- News Home
5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
- About Us
6 April 2009 7:30 am
TOKYO—For those wondering where Japan’s intense interest in humanoid robot research is headed, look to the night sky. On 3 April, a government advisory group suggested sending a bipedal robot to explore the moon by 2020. The group has left details such as the robot's capabilities and the cost of such an endeavor to further study.
Robotics watchers have been intrigued by recent progress in humanoid robots in Japan. A female-looking humanoid (left in picture) with the slender proportions—though not quite the grace—of a fashion model debuted on 16 March. A week later, it (she?) shared a catwalk with the real models that inspired its development by researchers at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Tsukuba. (Press release in Japanese, video one, two, and three.) Then on 31 March, researchers at Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International showed how someone wearing a helmet studded with sensors to monitor neural electrical activity and cerebral blood flow can control the movement of Honda Motor Co.'s Asimo humanoid just by thinking. Think of raising a hand, for example, and Asimo raises its (his?). (Press release in Japanese.)
A moonwalking robot would be a natural, if extraterrestrial, progression. The advisory group that recommended sending an android into space is under Japan's Strategic Headquarters for Space Development, which was set up last September to further Japan's space-related scientific and technological achievements. The group would like to increase use of domestically developed rockets to launch more satellites for Earth observation and space science. Mindful of North Korea's apparent ambitions, they are also urging the Japanese government to develop an early warning system to detect missile launches throughout Asia. Sending robots to the moon would be a step toward a crewed mission, according to a document released by the Strategic Headquarters.
The plan, now in outline form, will be fleshed out later this month and then opened for comment from humankind.