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Robotics

UPenn's GRASP lab unleashes a swarm of Nano Quadrotors

Remote-controlled quadrotor robots have been around for some time, but in the following video just released by a research team at the University of Pennsylvania's General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception (GRASP) Lab, science fiction edges much closer to science fact. Displaying complex autonomous swarm behavior, the miniature craft perform some astounding maneuvers and provide an interesting glimpse into what the future may hold for surveillance, search and rescue, light construction and warfare. Read More

Novatiq enters robotics market with SCORP throwable robot

After 15 months of development, privately-owned Swiss company Novatiq is set to enter the robotics market with its first offering, SCORP. Designed for scouting and surveillance applications, SCORP is a Micro Unmanned Ground Vehicle (MUGV) that joins the growing ranks of throwable robots. As such, it is small, rugged and lightweight enough to be carried in a backpack and thrown into buildings or over rough terrain.Read More

Tiny magnetically-levitated robots could change the game for robotics

The past five to ten years have seen the birth of microbotics. A whole range of components that are vital for building robots, such as actuators, motors or batteries, became available in micro-scale only fairly recently. Finally enthusiasts got what they needed to put their own systems together, and the whole field benefited from their work. But there are obvious limitations to scaling down robots full of sensors, motors, and other mechanisms. That is, unless you make the machines extremely simple, which is exactly what Ron Pelrine of SRI International has done. His work on levitated microrobots may have powerful implications for robotics, and is likely to bring us a step closer towards fast, precise and affordable robotic systems comprising thousands, if not millions of microrobots.Read More

Snake’s rectilinear locomotion inspires more efficient all-terrain robot design

While you might think its lack of limbs might limit how it gets around, snakes have actually developed several different forms of locomotion. One of these is “rectilinear locomotion,” and while most snakes are capable of it, it is most commonly associated with large pythons and boas. Although it is the slowest form of snake locomotion, it is also very efficient and allows the snakes to crawl into tight spaces. It is these latter two qualities that appealed to Georgia Tech researchers when developing a new all-terrain robot called Scalybot 2.Read More

Open-source project intends to advance robotic surgery

A couple of years ago, the Willow Garage robotics company gave ten of its PR2 robots away to deserving research groups. The idea behind the project was that these groups would use the PR2s for robotics research, then share their discoveries with each other, thus advancing the field farther than would be possible if they each had to build their own unique robots from scratch. Now, a similar but unrelated project is underway, and this time the robots are designed specifically to perform surgery.Read More

Leaping lizards inspire new robot design

For some time now, scientists have assumed that dinosaurs’ tails didn’t simply drag on the group behind them, but were instead held out to serve as a counterweight for the giant reptiles’ heavy front ends when running. More recently, however, researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, have discovered that modern-day lizards also use their tails to control the orientation of their bodies when leaping through the air. It’s a discovery that could be applied to devices such as search-and-rescue robots, and in fact already has been. Based on their observations, the UC Berkeley team created a small, tailed robot known as Tailbot.Read More

Japanese researchers develop six-legged "Asterisk" robot that can pick up objects

Fans of the sci-fi film Minority Report will no doubt recall the autonomous insect-like searcher robots deployed to find Tom Cruise's character mid-way through the flick. While not as elegant (or sinister) as its film counterparts, the Asterisk robot being developed by the Arai Robotics Lab at Osaka University in Japan does an excellent job of resembling a big, mechanical bug with some interesting skills. After over six years of development, this unusual "limb-mechanism" robot now boasts an impressive array of functions that may soon find it performing vital tasks in numerous areas of society, including search and rescue.Read More

Oculus telepresence robot incorporates user's existing netbook

When you think about it, telepresence robots are quite a neat idea. Not only do they allow you to see and converse with people in another location through video conferencing, but you can also move them about within that location – almost as if you were there in person, walking down the halls. Such devices typically don’t come cheap, however. As with other robots, part of what you’re paying for are their computerized “brains,” along with all of their input/output peripherals. The Oculus Telepresence Robot, however, takes a different approach. It utilizes a user-supplied netbook to serve as its brains, eyes, ears and vocal cords. This results in a lower price, potentially opening up telepresence technology to people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford it.Read More

Brainlink adds new capabilities to store-bought robots

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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