Inspired by origami and children's pop-up books, Harvard engineers have pioneered a means of mass-producing bee-sized flying microrobots. The breakthrough mechanizes the already state-of-the art process of making Harvard's Mobee robots by hand, by mass producing flat assemblies by the sheet which can be folded and assembled in a single movement. The technique, which cunningly exploits existing machinery for making printed circuit boards, can theoretically be applied to a multitude of electromechanical machines.
iRobot, the company behind household helpers, such as the Roomba
, and military and police robots, such as the PackBot
, has released an updated version of its Warrior 700
robot. Like its predecessor, the newly launched 710 Warrior is designed for EOD (explosive ordnance disposal), reconnaissance and surveillance missions and can lift loads of up to 220 lbs (100 kg) and carry payloads of more than 150 pounds (68 kg) over rough terrain.
Visitors to Tokyo's Shinjuku ward my find themselves figuratively transported to the uncanny valley, if they take a stroll past Takashimaya department store, that is. Until Valentine's Day, a prominent display window there will play glassy prison cell to the impressive and unnerving Geminoid-F android. Geminoid-F is so strikingly lifelike in appearance, yet so thoroughly inhuman in many respects (head and eye movement among them), that it can only be the work of that master of the uncanny, Professor Hiroshi Ishiguro.
Remote-controlled quadrotor robots have been around for some time, but in the following video just released by a research team at the University of Pennsylvania's General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception (GRASP) Lab, science fiction edges much closer to science fact. Displaying complex autonomous swarm behavior, the miniature craft perform some astounding maneuvers and provide an interesting glimpse into what the future may hold for surveillance, search and rescue, light construction and warfare.
After 15 months of development, privately-owned Swiss company Novatiq is set to enter the robotics market with its first offering, SCORP. Designed for scouting and surveillance applications, SCORP is a Micro Unmanned Ground Vehicle (MUGV) that joins the growing ranks of throwable robots. As such, it is small, rugged and lightweight enough to be carried in a backpack and thrown into buildings or over rough terrain.
The past five to ten years have seen the birth of microbotics. A whole range of components that are vital for building robots, such as actuators, motors or batteries, became available in micro-scale only fairly recently. Finally enthusiasts got what they needed to put their own systems together, and the whole field benefited from their work. But there are obvious limitations to scaling down robots full of sensors, motors, and other mechanisms. That is, unless you make the machines extremely simple, which is exactly what Ron Pelrine of SRI International has done. His work on levitated microrobots may have powerful implications for robotics, and is likely to bring us a step closer towards fast, precise and affordable robotic systems comprising thousands, if not millions of microrobots.
While you might think its lack of limbs might limit how it gets around, snakes have actually developed several different forms of locomotion. One of these is “rectilinear locomotion,” and while most snakes are capable of it, it is most commonly associated with large pythons and boas. Although it is the slowest form of snake locomotion, it is also very efficient and allows the snakes to crawl into tight spaces. It is these latter two qualities that appealed to Georgia Tech researchers when developing a new all-terrain robot called Scalybot 2.
A couple of years ago, the Willow Garage robotics company gave ten of its PR2 robots away
to deserving research groups. The idea behind the project was that these groups would use the PR2s for robotics research, then share their discoveries with each other, thus advancing the field farther than would be possible if they each had to build their own unique robots from scratch. Now, a similar but unrelated project is underway, and this time the robots are designed specifically to perform surgery.
For some time now, scientists have assumed that dinosaurs’ tails didn’t simply drag on the group behind them, but were instead held out to serve as a counterweight for the giant reptiles’ heavy front ends when running. More recently, however, researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, have discovered that modern-day lizards also use their tails to control the orientation of their bodies when leaping through the air. It’s a discovery that could be applied to devices such as search-and-rescue robots, and in fact already has been. Based on their observations, the UC Berkeley team created a small, tailed robot known as Tailbot.
video game lets players pet a virtual pet on their TV screen, but Tokyo-based software engineer Taylor Veltrop has gone one step further. By pairing a Kinect
sensor, a Wiimote
, a treadmill
and a Nao humanoid robot
together, Veltrop has cobbled together a teleoperation system that allows him to groom his real life feline friend remotely.