Laying some groundwork for environmental protection

first_img A soft touch Related Pneumatic digital logic eliminates the last hard components from robots Army of micro-robots could inspect complex machines without dismantling them In many scenarios for environmental protection or restoration, the opportunity for action is limited by the availability of human labor and by site access for heavy machinery. Smaller, more versatile construction machines could provide a solution. “Clearly, the needs of many degraded landscapes are not being met with the currently available tools and techniques,” said Melenbrink. “Now, 100 years after the dawn of the heavy equipment age, we’re asking whether there might be more resilient and responsive ways to approach land management and restoration.”“This sheet pile driving robot, with its demonstrated ability to perform in a natural setting, signals a path on which the Wyss Institute’s robotics and swarm robotics capabilities can be brought to bear on both natural and man-made environments where conventional machinery, manpower limitations, or cost is inadequate to prevent often disastrous consequences,” said Wyss Institute Director Donald Ingber, who is also the Judah Folkman Professor of Vascular Biology at Harvard Medical School and the vascular biology program at Boston Children’s Hospital, as well as professor of bioengineering at SEAS. “This robot also could address disaster situations where walling off dangerous chemical spills or released radioactive fluids make it difficult or impossible for humans to intervene.” Along developed riverbanks, physical barriers can help contain flooding and combat erosion. In arid regions, check dams can help retain soil after rainfall and restore damaged landscapes. In construction projects, metal plates can provide support for excavations, retaining walls on slopes, or permanent foundations.All of these applications can be addressed with the use of sheet piles, elements folded from flat material and driven vertically into the ground to form walls and stabilize soil. Proper soil stabilization is key to sustainable land management in industries such as construction, mining, and agriculture; and land degradation is a driver of climate change and is estimated to cost up to $10 trillion annually worldwide.With this motivation, a team of roboticists at Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering has developed a robot that can autonomously drive interlocking steel sheet piles into soil. The structures it builds could function as retaining walls or check dams for erosion control. Their study will be presented at the upcoming 2019 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation.Conventional sheet pile driving processes are extremely energy intensive. Only a fraction of the weight of typical heavy machinery is used for applying downward force. The Wyss team’s Romu robot, on the other hand, is able to leverage its own weight to drive sheet piles into the ground. This is possible because each of its four wheels is coupled to a separate linear actuator, which also allows it to adapt to uneven terrain and ensure that piles are driven vertically.From a raised position, Romu grips a sheet pile and then lowers its chassis, pressing the pile into the soil with the help of an onboard vibratory hammer. By gripping the pile again at a higher position and repeating this process, the robot can drive a pile much taller than its own range of vertical motion. After driving a pile to sufficient depth, Romu advances and installs the next pile such that it interlocks with the previous one, thereby forming a continuous wall. Once it has used all of the piles it carries, it returns to a supply cache to restock.The study grew out of previous work at the Wyss Institute on teams or swarms of robots for construction applications. In work inspired by mound-building termites, core faculty member and Fred Kavli Professor of Computer Science at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) Radhika Nagpal and senior research scientist Justin Werfel designed an autonomous robotic construction crew called TERMES, whose members function together to build complex structures from specialized bricks.,Further work by Werfel and researcher Nathan Melenbrink explored strut-climbing robots capable of building cantilevering truss structures to address applications like bridges. However, neither of these studies addressed the challenge of anchoring structures to the ground. The Romu project began as an exploration of methods for automated site preparation and installation of foundations for the earlier systems to build on; as it developed, the team determined that such interventions could also be directly applicable to land restoration tasks in remote environments.“In addition to tests in the lab, we demonstrated Romu operating on a nearby beach,” said Melenbrink. “This kind of demonstration can be an icebreaker for a broader conversation around opportunities for automation in construction and land management. We’re interested in engaging with experts in related fields who might see potential benefit for the kind of automated interventions we’re developing.”The researchers envision large numbers of Romu robots working together as a collective or swarm. They demonstrated in computer simulations that teams of Romu robots could make use of environmental cues like slope steepness in order to build walls in diverse locations, making efficient use of limited resources. “The swarm approach gives advantages like speed-up through parallelism, robustness to the loss of individual robots, and scalability for large teams,” said Werfel. “By responding in real time to the conditions they actually encounter as they work, the robots can adapt to unexpected or changing situations without needing to rely on a lot of supporting infrastructure for abilities like site surveying, communication, or localization.”“The name Terramanus ferromurus (Romu) is a nod to the concept of ‘machine ecology,’ in which autonomous systems can be introduced into natural environments as new participants, taking specific actions to complement and promote human environmental stewardship,” said Melenbrink.In the future, the Terramanus “genus” could be extended by additional robots carrying out different tasks to protect or restore ecosystem services, which are the direct or indirect contributions of ecosystems to human well-being. Based on their findings, the team now is interested in investigating interventions ranging from groundwater retention structures for supporting agriculture in arid regions to responsive flood-barrier construction for hurricane preparedness. Future versions of the robot could perform other interventions, such as spraying soil-binding agents or installing silt fencing, so that a family of these robots could act to stabilize soil in a wide range of situations. Robots with sticky feet can go where humans can’tlast_img read more

