robotics

Mill 19: A Magnificent Blend of Past and Future in Hazelwood

At an early September opening for Mill 19, the new robotics research incubator and office space in Hazelwood’s former LTV Steel site, a robotic arm participated with scientists and dignitaries to help cut the ribbon in the voluminous lab space with a high-tech flourish. Tenants include Carnegie Mellon’s Manufacturing Futures Initiative and the affiliated nonprofit …

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Work Disrupted

The past and future of work collide on a 178-acre graded-flat stretch of brownfield in the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Hazelwood. There, on what is known as Hazelwood Green, the skeletal remains of Mill 19 stand as one of the last reminders of the Jones and Laughlin steel works that spanned the Monongahela River to the …

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What Drives Red Whittaker?

In January, Carnegie Mellon University professor Red Whittaker set a goal that had nothing to do with robotics: to best a field of competitors in an indoor rowing race. The ergometer competition, a 2,000-meter battle on stationary machines, marked the first time the 69-year-old Whittaker had rowed since his college days at Princeton. Since then …

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Rethinking Education

Janice Smith’s fifth-grade reading class at Central Elementary in the Elizabeth Forward School District was supposed to be working on a book report. Huddled around iPads, the students chatted with one another, pointing and swiping at the screens. No one was being shushed, few were sitting square in their seats, and no one was holding …

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Robotics has Changed Surgery Forever

During the first 8,500-year history of surgery, surgeons stood at the patient’s side using tools that evolved from knapped flints to tiny, high-tech cameras. But, in 2000, when the da Vinci Surgical System was cleared by the FDA, surgery changed forever. Surgeons could now sit several feet away from their patients, controlling robotic arms doing …

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Uncharted Territory

Science and technology march along, year after year, making gradual progress in transforming our lives. Every now and again, however, a public event is staged—the moon landing, a computer playing a chess champion, decoding the human genome—that gives the public the appearance of a breakthrough. Just such an event happened in October, when a group …

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We, robot

A decade ago, the Wall Street Journal gave Pittsburgh the moniker “Roboburgh” when compiling its list of the nation’s 13 hottest high-tech regions. The Steel City is living up to its 21st-century nickname, making new its rich history of engineering complex things. Scores of local robotics start-ups are driving economic growth by building innovative robots …

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Almost Human

Who says you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear?! In his new book, “Almost Human: Making Robots Think,” Lee Gutkind, the guru of creative nonfiction, does just that; using his literary skills to transform prosaic material about machines into an exuberant celebration of human creativity. Not that the topic isn’t interesting. …

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