Nat Geo and New Hampshire University’s Marine School to Investigate Sea Floors Where Earheart Disappeared

National Geographic explorer Robert Ballard and researchers at the Marine School of the University of New Hampshire (UNH) are about to embark on a mission that could shed light on the disappearance of America’s most famous female aviator, Amerlia Earhart.

In carrying out the mission, the team will be using robotic technology developed and provided by UNH’s Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping. A robot, classified as an autonomous surface vehicle or ASV, can reach the hard-to-reach seafloor of the waters where Earhart had transmitted her last distress call. .

Prior to the famed pilot’s disappearance in 1937, she was able to send radio signals that indicated she was able to make a successful landing. Evidence showed that she may have landed in the western Pacific Ocean, near the coral reefs surrounding the island of Nikumaroro. Navy pilots though who surveyed the islands several days after Earheart’s disappearance, did not see any plane. This led them to surmise that the aircraft may have toppled off and fell into the deep.

Ballard and the UNH marine researchers will be boarding the EV Nautilus, bringing with them an ASV specifically known as the Bathymetric Explorer and Navigator or BEN. BEN is a robot with a unique capability to explore the seafloor and provide a map of the shallow areas next to the island where Earhart had transmitted her last radio call. The area has been assessed as too deep for divers to explore, as well as too shallow for safe navigation of the Nautilus.

The maps of the seafloor that BEN will generate using its deep-water sonar systems, will provide the EV Nautilus crew with guides on where to send remotely operated vehicles (ROV) that will perform the actual search for remnants of Earhart’s plane.

The National Geographic TV channel will be featuring the expedition in a two-hour special captioned as “EXPEDITION AMELIA,” on October 20, 2019. Aside from NatGeo’s explorer Robert Ballard, the TV special will see UNH research engineers Val Schmidt, KG Fairbarn, and Andy McLeod aboard the EV Nautilus. Completing the UNH Marine School’s Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping’s robotics team for seafloor mapping is Roland Arsenault, as lead of the on-shore crew supporting the deep sea marine exploration. .

About BEN

BEN the robot is outfitted with state-of-the-art seafloor mapping systems, multibeam echo-sounder (Kongsberg EM2040P) and an Applanix POS/MV navigation system.

The Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping developed a mission planning software to oversee the robot when making 3D topographic impressions. In addition, the Center also developed a “back-seat-driver” control software to pilot BEN during the seafloor mapping activities.

New Edition of “Mazor X™ Robotic Technology Enhances Safety and Precision of Spinal Fusion Surgery

A new edition of the AI-aided “Mazor X™ robotic technology called the “Mazor X™ Stealth,” helps spine surgeons perform spinal fusion with greater safety and with ensured accuracy. Combining the power of computer analytics, virtual instrumentation, robotic technology, and 3D images, the “Mazor X™ Stealth Edition” furnishes a compleat robotic guidance platform.

How Does the “Mazor X™ Stealth” Work?

Prior to the day of operation, the spine surgeon develops a surgical “blueprint” or plan, of how the procedure will be carried out. During actual surgery, the computer will use that surgical “blueprint” in ensuring that the procedure will be carried out as planned. The AI or the computer software translates and communicates to the Surgical Arm, the trajectories identified in the plan, practically making the procedure predictable and precise.

The “Mazor X™ Stealth” robotic guidance platform attaches to the operating table and to the patient. Once in position, the Surgical Arm of the platform will guide the surgeon in correctly placing the screws into the trajectories defined in the “surgical blueprint.” This robotic technology, therefore, makes the most important yet time-consuming part of the surgical procedure, easier and faster to perform, and with precision.

Included as feature of the robotic-guided platform, is a stable connection to the patient via biocompatible devices. These are rigidly affixed to the patient’s skeletal anatomy, as a means of ensuring precision throughout the surgery.

What is Spinal Fusion and When is the Surgical Procedure Recommended?

Spinal fusion is a method used in correcting problems associated with the vertebrae, which are the small bones of the spine. Akin to a “welding” process, it is a surgical procedure that fuses two or more of the badly deformed vertebrae together. After spinal fusion surgery, the fused bones heal into one solid vertebra that will no longer be affected by motion; whilst restoring stability of the spine.

