Winner: The Revolution Will Be Prosthetized

Darpa’s prosthetic arm gives amputees new hope

11 min read
Jonathan Kuniholm, an engineer at Duke University.
Photo: Mike McGregor

This is part of IEEE Spectrum’s SPECIAL REPORT: WINNERS & LOSERS 2009, The Year’s Best and Worst of Technology.

Jonathan Kuniholm wears a prototype of the prosthetic arm created by DARPAArmed and Ready: Jonathan Kuniholm wears a prototype of the prosthetic arm created by the DARPA Revolutionizing Prosthetics project.Photo: Mike McGregor

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iRobot Crams Mop and Vacuum Into Newest Roomba

The Roomba Combo j7+ handles both hard flooring and carpet in a clever, non-messy way

9 min read
A round black robot vacuum with a mopping pad that can move from below the robot to above the robot and out of the way

Not a spoiler.

iRobot

Robots tend to do best when you optimize them for one single, specific task. This is especially true for home robots, which need to be low cost(ish) as well as robust enough to be effective in whatever home they find themselves in. iRobot has had this formula pretty well nailed down with its family of vacuuming robots for nearly two decades, but they’ve also had another family of floor care robots that have been somewhat neglected recently: mopping robots.

Today, iRobot is announcing the US $1,100 Roomba Combo j7+, which stuffs both a dry vacuum and a wet mop into the body of a Roomba j7. While very much not the first or only combo floor-cleaning robot on the market, the Combo j7+ uses a unique and very satisfying mechanical system to make sure that your carpets stay clean and dry while giving your hard floors the moist buffing that they so desperately need.

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Converting Coal Power Plants to Nuclear Gains Steam

A U.S. Department of Energy report identifies over 300 coal plants that could be swapped over

3 min read
illustration of a building concept

This illustration shows TerraPower’s Wyoming project, which aims to retrofit an existing coal plant with a sodium fast reactor.

TerraPower

On a planet aspiring to become carbon neutral, the once-stalwart coal power plant is an emerging anachronism.

It is true that, in much of the developing world, coal-fired capacity continues to grow. But in every corner of the globe, political and financial pressures are mounting to bury coal in the past. In the United States, coal’s share of electricity generation has plummeted since its early 2000s peak; 28 percent of U.S. coal plants are planned to shutter by 2035.

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Technology Innovation Institute

Autonomous systems sit at the intersection of AI, IoT, cloud architectures, and agile software development practices. Various systems are becoming prominent, such as unmanned drones, self-driving cars, automated warehouses, and managing capabilities in smart cities. Little attention has been paid to securing autonomous systems as systems composed of multiple automated components. Various patchwork efforts have focused on individual components.

Cloud services are starting to adopt a Zero Trust approach for securing the chain of trust that might traverse multiple systems. It has become imperative to extend a Zero Trust architecture to systems of autonomous systems to protect not only drones, but also industrial equipment, supply chain automation, and smart cities.