Video: Pizza-making Robot to Challenge Traditional Pizzaiolos Worldwide

Are robots about to take over the world-wide famous culinary art of pizzas? This is what French start-up Ekim believes with its brand new concept of a pizzaiolo robot.

Usually seen in factories, this robot is capable of spreading tomato sauce on the pizza base, put the pizza in the oven, take a cardboard box and cut the pizza.

The robot gestures have been synchronized on those of a real-life pizzaiolo, from the art of spreading the dough to the technique of putting oil and pepper on top of a steaming pizza.

Able to perform several tasks at once with its three arms, inventors say the pizza-making robot can deliver a pizza every thirty seconds and up to 120 an hour, when a simple human reaches at best 40 pizzas an hour.

But it’s not all about being fast. All the ingredients offered to the customers are organic and carefully selected in France and Italy.

The idea sprouted in the heads of two French engineers as they were still in university. Fed up with eating low-quality fast food – the only meals they could afford at the time – they started thinking about a solution which could reconcile rapidity and quality at any hour of the day.

As one would with a traditional vending machine serving coffee or snacks, the concept will allow anyone to order a freshly cooked pizza at any time of the day or night.

The robot pizza hasn’t left its showroom just outside Paris but Ekim are currently looking for a place in the French capital to install their autonomous restaurant and plan to franchise their concept as soon as 2019 for it to cross the French border into Europe and the rest of the world.

But at the O’Scia pizzeria in central Paris, the chef is made of flesh. Neapolitan born and bred, Vittorio Monti has golden hands and the pizzas that come out of his oven are as close as it gets to pizza heaven. His art, he says, cannot be reproduced by a robot.

Although he admits a human being will always cost more than a robot, there’s no way a robot can adapt to the living ingredients he uses every day.

Watch video at You Tube (4:23 minutes) . . . . .


A Robot Cooks Burgers at Startup Restaurant Creator in San Francisco

Here’s how Creator’s burger-cooking bot works at its 680 Folsom Street location in San Francisco. Once you order your burger style through a human concierge on a tablet, a compressed air tube pushes a baked-that-day bun into an elevator on the right. It’s sawed in half by a vibrating knife before being toasted and buttered as it’s lowered to conveyor belt. Sauces measured by the milliliter and spices by the gram are automatically squirted onto the bun. Whole pickles, tomatoes, onions and blocks of nice cheese get slices shaved off just a second before they’re dropped on top.

Meanwhile, the robot grinds hormone-free, pasture-raised brisket and chuck steak to order. But rather than mash them all up, the strands of meat hang vertically and are lightly pressed together. They form a loose but auto-griddleable patty that’s then plopped onto the bun before the whole package slides out of the machine after a total time of about five minutes. The idea is that when you bite into the burger, your teeth align with the vertical strands so instead of requiring harsh chewing it almost melts in your mouth.

Watch video at You Tube (2:41 minutes) . . . .

In World First, University of Hong Kong Scientists Develop Flu Drug Using Genes from the Virus Itself

Mary Ann Benitez wrote . . . . . . . .

A team of Hong Kong scientists on Friday claimed a “vital breakthrough” in the fight against flu by developing a treatment using genes from the virus itself to boost resistance in infected mice.

The discovery could lead to more effective drugs for human patients as new strains of the flu rapidly emerge across the globe, raising the risk of a pandemic.

Researchers from the department of microbiology at the University of Hong Kong’s Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine said their “virus against the virus” approach was a world first, and worked through what they termed a double-knockout effect.

It involved isolating the virus’ defective interfering genes and dual-functional proteins, and using them to develop an antiviral drug.

Professor Yuen Kwok-yung, chair of infectious diseases at the department, said the team tested whether a fusion of proteins TAT-P1 and three genes called DIG3 could help laboratory mice with swine flu strain H1N1 2009 or bird flu fight off the illness. H1N1 became a pandemic that year.

The scientists designed the DIG3 genes to inhibit the growth of the flu virus and induce broad anti-flu activity.

They then had to formulate a gene delivery system to introduce DIG3 to the virus cells. This was done using proteins from HIV by fusing TAT and P1 peptides.

The DIG3 genes then exerted their antiviral activity by inhibiting acid production inside the target cells’ endosomes and attacking infected cells.

Laboratory tests showed delivery of the genes to the airway of mice either one to two days before or six hours after infection with a bird flu virus or 2009 H1N1 strain could “reduce body weight loss, improve survival and decrease the amount of flu virus in the lung”.

“It shows that DIG3/TAT-P1 is effective for both prophylaxis and treatment,” the team said.

This method of “cheating” the virus was effective almost 100 per cent of the time in fighting off bird flu in mice, and in 50 per cent of cases against the 2009 H1N1 strain.

A provisional patent has been filed in the United States and the team’s findings published in the prestigious Nature Communications science journal.

The antiviral treatment could in the future be delivered by a nasal spray like zanamivir, known under the trade name Relenza.

However, the HKU team, which also includes postdoctoral fellow Dr Zhao Hanjun and clinical associate professor Dr Kelvin To Kai-wang, would need about HK$100 million (US$12.74 million) to develop the drug and market it.

Zhao said their technique had “important implications for the future treatment of flu” as well as other viral infections such as Middle East respiratory syndrome and severe acute respiratory syndrome.

“This is the first time defective interfering genes have been shown to protect flu-virus-infected mice,” he said, and the “first gene delivery system with antiviral activity against the flu virus”.

Yuen told the Post he was confident investors in mainland China would be interested in the treatment as there was a great deal of money being spent on drug development across the border.

“The important thing is to get things done,” he said. “Another pandemic could come so easily … because the population is growing, the number of pigs and chickens is growing … It might not be longer than 30 years.”

