Daily Archives: November 12, 2011

Jumping robot spider crawls out of 3-D printer

The robot spider’s legs are 20 centimeters long. Elastic drive bellows serve as joints. Fraunhofer IPA

Top contender for rescue missions moves like the real thing and is quite inexpensive

MSNBC | Nov 3, 2011

A rescue robot must have the mobility and balance to go where humans cannot, such as under the rubble of an earthquake-stricken city or inside the site of a nuclear reactor disaster. One of the best contenders has emerged in the shape of a jumping spider that bears an eerie resemblance to Mother Nature’s own creepy crawlies.

The robot moves around as a real spider would by keeping four legs on the ground at all times while the other four prepare for the next step. Such mobility comes from combining rigid parts with an elastic body — a design that also allowed German researchers to create the robot spiders inexpensively by using 3-D printing.

“Our robot is so cheap to produce that it can be discarded after being used just once — like a disposable rubber glove,” said Ralf Becker, a scientist at the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation, in Stuttgart.

The spider robot’s crawling and jumping abilities come from elastic drive bellows that act as joints. Instead of using muscles, the robot harnesses built-up body pressure to pump fluid into its legs to extend them. Bending the front pairs of legs pulls the robot spider along, and stretching its rear legs pushes it forward.

The current models have a control unit, valves and compressor pump in their body. In a disaster scenario, they could also carry video cameras, measuring devices and sensors to transmit information back to their human overseers.

The German team used 3-D printing to build up their robotic marvels layer by layer. During the process, a laser beam guided by a computer melts thin layers of polyamide powder to create the robot parts from the bottom up.

Minority Report – Spider Robots (2002)

Such economic manufacturing allows the robotics researchers to almost effortlessly make modifications for new models. “We can … produce one or even several legs in a single operation; this minimizes assembly effort, saves materials and reduces the time it takes to build a robot,” Becker said. “With the modular approach, individual parts can be quickly swapped as well.”

A prototype of the robot is scheduled to appear in Frankfurt at the EuroMold 2011 trade fair  (in Hall 11, Stand C66) from Nov. 29 through Dec. 2.

Two Milwaukee women arrested for satanic sex torture

Mug shots of Rebecca Chandler (l.), 22, and Raven Larrabee, 20, of Milwaukee. via thesmokinggun.com

Milwaukee roommates Rebecca Chandler and Raven Larabee arrested for satanic sex torture

Victim tied with duct tape and cut more than 300 times

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS | Nov 10, 2011

BY Tracy Connor

Two Milwaukee women were under arrest Wednesday after a young man told cops they tortured him at knifepoint for two days during a satanic sex marathon.

The 18-year-old victim said he took a bus from Phoenix, Ariz., to hook up with a woman he met online — and was then tied up with duct tape and rope and cut more than 300 times.

“I think you are looking for me,” Rebecca Chandler, 22, told police who showed up at her apartment, according to a search warrant obtained by The Smoking Gun website.

Chandler said the cutting started out as consensual but “got out of hand” — and she tried to pin most of the blame on her roommate, Raven Larabee, 20, the warrant said.

Police found some interesting reading material in the women’s pad — “The Necromantic Ritual Rule Book,” “The Werewolf’s Guide to Life” and “Intro to Sigilborne Spirits.’

Police also saw “a large amount of blood on the floor and on bedding,” the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

After the man was released Sunday night, he called police from the street. When they arrived, they followed a trail of blood back to the apartment.

The victim had slash and puncture wounds on his neck, legs, arm and back. He changed his Facebook status on Tuesday to a single word: “Stitches.”

The women are being held in county lockup on suspicion of reckless injury but had not been charged by prosecutors.

Britain prepares for economic ‘Armageddon’

Daily Mail | Nov 11, 2011

By Tim Shipman and Rob Davies

Vince Cable warned that banks are facing an 'Armageddon' scenario

Britain was preparing for economic ‘Armageddon’ last night as the European Union warned the UK is at serious risk of a double-dip recession.

The toll of the turmoil in Europe to our economy was laid bare in a report which predicted the UK could slip into negative growth over the next six months – and economic forecasts were slashed for the whole of Europe.

David Cameron said the Treasury was planning for ‘all eventualities’ and warned eurozone leaders they have to act now or face a ‘moment of truth’ that will leave the world in a worse position than the 2008 credit crunch.

With fears that the euro could collapse altogether, Business Secretary Vince Cable said that such an outcome would unleash an ‘Armageddon scenario’ that would drag British banks down as well.

With Italy forced to borrow £2billion more yesterday to stave off bankruptcy, fears were growing last night that France and Spain will be the next to face contagion from the debt crisis as the interest they have to pay on their debts crept inexorably upwards.

The burgeoning crisis spread yesterday when the EU admitted that the debt disaster is now obliterating the prospects of healthy economic growth in Europe.

Officials in Brussels painted a grim picture of the UK’s economic prospects for the next two years, warning ‘contraction in GDP in at least one of the next few quarters cannot be ruled out’ – code for a double dip recession.

