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Robotics

Hammacher Schlemmer is now selling a 20 foot-long interactive animatronic Triceratops, for...

"You know what your living room needs? A giant animatronic Triceratops." Should an interior designer ever offer you this advice, well, now you know where to find such a beast. Fancy goods-seller Hammacher Schlemmer is now offering a 20 foot (6 meter)-long, 1,345-pound (610 kg) model of everyone's favorite three-horned dinosaur, that moves and growls when human gawkers trigger its motion sensors. Its price tag might scare more people than its fearsome countenance, although at US$350,000, it's probably still cheaper than cloning your own real Triceratops from amber-encased dinosaur-blood-filled mosquitoes.  Read More

EMYS (EMotive headY System) attempts to convey emotions via facial expressions much like w...

Humanoid robots are set to become a common sight in coming decades, but how can we improve the way we interact with our future robotic companions? Developing robots that - unlike the expressionless mask worn by the famous ASIMO - can convey "emotion" holds one of the answers this question. That's why Polish researchers from the Wroclaw University of Technology have developed EMYS (EMotive headY System) - a turtle-like robotic head that attempts to mimic human emotions using an array of basic facial expressions.  Read More

A recent study offers a suggestion as to the cause of our unease when seeing realistic, hu...

People seem to enjoy watching robots and cartoon characters move about, and usually don't mind seeing other humans going through their daily motions, but when it comes to artificial creations that are made to look very human ... they're not always so popular. Although we tend to like animated objects or images that look kind of like real people, once they reach a certain level of realism, they just become spooky. This threshold is known as the "uncanny valley," and an international team of researchers recently set out to determine just what it is about our brains that causes it to occur.  Read More

Japanese company Sanyo Homes has introduced its MIRAI SANZO Android-based robot

Japanese company Sanyo Homes has introduced its MIRAI SANZO Android-based robot for the Japanese market. It connects to external networked devices, and allows them to be controlled via voice commands or remotely, through a smartphone. This is yet another device which proves that Google's Android OS has applications beyond its original smartphone purpose.  Read More

Lockheed Martin's ruggedized HULC robotic exoskeleton

Following lab evaluation tests, Lockheed Martin’s ruggedized HULC (Human Universal Load Carrier) robotic exoskeleton is now undergoing biomechanical testing at the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center in Natick, Massachusetts. The biomechanical testing will assess the effectiveness of the HULC in improving the endurance and reducing the risk of injury to soldiers by comparing the performance of soldiers carrying identical loads, both with and without the device.  Read More

Robotic dental patient Showa Hanako 2 (Photo: DigInfo)

Tokyo's Showa University has unveiled its latest robotic dental patient. The University engaged robotics company Tmsuk to manufacture the realistic bot which is designed to simulate a number of typical patient gestures and responses, allowing dental students to experience what it's like to work with a real patient.  Read More

Bioloid Robot with 31 hexagonal sensor modules distributed throughout its body to give it ...

Providing robots with sensory inputs is one of the keys to the development of more capable and useful machines. Sight and hearing are the most common senses bestowed upon our mechanical friends (perhaps soon to be foes?), but even taste and smell have got a look in. With the sense of touch so important to human beings, there have also been a number of efforts to give robots the sense of touch so they can better navigate and interact with their environments. The latest attempt to create a touchy feely robot comes from the Technical University Munich (TUM) where researchers have produced small hexagonal plates, which when joined together, form a sensitive skin.  Read More

A London designer has created a sweating robotic armpit, intended to make it easier for hu...

When we think of robots, we tend to think of clean, antiseptic automatons that don’t suffer from yucky things like halitosis, flatulence or body odor ... unlike us humans. According to London designer Kevin Grennan, however, this difference alienates us from robots, and will keep us from ever fully accepting them as anything other than machines. His solution? Robots that secret human odors, in situations in which people would secrete those odors. While some of his odor-secreting devices are purely conceptual, he has produced a working model of at least one – a sweating robotic armpit.  Read More

Kilobots are tiny autonomous swarming robots, that cost about $14 a piece to build (Photo:...

Autonomous robotic devices are certainly capable of some impressive feats, but as is the case with people, sometimes large groups can accomplish what an individual or a small group can’t. Research projects such as BAE Systems’ MAST program recognize this potential, and are investigating ways in which entire swarms of small robots could work together. The problem is, given how much time and money goes into the creation of a typical autonomous robot, it’s difficult to find a swarm of them to experiment upon – researchers often have to use computer simulations, or do their tests with a small group of robots, then scale up the results. That’s where Harvard University’s Kilobot project comes into play. It incorporates tiny swarming robots that take just five minutes to build, and that are worth about US$14 each.  Read More

MIT computer scientists Tomas Lozano-Perez and Leslie Kaelbling with the Willow Garage PR2...

Although robots have started to creep into many homes in the form of robotic vacuum cleaners like the Roomba, many of us were hoping humanoid robots would be doing everything from preparing meals to doing the laundry by now. Unfortunately, it turns out that even tasks that we consider relatively simple can prove difficult for robots to replicate. Instead of attempting to program robots to devise a complete detailed plan before tacking a task, MIT scientists are programming them to apply the old adage of “one step at a time” so the robots break tasks down into smaller, easier to handle chunks.  Read More

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