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Robotics


— Robotics

HULC robotic exoskeleton undergoing biomechanical testing with the U.S. Army

By - July 3, 2011 2 Pictures
Following lab evaluation tests, Lockheed Martin’s ruggedized HULC (Human Universal Load Carrier) robotic exoskeleton is now undergoing biomechanical testing at the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center in Natick, Massachusetts. The biomechanical testing will assess the effectiveness of the HULC in improving the endurance and reducing the risk of injury to soldiers by comparing the performance of soldiers carrying identical loads, both with and without the device. Read More
— Robotics

Hexagonal plate skin gives robots sense of touch

By - June 29, 2011 4 Pictures
Providing robots with sensory inputs is one of the keys to the development of more capable and useful machines. Sight and hearing are the most common senses bestowed upon our mechanical friends (perhaps soon to be foes?), but even taste and smell have got a look in. With the sense of touch so important to human beings, there have also been a number of efforts to give robots the sense of touch so they can better navigate and interact with their environments. The latest attempt to create a touchy feely robot comes from the Technical University Munich (TUM) where researchers have produced small hexagonal plates, which when joined together, form a sensitive skin. Read More
— Robotics

Designer creates sweating robotic armpit

By - June 29, 2011 4 Pictures
When we think of robots, we tend to think of clean, antiseptic automatons that don’t suffer from yucky things like halitosis, flatulence or body odor ... unlike us humans. According to London designer Kevin Grennan, however, this difference alienates us from robots, and will keep us from ever fully accepting them as anything other than machines. His solution? Robots that secret human odors, in situations in which people would secrete those odors. While some of his odor-secreting devices are purely conceptual, he has produced a working model of at least one – a sweating robotic armpit. Read More
— Robotics

Tiny $14 Kilobots work by swarming together

By - June 20, 2011 6 Pictures
Autonomous robotic devices are certainly capable of some impressive feats, but as is the case with people, sometimes large groups can accomplish what an individual or a small group can’t. Research projects such as BAE Systems’ MAST program recognize this potential, and are investigating ways in which entire swarms of small robots could work together. The problem is, given how much time and money goes into the creation of a typical autonomous robot, it’s difficult to find a swarm of them to experiment upon – researchers often have to use computer simulations, or do their tests with a small group of robots, then scale up the results. That’s where Harvard University’s Kilobot project comes into play. It incorporates tiny swarming robots that take just five minutes to build, and that are worth about US$14 each. Read More
— Robotics

Improving robots' planning abilities ‘one step at a time’

By - May 26, 2011 2 Pictures
Although robots have started to creep into many homes in the form of robotic vacuum cleaners like the Roomba, many of us were hoping humanoid robots would be doing everything from preparing meals to doing the laundry by now. Unfortunately, it turns out that even tasks that we consider relatively simple can prove difficult for robots to replicate. Instead of attempting to program robots to devise a complete detailed plan before tacking a task, MIT scientists are programming them to apply the old adage of “one step at a time” so the robots break tasks down into smaller, easier to handle chunks. Read More
— Robotics

Autonomous robots could collaborate on mapping hazardous environments

By - May 17, 2011 1 Picture
Imagine you're a firefighter arriving at a burning building, but you have no idea what the interior layout of that building is. Do you just enter, then risk your life by randomly walking up and down smokey hallways looking around? What would work better would be if someone or something could quickly map out the building first, then you could take that information and concentrate on getting directly where you need to go. That's the idea behind the U.S. Army's Micro Autonomous Systems and Technology (MAST) Collaborative Technology Alliance Program, which would see swarms of small rolling, hopping, crawling or flying robots working together on reconnaissance missions in civilian or military applications. Read More
— Robotics

Teaching robots to copy human movement

By - May 16, 2011 1 Picture
Having two arms doesn't make you a juggler. The same principle applies in robotics where even the most dextrous of bots must be programmed to move according to a particular task. Input systems based on laser tracking are used in industrial robotics to achieve this, but Fraunhofer researchers are looking to streamline the process significantly with a device that uses inertial sensors to detect movements in free space. In other words, you can teach a robot new tricks just by showing it the required action. Read More
— Robotics

Ranger robot breaks its own endurance record

By - May 13, 2011 2 Pictures
On July 6th of last year, Cornell University’s Ranger robot set a world record for untethered legged robots – it walked 14.3 miles (23.01 km) in about 11 hours on a single charge, with no hands-on assistance. The record had previously been held by Boston Dynamics’ BigDog, when it walked 12.8 miles (20.6 km). Both of those achievements were eclipsed last Monday (May 2nd), however, when Ranger beat its own record by walking a whopping 40.5 miles (65.18 km) on a single charge. Read More
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