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Monday, July 13, 2015 7:02 PM

US Navy to 3-D Print Ships; Brick-Laying Robots; Bit-Rot: Meet "Helium" the Software Coding Robot; End of the Programmer?

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Brick-Laying Robots

In the past few weeks, numerous readers sent me emails about brick-laying robots, so many that I wonder if most have already seen this.

If not, please consider Brick-Laying Robot can Build a Full-Sized House in Two Days.

Engineers in Perth, Australia, have created a fully working house-building machine that can create the brick framework of a property in just two days, working about 20 times faster than a human bricklayer.

Named Hadrian (after Hadrian's Wall in the UK), the robot has a top laying speed of 1,000 bricks per hour, which works out as the equivalent of about 150 homes a year. Of course there's no need for the machine to sleep, eat or take tea breaks either, giving it another advantage over manual laborers.

At the heart of Hadrian is a 28 m (92 ft.) articulated telescopic boom. The boom auto-corrects itself 1,000 times per second to prevent interference from vibrations or sway.
Hadrian Video

Link if video does not play: Hadrian Can Lay 1,000 Bricks and Hour.

Video of SAM another Brick-Laying Robot

Link if video does not play: Introduction to Construction Robotics and the bricklaying robot SAM

US Navy to 3-D Print Ships

Network World reports Office of Naval Research Interested in Bringing 3D Printing to Large Scale for Ships, Aircraft.
The Navy this month will outline what it is looking for from additive manufacturing or 3D printing technology as way to bolster what it terms “fleet readiness.”

The Office of Naval Research will on July 15 detail its Quality Metal Additive Manufacturing (Quality MADE) program that will aim to “develop and integrate the suite of additive manufacturing software and hardware tools required to ensure that critical metallic components can be consistently produced and rapidly qualified in a cost effective manner.”

The Navy has a number of different ongoing 3D trials and recently partnered with 3D Systems to evaluate and develop evaluate 3D printing technology and materials for military uses.
Meet "Helium" the Software Coding Robot

Helium, a software coding program, can rewrite rotten legacy computer code in an hour. It would take expert programmers months to do the same task.

Moreover, Helium's code is up to 500% faster than legacy code. This is especially true of  unoptimized Windows code and imaging software such as Adobe Photoshop.


Please consider Computer Program Fixes Old Code Faster than Expert Engineers.
Last year, MIT computer scientists and Adobe engineers came together to try to solve a major problem that many companies face: bit-rot.

A good example is Adobe’s successful Photoshop photo editor, which just celebrated its 25th birthday. Over the years Photoshop had accumulated heaps of code that had been optimized for what is now old hardware.

“For high-performance code used for image-processing, you have to optimize the heck out of the software,” says Saman Amarasinghe, a professor at MIT and researcher at the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). “The downside is that the code becomes much less effective and much more difficult to understand.”

Enter Helium, a CSAIL system that revamps and fine-tunes code without ever needing the original source, in a matter of hours or even minutes.

The team started with a simple building block of programming that’s nevertheless extremely difficult to analyze: binary code that has been stripped of debug symbols, which represents the only piece of code that is available for proprietary software such as Photoshop.

A particular type of computational kernel popular for such software are “stencil kernels,” which allow you to do operations for entire areas of pixels. Stencil kernels are especially important to update because they use huge amounts of memory and compute power, and their performance degenerates quickly as new hardware become available.

With Helium, the researchers are able to lift these kernels from a stripped binary and restructure them as high-level representations that are readable in Halide, a CSAIL-designed programming language geared towards image-processing.

Going from binary to high-level languages was a big leap that the team originally didn’t think was doable, according to lead author Charith Mendis.

“The order of operations in these optimized binaries are complicated, which means that they can be hard to disentangle,” says Mendis, a graduate student at CSAIL. “Because stencils do the same computation over and over again, we are able to accumulate enough data to recover the original algorithms.”

From there, the Helium system then replaces the original bit-rotted components with the re-optimized ones. The net result: Helium can improve the performance of certain Photoshop filters by 75 percent, and the performance of less optimized programs such as Microsoft Windows’ IrfanView by 400 to 500 percent.
Question of the Day

Is this simply reverse engineering, or is this the beginning of the end of the programmer?

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

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