Roboticists don't speak in bleeps and bloops
Heather Knight shows off CMU's robots: Personal Exploration Rover, from left, Companion, Data, Gigapan (camera) and Rover 1.
February 29th, 2012
09:57 AM ET

Roboticists don't speak in bleeps and bloops

Editors note: Today, we're kicking off a new focus on Geek Out! called Brainiac. In this section, we'll take a closer look at the people, communities and passions behind the brainiest professions and hobbies.

For all of C-3PO’s sleek, humanoid design and eloquent chatter, it is R2-D2’s charming, melodic beeping and rolling about in “Star Wars” that captures the imagination of a roboticist even though a humanoid robot is exactly what everyone else expects when they look to the modern landscape of robotics.

It’s what Marek Michalowski, roboticist and co-founder of BeatBots, calls a paradoxical “burden of science fiction,” which both inspires and constrains what people anticipate from robotics. He and other roboticists feel compelled to deliver on the unspoken promise of anthropomorphized, or humanoid, robots, built up within sci-fi over the last 40 years.

Michalowski finds R2-D2 to be the more interesting robot because it is limited by how it can communicate. R2-D2 is also much closer to the robotic designs that are currently possible. Because roboticists have followed their instinct to focus on purpose rather than facial expressions, robots that impact people the most can be the least human-looking. FULL POST

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New Comic Wednesday: February 29,2012
The DC universe heroes form up in DC Comics Justice League #6.
February 29th, 2012
09:54 AM ET

New Comic Wednesday: February 29,2012

Hello again, fellow comic readers!

When DC Comics canceled almost every book it published last August and relaunched with a few dozen new titles or reworked classics – the so-called “New 52” - it was the biggest story to hit the world of comics in quite some time. (Like CNN, DC Comics is owned by Time Warner.)

The New 52 roll-out offered consumers same-day digital distribution, gave a lot of relatively unknown writers and artists a chance to play for the majors, took some real chances on some lesser-known books and even rolled the dice on some creators who once strode the comics landscape like kings but had since fallen out of public favor.

The first book I recommended in this column was “Justice League #1,” the flagship title of the effort. It turned out to be one of the titles they took no chances on the art and writing whatsoever. FULL POST