One of the biggest events at the recent 2015 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) in Seattle was the first Amazon Picking Challenge, in which 31 teams from around the world competed for US$26,000 in prizes. The challenge set entrants with the real-world task of building a robot that can do the same job as an Amazon stock picker.
While robots can be designed to be faster or stronger than animals, it's rare to meet a robot that's as resilient as an animal in the wild after it's been injured. Animals adapt to survive and researchers from France and the US are developing robots that can keep working even after receiving major damage.
The city of Seattle saw a robotic population explosion this week as the 2015 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) descended on the Washington State Convention Center. The IEEE Robotics and Automation Society’s flagship conference ran the gamut of all things robotic, from showcases of new technology to forums on government policies as they relate to robotics. Here's our look at the highlights.
Doctors and nurses in Japan – or in other countries, for that matter –
may soon have some robotic company when making their rounds. That's
because researchers at Toyohashi University of Technology are developing
an omnidirectional robot named Terapio, that's designed to take the
place of a traditional medical cart.
From leaping over obstacles to pulling objects thousands of times their own weight,
robots are great at many things. What they're not so good at is working
as an autonomous team in an unfamiliar setting – until now, that is. A
team of researchers from MIT has developed an algorithm that streamlines
the way robots collaborate on construction tasks, significantly cutting
down planning time.
The last time we heard from the researchers working on MIT's robotic cheetah project, they had untethered their machine to let it bound freely across the campus lawns. Wireless and with a new spring in its step, the robot hit speeds of 10 mph (16 km/h) and could jump 13 in (33 cm) into the air. The quadrupedal robot has now been given another upgrade in the form of a LIDAR system and special algorithms, allowing it to detect and leap over obstacles in its path.
Starting in April 2011, the European Union CoCoRo (Collective Cognitive
Robots) research consortium has been developing three varieties of
autonomous underwater robots that school together like fish. By doing
so, the little bots can share and learn from each others' "knowledge" of
their environment, acting as a collective cognitive system that's
smarter than any one of its individual parts.
In nature, you're not likely to ever see a bird get a piggyback ride from a cockroach and then take off from its back. But in the world of bio-inspired robotics, such things can and do happen. Researchers from the UC Berkeley's Biomimetic Millisystems Lab have successfully demonstrated a cooperative launching system that puts a lightweight ornithopter on the back of its VelociRoACH robotic carpet crawler for a short run before the H2Bird takes to the air.
We hear plenty of discussion about robots taking over our jobs, so it's a
refreshing change to hear about a robot designed to create them
instead. Its name is Nobot, and what makes this machine unique is that
it's largely controlled remotely by a human being rather than by a set
of software algorithms.
DARPA has announced a new program designed to harness expertise from smaller sources of innovation, routinely overlooked by large agencies. Looking to small businesses and individuals, the agency hopes to undertake a series of cost-effective projects that will deliver new robotics capabilities to warfighters, helping to keep them ahead of the technological curve.