Photokina 2014 highlights

Robotics

Michael Gielniak is teaching Simon to move more like a human

As robots get smarter and more capable and make their way from manufacturing assembly lines to a much wider variety of applications, we will be interacting with them in more and more situations. Currently, robots tend to move with jerky, stop/start motions, which can make it difficult for humans, who are accustomed to the fluid and dynamic movements of other humans, to easily recognize what the robots are doing. In an attempt to create robots that can better interact with humans, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology are getting robots to move in a much more human-like way.  Read More

The Elfoid P1 is a combination mobile phone and mini telepresence robot, designed to give ...

We can’t say we weren’t warned. Last August, Japan’s Eager Co. Ltd. announced that it was planning to begin sales of the Telenoid R1 telepresence robot in October. The toddler-sized ghostly-looking robot is intended to be a physical stand-in for a remote user during internet communications, mirroring that person’s movements via real-time face tracking software on their computer – their voice also comes out of the device. Well, Telenoid now has a little sibling. The Elfoid P1, as it’s called, was unveiled at a press conference yesterday in Japan, and is intended to serve as a combination mobile phone and mini telepresence robot.  Read More

Robotics company Boston Dynamics has been awarded a contract to develop a military quadrup...

It would be scary to be chased by a military robot. It would also be scary to be chased by a cheetah. So, imagine what it would be like to have a military robotic cheetah sprinting after you. Such a scenario could one day be possible, as robotics company Boston Dynamics recently announced that America’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded it a contract to design and build such a ... critter. The contract also includes the creation of an agile, bipedal humanoid robot. It’s hard to say which one might ultimately be creepier.  Read More

'Robot's eye view' showing how some common household objects appear through the vision sys...

Despite all the breakthroughs in the world of robotics, we still seem to be some way off the kind of advanced robots that can autonomously carry out a variety of tasks in unstructured and cluttered environments. One of the key bottlenecks holding back the development of such next-generation robots is how robots perceive the data gathered from their various sensors. Willow Garage, the Californian robotics company behind the PR2 open platform robot, has teamed up with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to launch an international “perception challenge” with the goal of encouraging improvements to sensing and perception technologies for next-generation robots.  Read More

RoboMara 2011: Autonomous bot wins marathon by a nose

The 'RoboMara' or robot marathon has just come to a close in Osaka Japan, with a pair of bipedal bots battling it out in surprisingly close dash to the finish. After 422 laps of a 100-meter track, two robots found themselves only inches apart as coming out of the final turn.  Read More

The flexible organic transistor, made with flexible polymers and carbon-based materials, t...

Last September we covered a story about a pressure-sensitive artificial skin developed at Stanford University that is so sensitive it can “feel” the weight of a butterfly. As part of a goal to create what she calls “super skin,” Stanford researcher Zhenan Bao is now giving the artificial skin the ability to detect chemical and biological molecules. Not only that, she has also developed a new, stretchable solar cell that can be used to power the skin, opening up the possibility of an artificial skin for robots that can be used to power them and enable them to detect dangerous chemicals or diagnose medical conditions with a touch.  Read More

A full marathon for robots is planned for later this month in Japan (Photo: Vstone)

Vstone, an Osaka-based technology firm, is organizing the world's first marathon for robots. As many of you will already know, a marathon is 42 kilometers (or about 26 miles), and these little mechanical men are ready to run the whole thing.  Read More

The Cougar20-H surveillance robot

The Cougar20-H is a remote-controlled surveillance robot that is so sensitive it can not only detect motion through walls but, to ensure no one goes unnoticed, it can also detect the breathing of a stationary person. Packing a fine beam ultra-wideband (UWB), multi-Gigahertz radio frequency (RF) sensor array as well as multiple integrated cameras for day and night time visibility, the Cougar20-H was designed by surveillance imaging specialist TiaLinx to provide improved situational awareness to soldiers while keeping them out of harm’s way.  Read More

Seth Goldstein's tie-tying robot

Seth Goldstein must hate doing up his ties even more than I do. I changed my lifestyle about four years ago so I'd never have to wear one again, but Goldstein has put countless hundreds of hours into designing a robot that can do the job for him. The 'Why Knot?' kinetic sculpture is hypnotic to watch, as the video after the jump shows – and it makes you wonder at the marvel of our human machinery when you see how difficult this simple task is for a purpose-built robot to replicate. Oh, and when you watch it in double-speed, it also sounds a bit like glitch techno music. Very cool.  Read More

The physical robot constructed from Lego Mindstorm kits

Everyone knows that, unless you’re extraordinarily gifted, you need to crawl before you can walk. Turns out the same principle could also apply to robots. In a first-of-its-kind experiment conducted by University of Vermont (UVM) roboticist Josh Bongard created both simulated and physical robots that, like tadpoles becoming frogs, change their body forms while learning how to walk. He found that these evolving robots were able to learn more rapidly than ones with fixed body forms and that, in their final form, the changing robots had developed a more robust gait.  Read More

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