Entries with tag research and development.

Soft Robotics Research and Development Growing

A growing research area within robotics is that of soft robotics. Most robots have rigid structures, but soft structures pose several operating advantages. These types of robots move differently, which means the movements do not need to be precisely calculated by operating algorithms. They also can work in environments alongside humans without fear of injury to human or robot. The danger “is on par with being attacked by a pillow,” notes MIT researchers who are working on a fish-inspired silicon robot named Bubbles.  Among the other academic organizations and businesses working on soft robotics are Harvard University, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, San Francisco-based Otherlab, and researchers in Italy who constructed a robotic tentacle. (SlashDot)(The Verge)(MIT News Office)

US Researchers Dread Consequences of Possible “Fiscal Cliff”

The looming US “fiscal cliff”—which would balance the federal budget via tax increases and spending cuts if officials don’t agree on an alternative—could result in a loss of 31,000 science jobs and reductions in R&D funding. This would occur on top of R&D budget cuts caused by the sputtering US economy. The Discovery News website says fiscal-cliff-related cuts would be across the life, physical, and social sciences and would cause a 3 percent loss of jobs in these fields. Discovery News based its report on a study that George Mason University professor Stephen Fuller conducted for the Aerospace Industries Association. The state standing to lose the most federal research funding, according to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, would be California, followed by Maryland, Virginia, and Massachusetts. If these problems occur, observers predict scientists will spend much of their time writing grants and seeking funding rather than conducting research. “The job losses from the fiscal cliff would be tragic enough by themselves, but the loss would also set America further behind other nations in the race towards scientific and technological leadership,” said Discovery News. (SlashDot)(Discovery News)

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