Campus News in Brief

Departments unite with robotics

Snake robots, dancing Keepon robots, breathtaking Gigapan camera panoramas, and a sheep that mows grass instead of eating it are Carnegie Mellon’s contributions to this year’s Wired NextFest hosted by Wired magazine.

Now in its fifth year, it includes unique and bold exhibits of sustainable design, next generation health care, interactive art and games, humanoid robotics, and more.

This year’s theme is “gallery of the future” and it will run now through Oct. 12 at Chicago’s Millennium Park.

Howie Choset, associate robotics professor at Carnegie Mellon, contributes snake robots to the mix. Choset’s robots are developed for urban search and rescue and can crawl, swim, and climb poles.

Marek Michalowski, a doctoral student in robotics, will showcase three small yellow robots named Keepon to interact with children with developmental disorders. They even dance.

Carnegie Mellon’s Gigapan camera system, developed by associate robotics professor Illah Nourbakhsh and project scientist Randy Sargent at the Silicon Valley campus, will also be on display.

The fourth exhibit is “Mower,” or Moe, a robotic sheep that mows lawns. Mower is the creation of Osman Khan, a visiting assistant professor of art at Carnegie Mellon, and Joshua Shapiro, a researcher at the Robotics Institute’s CREATE Lab.

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Autism research to be featured

Carnegie Mellon will be one of the world’s 16 most prominent autism researchers to present their latest findings on autism at the 35th Carnegie Symposium on Cognition.

The symposium will provide a comprehensive overview of cutting-edge autism research and how different disciplines inform research in other areas. It will be hosted by the department of psychology at Carnegie Mellon, and will take place Oct. 17–18 in the Adamson Wing (Baker Hall 136A).

“As we learn more about the basis of autism, the work being done in other fields teaches us even more,” said Marcel Just, the D.O. Hebb Professor of Psychology at Carnegie Mellon and one of the symposium’s organizers, in a press release. He hopes that the presentations at the symposium will show this collaboration.

A number of varying projects will be discussed, including a follow-up study of Hans Asperger’s original patients from the 1940s. Asperger is known for his coining of Asperger’s syndrome, a specific form of highly functioning autism. The other presentations will include a description of the brain basis of the social difficulties in autism and an investigation of how autism emerges in a child’s behavior even before the child is diagnosed.