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In Aukland, New Zealand, wheelchair users have new hope of improved mobility after a company unveiled a new type of robotic leg. According to the developers, these bionic legs mean paraplegic people can do much more than they can with existing technology. The designer, Richard Little, is enthusiastic about this new technology: “There’s no other device that we know of that’s autonomous and allows people to stand, walk go up and down stairs and slopes and things independently.”

Researchers said they used the personal experience of one of the developers to improve and adapt the new technology to users’ needs.

Meanwhile in Osaka University in Japan, researchers have created a baby robot which they are testing in order to understand more about child development. This robot is called Neony, and he can do things chacteristic of a six to nine month old baby: he can pull himself up to a standing position, and turn over and crawl on all fours.

Says researcher Professor Ishiguro Hiroshi: “We are trying to understand the extremely complex process of human development. Scientists studying the brain, cognition or psychology, have presented various hypotheses about it but verification is difficult. We hope that using the robots we can find verification methods.”

So although little Neony-the-robot looks like a toy, in fact he’s a powerful research tool into human development.

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