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Robotics


— Robotics

Brainlink adds new capabilities to store-bought robots

By - December 17, 2011 3 Pictures
While “toy” robots such as WowWee’s Robosapien already have some pretty impressive capabilities, they can now do even more ... if they have a Brainlink module installed. Brainlink is made by BirdBrain Technologies, which is a Carnegie Mellon University spin-off company. When attached to an existing infrared remote-controlled household robot, it will add a built-in light sensor and accelerometer to that device’s quiver, along with the possibility of various other user-supplied sensors that can be plugged into its input ports. The Bluetooth-equipped Brainlink also allows robots to be controlled via the user’s laptop or Android smartphone, which opens up all sorts of possibilities. Read More
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Aldebaran Robotics' NAO Next Gen is smarter but still cute

By - December 11, 2011 5 Pictures
Remember NAO, the robot that stole the show at the recent Robotville event? Well, NAO's already impressive set of abilities have just been extended with Aldebaran Robotics releasing a new version of its cute little humanoid robot. Around two thousand NAOs are used for research and education purposes all around the world but now that the NAO Next Gen is ready, the founder and chairman of Aldebaran Robotics, Bruno Maisonnier, hopes to see it become useful to humans in a more direct sense. It's new abilities are to make it even more versatile and, among other things, prepare it for working with autistic children and the elderly. Read More
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Dual-robot system designed to help with brain surgery

By - December 7, 2011 1 Picture
In keyhole neurosurgery, a small “burr hole” is drilled in the patient’s skull, and their brain is then accessed through that hole. The procedure is much less invasive than many other types of brain surgery, and can be used for things such as exploratory endoscopy, biopsies, blood and fluid sampling, cryogenic and electrolytic ablation (tissue removal), and deep brain stimulation. It is used to treat conditions including tumors, hydrocephalus (fluid on the brain), Parkinson's disease, Tourette syndrome, and epilepsy. For a neurosurgeon, however, it can sometimes be extremely exacting work – a slip of even a fraction of a millimeter can cause permanent brain damage. That’s why the European Union’s ROBOCAST (ROBOt and sensors integration for Computer Assisted Surgery and Therapy) Project is developing a robotic system to help out. Read More
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Robotville: the androids are coming

By - December 2, 2011 24 Pictures
There's an infestation of robots at London's Science Museum this weekend. Robotville has set up camp in a darkened room on the second floor, where visitors to the museum can drop by to say hello to their mechanized counterparts. There are 23 robots all told, from toy dinosaurs to pressure-sensing fish and all-terrain robot cockroaches (though, being purely remote controlled, the latter isn't a robot in the strict sense). Most captivating, though, were the nine androids that struck Gizmag as being, in one way or another, the most human. Say hello to the robots that might help shape our future. Read More
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Soft-bodied robot owes its moves to starfish and squid

By - December 1, 2011 1 Picture
More and more, it’s looking like many of the robots in the not-too-distant future won’t be hard, humanoid C-3PO-like affairs, but will instead be squishy, soft-bodied devices. Not only would such robots be better able to withstand mechanical shock, vibration and compression, but they would also be able to do things like squeezing through small spaces – an ability which come in very handy in settings like disaster sites or battlefields. Previous experiments with soft-bodied robots have included Tufts University’s GoQBot, which was clearly inspired by caterpillars. More recently, scientists from Harvard University demonstrated a squishy creation of their own, which could probably best be likened to a robotic starfish ... although it was apparently also inspired by squids. Read More
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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
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