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Robotics

Panasonic's EVOLTA swimming, cycling and running robots will be attempting to complete the...

While the Energizer Bunny may get all the fame, Panasonic's "Mr. Evolta" robot actually gets out and does things. In 2008, powered by two of the company's AA EVOLTA alkaline batteries, the 17 centimeter (6.69 inch)-tall robot climbed up a 1,640 foot (500 meter) rope suspended in the Grand Canyon. The following year, pedaling a miniature tricycle, he completed the "24 Hours of Le Mans" endurance challenge. Last year, he took a leisurely 500-kilometer (311-mile) stroll along the highway from Tokyo to Kyoto. This year's challenge is a little different - there will be three EVOLTA robots, and they will be teaming up to complete the 230-kilometer (143-mile) Ironman Triathlon circuit in Hawaii.  Read More

A Cornell robot successfully identifies a keyboard within a cluttered room

If we're ever going to have robot butlers, then they're going to have to learn how to figure things out for themselves. After all, if you have to reprogram the robot for every slight variation on a task, you might as well do it yourself. Scientists at Cornell University's Personal Robotics Laboratory are tackling the formidable challenges posed by "machine learning" by programing robots to observe new situations and proceed accordingly, based on what they already know from the past.  Read More

The Bacarobo Stupid Robot Championship is a contest for robots that are funny and useless

Given that there are currently robots that can find trapped miners, swim through rubble and see through walls, it’s only natural that some of us humans might feel a little ... inferior, perhaps. Should you be one of those people, it will almost certainly make you feel better if you go to Budapest, and take in the Bacarobo Stupid Robot Championship. The three main rules: robots must operate automatically, they must be funny, and they must be useless.  Read More

QinetiQ's DR10 is intended for military and first responder duties

QinetiQ North America has unveiled its latest Micro Unmanned Ground Vehicle (MUGV) based on its Dragon Runner platform. The new Dragon Runner 10 (DR10) is built around the basic Dragon Runner design and is intended for military and first responder duties. At just 15 inches (38 cm) long, 13.5 inches (34 cm) wide and 5.8 inches (15 cm) tall, and weighing just under 10 pounds (4.5 kg), the DR10 is small and light enough to be carried in a standard-issue pack and be thrown into buildings and hostile environments for reconnaissance and surveillance missions.  Read More

MABEL the robot can run with a human-like gait at speeds of up to 10.9 km/h

Although Honda’s ASIMO has been running around at speeds of up to 6 km/h (3.7 mph) since 2004, his style is more of a fast sneak than a true running action. Getting bipedal robot like ASIMO to run like a human is no easy feat - as C-3PO is sure to attest – but researchers in a University of Michigan (U-M) lab have done just that with a bipedal robot called MABEL. The researchers believe that MABEL, which can reach a peak pace of 10.9 km/h (6.8 mph), is the world’s fastest bipedal robot with knees.  Read More

Sandia's Gemini-Scout Mine Rescue Robot is designed to speed mining accident rescue effort...

The Chilean and Pike River Mine disasters in 2010 highlighted the dangers of sub-surface mining and the difficulties faced in extracting those trapped beneath the Earth. Collapsed mines pose countless dangers, not just for those trapped but also those attempting to free them, such as poisonous gases, flooded tunnels, explosive vapors and unstable walls and roofs. Dealing with such potentially deadly conditions and unknown obstacles significantly slows the efforts of rescuers. To help speed rescue efforts, robotics engineers at Sandia Labs have designed a robot to provide that most valuable of commodities for first responders - information.  Read More

A Swarmanoid Hand-Bot, with three Foot-Bots

Swarms of small, intercommunicating robots are now being eyed up for all sorts of potential uses, including the creation of communications networks for disaster relief, mapping out hazardous environments, or even perhaps helping with the colonization of Mars. Since 2007, a group of European research groups have been collaborating on the now-completed Swarmanoid project, in which a variety of purpose-specific mini robots where programmed to cooperate in order to accomplish a task. Although the bots have been perfecting their book-stealing routine since 2009, a video depicting the task won the Best Video award at last week's 2011 Artificial Intelligence Conference in San Francisco, and was many peoples' introduction to Swarmanoid.  Read More

Willow Garage has just released the PR2 SE, a lower-priced one-armed version of its PR2 ro...

Among the various scientific/industrial robots in the marketplace, Willow Garage’s PR2 is one that stands out. This is because both its hardware and software are open-source – users are encouraged to share their latest upgrades and customizations with one another. With various parties using a common platform, instead of all having to start from scratch, Willow Garage hopes to move the field of robotics forward faster than would otherwise be possible. To that end, the company recently gave ten PR2s to groups involved in robotics research, to keep for up to two years. This Wednesday, commercial availability of the PR2 SE was announced. It costs US$285,000, which is significantly less than its sibling’s $400,000 price tag – users will just have to work around the fact that it only has one arm.  Read More

The bionic microbot that mimics the water walking abilities of the water strider (Image: A...

Chinese scientists have developed an aquatic microrobot that mimics the water-walking abilities of the Gerridae - a family of long-legged bugs commonly known as water striders that are able to run on top of the water's surface. The scientists say their bionic microbot incorporates improvements over previous devices that make it an ideal candidate for military spy missions, water pollution monitoring and other applications.  Read More

Customized WALL-E robot toy by DJ Sures

Disney went into robotic toys market with a remote-controlled WALL-E robot back in 2008. Canadian-based robotics enthusiast DJ Sures was apparently not satisfied with the level of realism of the toy so he came with his own, customized version of WALL-E. Utilizing The U-Command Wall-E plastic toy, he modified it with EZ-B Robot controller hardware, voice recognition and a movement-tracking camera - but no trash compactor.  Read More

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