Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Robotics

The Maker Club's Carduino RC car bot

As confirmed by a strong robot presence in our round-up of the best tech toys for kids this year, there's something captivating and fascinating about interacting with robots. But rather than just play with a factory-assembled robot like the mesmerizing MiP we got to control at IFA back in the September, many folks want to build and customize their own. The Brighton, UK-based Maker Club has launched a project developed for the home and educational market that combines a custom control chip, a mobile app, an online learning package and 3D printing.  Read More

Where are these robots planning on going? Just check their projected paths

Imagine if you were trying to develop an autonomous robot, and it continually made a mistake but you couldn't tell why. Ultimately, you might end up having to review all the lines of code that made up its programming, hoping that the error would just jump out at you. In order to avoid such scenarios, MIT's Ali-akbar Agha-mohammadi and Shayegan Omidshafiei have created a system known as measurable virtual reality (MVR). It projects a robot's perceptions and intentions onto the floor, so that designers can see what it's thinking.  Read More

A method of controlling first-person computer game characters has been tested for use with...

Anyone who's played a first-person shooter will be familiar with using the direction that a character is looking to also control the direction they move. The concept is known as "free look control." Firefighters in Pisa, Italy, have been testing this method for operating emergency response robots.  Read More

Xenex's robots us UV radiation to kill Ebola viruses

Dealing with highly infectious diseases like Ebola is often like a logic problem. Disinfecting rooms is hard enough, but what about protective suits? True, they greatly reduce the chances of infection, but getting them off can bring the risk straight back again if the suit isn't decontaminated first. Xenex has created protocols that conform to those of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for its a line of robots that use UV lamps that to decontaminate hospital rooms and protective clothing exposed to the Ebola virus.  Read More

An extremely lightweight, smartphone-controlled bionic bird could fly for over a mile on a...

A French startup has turned to crowdfunding to build an extremely light bionic bird that can be controlled using the magnetometer and accelerometer in a smartphone. The bird, currently at the prototype stage, would communicate via Bluetooth for a range of 100 meters (330 ft) and be able to fly for up to eight minutes at a time, or over a mile, after a quick 12-minute charge.  Read More

The robot features HD cameras to scan the surrounding area for people

With their ability to navigate through tight spaces and unstable environments without putting people at risk, disaster response is one of the most promising applications for robots. Researchers from Mexico's University of Guadalajara (UDG) have developed an algorithm that could come in handy in such situations by allowing robots to differentiate between people and debris.  Read More

The iRobot uPoint MRC System provides simplified intuitive robot control

Having a 21st century robot doesn't help if the control is like something designed to handle a model plane circa 1965, so iRobot has come up with something that is not only up to date, but also more intuitive, so operators can worry more about the job at hand than the robot used to complete it. The iRobot uPoint Multi-Robot Control (MRC) system is a universal control system for the company’s defense and security robots that combines a touchscreen interface with a mobile robotic radio relay.  Read More

Omron has unveiled a ping-pong playing robot

Earlier in the year, Kuka Robotics made a big fuss about its ping-pong playing robot facing up against professional player Timo Boll. Sadly, the promised match turned out to be just an advert and the robot wasn't as capable as had been made out. While Japanese firm Omron has been quick to point out that its new robot ping-pong-player is by no means capable of taking on and beating even a semi-skilled human opponent, it is capable of entering into long rallies with human players.  Read More

Carnegie Mellon's snake robot – now better able to ascend sandy slopes (Photo: CMU)

If a robot is looking for victims at a disaster site, or even exploring another planet, then it certainly better not get stuck in the sand. That may now be a little less likely to happen, as scientists recently studied one of the best sand-travelers in the animal kingdom – the sidewinder rattlesnake. After they analyzed its movement patterns and applied them to an existing snake-inspired robot, that robot was better able climb up sandy inclines.  Read More

Toshiba's signing android at Japan's CEATEC this week

Following in the footsteps of Hiroshi Ishiguro's eerily lifelike creations, Toshiba introduced its very own take on the human-looking droid at Japan's CEATEC electronics trade show this week. The communication android has been built to communicate in Japanese sign language, requiring fluid and precise movement of its arms and hands.  Read More

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