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ACIP targets up to 159 million Americans for H1N1 vaccination

first_imgJul 29, 2009 (CIDRAP News) – The top US advisory panel on immunizations recommended today that groups totaling up to 159 million people be targeted for vaccination against the pandemic H1N1 influenza virus but that a narrower population of about 41 million have priority if initial supplies are short.The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) picked five target groups for initial immunization because of their increased risk of H1N1 infection or complications or their contact with vulnerable people:Pregnant womenHousehold contacts of babies under 6 months of ageHealthcare and emergency medical services (EMS) workersChildren and young people aged 6 months through 24 yearsPeople between 25 and 64 years who have chronic medical conditionsBut if the demand for vaccine outstrips supplies, said Dr.Anne Schuchat of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the five groups would be as follows:Pregnant womenHealthcare and EMS workers who have direct contact with patients or infectious substancesHousehold contacts of babies younger than 6 monthsChildren aged 6 months through 4 yearsChildren and adolescents from 5 through 18 years who have risk factors for flu complicationsHealthy people between the ages of 25 and 64 can be immunized after the demand from the target groups has been met, said the committee, which advises the CDC. Because people 65 and older seem to have a lower risk of H1N1 infection than younger people, they can be vaccinated as supplies permit and other groups are served, the panel advised.”The H1N1 outbreak so far has to large extent spared that [elderly] population . . . so the idea was that if supply is adequate and global circumstances permit, vaccine could be offered at that time, said Schuchat, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.Speaking at a press conference after today’s ACIP meeting, Schuchat said the broader target groups total roughly 159 million people, adding, “But there’s a lot of overlap in some of the groups, so it’s probably lower than that.”Schuchat said the smaller set of target groups, or what she called the “just-in-case prioritization group,” numbers about 41 million people.The committee issued its recommendations as five vaccine manufacturers race to make H1N1 vaccines ordered by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Federal officials have been saying they hope to have the first doses ready to use by mid-October, but some doubt about that date was expressed at today’s meeting.Guidance assumes no adjuvantsThe ACIP recommendations assume that the H1N1 vaccines to be used will not contain adjuvants, because using an adjuvant would create regulatory complications that would delay vaccine availability. Adjuvants have not been used with flu vaccines in the United States, but HHS has ordered a supply of adjuvants for possible use in the pandemic.Early in today’s meeting, Dr. Robin Robinson, director of HHS’s Biological Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), predicted that about 120 million doses of vaccine could become available in October and another 80 million per month after that. He said the manufacturers so far have made the bulk equivalent of about 20 million doses of injectable vaccine and 12.8 million doses of nasal spray vaccine.However, he said that one manufacturer, which he didn’t name, is having trouble finishing its production of this year’s seasonal flu vaccine. “We’ll see what impact that has on H1N1. We’re working with them,” he said.On the other hand, Robinson said the manufacturers are seeing some improvements in the production yields of the vaccines, which are grown in eggs. Yields have been reported to be only 25% to 50% as high as typical yields for seasonal flu vaccines.”I’m happy to say that we’re starting to see increases in the production yield this week,” he said, without offering details.One or two doses?A big question mark in the vaccine effort is whether one or two doses will be needed. Federal officials are awaiting early results from clinical trials to find out if one dose will generate a potentially protective immune response, but the general expectation is that two are likely to be necessary, because the virus is new.In that regard, the ACIP recommended that if supplies are short, providers not turn vaccine seekers away in order to save supplies for second doses.Even if supplies initially run short, “supply and availability will continue, so the committee stressed that programs and providers continue to vaccinate unimmunized patients and not keep vaccine in reserve for later administration of the second dose,” the