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Molecular Robot

dna strandFrom the Clarendon Laboratory, Department of Physics at the University of Oxford in England comes a programmable DNA robot.

The robot is made up of sub-microscopic synthetic DNA and moves along tracks separated by only 6nm (nanometers).

The robot can be programmed using something called a “fuel hairpin”.  This is  a molecule that acts as a fuel cell and also carries instructions on which way the robot should go, allowing it to go right or left when it comes to a junction.  Hopefully in the future this would allow doctors to precisely target where drugs should end up in a patients body.

The research was done by Andrew Turbefield, a professor at Oxford, along with other colleagues.

Image of a DNA strand from Wikimedia Commons.

Link via (Science Daily) via (SpaceRef)

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Reading Robot

marge

Oxford Mobile Robotics Group

Ingmar Posner, Paul Newman from the University of Oxford and Peter Corke from the Queensland University of Technology have created a mobile robot called Marge.

Using a technique called TextSpotting, they have given Marge the ability to read.  This allows Marge to navigate much easier in an outdoor urban environment.

Text spotting is hard because text is a such a variable thing,” said Newman. “It appears in so many guises in so many places, in so many sizes, and of course the real world is full of reflections, occlusions, etc.

The researchers have also given Marge OCR, a  dictionary and a spell checker, allowing to learn what words mean.

The Oxford Mobile Robotics Group have also created a robot named Homer, but not given him the ability to read.

We always knew Marge was smarter than Homer.

Click through for a video from a few years ago of Marge.

Link via (MSNBC)

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