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MM: Self-Destructing Electronics; Robots You Can Speak To

In this Manufacturing Minute episode, self-destructing electronics and a robot you can speak to.

Self-Destructing Electronics

A professor at Vanderbilt University has developed a new sort of electrical circuitry which, if not kept above a specific temperature, will self-destruct by dissolving in water. This circuitry is made of a special spinable polymer that runs through a regular cotton candy machine to form a network of threads similar in density and complexity to blood capillaries.

And while this all sounds a bit nonsensical, the logic behind the design and the need for these devices is of increasing interest among scientists and engineers. For instance, the current generation of self-destructing circuits only destruct when subjected to an outside influence, like light or acid. But this new research instead focuses on creating electronics that are only able to survive in special environments.

With this new tech, an RFID wireless tag could be implanted in a person and make it to only survive if it remains at body temperature. If removed or the body drastically changed temperature, the tag would dissolve. Vanderbilt researchers say that this tech could also be applied to design implants of medical devices.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Do you think this breakthrough could signal a new generation of self-destructing electronics? Could you imagine other uses for this technology? Tweet me your thoughts @MnetNews or leave your comments in the section below.

A Robot You Can Speak To

Robots are already making factories more efficient around the world, but the high degree of technical know-how needed to operate them is stretching many companies thin.

They generally require very detailed instructions to complete highly specialized tasks — and reprogramming them to complete a different task can be another ordeal altogether.

Researchers from Brown University, however, developed a new software system that could allow robots to understand new instructions from only spoken commands.

Most robot language applications rely on word cues and sentence structures to plan actions based on algorithms.

But those systems can cause problems when the commands are more abstract, such as telling a robot to "grab that pallet."

To help avoid miscommunication, Brown researchers recruited volunteers from Amazon’s crowdsourcing platform and had them watch a virtual robot perform tasks in an online domain called Cleanup World.

Researchers then used the volunteers' descriptions to build a hierarchical algorithm, which enabled a robot to understand and respond to a wide range of commands — some more specific than others.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? 

Could this software help make robots more intuitive? Is this yet another step in the robot-fueled overhaul of the labor force? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

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