CDC said in a press release.Schuchat said the demand for the vaccine is likely to be well below the number of people in the targeted groups.”We think it’s important to differentiate the size of the populations from the number of doses we have and the number we need,” she said. Seasonal flu vaccination is recommended for 83% of the population, but actual uptake is less than 40%, she observed, adding, “If we use this as our expectation, we may have plenty of vaccine right away.”Obesity as a potential risk factorIn other comments, Schuchat said obesity by itself may not be a risk factor for serious H1N1 disease, despite some recent evidence to the contrary.”The information is incomplete,” she said. Morbidly obese people seem to have worse complications than normal-weight people, but obese people in general have more health conditions that increase their risk of complications. “When we looked at those who had only obesity or morbid obesity, it’s not so clear,” she said.Concerning the vaccination target groups, the new ACIP recommendations call for using the same list of risk factors as are used for seasonal flu, Schuchat said in response to questions. Those include things like chronic respiratory, heart, liver, or kidney disease; diabetes; suppressed immunity, and pregnancy, but not obesity by itself, she said.Schuchat was asked what she would tell an elderly person about the H1N1 vaccine, given the potential for confusion with different recommendations for seasonal and H1N1 flu vaccination.”As a provider with the elderly, I’d strongly recommend seasonal flu vaccine, and say that from what we’ve seen so far with this [H1N1] virus, you’re probably going to be spared,” she replied.ACIP recommendations are routinely approved and issued by the CDC. “These recommendations will be reviewed quickly by CDC and we expect them to be rapidly disseminated to state and local health departments,” which are actively planning their vaccination programs, Schuchat said.In response to a question, she said HHS has ordered some thimerosal-free vaccine, both injectable and the nasal spray, but she did not specify quantities. Thimerosal is a mercury-containing compound still used as a preservative in some flu vaccines.Need for revised guidanceAt the meeting, CDC medical epidemiologist Anthony Fiore, MD, MPH, told the committee that though HHS released pandemic vaccine guidance in 2008, new recommendations are needed because the previous ones focused on a more severe scenario. Current evidence suggesting a more moderate pandemic warrants revisions, he said.Members of the committee struggled over how high to set the age boundary for vaccine prioritization. The initial recommendation presented to the members today from ACIP’s Influenza Working Group stipulated that children aged 6 months to 18 years be included among the priority groups. Federal and state officials are eyeing administering the vaccine at schools as an efficient way to reach this group.One problem that led to the uncertainty over where to place the age cutoff is a lack of clear data on infection rates within the subgroups. During the morning session of the meeting, Fiore said early reporting on confirmed cases revealed an infection rate of 2.56 in 100,000 among 12- to 18-year olds, which decreased to 1.26 per 100,000 among 19- to 24-year-olds.However, several members spoke in favor of pushing the age cutoff to 24 as a way to include college students. James Turner, MD, a liaison representative from the American College Health Association (ACHA), told the group that college students in dormitory settings have the same risk factors that appear to have played a role in the spread of the virus this summer at camps and military schools. He said flu transmission on college campuses probably would have been higher in the spring, but many students were leaving for the year in May when the virus was gaining a foothold.Turner said the ACHA’s data suggest that the seasonal vaccine immunization rate in college students is about 32%, which he said suggests good uptake in the age-group.Other members of the group pushed for including the broader age-group as a way to simplify the message about who should be vaccinated. Also, William Schaffner, MD, liaison representative from the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, warned that vaccine prioritization schemes that are too narrow could result in unused vaccine. Schaffner is chair of the Department of Preventive Medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville.The committee’s decision to expand the upper age limit from 18 to 24 adds 24 million people to the priority group, CDC officials said.See also:CDC ACIP pageJul 29 CDC press releaselast_img read more

