Photokina 2014 highlights

Robotics

Astrorobotic's concept will record data and send it back to earth with twin HD cameras

Forty years after Apollo 11 touched down on the moon, plans are afoot to revisit the site to see how the remains have stood up to four decades of radiation and micrometeorite bombardment. One vehicle that may well be used for this expedition is the third prototype lunar robot from Lunar X Prize entrant Astrobotic. The rover is one tough nut - it's designed to survive the blistering heat of the lunar ‘noontime extreme’, which sees temperatures reach 270 degrees Fahrenheit, as well as the minus 240 degree Fahrenheit temperatures of the lunar night.  Read More

The Einstein robot head performs some random facial movements as part of the learning proc...

Robots generally aren’t the most expressive of entities, but their faces are becoming increasingly realistic as the number of artificial muscles controlling them rises. Today, a highly trained person must manually set up these kinds of realistic robots so that the servos pull in the right combination to make specific facial expressions, but researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) are looking to automate the process by giving robots the ability to learn realistic facial expressions.  Read More

The ‘robo-bat’ skeleton (Photo: Gheorghe Bunget, North Carolina State University)

Researchers are increasingly looking to nature for design inspiration in a wide range of mechanical devices. Doing so allows them to draw on the millions of years of evolution that have resulted in designs offering superior performance and efficiency. Micro Aerial Vehicles (MAVs) is one field that has recognized the maneuverability and performance virtue of nature’s small flyers, with various attempts being made to mimic these designs and produce vehicles that outperform traditional fixed-wing or rotary-wing craft. We’ve seen the development of a tiny a ‘nano air vehicle’ inspired by the hummingbird, a UAV based on a Pterodactyl and a six-inch long robotic spy plane that, like this new design from North Carolina University, draws on the physical characteristics of a bat.  Read More

Rescue Robot 'Telemax' at Robocup 2009

Search and rescue robots (S&R robots) were put through their paces in two complex and realistic disaster scenarios as part of a special rescue robot supporting program at RoboCup 2009 – the robotics world championships - in Graz, Austria. In recognition of the potentially lifesaving uses of rescue robots, RoboCup 2009 promoted their development in the separate category “RoboCup Rescue”, building on the success of the RoboCup Soccer project through technical discussion forums of technical discussions and competitive evaluations for researchers and practitioners.  Read More

The flypaper leads the trapped fly towards its doom (Image: Auger-Loizeau)

Giving robots a taste for flesh might not seem like a great idea given that they’re probably going to rise up and enslave us in the next few decades. But that’s just what a couple of UK-based designers have done with their prototype flesh-eating robotic clock.  Read More

Ninomiya-kun, the book-reading robot

Too tired to read the little ones a bedtime story after a long day? Japanese researchers may have had the time-poor parent in mind when they developed Ninomiya-kun, a robot capable of reading aloud from that most ancient of random access mass storage devices - a book.  Read More

The Squse robotic hand serves up some sushi

Kyoto-based factory automation firm Squse has developed a robotic hand that is dextrous and delicate enough to handle sushi. The scarily lifelike hand is constructed of a polycarbonate skeleton covered by a skin of soft silicone. Its 22 pneumatically powered artificial muscles enable its fingers to move like a human hand and it has 20 different moves up its sleeve, ranging from a full-hand squeeze to a delicate two-finger pinch used to transfer sushi from one plate to another.  Read More

Research team member A. J. Rogers with the shrapnel-finding surgical robot

Bioengineers at Duke Univesity in North Carolina have developed a laboratory prototype of a robot that can locate and surgically extract shrapnel pieces from flesh without any kind of human supervision. Using 3-D ultrasound imaging as “eyes”, the tabletop robot was able to precisely locate tiny shards of metal and then successfully guide a needle to their exact location.  Read More

A robotic 'ferret' will help customs find drugs, weapons and people hidden in freight cont...

It won’t be cuddly, but it’ll certainly be efficient. The University of Sheffield is developing what it calls a cargo-screening ferret that uses a combination of laser and fiber-optic technology to sniff out the tiniest traces of drugs, weapons, explosives and even illegal immigrants.  Read More

RoBe:Do's Three software-ready autonomous robot

RoBe:Do Robotics has rolled its latest software-ready autonomous robot off the production line at its Colorado home base. Like its first two robotic offerings, RoBe:Do’s third robot, aptly named “Three”, comes fully assembled and ready for you to add the netbook of your choice to act as the robot’s brain... and making and delivering popcorn could be just the tip of the iceberg for this bot.  Read More

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