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Robotics


— Robotics

Ant-Roach illustrates potential for inflatable robots

By - November 25, 2011 5 Pictures
What weighs a little under 70 pounds, has six legs, and is full of air? No, it's not conjoined monkey triplets with gas - as you've doubtless already gathered from the picture, it's a walking inflatable robot known as Ant-Roach. Earning its name by looking like a cross between an anteater and a cockroach, the wonderfully-kooky beast is the creation of San Francisco-based engineering/design group Otherlab. Besides providing amusement, the device was built to showcase the high strength-to-weight ratios and carrying capacities that are possible with inflatable robots. Read More
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Harvesting energy from insects in quest to create tiny cyborg first responders

By - November 23, 2011 2 Pictures
Insects have served as the inspiration for a number of Micro Air Vehicles (MAVs) that could be deployed to monitor hazardous situations without putting humans in harm’s way. Now researchers at the University of Michigan College of Engineering are proposing using actual live insects enhanced with electronic sensors to achieve the same result. The insect cyborgs would use biological energy harvested from their body heat or movements to potentially power small sensors implanted on their bodies in order to gather vital information from hazardous environments. Read More
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Tiny Kilobots to go on sale

By - November 23, 2011 7 Pictures
Do you think that you’ll never be able to afford a robot of your own that isn’t a toy? Well, if you can get Swiss robot-maker K-Team Corporation to sell you one, chances are you can easily afford a Kilobot – perhaps even a whole bunch of them. Designed and first built by Harvard University’s Self-Organizing Systems Research Group, the three-legged robots aren’t much larger than the 3.4-volt button cell batteries that power them, and move by vibrating across smooth, flat surfaces. They were created to study robotic swarming behavior, with the intention that tens, hundreds or even thousands of them could be used simultaneously in one experiment. Harvard has just announced that it has licensed the Kilobot technology to K-Team, which will commercially manufacture the robots so that other groups and institutions can purchase them for their own research. Read More
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Autonomous Wave Gliders begin their Pacific crossing

By - November 21, 2011 5 Pictures
It may sound like the premise for the latest Pixar movie, but it’s actually happening – four small autonomous aquatic robots have embarked on a 60,000-kilometer (37,000-mile) journey across the Pacific ocean. The Wave Gliders, built by California-based Liquid Robotics, left San Francisco last Thursday. All four will travel together to Hawaii, at which point they will split into two pairs – one of those pairs will proceed to Australia, with the other heading for Japan. Called PacX (for “Pacific Crossing”), the project will constitute the longest voyage ever completed by an unmanned ocean vessel. Read More
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NSK develops four-legged robot "guide dog"

By - November 21, 2011 17 Pictures
Guide dogs for the visually impaired provide an important service and help provide a welcome sense of autonomy to physically-challenged individuals. Unfortunately, the highly-skilled canines require about US$30,000 in training over several months, and always seem to be in short supply. The growing demand for these specialized animal companions gave a group of engineers from Japan's NSK corporation and the University of Electro-Communications just the impetus they needed to design a mechanical solution, and the robotic guide dog was born. Read More
— Robotics

Titanoboa is 50 feet of slithering electromechanical art

By - November 17, 2011 10 Pictures
Robotic snakes are - perhaps surprisingly - nothing all that new. In the past several years, we've seen ones designed to swim through debris, help out at construction sites, perform surveillance, and inspect the inside of pipes. People seem to be captivated by the little guys, which begs the question: has an artist ever made one? If they did, it would have to stand out from its more utilitarian counterparts, perhaps by being enormous and incorporating colored lights. Evoking prehistory wouldn't hurt, either. Well, it turns out that there is a creation that ticks all those boxes. It's time to meet Titanoboa. Read More
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DARPA's FastRunner robotic ostrich is in the works

By - November 16, 2011
Fast as the FastRunner may become, it will never be able to escape the comparison to an ostrich. One day, thanks to a joint effort by MIT and the Florida Institute of Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC), this bipedal sprinting robot is going to assume its rightful place in the DARPA-funded robotic zoo, right next to the robotic cheetah and the mule-like BigDog. Thanks to an innovative, self-stabilizing leg design, the movements of this flightless robotic bird are going to be not only very efficient, but also extremely fast. The legs are already capable of hitting 27 mph (43.4 km/h), matching the fastest of humans. The researchers hope to see FastRunner reach speeds of up to 50 mph (80.4 km/h). That, plus the ability to negotiate fairly rough, uneven terrain, potentially makes it a force to be reckoned with, on the battlefield and elsewhere. Read More
— Robotics

Robothespian humanoid robot delivers human-like stage performances

By - November 15, 2011 12 Pictures
Engineered Arts Ltd.'s Robothespian is probably one of the first professional robotic actors who made it into the real world (sorry, T-1000). Its elegant movements, extraordinary body language and emotion-conveying skills make it a great communicator. It may not be capable of helping the elderly, it's not nearly as agile and athletic as Boston Dynamics' PETMAN, and it's unlikely to be of any use during eye surgery. But that's OK. Robothespian is an artist. A robot burdened with the task of exploring the ephemeral territory of the arts and claiming it for his robotic brethren. And it seems it is extremely well equipped to get the job done. Read More
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Honda unveils new ASIMO robot, and more

By - November 8, 2011 26 Pictures
Ask anyone what their favorite real-life robot is, and chances are the majority will say “That one made by Honda, that looks like an astronaut.” They will be referring, of course, to ASIMO. The self-balancing, walking bipedal robot is actually the latest in a long line of similar Honda robots, that began in 1986 with one named EO. The company has also created several versions of ASIMO itself, along with multiple copies of each, to the point that there are currently over 100 individual ASIMO robots in existence. Well, as of today, none of those can any longer be considered state-of-the-art. The newly-named Honda Robotics group has unveiled the latest and greatest ASIMO, that sports several new features over its predecessors – including the ability to act autonomously. Read More
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Robotic avatar transmits real-time sensations of remote environment

By - November 8, 2011 12 Pictures
Developing true robot surrogates that allow you to be in two places at once means duplicating all of our movements and senses in machine form. Given you can now make a video call on your phone, it's fair to say we have the sight and sound aspects pretty well covered, but the challenge of adding touch to the equation is formidable. The TELESAR V Robot Avatar shows just how far we've come in turning into telepresence into telexistence - it's a humanoid remotely controlled robot that boasts a wide range of movement along with the ability to transmit sight, hearing and touch sensations to its operator via a set of sensors and 3D head mounted display. Read More
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