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Robotics

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

Researchers have created an underwater robot that swims in any direction using just one fi...

Ask anyone who keeps freshwater tropical fish to name the top five most exotic, bizarre fish available to hobbyists, and chances are the black ghost knife fish will be in there. Besides looking incredibly cool, these Amazon basin creatures have two rather unusual characteristics: they can sense all around themselves by generating a weak electrical field, and they can move in any direction, thanks to an undulating ribbon-like fin that runs along the length of their underside. In an effort to replicate that form of maneuverability for use in man-made submersibles, a team led by Northwestern University mechanical and biomedical engineer Dr. Malcolm MacIver has created the GhostBot – an underwater robot that moves via a knife fish-like fin.  Read More

The pi4-workerbot can be adapted to a wide range of tasks (Image: pi4_robotics GmbH)

Industrial robots are generally programmed to carry out one task and one task only. While they are extremely quick and efficient at performing their assigned task, adapting them to other tasks can be a time consuming and expensive endeavor. In an effort to introduce robots with greater flexibility into industrial inspection and assembly systems, the EU-funded PISA research project has developed the pi4-workerbot. The multi-tasking robot is similar in size to a human being and features two arms, three cameras, fingertip sensitivity and can even produce a variety of facial expressions.  Read More

The ReWalk robotic exoskeleton is designed to get paraplegics out of their wheelchairs

The wheel may be one of mankind’s greatest inventions, but it’s an unfortunate fact of life for the wheelchair-bound that much of the modern world is built for the upright – from deli counter-tops and store shelves to stairs and escalators. When Israeli entrepreneur Amit Goffer was left paralyzed after a car accident in 1997 he set about creating “robotic trousers” to replace a wheelchair. The fruits of his labor are now set to help others with his ReWalk robotic exoskelton set to go on sale from the start of 2011.  Read More

BEAR is an all-terrain, search-and-rescue humanoid robot that can lift and carry up to 500...

The U.S. Army is currently testing a robot designed to locate, lift and carry wounded soldiers out of harm’s way without risking additional lives. With feedback from its onboard sensors and cameras, the Battlefield Extraction-Assist Robot (BEAR) can be remotely controlled through the use of a special M-4 rifle grip controller or by hand gestures using an AnthroTronix iGlove motion glove. This equipment would allow a soldier to direct BEAR to a wounded soldier and transport them to safety where they can be assessed by a combat medic.  Read More

The prototype of the next-generation AUV (Photo: Fraunhofer)

Engineers from Germany's Fraunhofer Institute for Optronics are working on an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) that would be inexpensive enough to use for industrial applications such as hull and dam inspection, yet independent enough that it wouldn’t require any kind of human control. Typically, more cumbersome but less costly remote operated vehicles (ROVs) are used for grunt work – they are connected to a ship on the surface by a tether, where a human operator controls them. The more technologically-advanced AUVs tend to be used more for well-funded research, but according to the engineers, one of the keys to creating “blue collar” AUVs is to overhaul the ways that they see, hear and think.  Read More

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