TECHNOLOGY

Weekender

South Korea tests drone delivery in remote regions

Drones are being tested for delivery to remote regions. – AFP Relaxnews

SEOUL began testing delivery by drone in South Korea’s remote regions on July 31, with the hope of improving residents’ quality of life, the government said.
The project, jointly launched by the interior and safety ministry and Korea Post, among other government agencies, aims to establish a “public drone delivery system” to serve the country’s dispersed population.
A test operation on July 31 transported medical relief items from Dangjin, a city 80km southwest of Seoul, to two islands off South Korea’s west coast.
The same 20 minute journey would normally take delivery vessels two hours, the ministry said.
Earlier this year, American delivery giant UPS launched the first authorised use of unmanned drones to transport packages to recipients.
Seoul aims to open 10 drone delivery bases across the country by 2022.
South Korea has more than 3,000 islands, of which some 480 are inhabited and where many residents have limited access to health care and other public services.
– AFP Relaxnews

 


US scientists announce 3D heart printing breakthrough

A functional heart valve which a team of US scientists have built out of collagen using a 3D bioprinter. The breakthrough they say could one day create entire organs. — Carnegie Mellon University College of Engineering/AFP

US scientists have successfully built functional heart parts out of collagen using a 3D bioprinter, a breakthrough they say could one day create entire organs.
Their technique, which was described in the journal Science on Aug 1, replicates the body’s own complex biological scaffolds that provide the structure and biochemical signaling organs need to function.
“What we were able to show was you can actually 3D print a heart valve out of collagen, and they function,” Adam Feinberg, one of the paper’s co-authors told AFP.
Previous attempts at printing these scaffolds, known as extracellular matrices, had been hindered by limitations that resulted in poor tissue fidelity and low resolutions.
Collagen, which is an ideal biomaterial for the task since it is found in every tissue of the human body, starts out as a fluid and attempting to print it resulted in puddle of jello-like material.
But the scientists at Carnegie Mellon University were able to overcome these hurdles by using rapid changes in pH to cause the collagen to solidify with precise control.
“That’s the very first version of a valve, and so anything that we engineer as a product will actually get better and better,” Feinberg said.
The technique could one day help patients awaiting heart transplants, but it will need to validated through animal testing and eventually human.
“I think more near term is probably patching an existing organ,” such as a heart that has suffered a loss of function through a heart attack, or a degrading liver, said Feinberg. – AFP

 


Robot rules for any Tom, Dick or Harry

TOM, Dick and Harry work in the fields. Each has a specific farming job to do but they share one thing in common – they are all robots.
Now the company behind them has devised a set of rules about how they behave, one it hopes others may adopt.
Mainly the rules refer to how robots need to serve humans but does one give them a glimpse of their own rights?
On this week’s Tech Tent we discuss what the blueprints for human/machine interaction should look like.
The little farming robots do not come across many humans, other than the odd rambler, Ben Scott-Robinson, co-founder of the Small Robot Company, told us.
But he still thinks the time is ripe to discuss how we want to interact with machines in future.
“We’re about to see a massive influx of commercial robots in the consumer domain. In our shops, our factories, our hotels, our streets and our fields. It’s vital that consumers can trust and feel comfortable with these encounters,” he said.

A functional heart valve which a team of US scientists have built out of collagen using a 3D bioprinter. The breakthrough they say could one day create entire organs. — Carnegie Mellon University College of Engineering/AFP

The rules build on those created by science fiction writer Isaac Asimov in his 1942 short story Runaround, where he decreed that an autonomous machine must not harm a person, always obey orders and protect its own existence without compromising its other principles.
The new blueprints include these rules:

  • The human user will always have ultimate control
  • If a robot is disconnected from the user, it will stop
  • A user is responsible if the robot goes wrong

But one of the rules hints at the potential need to give the robots themselves some rights:

  • A robot has the right to react if it believes an interactor is behaving maliciously

Scott-Robinson told us this was not as revolutionary as it might sound: “It’s much more mundane. It is the same as if someone maliciously interferes with your car then the alarm goes off.
If someone picks up or kicks a robot when it is going about its daily work, then the robot should be able to collect information about who is doing it and tell its user.” -BBC

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