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Robotics


— Robotics

Boston Dynamics releases amazing video of its PETMAN bipedal robot

By - October 31, 2011 2 Pictures
If you were tasked with testing clothing that was designed to protect soldiers from chemical weapons, it goes without saying that you wouldn't dress an actual person up in those clothes, then fire chemicals at them. If you just put those clothes on an inanimate mannequin, however, it wouldn't provide any information on how effective those clothes were when in motion, or in a wide variety of body positions. Well, that's where Boston Dynamics' PETMAN (Protection Ensemble Test Mannequin) humanoid robot comes in. The self-balancing clothes-testing machine can walk, run, crouch, and even do push-ups. Today, PETMAN's creators released the first-ever public video of the robot being put through its paces - and it's pretty impressive. Read More
— Robotics

HyQ - robotic Lipizzaner does more than just prance

By - October 29, 2011 11 Pictures
HyQ is the Italian cousin of Boston Dynamics' DARPA-funded BigDog. Under development at Istituto Italiano Di Tecnologia (IIT) by a group of researchers led by Professor Darwin Caldwell, this Hydraulically actuated Quadruped robot is being groomed to navigate rough terrain, jump and run at speeds up to 15 km/h (9 mph). Unlike Boston Dynamics' quadrupeds, HyQ is not a heavy-payload machine designed strictly for military applications. Instead, the robot could be used in rescue missions, on construction sites, for forestry applications and whenever there is a need to access areas not easily accessible to ordinary machines. However, before HyQ becomes part of the everyday landscape, it has another important role to play as an open source research platform. Read More
— Robotics

Robotic system designed to perform delicate eye surgery

By - October 27, 2011 2 Pictures
By now, many readers are probably familiar with the da Vinci robotic surgery system. It allows a seated surgeon, using a 3D display and hand controls, to operate on a patient using robotic arms equipped with surgical instruments. Not only does the system allow for more laparoscopic surgery (in which surgical instruments access the inside of the patient’s body through small incisions, instead of one large opening), but it even makes it possible for the surgeon and the patient to be in separate geographical locations. Now, a researcher at the Netherlands’ Eindhoven University of Technology has developed a similar system, designed specifically for operations on the eye. Read More
— Robotics

Husqvarna demolition robots to help clean up Fukushima

By - October 25, 2011 2 Pictures
Sweden's Husqvarna Construction has announced that two of its remote-controlled demolition robots are to help with the massive clean-up operation at the site of the failed fourth reactor at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. The recently-featured DXR-140 and its bigger brother - the DXR-310 - will be used in heavy demolition work such as tearing down concrete constructions and dealing with contaminated materials. Read More
— Robotics

"Bionic" leg anticipates the wearer's moves

By - October 24, 2011 5 Pictures
It was not a good day for 16 year old Craig Hutto. On June 27, 2005, wading in crystal clear waters off a near-deserted beach 50 miles south of Panama City, Craig was attacked by an 8-foot bull shark and lost his right leg from above the knee. Today Hutto is a 6-foot 4-inch 23 year old studying Nursing at Middle Tennessee State. Fortunately for him, Nashville is also the home of Vanderbilt University where its Center for Intelligent Mechatronics has for seven years been developing an advanced prosthetic limb. They also happened to need a Lab Assistant to help them test it. Read More
— Robotics

Robot creates other robots out of foam

By - October 20, 2011 5 Pictures
Appealing though general-purpose humanoid robots like C-3PO may be to many of us, real-life robots are usually most effective when they're designed for one specific purpose. In some situations, however, that purpose might not be known until the robot is in the field - at a disaster site, for instance, an autonomous robot might discover that it needs to squirm through debris, even though it wasn't designed to do so. One attempted solution to this problem has involved creating modular robots, that can take themselves apart and then reconfigure themselves as needed. Scientists from the University of Pennsylvania's Modular Robotics Laboratory, however, are taking a slightly different approach. They've created a robot that can build other purpose-specific robots, using electromechanical modules and self-hardening foam. Read More
— Robotics

Robotic strawberry pickers could be on the way

By - October 20, 2011 1 Picture
Now that we’re moving towards automated orange-sorting and autonomous tractors, what might be the next step in replacing human agricultural workers with machines? Well, how about robotic strawberry pickers? That’s what scientists from the UK’s National Physical Laboratory (NPL) say could be on the way, thanks to a system that is able to identify ripe strawberries in the field. Read More
— Robotics

Artificial vision used to detect rotten oranges and pick through mandarins

By - October 17, 2011 2 Pictures
There’s a reason that the oranges you see in the store usually aren’t rotten – someone at a sorting facility has already looked over all the oranges coming in from the fields, and taken out the spoiled ones. This is typically done with the help of ultraviolet light, which illuminates the essential oils in the rinds of rotten oranges. Such an approach is subject to human error, however, plus workers can only remain in the vicinity of the harmful UV light for limited periods of time. Now, scientists from Spain’s Valencian Institute of Agrarian Research (IVIA) have created a machine that does the same job automatically. While they were at it, they also came up with one that sorts oranges according to aesthetic appeal, and one that sorts mandarin segments. Read More
— Robotics

Romo the robot uses your smartphone as its brain

By - October 12, 2011 4 Pictures
When you think about it, smartphones are more than just fancy phones – they’re actually tiny portable computers. Given that so many people now own these tiny computers, why should they have to pay to buy another computer that’s built into an electronic device, when they could instead just use their existing smartphone as the “brain” of that device? That’s the approach that has been taken by products such as the Bubo camcorder rig, and now also by Romo-The Smartphone Robot. Read More
— Robotics

U.S military to field-test “throwable” robots in Afghanistan

By - October 4, 2011 13 Pictures
Robots are a perfect tool to provide soldiers in the field with “eyes” on a potentially hazardous situation without placing themselves in harm’s way. With soldiers often operating in difficult terrain or entering buildings, the easiest way to get such robots into place is to throw them. Currently, many units use a small tactical robot called the Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle 320 that is equipped with video reconnaissance technology. However, this robot weighs 32 pounds (14.5 kg) so the call has been put out for a lighter robot that is more easily transportable by dismounted units on the move and is able to be thrown into forward locations such as buildings and caves. To this end, the U.S. military is set to put three different types of lightweight, “throwable” robots through a series of combat assessments in Afghanistan. Read More
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