The report forecast that British economic output would grow by just 0.7 per cent in 2011, while inflation and unemployment rise.

And in a worrying sign that the economy could stagnate well into next year, growth will slow even further in 2012, to 0.6 per cent.

The prognosis for the eurozone is even bleaker, the report said, warning that economic recovery in the single currency has ‘come to a standstill’ – with growth projected to be just 0.5 per cent next year, compared to a previous forecast of 1.8 per cent.

The Commission’s economics supremo Olli Rehn said: ‘Growth has stalled in Europe, and there is a risk of a new recession.’

Asset management firm Schroders also predicted a ‘serious’ eurozone recession in 2012, and this could result in a recession in EU countries such as Britain which are outside the single currency.

European economist Azad Zangana said: ‘Politicians have missed their opportunity to prevent a European credit crunch.’

With EU leaders paralysed by inaction, EU Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso made the barely credible statement that all EU countries, including Britain, should now join the single currency.

‘All EU states should have the euro as its currency,’ he said – a notion dismissed as ‘absurd’ by senior officials in London.

The crisis was yesterday centred on Italy, where former EU commissioner Mario Monti is expected to imminently take over as prime minister from Silvio Berlusconi, who has promised to stand down once financial reforms are passed.

The Italian government was forced to borrow another £2billion on the markets at an interest rate of 7 per cent – the threshold which has triggered financial rescue packages for Greece, Ireland and Portugal.

David Cameron warned that Italy could drag the rest of Europe down. In a speech to business leaders in London, he said: ‘Its current state is a clear and present danger to the eurozone and the moment of truth is approaching.

‘If the leaders of the eurozone want to save their currency then they – together with the institutions of the eurozone – must act now. The longer the delay, the greater the danger.’

Vince Cable, asked what would happen if the euro collapsed, said: ‘Well, certainly it affects our trade; and potentially – in what [is called] an “Armageddon scenario” – it affects the banking system.’

The Prime Minister’s remarks that the ‘institutions of the eurozone’ must act was a reference to the European Central Bank (ECB), which the British Government has been calling on to act as lender of last resort for the single currency.

Yesterday the ECB bought more than £200million of Italian bonds – but officials said they could do no more to help.

Downing Street and the Treasury are in a state of near despair about the refusal of German Chancellor Angela Merkel to sanction the ECB backstopping the euro, the only action they think will calm the markets.

Meanwhile, the contagion continued to spread. The price Spain pays to borrow – known as its bond yield – is already worryingly high at 5.85 per cent, while storm clouds are starting to gather around France.

The interest rate on French debt reached 3.4 per cent compared to Britain’s 2.2 per cent and Germany’s 1.75 per cent.

Justice warns of ‘Big Brother society’ as Supreme Court decides if police can use GPS to track you without a warrant

Watched: Breyer likened the surveillance to the frightening totalitarian government depicted by George Orwell (pictured) in his book 1984

Daily Mail | Nov 9, 2011

A Supreme Court justice has warned there could be a strict Big Brother society if the police are allowed to use GPS devices to track suspected criminals without advance approval.

Justice Stephen Breyer said there could be around-the-clock surveillance reminiscent of the totalitarian world of the George Orwell novel 1984.

His comments come as the Obama administration appeals a ruling that threw out a drug conspiracy conviction when the FBI and police installed a GPS device on the suspect’s car without a search warrant.

The Supreme Court is considering whether the devices should require approval from a judge in advance.

In the hearing, Justice Stephen Breyer questioned what a democratic society would look like if people believed the government was tracking them for days at a time.

‘If you win this case, then there is nothing to prevent the police or the government from monitoring 24 hours a day the public movement of every citizen of the United States,’ Breyer said.

‘So if you win, you suddenly produce what sounds like 1984 from their brief.’


Is police monitoring via GPS constitutional?

A GPS device helped authorities link suspected criminal Antoine Jones, from Washington, to a suburban house used to stash money and drugs.

He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison before the federal appeals court in Washington overturned the conviction.

An unusual array of interest groups backs Jones, including the Gun Owners of America, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the American Civil Liberties Union and an association of truck drivers.

The appellate judges said the authorities should have had a warrant and pointed to the length of the surveillance — a month — as a factor in their decision.

A representative from the ACLU pushed the point the point that this case is not solely about Jones but about the future decisions of the Supreme Court over GPS and citizens’ privacy.

The Justice Department said GPS devices are especially useful in early stages of an investigation, when they can eliminate the use of time-consuming stakeouts as officers seek to gather evidence.

Chief Justice John Roberts told the hearing that unlike earlier technology, GPS tracking gives law enforcement a ‘mosaic’ that gives them the ‘whole picture’ rather than just a slice of it.

In response to Breyer, U.S. Deputy Solicitor General Michael Dreeben contended that if all Americans viewed warrantless tracking as an Orwellian invasion of privacy, Congress would step in with a legislative solution.

Other appeals courts have ruled that search warrants aren’t necessary for GPS tracking.

The justices are considering two related issues, whether a warrant is needed before installing the device or using the GPS technology to track a vehicle.