks.
So what I am going to do is I'm going to move this metal peg to
roughly the right position to get it into the hole.
But at nowhere near the correct angle and then
the robot is actually going to feel how the peg is going into the hole.
There is a force sensor here which is feeling the pressures on that
peg when it tries to put it in.
And then, from that, it works out how it needs to adjust
itself to get the peg in the hole.
I would wager that most of the people here in the robotics
labs have been interested in robots for a fair while.
If you are interested in getting into the subject or
you're interested in getting your kids into robotics, may I suggest
that you build a robot yourself.
Which is exactly what Lara Lweington has been doing and, quite frankly,
she has had a bit too much fun to call it work.
Instead of fretting about robots taking our jobs and taking over our
lives, maybe we should be learning how to train them to do things and
even just have some fun with them.
This is the humanoid part of the Ziro Robotics Kit.
No programming required, just an appetite for creativity
and a bit of imagination.
Although originally aimed at 8-13 year-olds,
the ability to customise a robot and even add items from around
the house, may appeal to all ages.
Especially as it can be purposed to become whatever you like.
Maybe a remote-controlled bin?
Or a tray to deliver your food?
And now for the fun bit, the way that I operate them is
by using this glove.
There are motion sensors in here that mean
when I'm wearing the glove, the movement of my hand will move
the robot that it is connected to.
There is a bit of a knack to it.
It is quite easy to get.
I only had my first go a couple of minutes ago.
It has not taken long for this to actually feel quite intuitive.
Can it climb up a step?
Let me see what happens if I aim towards the step.
This way please.
CHUCKLES I'm talking to it like it is a dog.
Wow, it almost made it.
As you tried, you know, Rover was trying to move over the stairs.
It didn't quite move up, it fell apart.
Things do not quite fit together when you make the robot initially.
You need to tinker and play with it and start
understanding how to make it work.
And because you made the robot, you want to make it work, you will
do all it takes to make it work and that's where the learning happens.
There are other devices in this space, too.
This is the Cellrobot.
An assortment of modular robots which you can
assemble as you desire.
They are suitable for kids or adults.
For children, they can learn about robotics and find an educational
usein them, as well as fun one.
And for grown-ups, well, you can attach a camera,
you can attach a light, you can operate it via the app.
This is just the Beta version and it is all pretty simple.
It moves backwards.
It's not that intuitive.
I'm struggling to stop it from just spinning.
But once you get to grips with the controls and get it moving
in every direction, you could use it for surveillance,
fun or just to scare your visitors.
Both companies' kits are currently in crowdfunding and should be
available to buy later this year.
Meanwhile, back at UC Berkeley, Dr Sven is in the house
and attempting to sew up a patient.
Here it comes.
So good, grab this needle with this...oh,
for goodness sake.
Sorry, I will make another hole.
I'm using a da Vinci robot.
Something which surgeons now routinely use to perform
surgical tasks like suturing.
Sometimes remote controlling it from another location
but more often, it is used just steady the hand movements
in the more delicate of procedures.
This is a computer sewing up a wound all on its own.
How hard is this?
You have to manipulate a needle that is a very small and we
have a thread that is deformable.
All of this is being operated in a tissue that we have no model about.
We have no touch feedback.
So think of it like this, it is equal to performing very
complex tasks when your hands are really numb and you can barely see.
It is a combunation of a computer-vision system
which tracks the needle - bright yellow to make that bit
easier - and advanced computer modelling which tries to predict the
behaviour of that twizeerly thread and the flippy-floppy tissue - both
technical terms, trust me.
Suturing is a fairly repetitive and simple low-skill task that
happens very often and you want to give a surgeon a break
so that the surgeon can perform or focus his attention on more
important things in the surgery.
While the low-level things can be done automatically.
The term low level is, of course, relative.
Not many of us have what it takes to do this with their own hands,
let alone what feels like a pair of remote boxing gloves.
It is totally the wrong way!
Am I putting the blunt end in? Yes.
Oh, my gosh, I am so sorry.
What a thoroughly beautiful place this is to study, isn't it?
I have a feeling we will be coming back
here in the not-too-distant future.
I hope you enjoyed our look around UC Berkeley, all the backstage fun
and photos are available on Twitter.
We will see you soon.
If your Saturday was cloudy, wet at times, for Sunday,
sunnier skies on the way.
But that's only half the story.
With some occasional sunshine cloud will build and the threat
of heavy and possibly thundery showers breaking out.
This is how it looks first thing for early risers, overnight rain around
East Anglia and south-east England, patchy mist and fog around.
Elsewhere, for many we will have a sunny start
but a few overnight showers going into the first part of the morning,
maybe fringing the west of Northern Ireland and western parts
of Scotland, a spot of rain maybe too in the north-east of Scotland.
Many in northern England getting off to a sunny start,
some patchy cloud here and there.
The threat from the word go catching a shower in parts of Wales to the
far south-west of England, much of the Midlands starting fine but for
ease daily and south-east England, a grey and murky start for some, maybe
damp but some of the early rain will clear east.
Sunshine with the showers getting going as we go deeper
into the morning and afternoon.
Fairly light winds, slow moving and potentially heavy
and thundery downpours.
Parts of East Anglia and south-east England could miss some of
the showers until late in the day.
Top temperatures around 18 or 19.
Taking part or watching the Great Manchester Run?
A fine morning in Manchester but cloud will build
and an increasing chance of showers breaking here going into
the lunchtime afternoon period.
Let's look at the picture for Sunday night.
Many of the showers will gradually fade away.
A mixture of some patchy cloud but long clear spells coming through
but patchy mist and fog around.
Temperatures will dip, it will turn out to be quite chilly
because in rural spots we could get to mid-single figures.
A chill in the air first thing, a change on the weather picture with
a ridge of high pressure starting to slide towards us, exerting
its influence for some in the western side of the UK on Monday.
Showers not quite in the same position because some
showers will get going on Monday, Northern Ireland will miss most
of these, western fringes, Wales, south-west England looking drier.
Central and eastern parts will see showers breaking out and some could
be heavy and possibly thundery.
A bit of a breeze developing to the east
coast of the UK and that will bring the temperature down a few degrees.
The easterly wind or north-easterly wind will be a feature this week.
Tuesday will be a quieter day but on that easterly flow, more cloud
on Wednesday and outbreaks of rain coming in from the east.
Bye for now.
A comprehensive guide to all the latest gadgets, websites, games and computer industry news.
The team tries out robot exoskeletons that help people to move and asks where robotics and ethics meet. Plus the launch of some new gear from tech giant Google.