Concerns linger over workplace robots, even as they deliver benefits

Robots can already take over some repetitive tasks from human workers, now research focuses on more interaction between the two. Image credit - KUKA Roboter GmbH, Bachmann, the image is in the public domain

People harbour lingering fears about the impact of robots on their jobs and welfare, but machines in the workplace have produced benefits that researchers believe are likely to continue. But for that to happen, challenges such as earning workers’ trust and improving safety and human-robot interaction must be overcome. In the EU, 72% of people are … Read more

Link between music and speech rhythm in brain could provide language insight

When a piece of music is played at the wrong tempo it is difficult to recognise because our brain uses rhythm to help make sense of sounds. Image credit - flickr/ Brian Richardson, licensed under CC BY 2.0

Neuroscientist Dr Domenica Bueti often plays an altered version of the classic aria La donna è mobile when she gives talks about the importance of time perception. Her friend’s piano rendition of Giuseppe Verdi’s composition uses the same notes but is played at different speeds. Rarely does anyone ever identify the tune. ‘When I play it with … Read more

Sponges and corals: Seafloor assessments to help protect against climate change

Little is known about deep ocean environments. But scientists focussing on the depths of the North Atlantic are now learning more about their ecosystems – including the role of vast sea sponge grounds – and how to safeguard them against the effects of climate change and industry. Deep-sea sponges – aquatic invertebrates that spend their … Read more

A ‘cookbook’ for vehicle manufacturers: Getting automated parts to talk to each other

Image credit - MAN Truck & Bus

Semi-autonomous cars are expected to hit the roads in Europe next year with truck convoys following a few years later. But before different brands can share the roads, vehicle manufacturers need to agree on standards for automated functions. Automation will increasingly allow vehicles to take over certain aspects of driving. However automated functions are still … Read more

Noisier waters linked to behaviour change, hearing loss in whales

Image Credit - Flickr/spezz CC BY 2.0

Studies investigating whale-watching boats and the inner ears of marine mammals could soon provide new insight into the effects of noisier oceans on cetaceans – dolphins, whales and porpoises – who depend on their hearing for navigating, finding food and communicating underwater. Noise in our oceans is increasing due to human activities such as shipping, … Read more

Heartbeats and memory suppression – the new tools for controlling fear

Image Credit - Flickr/Franck Michel

Most of us feel afraid when faced with a threat or danger, but people with phobias and anxiety feel overwhelming levels of fear in situations that are relatively harmless. Scientists want to moderate this response by using drugs to wipe out scary memories or by harnessing the power of heartbeats to improve therapy. Usually, people … Read more