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Robotics

— Robotics

EPFL delivers an educational robot on the cheap

In the past year alone, Swiss research institute EPFL (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne/Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) has brought us things such as a mini ionic motor for satellites, “nano velcro” that removes pollutants from water, and a system that allows paralyzed rats to walk again. While none of these items will ever likely be available to regular consumers, now there is a piece of EPFL-developed technology that you can get your hands on. It’s an open-source educational robot known as Thymio II, and it only costs a little over a hundred bucks. Read More
— Robotics

Spanish start-up launches low-cost hackable robot

Spanish start-up Aisoy Robotics is marketing a new robot that, while it may look similar to the famous Furby, is actually a fully programmable research and development platform. The Aisoy1 II robot comes with a variety of sensors (touch, light, position, temperature, and camera), microphone and speaker, a 70 mini-LED matrix display (for animated lips) and includes a dialogue system for speech recognition and synthesis, as well as computer vision software for face and object recognition, all running on the Linux operating system. Read More
— Robotics

Baxter industrial robot aims at bringing automation to smaller manufacturers

Ordinarily, when we think of places where industrial robots are used, we picture the factory floors of deep-pocketed corporations such as Ford or Honda. That could soon change, however, with today’s announcement of the Baxter robot. Made by Boston-based Rethink Robotics, it costs about half as much as most of the least expensive industrial robots currently on the market. Also, it is reportedly very user-friendly – no robotics experts or custom software are required when teaching it new tasks. Read More
— Robotics

QBotix system uses mobile robots to optimize solar panel orientation

Although solar trackers can significantly increase the energy output of solar cells by keeping them optimally aligned to the sun, installing them on all the panels at an installation can add significant expense and provides multiple points of failure. A new tracking system from QBotix avoids these problems by getting a robot to do the rounds of the solar installation throughout the day and adjust the panels at 40-minute intervals to ensure they are optimally facing the sun. Read More
— Robotics

Cheetah robot outpaces Usain Bolt in setting new robotic land speed record

Usain Bolt might have taken home the 100 meters gold medal from the recent London 2012 Olympics, but things could have been different had DARPA’s Cheetah robot been allowed in the field. Living up to DARPA's original goal of developing a robot that could outrun any human, the quadruped robot has set a new robotic land speed record of 28.3 mph (45.5 km/h) for a 20-meter (65.6 ft) split, bettering Bolt’s human speed record by 0.52 mph (0.8 km/h). Read More
— Robotics

Light-activated skeletal muscle “blurs the boundary between nature and machines”

In Sir Arthur C. Clarke’s 1972 novel Rendezvous with Rama, the explorers of a seemingly deserted alien spaceship passing through our Solar System encounter a strange three-legged creature that turns out to be an organic robot. In the ‘70s, this seemed so incredible that it could only be the product of an alien civilization thousands of years ahead of us. In 2012, scientists at MIT and the University of Pennsylvania are proving otherwise by starting work on organic robots here on Earth. Using genetically engineered muscle tissue that responds to light, they are blurring the line between animal and machine at the cellular level. Read More
— Robotics

TOSY set to release dancing and sketching robots

It’s certainly impressive that there are robots capable of mowing lawns, tracking sharks, and toting goods, but sometimes it’s the robots that do completely useless yet entertaining things that really captivate us. Such is the case with TOSY’s soon-to-be-released DiscoRobo and SketRobo – one of them will dance to the beat of whatever music you have playing, while the other will draw your picture. Read More
— Robotics

Underwater robots being developed to save damaged coral reefs

Scotland may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of coral reefs, but the deep waters west of the nation are indeed home to reefs not unlike those found in the tropics. Unfortunately, a commercial fishing technique known as bottom trawling regularly damages that coral, putting the reefs at risk. Now, scientists are working on a possible solution to the problem – swarms of small, autonomous coral-fixing robots. Read More
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