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DARPA Creates Advanced Humanoid Machines (Avoids calling them Skynet or Cylons…)

DARPA unveils one of world’s most advanced humanoid robots

Published July 12, 2013

  • Atlas Robot.jpg

    ATLAS is a hydraulically powered robot in the form of an adult human. It is capable of a variety of natural movements, including dynamic walking, calisthenics and user-programmed behavior. (DARPA)

  • ATLAS robot front.jpg

    DARPA’s Atlas robot, developed by Boston Dynamics, is six-foot-two and weighs 290 pounds. (DARPA)

He’s six-two, weighs 330 pounds, and has arms that stretch wider than a car — but the NFL doesn’t want this guy in its lineup. 

ATLAS is a hydraulically powered robot in the form of an adult human. Here’s ATLAS, by the numbers:

Weight (incl. powerpack): 330 lbs
Height: 74”
Shoulder Width: 30”

Number of hydraulic joints: 28

Other features: Crash protection, modular wrists, LIDAR, stereo sensors

Defense contractors on Thursday unveiled one of the most advanced humanoid robots ever built as part of the DARPA Virtual Robotics Challenge in Waltham, Mass. Called ATLAS, the giant is controlled by a human operator, who guides the sensors, hydraulics, and limbs through a range of natural motions, the military said.

He can walk up stairs, stay upright after getting hit with heavy weights, and climb over or around obstacles in his path — and may ultimately boost the ability of first responders in a disaster scenario.

Related: Giant robots, monsters invade theaters

“We have dramatically raised the expectations for robotic capabilities with this Challenge, and brought together a diverse group of teams to compete,” said Gill Pratt, program manager for the DARPA Robotics Challenge.

And ATLAS is just one of the robots in the military’s latest robobuilding contest.

“The Virtual Robotics Challenge was a proving ground for teams’ ability to create software to control a robot in a hypothetical scenario. The DRC Simulator tasks were fairly accurate representations of real world causes and effects, but the experience wasn’t quite the same as handling an actual, physical robot,” Pratt said.

“Now these seven teams will see if their simulation-honed algorithms can run a real machine in real environments. And we expect all teams will be further refining their algorithms, using both simulation and experimentation.”

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2013/07/12/darpa-unveils-one-world-most-advanced-humanoid-robots/?intcmp=features#ixzz2Yxs6pmRL

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Could humans be cloned?

Could humans be cloned?

By Rachael Rettner

Published May 19, 2013


  • Battlestar Galactica cylons.jpg

    Actresses Tricia Helfer (left) and Grace Park (right), who played humanoid Cylons with countless clones on the TV show “Battlestar Galactica.” (Syfy)

  • Egg nucleus transfer final.jpg

    The first step during SCNT is enucleation or removal of nuclear genetic material (chromosomal) from a human egg. An egg is positioned with holding pipette (on the left) and egg’s chromosomes are visualized under polarized microscope. A hole is made in the egg’s shell (zone pellucida) using a laser and a smaller pipette (on the right) is inserted through the opening. The chromosomes then sucked in inside the pipette and slowly removed from the egg. (Cell, Tachibana et al.)

The news that researchers have used cloning to make human embryos for the purpose of producing stem cells may have some people wondering if it would ever be possible to clone a person.
Although it would be unethical, experts say it is likely biologically possible to clone a human being. But even putting ethics aside, the sheer amount of resources needed to do it is a significant barrier.

Since the 1950s when researchers cloned a frog, scientists have cloned dozens of animal species, including mice, cats, sheep, pigs and cows.

‘It’s grossly unethical.’

– Dr. Robert Lanza, chief scientific officer at the biotech company Advanced Cell Technology 

In each case, researchers encountered problems that needed to be overcome with trial and error, said Dr. Robert Lanza, chief scientific officer at the biotech company Advanced Cell Technology, which works on cell therapies for human diseases, and has cloned animals.

With mice, researchers were able to use thousands of eggs, and conduct many experiments, to work out these problems, Lanza said. “Its a numbers game,” he said.

But with primates, eggs are a very precious resource, and it is not easy to acquire them to conduct experiments, Lanza said.

In addition, researchers can’t simply apply what they’ve learned from cloning mice or cows to cloning people.

For instance, cloning an animal requires that researchers first remove the nucleus of an egg cell. When researchers do this, they also remove proteins that are essential to help cells divide, Lanza said. In mice, this isn’t a problem, because the embryo that is ultimately created is able to make these proteins again. But primates aren’t able to do this, and researchers think it may be one reason that attempts to clone monkeys have failed, Lanza said. [See How Stem Cell Cloning Works (Infographic)]

What’s more, cloned animals often have different kinds of genetic abnormalities that can prevent embryo implantation in a uterus, or cause the fetus to spontaneously abort, or the animal to die shortly after birth, Lanza said.

These abnormities are common because cloned embryos have just one parent rather than two, which means that a molecular process known as “imprinting” does not occur properly in cloned embryos, Lanza said. Imprinting takes place during embryo development, and selectively silences certain genes from one parent or the other.

Problems with imprinting can result in extremely large placentas, which ultimately leads to problems with blood flow for the fetus, Lanza said. In one experiment, Lanza and colleagues cloned a species of cattle called banteng, and it was born at twice the size of a normal banteng. It had to be euthanized, Lanza said.

The extremely high rate of death, and the risk of developmental abnormities from cloning makes cloning people unethical, Lanza said.

“It’s like sending your baby up in a rocket knowing there’s a 50-50 chance it’s going to blow up. It’s grossly unethical,” Lanza said.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/science/2013/05/19/could-humans-be-cloned/#ixzz2TnzBJH7Y

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