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National Robotics Week: demonstrating the importance of robotic technology in society

The inaugural National Robotics Week is taking place across the U.S. right now, incorporating a host of organizations including universities and manufacturing companies with the aim of increasing public awareness of the increasingly important role of robotic technology in society.  Read More

Photo: Achim J. Lilienthal - CC

Back in February, we brought you the story of Willow Garage Robotics’ PR2 Beta Program. California-based Willow Garage is giving PR2 robots to ten deserving robotics development groups, to program and customize as they wish. In exchange, those groups will enter all of their research data into an open-source software platform, so other robotics designers can learn from their successes and failures. Now, we’ve received word that a similar project is in the works in Europe. Led by the Eindhoven University of Technology, six research institutes are developing a collective worldwide online memory for robots, wherein robots can learn from each other's capabilities, thus streamlining the process of adopting new operations.  Read More

Twendy-One helps out with a spot of cooking

Japan, like many other countries, faces a rapidly aging population sparking concerns about how the elderly will be cared for in their twilight years. Japan being Japan has turned to robotics with researchers developing robots to assist the elderly with everything from exercise and independent living to shopping. Twendy-One is the latest robotic helper to join the fray designed to support aging people in their daily activities.  Read More

Bruce Willis in the movie 'Surrogates'. Art imitating life, or vice versa?

Gizmag recently took part in a virtual round table with futurist Dr James Canton and prosthetics expert Randall Alley to look at the role robots - particularly surrogate robots - will play in mankind’s future. The fascinating discussion ranged from the technology itself through to security issues and ethics surrounding the implementation of surrogate robots in our future societies. So when will you be able to send your robotic surrogate-self to the shop for a loaf of bread while you relax in front of the TV?  Read More

Snackbot on his rounds delivering sustenance to those in need at CMU

If you’re a student at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) who is left gasping for breath when forced to drag yourself away from your studies to get a snack, rejoice! A CMU team has created a robot that is designed to deliver snacks to you. But the appropriately named Snackbot is far more than a vending machine on wheels. It is designed to serve as a research platform for the study of long-term Human-Robot Interaction and packs a healthy helping of technological goodies, including a laser navigation system, sonar sensors and a stereo vision camera for eyes.  Read More

Robokeeper puts his body on the line. He is as safe as a brick wall built in front of the ...

At every live football game and in every pub around the world, someone exasperated fan watching the world game will yell: “even I could have beaten that goalie." But try beating this goal-keeper. He has the reflexes of a computerized cat. Cameras capture the ball and its movements and direct the ‘keeper to make an interception. If you can’t spear the ball into the top corners of the goal – you don’t have a chance. Apart from a skill developer, the Robokeeper is also a lot of fun. And he’s for hire.  Read More

Nanotube-reinforced carbon fiber Piranha USV

ZPM’s nanotube-reinforced carbon fiber prepreg is normally associated with high performance composite power boats, but the use of such ultra-lightweight materials in an unmanned surface vessel (USV) makes sense. Built entirely of Arovex™, the newly announced 54-foot Piranha USV weighs only 8,000 lb, yet can carry a 15,000 lb payload 2,500 miles, making it suitable for missions as diverse as anti-piracy, search and rescue, submarine hunting, and harbor patrol with a range of armament options that includes stabilized machine guns, Mark 54 torpedoes, and over-the-horizon missiles.  Read More

LS3 is conceived as an autonomous support pack-robot for ground troops (Image: Boston Dyna...

Walking quadrupeds are being cast to play a major role in the rapidly unfolding age of robotics. The platform promises versatility far beyond that of wheeled-vehicles and will undoubtedly find applications in a wide variety of fields. Not surprisingly, the development of quadrupeds is being driven by the military and DARPA has recently boosted its efforts by awarding Boston Dynamics $32 million for the prototype phase of its Legged Squad Support System (LS3) program.  Read More

RealTouch - World’s first virtual sex device for men (NSFW)

Personal sex devices for women have been around for more than 100 years and, though they may not appear to have changed much, research used to create the ultimate device and technology embedded in them certainly has evolved. The taboo surrounding the use of women’s sexual stimulation “toys” has all but disappeared - discussion about products (and even their use) appears regularly on TV in sitcoms, movies and documentaries. But where are all the toys for men? Apart from old-style blow-up dolls – the butt of many jokes and attendee at many a bucks’ party – or the latest sex robot in Roxxxy, what else exists? The world's largest pornographic Video On Demand supplier, Adult Entertainment Broadcast Network (AEBN) has addressed this shortfall with the RealTouch – “the world’s first virtual sex device for men”.  Read More

Willow Garage's PR2 personal robot

Imagine if every time someone wanted to develop a new piece of software, they first had to design and build a computer to run it. Not only would this greatly add to the time and expense required for software development, but it would also mean that all of us consumers would have to own multiple computers. Well, that’s what it’s like in the field of robotics. Because there is no robot-equivalent of the PC or Mac, every time someone wants a robot that can do something new, a new robot has to be built from scratch. Wouldn’t it be easier if there were one standard robotic platform, for which people just designed new hardware or software? Californian robotics company Willow Garage seems to think so, which is why they’re giving ten of their PR2 robots to deserving research organizations.  Read More

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