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Leising: Bill to help prevent opioid abuse passes committee

first_imgIndianapolis, In. — A bill sponsored by Republican state senator from Oldenburg, Jean Leising that would help prevent opioid abuse in Indiana passed the Senate Committee on Health and Provider Services unanimously.House Bill 1295 would allow a veterinarian to obtain information about an animal’s owner from INSPECT, Indiana’s prescription monitoring system, before prescribing an opioid for the animal. The bill would also limit the initial opioid prescription a veterinarian could prescribe to an animal to a seven-day supply.“In some cases, animal owners suffering from addiction are using their sick or injured pets to ‘doctor shop’ in order to obtain opioids,” Leising said. “If passed, this bill would help ensure these medications are being used properly and not feeding the drug abuse epidemic facing Indiana.”HB 1295 will now move to the full Senate for further consideration.last_img read more

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Vasata Guilty on All Charges in Jupiter Super Bowl Murders

first_imgA jury found Christopher Vasata guilty Thursday on all five charges in the 2017 triple murder at a Jupiter Super Bowl party.The jurors, who deliberated for about two hours, will return next week to recommend whether Vasata should face the death penalty for murdering 24-year old Brandi El Salhy, 20-year-old Kelli Doherty and 26-year-old Sean Henry.Vasata is guilty on three counts of first-degree murder with a firearm, as well as one count of attempted first-degree murder with a firearm, felon in possession of a firearm, and grand theft auto.A co-defendant, Marcus Steward, will be tried at a later date. He also faces the death penalty.During closing arguments, prosecutors said that Vasata and one or two other men went on a “mission of evil” at Charles Vorpagel’s home, located at 1105 Mohawk Street in Jupiter, on February 5, 2017. Vorpagel, Henry, El Salhy, and Doherty were gathered around a fire pit during the football game.One prosecutor said, “And they ambushed four helpless sitting ducks, sitting out in the backyard.”Vorpagel testified that he did not recognize the attackers due to their clothing and masks, although he recognized the voice of rival drug dealer Luke Kutsukos, who said something before the gunfire started. Vasata’s defense team also raised the possibility that Kutsukos, who has not been charged in the case up to now, was the real gunman.Prosecutors used DNA and physical evidence to connect Vasata to the crime scene. Evidence used in the trial included a .40 caliber Glock handgun which prosecutors say Vasata used to kill Henry, who was the intended target of the shootings.They added that Vasata only dropped the gun when he was shot in the buttocks by a fellow attacker, which could have been either co-defendant Marcus Steward or a third, unidentified gunman.Meanwhile, Vasata’s defense team asked the jury to consider that piece of evidence, arguing: “Mr. Vasata was shot as they have told you with a high-powered rifle, exactly the same as all three of those individuals who were there at Mohawk Street. And he was shot in the back, twice. Twice. You don’t know it was accidental. We don’t know what the relationship was between Mr. Kutsukos and Mr. Vasata when Mr. Vasata was trying to negotiate some type of détente to the conflict that was going on. It’s all speculation.”The judge has scheduled next Wednesday and Thursday for the penalty phase of the trial.last_img read more

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Competition ”Children for Peace in the World” will be held on the Bjelašnica Mountain

first_imgCompetition ”Children for Peace in the World” which is organised by Sarajevo Ski Club, will be opened on 8 February on the Bjelašnica Mountain in Babin do.Program of races on main ski lane on the Bjelašnica starts on Saturday and Sunday (9-10 February) at 9 a.m., and winners will be known on Sunday at 1 p.m.More than 80 children from Serbia, Montenegro, Poland, Latvia and BiH will participate at this competition.Competition ”Children for Peace in the World” is being held in 11 countries.This event is of great social importance and it doesn’t talk just to athletes and fans of sport but to all those interested in future of children.last_img read more

