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Kinect + Brain Scan = Augmented Reality for Neurosurgeons

With a little duct tape, a touch screen tablet, and their new Kinect API, the Microsoft Research Cambridge team built an augmented reality system to help brain surgeons visualize 3D brain scans. Kinect Fusion supplies 3D modeling of anything, which could fuel some seriously neat medical innovations. (The Cambridge team also built KinEtre, which lets you posses anything.) At the 13th annual Microsoft TechFest, Ben Glocker demoed a prototype system that would allow neurosurgeons to prepare for surgery by looking inside a patient's brain before they cut it open. Doctors could see the skeleton, brain, blood vessels, and the targeted tumor on a tablet—which they can move around the patient's head—helping them to plot the best brain surgery path.

The Fusion API will be released in the next Kinect for Windows SDK, which researchers say will be out very soon.

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Robot Yeti Tells You Where Not to Go in Antarctica

Antarctica looks all nice and smooth, but lurking beneath the snow are the gaping maws of crevasses of doom. Doom, I say! And it's not just me saying it: the threat of crevasses means that moving anything from one place to another on the ground is a slow, potentially deadly process. That's why some researchers from Dartmouth came up with Yeti, a GPS-guided robot that can drag a ground-penetrating radar around to detect impending doom. This robot has been around for several years now, but its masters have just published a paper in the current issue of the Journal of Field Robotics, showing that Yeti can make a huge difference in polar logistics.

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Man Shoots Robot, Gets Charged with Vandalism

The robotic victim was an Avatar from Robotex

Robots aren't people. This is why we get them to do all kinds of stuff that we'd rather not do, whether it's dull, dirty, dangerous, or other sinister words that start with "d." Robots don't have parents, they don't have feelings, they don't experience pain, and they don't hold it against you if you shoot them. So how much trouble can you get in for shooting them? Apparently, not much. At least in Ohio.

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Speedy Inchworm Robot Only Needs One Motor

Want to know what this thing is? Here's a hint: it's a miniature inchworm. And it's quite possibly the fastest miniature inchworm robot in the world, even though it uses just one single motor.

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Video Friday: Robot Fish Cars, Kibo in Zero-G, and Roboy Says Hi

Of all the robotic kids we've had the pleasure of meeting, Roboy somehow manages to be one of the least creepy. Even if he is, you know, skinless. But hey, at least he looks friendly-ish, doesn't he? Maybe not-spend-time-with-him-alone-in-the-dark-friendly, but robot babies are always a work in progress. See what Roboy's got going on, plus lots of other stuff, 'cause it's Video Friday!

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AirBurr MAV Navigates by Bouncing Off Walls and Floors

A lot of UAV research is focused on making flying robots that can navigate by themselves using sophisticated sensor systems, intelligently avoiding crashing into things. This is a fantastic goal to have, but it's not easy. EPFL is doing away with just about all of that with a new version of AirBurr, a robot that's specifically designed to run into everything and crash all the time, building maps as it does so.

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MIT Teaching PR2 to Be Better at Not Failing

If there's one thing that robots are consistently fantastic at, it's failure. Robots are absolutely wonderful at completely screwing up even the most basic of tasks. But the problem isn't the robot, it's the fact that things that humans think of as "basic" tasks are really not basic at all. Part of the reason that we can avoid failure when doing basic things is that we're able to imagine and predict the consequences of our actions, and by giving robots a similar capability, researchers at MIT hope to make them less, you know, fail-y.

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IEEE Spectrum's award-winning robotics blog, featuring news, articles, and videos on robots, humanoids, drones, automation, artificial intelligence, and more.
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