MIT developing a robotic "Swiss Army knife" that changes shape to suit the job

An MIT team is developing a robot that has the potential to become possibly the most versatile machine ever. Referred to by the team as the "robotic equivalent of a Swiss Army knife,” the milli-motein robot is made up of a chain of tiny modules each containing a new type of motor that can be used to form the chain into various shapes. This shape-changing capability could lead to the creation of robots that dynamically change their form to suit the task at hand.Read More

MIT spin-off Robot Rebuilt working on sensitive robotic hands

Robot manipulators – or hands, as we like to call them – come in all shapes and sizes. Some, like those developed for Willow Garage's PR2, have just two fingers. Others have three, four, or five fingers – and some manage to lift objects with none at all. Now, an MIT spin-off called Robot Rebuilt is hitting up Boston venture capital firms to develop a manipulator with human-like sensitivity.Read More

Japan to send mini robot to the ISS by mid 2013

Originally announced in early 2011, a small humanoid robot will be sent to communicate with astronauts living in the International Space Station's Japanese Experiment Module "Kibo" in the (Northern Hemisphere) summer of 2013. The robot will feature speech recognition and natural language processing technology developed by Toyota, while delivering twitter and voice messages from Earth to Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata.Read More

Rolling HyTAQ robot avoids obstacles by taking to the air

A team at the Robotics Lab at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) has come up with another take on the caged flying robots like the spherical air vehicle developed by Japan’s Ministry of Defense (JMD) and the more recent Kyosho Space Ball. However, instead of a spherical shape, the the outer protective cage of the HyTAQ (Hybrid Terrestrial and Aerial Quadrotor) is cylindrical and is attached to the quadrotor via a shaft connected by two rotating joints, thereby providing the HyTAQ with the ability to fly or roll over the ground. Read More

MIT Media Lab births robotic weight loss coach

While earning his PhD at the MIT Media Lab, Cory Kidd wanted to build a social robot that could have a place and function in the home. One of the potential applications was a lifestyle coach – a robot that you would interact with daily as you try to lose weight. Kidd built a prototype, recruited people for a study, and found that participants using the robot stuck to the weight loss program twice as long as those who used an identical program on a laptop – and that most felt that the robot was more credible than an animated character on the screen.Read More

Prototype robots autonomously strip paint from aircraft using lasers

If you think stripping paint off an end table can be a messy, time consuming job, imagine removing paint and other coatings from an aircraft like the C-130 transport plane. Tasked with developing a robotic system that would take such a chore out of the hands of maintenance personnel, Carnegie Mellon University's National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC) and Concurrent Technologies Corporation (CTC) of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, developed a team of robots that gets the job done – using laser beams, no less. Read More

Robot sea turtle takes first dip in the pool

In early October we took a look at the naro - tartaruga, a biomimetic robot based on sea turtles being built by researchers at ETH Zurich (the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology). It's a research platform that tests the concept of fin propulsion, and now we have a video of its first swim, which is surprisingly life-like.Read More

Japanese hobbyists amaze with latest robot creations

Kenji Ishida, a hobbyist known for building impressive Transformer-like robots, has shared some new videos of his project on YouTube. Likewise, a robot based on the virtual J-POP idol Hatsune Miku has surfaced that shows what is possible when you combine the current crop of hobby robot servos with hard work and dedication. Don't miss the videos after the break! Read More

BFS-Auto robot can read 250 pages per minute

Online book collections are becoming larger and more important each day. As more libraries are digitized, people are now able to read books on their tablets that once would have required traveling thousands of miles to even see. Scanning hundreds of thousands of books quickly without damaging them remains a challenge however, and it's a challenge which the BFS-Auto robot is well and truly up for.Read More

Robots are learning to walk and run at Delft University

Leo and Phides – two planar biped robots built at the Delft University of Technology – are walking and running, respectively. Leo improved its walking gait through reinforcement learning, which shapes behavior by rewarding success and punishing failure. Phides, the running robot, has achieved an impressive flight phase (the period in a running stride in which both feet are off the ground). Watch the robots in action after the break.Read More


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