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Harry Kane accepts he has to become Captain Marvel for England and Spurs

first_imgHARRY KANE accepts he must now become Captain Marvel for both England Spurs.Against Bulgaria at the Vasil Levski National Stadium tonight, there will potentially be a massive amount of pressure on Kane on and off the pitch.1 Harry Kane must now step up as captain of club and countryFirstly, Kane must help ensure his team overcomes the carcrash of Friday’s 2-1 loss to the Czech Republic in their sixth Group A game.The Three Lions skipper has spoken to the team following the abysmal performance in Prague. While Kane will be hoping the midfield give him far more ammunition than three nights ago.Yet at a venue which will be partially closed as punishment for racist home fans, Kane could also be forced to take a lead role in a situation which could see the players forced off the pitch.And if that is not enough, after England return home, Kane must focus on the implosion at Spurs while he will now take the armband after the injury to Hugo Lloris.Kane scored his 27th international goal from the penalty spot on Friday and it was his 20th as England captain – the same number as former skipper Alan Shearer and Bryan Robson.Another goal tonight will see Kane go past Shearer and Robson — although Vivian Woodward’s 23 goals as skipper up to 1911 is the national record.Passing that mark would be a small piece of history but Kane has his eyes on far bigger stuff at Euro2020.Accepting the pressure is definitely on, he said: “I kind of just take that responsibility. I have been doing it for a while now. It doesn’t help when you don’t win like the game on Friday night because it feels like you carry those losses with you and as players you want to win every game.“From my point of view, I’m with the captain role at England and take that responsibility on, obviously I will be captain at Spurs for however long Hugo is out.“But I have said before that my game doesn’t change, my personality doesn’t change. I am still the same person, I still try and lead by example on and off the pitch and I will continue to do that.“I have been in high pressure situations before in my career, whether that is going through goal droughts, playing in high-pressure games or not playing well as a team.ACCA WITH LADBROKES Pick up a whole load of acca features to help you land the big one“It is something I will take in my stride and improve on.“It is a long, old season for club and country ahead – a lot of games to be played so there are going to be tough periods. We are also in one now as a club. Hopefully we can win Monday night for England and that will put Friday night less impactful and then I will go back to Spurs and take that in my stride and see how that progresses.”While the defence was a shambles, it was also a tough night in Prague for Declan Rice, Mason Mount and Jadon Sancho.Confirming he spoke to them before the squad ended their three-night stay in the Czech Republic yesterday afternoon, Kane said: “The best way to do it with the young lads in the team is not to talk about individual performances but the group and players know when they have played well and when they haven’t.“For me, it has just been about keeping everyone’s energy high and not letting anybody get down on themselves and thinking it is the end of the world.“It was important to stay calm, the day after we all obviously knew it was a disappointing night, a night where we could definitely have been better than that.“But when you have got a game two days later you can’t dwell on that and bring negative energy in to the camp.”As for continuing his goals record while skipper, Kane added: “As one of the leaders in the team and as a striker, I want to score goals and help the team in that way. It has worked out pretty well since I have been captain. But it is not just me who has to lead, there are other players in the team that definitely do that.”You can only hope that we are talking about England moving a step closer to Euro2020 rather than more embarrassing behaviour from racist football supporters.Kane spoke at the team meeting a week ago when the players were told about the three-step protocol which could lead to the game being abandoned if there is sustained racism.He added: “I’d rather keep the meeting private. It was a conversation about the stuff that might happen here. It might not, as I said in there.MOST READ IN FOOTBALLSILVA’S GOLDEN GIRLModel Ines Tomaz has been helping Bernardo Silva through quarantineGossipCROWD RETURNFA Cup final ‘may see 20,000 at Wembley in trial allowing some fans at games’CommentPHIL THOMASDiving and whining was never a good look and will seem worse after lockdownExclusive’I’M IN A BAD WAY’Ex-England star Kenny Sansom talks for first time since being attackedExclusiveBOURNE AGAINHowe says Cherries are stronger after lockdown with FIVE fit-again starsExclusiveSWAN THAT GOT AWAYSwansea wanted £3m Davies three years ago but couldn’t get work permitNEXT STEPJonny Hayes set to move to English Championship having been let go by CelticBAYERN 5 DUSSELDORF 0Lewa bags two as Bayern thump rivals to close on 8th straight titleTHEIR CALLReferees in Northern Ireland will be given choice on coming back says union bossHARRY ALL FOUR ITKane admits Spurs must win EIGHT games to rise into Champions League spot“Hopefully it doesn’t and we get on with the game and we win it and everybody is happy.“There is a protocol that Uefa have put in place which as a captain I have a little bit of a responsibility in.“Nobody is expecting it to happen, we are focusing on the game. But we will cross that bridge if we come to it.”Harry Kane reacts to England’s 2-1 loss to Czech Republic in Euro 2020 qualifierlast_img read more

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