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Robotics

The US Navy's Octavia robot

If members of the armed forces are going to be regularly interacting with robots, and it seems likely that such will be the case, then they had better be comfortable around those robots. The last thing a soldier, pilot or sailor needs is to be staring at some creepy-looking humanoid machine, and saying, “Um, listen, I want you to... ah, screw it, I’ll do it myself.” That’s the thinking behind an initiative from the US Navy Center for Applied Research in Artificial Intelligence (NCARAI), which has been working on natural human-robot interaction. If sailors can communicate with a robot through human-to-human style speech and gestures, it is thought, then they will be able to concentrate more on the task at hand, and less on the interface. NCARAI’s latest attempt at an easy-to-relate-to robot, named Octavia, was presented to the public for the first time recently in New York City.  Read More

The International Food Machinery and Technology Exhibition (or Fooma for short) in Tokyo

The International Food Machinery and Technology Exhibition (or Fooma for short) took place last week at Tokyo Big Sight, where a number of companies were demonstrating more efficient ways of producing food. Regrettably, not all of them allowed for photography or video. But for anyone involved in food production, Fooma is definitely a worthwhile exhibition to visit if you can make the trip to Tokyo. Here are just a couple of the food production devices from Fooma 2010 that we found particularly eye-catching...  Read More

Autonomous underwater vehicle to study Deepwater Horizon oil spill

With the latest attempt to stem the oil flow from the Deepwater Horizon oil well by pumping heavy drilling liquids into the well having failed, there is still no end in sight to the disaster that began more than a month ago. To help shed some light on where oil is spilling beneath the ocean surface and to aid biologists and others understand the effects of this catastrophic event, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute’s (MBARI’s) Division of Marine Operations has sent a high-tech robotic submersible to the oily waters of the Gulf.  Read More

Honda's stair climbing ASIMO could be a contender for the US$200,000 'W' Prize

A prize of US$200,000 is being offered for the first robot that can successfully move 10 km (6.2 miles) within 10,000 seconds. Sound easy? Well, to claim the “W” Prize the robot must also negotiate four sets of obstacles that would stand in the way of ordinary wheeled vehicles, but could be easily overcome by a pedestrian. The robot must also accomplish this task using no more than 10 kj per kg of machine mass – in other words, less energy than it would take for a human to do the same task.  Read More

Ji-Dong Yim with Callo the cellphone robot

Imagine if your cellphone could watch your arm movements, and physically recreate them in front of the person you were talking to. How about if it sagged and looked dejected upon receiving a “Dear John” text message? Perhaps it might be able to mimic movements that your caller was making with their phone. Well, scientists at Vancouver’s Simon Fraser University have created cellphone robots that can do all those things, and more.  Read More

The use of remotely-controlled robots to perform delicate surgery is growing. The approach offers benefits to both patients and doctors including reduced fatigue, quicker recovery times and a reduced risk of infection. Now another breakthrough in the field has been reported in the U.K., where doctors have performed a first in remote-controlled heart surgery.  Read More

The Husqvarna DXR 140 demolition robot and its Bluetooth remote control

When it comes to red-blooded boys toys, Husqvarna's latest demolition robot takes the cake. Husqvarna is in the process of releasing a series of new remote-control demolition robots, beginning with the introduction of the 22 kW DXR310 weighing 1900 kg in late 2009, followed by the smaller 1620 kg DXR 250 in January. The 250 comes standard with 18.5 kilowatts, but there is also a 22 kW option. Now comes the diminutive 960 kg DXR 140 which can be optioned up to 15 kW, yet is only 77 cm wide, meaning it can pass through most doorways, fits in a lift or on a standard trailer or on the back of a utility… and the easy-to-use Bluetooth remote control makes it an absolute breeze to smash just about anything you can think of.  Read More

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

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