With large swathes of the world population potentially lacking immunity to any new flu strain, an outbreak could spark a pandemic similar to the Spanish flu (H1N1) of 1918, Asian flu (H2N2) in 1957, Hong Kong flu (H3N2) of 1968 or Mexican flu (H1N1) seen in 2009.

Source : SCMP

Researchers Develop Automated Robotic Device For Faster Blood Testing

Rutgers researchers have created an automated blood drawing and testing device that provides rapid results, potentially improving the workflow in hospitals and other health-related institutions to allow health care practitioners to spend more time treating patients.

A study describing the fully automated device is published online in the journal TECHNOLOGY.

“This device represents the holy grail in blood testing technology,” said Martin L. Yarmush, senior author of the study and Paul & Mary Monroe Endowed Chair & Distinguished Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Rutgers University–New Brunswick. “Integrating miniaturized robotic and microfluidic (lab-on-a-chip) systems, this technology combines the breadth and accuracy of traditional blood drawing and laboratory testing with the speed and convenience of point-of-care testing.”

Diagnostic blood testing is the most commonly performed clinical procedure in the world, and it influences most of the medical decisions made in hospitals and laboratories. But the success rate of manually drawing blood samples depends on clinicians’ skill and patient physiology, and nearly all test results come from centralized labs that handle large numbers of samples and use labor-intensive analytical techniques.

So, a Rutgers biomedical engineering research team created a device that includes an image-guided robot for drawing blood from veins, a sample-handling module and a centrifuge-based blood analyzer. Their device provides highly accurate results from a white blood cell test, using a blood-like fluid spiked with fluorescent microbeads. The testing used artificial arms with plastic tubes that served as blood vessels. The device could provide rapid test results at bedsides or in ambulances, emergency rooms, clinics and doctors’ offices.

“When designing the system, our focus was on creating a modular and expandable device,” said Max Balter, who led the study and holds a doctorate in biomedical engineering from Rutgers. “With our relatively simple chip design and analysis techniques, the device can be extended to incorporate a broader panel of tests in the future.”

Source: Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Drones a Lifesaver for Cardiac Arrest Patients

Drones, the unmanned aircraft that got its start as part of the U.S. military’s arsenal and is today being used by everyone from photographers to farmers, are now heralded as a solution to a problem that’s bedeviled emergency medical personnel for years: How to deliver lifesaving defibrillators to people suffering cardiac arrest in areas not quickly reached by ambulances.

Experiencing a cardiac arrest — when the heart stops due to an electrical malfunction in the heart — is almost always a death sentence when suffered outside a hospital. Of the more than 356,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests each year in the United States, nearly 90 percent of them are fatal, according to statistics from the American Heart Association.

The survival rate could be dramatically improved, experts said, if bystanders would perform CPR and use portable devices called automated external defibrillators, or AEDs. Research shows brain cell death starts three minutes after the heart stops beating and every minute that elapses without defibrillation means a 10 percent decrease in the odds of survival.

Drones are being tested to see if they can swiftly and safely bring defibrillators to those in distress. Some drones use a cord to lower the AED to the ground, while others land and a bystander removes the AED.

A Canadian study published in Circulation last year found that when compared to ambulances, using drones in the Toronto area cut AED delivery times in urban areas by 6 minutes, 43 seconds and slashed it in rural neighborhoods by 10 minutes, 34 seconds in most cases. Likewise, a Swedish study published in JAMA last year showed that drones deployed in Stockholm took an average of 5 minutes, 21 seconds to reach their destination — more than 16 minutes faster than ambulances.

“Faster response time should lead to higher survival,” said Timothy Chan, director of the Centre for Healthcare Engineering at the University of Toronto and an author of the Toronto study. “Getting a defibrillator is time-sensitive and literally every second counts. If we can do it and keep people safe, this is a no-brainer.”

It’s unclear if drones have ever successfully delivered AEDs in real-life situations. The Toronto study applied mathematical models to out-of-hospital cardiac arrests that occurred in the city from 2006 to 2014. The Swedish study dispatched drones and ambulances to the same location as an experiment though no patients were involved.

However, the opportunity for real-life experience is growing.

The city of Reno, Nevada, was selected last month to participate in the Federal Aviation Administration’s drone pilot program that will help determine how to regulate and safely integrate drones into the U.S. airspace. The city will partner with drone delivery startup Flirtey to deliver AEDs.

The Canadian County of Renfrew began using drones last year and has deployed one roughly every two weeks to provide services such as conducting reconnaissance and delivering medicine, said Michael Nolan, chief paramedic and director of emergency services for the county of 100,000 people located just outside of Ottawa. They recently deployed a drone with an AED, but the ambulance arrived first.

However, the county is awaiting approval from Canadian regulators to fly drones a distance of 4 nautical miles (4.6 miles), an increase from the currently approved 2 nautical miles (2.3 miles), increasing the chances the aircraft could be used to deliver a defibrillator.

Nolan said he worked with Canadian regulators for two and a half years to pave the way for the first approval — a time span he called “a blink of an eye in the public policy world,” especially given that drones are still a relatively new technology.

“The biggest concern that we and the regulators shared was making sure we were integrated with the aviation community to make sure that people in the air and on the ground were safe,” said Nolan.

Together they set limits on how high and far the drones could fly. Test runs proved to regulators the drones could fly safely even though the operators couldn’t see the aircraft. The drones also needed some modifications such as being formatted to fly at night. Meanwhile, 911 operators had to learn how to instruct bystanders to approach the drone and use the defibrillator.

“It is a lifesaving device that provides a benefit,” said Nolan. “When you do the safety-risk assessment, it is clear that the risk associated with doing something outweighed the risk of doing nothing.”

Source: HealthDay