Hitchhiking robot murdered in USA

retro_robot_custom_text_sign_13668Imagine designing a robot to look helpless and vulnerable and leaving it by the roadside reliant on the kindness of strangers.

That’s what a team from Ryerson University, Toronto and McMaster University in Hamilton did. They wanted to see if a robot could trust humans. (I thought the question was whether or not humans could trust robots. We all remember HAL don’t we?)

Hitchbot was solar-powered and fitted with a GPS tracker, had a dot matrix face which could smile and it could respond to simple questions.

It hitchhiked successfully across Canada arriving in Victoria, British Columbia in a canoe with members of the Songhee First Nation. It also made it safely across Germany.

However Hitchbot came to a messy end last week when it was found decapitatated in Philadelphia, theso-called city of brotherly love. It had made it from Salem in Massachusets to New York and New Jersey prior to its demise.

The designers haven’t filed a crime report so there will be no justice for Hitchbot. Time to start a campaign I think!

 

Fighting fit? The new Heavy Brigade

Seems it’s not just us civilians who are getting bigger and more obese.

More than 25,000 British military personnel have been diagnosed as obese in the last 4 years. That’s several battalions!

There is now an “obesity working group” looking into the problem and devising ways to keep people fitter and increase  their knowledge of how to eat more healthily.

A spokesman for the National Obesity Forum said; “These people have got plenty of time to keep in shape and I think it’s a responsibility to feed them properly and give them any amount of time to do exercises and keep themselves in shape”.

obstacle_course_boot_camp_1600_wht_11454Soldiers are supposed to have carefully managed fitness routines involving at least four 1-hour sessions of PT a week.

They can also have a diet ranging from 1,500 to 7,000 calories a day depending on their duties. Clearly not everyone is following the exercise routine or eating healthily.

As one senior officer was quoted as saying; “There are obese soldiers in just about every regiment in the British Army and no unit is immune. It’s also a reflection of the quality of food served in some army cookhouses. Unless the armed forces changes the way it feeds its personnel you will have a problem”.

Of course there are statistics and statistics! The number had been calculated using the much disputed body mass index (BMI)  and the obesity cut-off point of 30.

The MoD rightly points out that this can be misleading as “it doesn’t differentiate between body fat and muscle and says individuals are assessed on their ability to carry out military activities rather than on their weight”.

It’s not just the Brits. It wasn’t that long ago that 40% of the German Army was considered overweight and in 2012 the American Army dismissed over 1,600 soldiers for excess body weight, a 15- fold increase on the figures in 2007.

 

A trip to the Zeppelin museum at Friedrichshafen (updated)

Mike the Psych's Blog

My colleague and I were in Konstanz, on the Bodensee as the Germans call Lake Constance. It was our second trip there and we’d quickly had a trip round the lake for an hour or so to cool off in the 30 degree heat.

SCAN0060But we fancied a trip across the lake to Friedrichshafen. We’d read that were were a couple of good museums there, the Zeppelin museum and art gallery and the Dornier museum, and thought the best way to make the most of our time was to get the high speed catamaran. This costs €20, more than the ferry but takes half the time, less than an hour, which would give us time to visit both museums and get back in time for the football (it was Germany v Portugal in the World Cup).

We also knew from past experience that Sundays were quiet days with not much open…

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