As a rule, surgery of the spine is recommended only when the doctor has identified the exact cause and source of pain. As means of doing so, imaging tests have to be performed by way of X-rays, Computerized Tomography Scans (CT Scan), and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).

Patients who undergo spinal fusion experience severe pain caused by any of the following: tumors, degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, scoliosis, herniated discs, spondylolisthesis, or infection. Readers interested in understanding these spinal disorders and about spinal fusion can find more information at the website of the Central Texas Spine Institute in Austin.

Carnegie Mellon University’s Continuing Pursuit of Noninvasive Robotic Control

The College of Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, in collaboration with the University of Minnesota, has achieved an important development in the area of noninvasive robotic device control. Made possible by way of a noninvasive brain-computer interface (BCI), researchers were able to create a successful, first-of-its-kind mind-controlled robotic arm, which manifests ability to track and follow a computer cursor uninterruptedly.

Still, BCIs using noninvasive external sensing as alternative to brain implants, receive murkier signals. That being the case, the robotic arm developed, currently has lower resolution and less accurate control. This suggests that when using only the BCI to control the robotic arm, the results are not at par with one that is controlled by a brain-implanted devices.

Nonetheless, BCI researchers at CMU are determined to forge ahead, as they intend to build neurorobotic technology using less, or non-invasive method in ways that can help patients on a daily basis.

Significance of BCI in Modern Technology

BCI or Brain-Computer Interface is a technology that uses brain activity, particularly brain electric signals in translating voluntary choices into active commands. The purpose of which is to enable individuals with impaired function, carry out communication and control applications to a device in ways that allow them to actually benefit from the technology.

BCIs have been proven capable of achieving good performance in controlling robotic mechanisms, using only signals received from brain implants. Currently though, only robotic arms controlled by BCIs built with invasive brain implants,have demonstrated high precision.

However, brain implants not only present substantial costs, but also potential risks, which limit their tests to a mere handful of clinical cases. Moreover, implants require a high degree of surgical and medical expertise to ensure correct installation and operation.

That is why the challenge that BCI researchers face is to develop BCI that uses noninvasive technology. The main goal is to develop a robotic device that can empower patients suffering from paralysis, to control their environment or move their robotic limbs, using their own thoughts.

Bin He. the Trustee Professor and Department Head of Biomedic Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, aims to ultimately achieve such a goal even if by one breakthrough at a time. He remarked that although major advances in mind-controlled robotic mechanisms have been successful, the devices use brain implants.

Researchers at CMU believe that the robotic arm they created, can lead to successful advancements in its development as a high-precision neurorobotic device, controlled by noninvasive CBI

Under-Desk Elliptical: Fitness Gadget that Allows You to Exercise Even During Office Hours

If you are one of the many whose daily grind is working behind an office desk around the clock, sometimes even more than once around the clock, it is likely that you are very much in need of exercise.

Checkout the new fitness gadget that looks like the pedals of a cross-trainer elliptical, small enough to place under your desk as a stationary exerciser. The under-desk elliptical is bluetooth-enabled and comes with a free app that allows monitoring of progress stats via smartphone.

Its functionality as a mini elliptical is so subtle that you can proceed with the workout quietly, without having to distract occupants of neighboring cubicles or office desks.

What Makes an Elliptical Equipment Effective as a Fitness Tool

Ellipticals work differently from treadmills because it affords foot comfort even as the left and right foot roll from heel to toe, similar to how your feet move during running. Although touted as a low impact exercise device, use of a portable under-desk elliptical trainer can rid you of 100 to 150 calories. The amount burned, actually depends on the resistance level at which the portable mini exerciser is set. A typical under-desk exerciser has as many as eight different levels.

In order to make the mini elliptical trainer effective, it is important for a user to sit up straight throughout. Another thing is the need to use the provided wheel stoppers to prevent a roller chair from sliding away.

The drawback here is that the stoppers may not work if you are using a bigger chair. The only solution is to replace the big chair with a smaller roller chair, or with a conventional four-legged seating appurtenance.