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Jason Falconer

Robotics

Soft-bodied robot leaps 30 times its height

Most robots are built out of rigid materials, but a DARPA initiative to build soft-bodied robots that can squeeze into hard-to-reach places has led to the development of new types of the mechanical marvels. Harvard's Whitesides Research Group is working on a soft-bodied solution and has produced a squishy three-legged bot that can jump 30 times its height using the power of internal explosions.Read More

Robotics

Japanese elementary school enrolls robot exchange student

A new research program is underway in Japan which will introduce fifth graders to a 1.2 meter tall communication robot called Robovie over a period of 14 months. Researchers at the International Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute (ATR) say Robovie has the conversational skills of a five-year-old, which they hope to improve through daily interactions with the children at Higashihikari elementary school.Read More

Auto Mee S mini robot cleans your tablet so you don't have to

Japanese toy giant Takara Tomy has unveiled what could be the ultimate unnecessary accessory for your tablet or smartphone – a mini Roomba-like cleaning "robot" called the Auto Mee S. The gadget features two rotating cleaning pads which can clear away greasy fingerprints and annoying dust particles, and it's smart enough to automatically turn around when it reaches the edge of your device.Read More

VR

Augmented reality robot fleshes out virtual characters

Different Dimension Inc., a Japanese start-up company, will begin marketing an Augmented Reality robot doll that can take on the appearance of any virtual character. Essentially, a computer-generated image is projected in real-time onto a robot (covered in green screen material) that is viewable through a head-mounted display (HMD). It's a spin-off of a bizarre research project led by Michihiko Shoji at the Yokohama National University and the Japan Science and Technology Agency, originally developed in 2006.Read More

Robotics

Robotalk – your desktop robot assistant

Siri, the artificial personal assistant for iOS devices, may have some competition from a new Japanese robot developed by Okamura Corporation. At least, that's what we might be saying if not for the tech toy's sticker-shocking price of ¥472,500 (US$5,087). Robotalk is billed as a "friend with functionality" that responds to your voice – head past the break to learn what else it can do.Read More

Environment

Energy optimization software reduces industrial power consumption

Eco-friendly refrigerators, dishwashers, and laundry machines don't just save you money – they're also better for the environment. Factory automation could reap the same rewards, but optimizing production lines isn't easy. That's where the energy efficiency analysis software, developed by the EU-funded Energy Software Tools for Sustainable Machine Design (ESTOMAD) project, enters the picture.Read More

Robotics

Million-dollar bionic man built for British TV program

Are the famous lines "Gentlemen, we can rebuild him – we have the technology" from The Six Million Dollar Man coming true? Perhaps not entirely, but a new Channel 4 documentary entitled How to Build a Bionic Man will demonstrate the current state of the art in artificial limbs, organs, and even blood, through the construction of a 6-foot tall android. The documentary is set to air on British televisions come February 7, but you can learn about what went into it after the break.Read More

VR

DLR Robotic Motion Simulator cuts costs by re-purposing industrial robot arm

Computer simulations designed to teach people how to operate a vehicle can reproduce a reasonable facsimile of real-world conditions, but they lack one key ingredient: a realisic sense of motion. That's why companies like Toyota has spent millions developing motion simulators that typically move on six hydraulic arms to recreate the sensation of actual driving. Now, the German Aerospace Center (DLR) has built a cost-effective motion simulator powered by a single industrial robot arm that can handle extreme scenarios, such as spin maneuvers and even flight take-off and landing.Read More

3D Printing

Inexpensive home-brewed prostheses created using 3D printers

According to the International Society of Prosthetics and Orthotics (ISPO), there are some 32 million amputees in the world today, around 80 percent (25 million) of whom live in developing countries where only five percent have been fitted with an artificial limb. It is estimated that 200,000 people lost a limb as a result of the 2010 Haiti earthquake alone. Two low-cost, printable prostheses highlight the potential impact 3D printing could have on the quality of life for millions as the technology becomes more accessible around the world.Read More

Medical

Korean nurse bot sniffs the air to detect soiled diapers

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration may have recently approved iRobot's telepresence robot RP-VITA for use in hospitals, but as far as medical robots are concerned Japan and Korea remain ahead of the curve. The latest in a line of nurse droids is the KIRO-M5, a compact transportation robot that can carry supplies, sterilize and deodorize the air, and alert nurses when the elderly patients need their diapers changed.Read More

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