• A Smarter & Smoother Robot Arm

    If someone tells you that you move like a robot it's not a compliment, unless you're doing the dance, just ask Al Gore. Robots have always been famous for making very rigid and stiff movements and there's a reason for that. While it's simple for a human to move their hand from the keyboard, pick up a cup of coffee, take a sip and put it back down, it's extremely difficult to come up with an equation for a robot to do the same thing.

    The task of making a robot move more naturally may have scared away others in the past, but researchers at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and the Laboratory of Information and Decision Systems (LIDS) have attacked the dilemma head on. By combining two innovative Algorithms they have built a new robotic motion-planning system that calculates more efficient and human like paths for robot arms.

    And what does all this mean? If robots are ever going to interact with humans it's critical that they're able to make efficient

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  • The Future of Solar Power

    Up until now solar panels have fallen a little flat, literally. Whether they're on a house or an industrial solar field in the desert, solar panels have always been one shape: flat. But the world's not and there's no reason why our solar panels should be either.

    Inspired by the way trees spread their leaves to capture sunlight, MIT Engineering Professor Jeffery Grossman wondered how efficient a three-dimensional shape covered in solar cells could be. It turns out that it has the potential to be quite efficient, even on an overcast, rainy day in Boston.

    That's where we found Professor Grossman and his team, on the roof of their research lab at MIT with a desk covered in miniature 3D solar panels.

    You might think doing a solar panel demonstration on an overcast day is pointless, but not so with 3D solar panels. Typically, grey skies are like kryptonite for solar power, but Professor Grossman found that 3D panels can actually pick up almost as much electricity on a cloudy day as it can

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  • A New Way to Treat Cancer

    What if we could find out if a cancer drug is working or not almost instantly? Cancer patients could avoid the frustration of suffering through painful side effects and lost time only to learn that the treatment wasn't effective.

    Professor Michael Cima and his team at the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT may have come up with the answer. They're building on what is already the best practice for detecting cancer, which is the biopsy. Unfortunately, the information that is retrieved from a biopsy only tells the doctor what's happening with the tumor in the very moment that it's taken, like a photograph, and tumors are constantly changing and diversifying, especially during treatment.

    In order to monitor the progress of a tumor doctors need a better tool - one that can monitor a tumor continuously. If a biopsy is equal to a photograph, Professor Cima is working on building a video camera.

    His video camera comes in the form of a tiny implant that is so small it fits

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