2015 Detroit NAIAS Auto Show

Robotics

A rendering of the FastRunner bipedal sprinting robot (Image: IHMC)

Fast as the FastRunner may become, it will never be able to escape the comparison to an ostrich. One day, thanks to a joint effort by MIT and the Florida Institute of Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC), this bipedal sprinting robot is going to assume its rightful place in the DARPA-funded robotic zoo, right next to the robotic cheetah and the mule-like BigDog. Thanks to an innovative, self-stabilizing leg design, the movements of this flightless robotic bird are going to be not only very efficient, but also extremely fast. The legs are already capable of hitting 27 mph (43.4 km/h), matching the fastest of humans. The researchers hope to see FastRunner reach speeds of up to 50 mph (80.4 km/h). That, plus the ability to negotiate fairly rough, uneven terrain, potentially makes it a force to be reckoned with, on the battlefield and elsewhere.  Read More

The Robothespian presentation, telepresence and acting humanoid robot by Engineered Arts L...

Engineered Arts Ltd.'s Robothespian is probably one of the first professional robotic actors who made it into the real world (sorry, T-1000). Its elegant movements, extraordinary body language and emotion-conveying skills make it a great communicator. It may not be capable of helping the elderly, it's not nearly as agile and athletic as Boston Dynamics' PETMAN, and it's unlikely to be of any use during eye surgery. But that's OK. Robothespian is an artist. A robot burdened with the task of exploring the ephemeral territory of the arts and claiming it for his robotic brethren. And it seems it is extremely well equipped to get the job done.  Read More

The new ASIMO making the Japanese sign language symbol for 'I love you'

Ask anyone what their favorite real-life robot is, and chances are the majority will say “That one made by Honda, that looks like an astronaut.” They will be referring, of course, to ASIMO. The self-balancing, walking bipedal robot is actually the latest in a long line of similar Honda robots, that began in 1986 with one named EO. The company has also created several versions of ASIMO itself, along with multiple copies of each, to the point that there are currently over 100 individual ASIMO robots in existence. Well, as of today, none of those can any longer be considered state-of-the-art. The newly-named Honda Robotics group has unveiled the latest and greatest ASIMO, that sports several new features over its predecessors – including the ability to act autonomously.  Read More

TELESAR V Telexistence Robot Avatar is a remotely controlled robot that transmits sight, h...

Developing true robot surrogates that allow you to be in two places at once means duplicating all of our movements and senses in machine form. Given you can now make a video call on your phone, it's fair to say we have the sight and sound aspects pretty well covered, but the challenge of adding touch to the equation is formidable. The TELESAR V Robot Avatar shows just how far we've come in turning into telepresence into telexistence - it's a humanoid remotely controlled robot that boasts a wide range of movement along with the ability to transmit sight, hearing and touch sensations to its operator via a set of sensors and 3D head mounted display.  Read More

Mask-bot uses a small projector to beam the image of a face onto a transparent plastic mas...

While great strides have been made in the development of humanoid robots, such as Honda's ASIMO, giving robots a human face with natural expressions and movement has proven a difficult task. While some look to create lifelike faces and expressions with motors under artificial skin replicating the function of facial muscles, German and Japanese researchers have joined forces to come up with a different solution called Mask-bot that sees a 3D image of a human face projected onto the back of a plastic mask.  Read More

Foxconn's parent company, Taiwan-registered Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., is getting int...

The world's industrial robotics industry will get considerably larger in the near future as Taiwan-registered Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (best known as Foxconn) has announced plans to begin building industrial robots. Its initial plans of building one million industrial robots for its own purposes will nearly double the number of industrial robots in the world (currently The International Federation of Robotics puts that number at 1,095,000). Foxconn is best known as the largest exporter in China, the assembler/manufacturer of Apple's iPad and iPhone and for the extraordinarily high suicide rate of its employees.  Read More

The eight-legged robot spider created by Fraunhofer researchers is made using a 3D printin...

When it comes to deciding on a form of locomotion for their creations, roboticists have plenty of options to choose from. While many go for the tried and tested tank-like tracks or wheels, nature is also a veritable treasure trove of inspiration. That's just where Fraunhofer researchers have turned with a new eight-legged robot modeled on the same principle that moves spider legs. Not only does the design give the spiderbot the agility and stability of real spiders when getting around on the ground, it also features special joints that allow it to jump.  Read More

A curious observer watches the biped walk on a treadmill (Photo: Diginfo.tv)

Creating systems that are energy autonomous is a key goal in the development of robotics, and this new walking prototype from Japan's Nagoya Institute of Technology (NIT) is a big step in the right direction. To some, calling this device a robot may be a bit of a stretch, especially since it lacks electricity, motors or computers of any kind, but its entry into the Guinness Book of Records last year shows it can certainly go the distance with its weight as the only motive force.  Read More

The TBCP-II can transfer from horizontal to vertical surfaces over inside corners (as seen...

When it comes to wall-climbing robots its hard to go past the humble gecko for inspiration. The gecko’s specialized toe pads containing hair-like structures that allow it to scale smooth vertical surfaces have already provided inspiration for the four-legged Stickybot and now researchers at Simon Fraser University Burnaby (SFU) claim to be the first to apply the gecko’s wall-climbing technique to a robot that operates like a tank.  Read More

Boston Dynamics has released a video of its bipedal humanoid PETMAN robot, performing a va...

If you were tasked with testing clothing that was designed to protect soldiers from chemical weapons, it goes without saying that you wouldn't dress an actual person up in those clothes, then fire chemicals at them. If you just put those clothes on an inanimate mannequin, however, it wouldn't provide any information on how effective those clothes were when in motion, or in a wide variety of body positions. Well, that's where Boston Dynamics' PETMAN (Protection Ensemble Test Mannequin) humanoid robot comes in. The self-balancing clothes-testing machine can walk, run, crouch, and even do push-ups. Today, PETMAN's creators released the first-ever public video of the robot being put through its paces - and it's pretty impressive.  Read More

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