Building a robot, it’s probably safe to assume, is a daunting project. It would doubtless be considerably easier if designers didn’t have to build everything from scratch, but could instead use pre-built modules. That’s where the iMobot comes into play. Designed by University of California, Davis alumnus Graham Ryland and professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering Harry Cheng, the modular iMobot is a small robot in its own right, but could also be used as part of a larger robotic system.
Festo has added to its robotic menagerie
with the creation of a robotic seagull that weighs just 450 g (15.87 oz) and boasts a wingspan of 1.96 m (6.4 ft). Dubbed the SmartBird, the ultralight flying robot was inspired by the herring gull and can take off, fly and land autonomously, without the help of any additional drive systems.
The University of California at San Francisco Medical Center is now starting to use robots, not humans, to dispense medication from its hospital pharmacy. While robots are often brought into workplaces as a cost-cutting measure, UCSF claims that in this case, it's to minimize the chances of patients receiving the wrong medication. So far, it seems to be working out well – out of 350,000 doses of oral and injectable medication prepared to date, not a single error has occurred.
get smarter and more capable and make their way from manufacturing assembly lines to a much wider variety of applications, we will be interacting with them in more and more situations. Currently, robots tend to move with jerky, stop/start motions, which can make it difficult for humans, who are accustomed to the fluid and dynamic movements of other humans, to easily recognize what the robots are doing. In an attempt to create robots that can better interact with humans, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology
are getting robots to move in a much more human-like way.
We can’t say we weren’t warned. Last August, Japan’s Eager Co. Ltd. announced that it was planning to begin sales of the Telenoid R1
telepresence robot in October. The toddler-sized ghostly-looking robot is intended to be a physical stand-in for a remote user during internet communications, mirroring that person’s movements via real-time face tracking software on their computer – their voice also comes out of the device. Well, Telenoid now has a little sibling. The Elfoid P1, as it’s called, was unveiled at a press conference yesterday in Japan, and is intended to serve as a combination mobile phone and mini telepresence robot.
It would be scary to be chased by a military robot. It would also be scary to be chased by a cheetah. So, imagine what it would be like to have a military robotic cheetah sprinting after you. Such a scenario could one day be possible, as robotics company Boston Dynamics
recently announced that America’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA
) has awarded it a contract to design and build such a ... critter. The contract also includes the creation of an agile, bipedal humanoid robot. It’s hard to say which one might ultimately be creepier.
Despite all the breakthroughs in the world of robotics
, we still seem to be some way off the kind of advanced robots that can autonomously carry out a variety of tasks in unstructured and cluttered environments. One of the key bottlenecks holding back the development of such next-generation robots is how robots perceive the data gathered from their various sensors. Willow Garage, the Californian robotics company behind the PR2 open platform robot
, has teamed up with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST
) to launch an international “perception challenge” with the goal of encouraging improvements to sensing and perception technologies for next-generation robots.
The 'RoboMara' or robot marathon
has just come to a close in Osaka Japan, with a pair of bipedal bots battling it out in surprisingly close dash to the finish. After 422 laps of a 100-meter track, two robots found themselves only inches apart as coming out of the final turn.
Last September we covered a story about a pressure-sensitive artificial skin
developed at Stanford University that is so sensitive it can “feel” the weight of a butterfly. As part of a goal to create what she calls “super skin,” Stanford researcher Zhenan Bao is now giving the artificial skin the ability to detect chemical and biological molecules. Not only that, she has also developed a new, stretchable solar cell that can be used to power the skin, opening up the possibility of an artificial skin for robots that can be used to power them and enable them to detect dangerous chemicals or diagnose medical conditions with a touch.
Vstone, an Osaka-based technology firm, is organizing the world's first marathon for robots
. As many of you will already know, a marathon is 42 kilometers (or about 26 miles), and these little mechanical men are ready to run the whole thing.