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Robotics

Georgia Tech's pint-sized robot pianists

Researchers at Georgia Tech's GRITS Lab are working with swarms of mini robots that communicate with one another to work effectively. The aim of the research is to create networks that can be controlled by inputting instructions to a single robot. Beginning with a leader, each robot communicates with its nearest neighbors until the instructions have been shared across the network. In an effort to create the most efficient "follow-the-leader" algorithms, the researchers are getting the robot swarm to play musical notes on a simulated piano.Read More

Toshiba unveils four-legged nuclear plant inspection robot

Toshiba has unveiled a four-legged inspection robot, which will carry out work at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, where people cannot go. The newly developed robot – simply called a Quadruped walking robot – comes equipped with a smaller wheeled robot that can be deployed to navigate hard-to-reach areas. The legged robot can negotiate stairs, uneven terrain, and is able to avoid low-lying obstacles.Read More

iRobot's new hand can take a beating from a baseball bat

Not even a baseball bat can damage the fingers of a new robotic hand developed by iRobot for the DARPA Autonomous Robotic Manipulation (ARM) program. The four-year program, which began in 2010, seeks to build and program a robot capable of handling all kinds of things on the battlefield with minimal human input. Most robot hands have rigid components which tend to be quite fragile, but this hand has rubbery fingers, which are better able to absorb impacts. Read More

Honda's HEARBO robot has excellent hearing

A team led by Kazuhiro Nakadai at Honda Research Institute-Japan (HRI-JP) is improving how robots process and understand sound. The robot, aptly called HEARBO (HEARing roBOt), can parse four sounds (including voices) at once, and can tell where the sounds are coming from. The system, called HARK, could allow future robot servants to better understand verbal commands from several meters away.Read More

The Social Drink Machine takes your order via Facebook and Twitter

Robofun, which bills itself as the largest open-source hardware store in Romania, has built a robotic bartender called The Social Drink Machine. It takes its inspiration from another recently created "botender," The Inebriator, which the team at Robofun felt could be improved with a social media interface. They built their own robot from scratch in just 10 days and added Facebook and Twitter apps that let you order drinks from a mobile phone.Read More

South Korea develops bird strike defense robot

The Korean Atomic Energy Group and LIG Nex1 (an aerospace and defense subsidiary of LG Corp) have jointly developed what they are calling the world's first bird strike defense robot. Birds are a major headache around military air bases and civilian airports all over the world, as they can cause significant damage when they collide with aircraft or get sucked into engines. The robot is a six-wheeled unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) that uses a combination of directional acoustics and laser patterns to scare birds away.Read More

Teaching robots new tricks without programming

Don't believe what the sci-fi movies tell you: when it comes to understanding our world, robots are stupid. Like computers, robots only do what we program them to do. And that's a big problem if we're ever going to realize the dream of practical robot helpers for the masses. Wouldn't it be great if anyone could teach a robot to perform a task, like they would a child? Well, that's precisely what Maya Cakmak has been working on at Willow Garage.Read More

Mind-controlled robot avatars inch towards reality

Researchers at the CNRS-AIST Joint Robotics Laboratory (a collaboration between France's Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology) are developing software that allows a person to drive a robot with their thoughts. The technology could one day give a paralyzed patient greater autonomy through a robotic agent or avatar.Read More

Build your own Robi robot with weekly magazine subscription

The Japanese arm of De Agostini, an Italian-based publishing house known worldwide for magazines that drip feed buyers model components on a weekly basis, has chosen something a bit different for its latest offering. Instead of the traditional model car or boat, the company is letting subscribers build their own robot. After 70 issues, which cost JPY¥1,990 (US$25) apiece, buyers will have a fully assembled Robi that stands 13.4 inches (34 cm) tall and weighs just 2.2 pounds (1 kg).Read More

Home-made gymnast robot "sticks" the landing

After years of trial and error, a Japanese hobbyist has built a gymnast robot that can perform a somersault off a horizontal bar in his living room and stick the landing. The man, who goes by the handle Hinamitetu on YouTube, built the first version of the robot out of boredom after being laid off from a job back in 2010. Since then, the robot has gone through twelve revisions. Although somewhat crudely made, the robot incorporates sensors to automatically clamp onto the bar, and an accelerometer to determine when to let go. Read More

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