Why robots are being trained in self-awareness

A robot 'recognises' itself in the bathroom mirror. Image credit - Pablo Lanillos

Robots passing cognitive tests such as recognising themselves in a mirror and being programmed with a human sense of time are showing how machines are being shaped to become a bigger part of our everyday lives.  In 2016, for the first time ever, the number of robots in homes, the military, shops and hospitals surpassed that … Read more

Q&A: Human spaceflight is a risk worth taking, says ESA head

If an astronaut reports about the fragility and the beauty of the Earth, then this word is much stronger than any robotic system, says Wörner. Image credit - Pixabay, licenced under CC0

by Jonathan O’Callaghan Human spaceflight is dangerous, but worth the risk, according to Jan Wörner, the Director General of the European Space Agency (ESA). But even so, there are limits – like Mars. Robots, as proxies for human exploration, can take on dangerous missions by travelling to places astronauts are not yet capable of reaching, but … Read more

Flying high: how drones on cables are expanding the scope of wind energy

Skypull's prototype designs are being tested in Switzerland to prove that the concept works before they build a full-size version. Image credit - Skypull

by Tom Cassauwers By harnessing the power of strong winds at higher altitude than turbines reach, airborne wind energy could be another key source of renewable energy, but it will need a combination of successful designs, more robust software and good storytelling to really take off. The square drone shakes in the wind with the Swiss … Read more

Q&A: We have to rethink disease detection to get ahead of the outbreak after coronavirus

Disease outbreaks are likely to become more common in the future because of the growing human population, climate change and land-use change, says Prof. Marion Koopmans. Image credit - rawpixel/licenced under CCO

We know that outbreaks like coronavirus will become more common in the future and tackling them is the Apollo programme of our time, according to Professor Marion Koopmans, head of the viroscience department at Erasmus University Medical Centre in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.  She is a member of the European Commission’s recently established advisory panel on Covid-19 and … Read more