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Lunacy Robot Game could inspire a generation

January 4, 2009 Lunacy is an international seat-of-the-pants learning game with the promise to inspire a generation. At yesterday’s Kick Off, 1700 international teams were given the rules and a kit of parts - motors, batteries, a control system, and a mix of automation components – but no instructions. The students have six weeks to design, build and program their robotic athlete ready for play on the low-friction playing surface. In each 135 second match, the robots score points by picking up 9" balls and dropping them in trailers hitched to their opponents. Lunacy ticks all the boxes for building important life skills – collaborative learning and adapting on the fly under deadline conditions with measurable results. With 42,000 high-school students from as far afield as Brazil, Germany, Israel, Turkey and the Philippines, the FIRST Robotics Competition is an evolving engineering talent showcase with the potential to become a TV sport with the international appeal to rival F1 one day. FIRST also runs the FIRST LEGO League for 9-14 year-olds, and the Junior FIRST LEGO League for 6 to 9 year-olds. The aim of this life-changing program is to inspire young people to become individual economic stimulus packages and pursue opportunities in science and technology.  Read More

49-foot tall ASIMO rolls into California

Although first and foremost a platform for humanoid robotic development, Honda's ASIMO has increasingly found itself in a PR role in recent times - a World tour, conducting the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and a Disneyland stage show have all been on the agenda for the stair climbing, hand shaking bot. In its latest gig, a gargantuan 49-foot tall ASIMO float will greet onlookers at the upcoming Rose Parade in Pasadena, California.  Read More

RoMeLa's climbing HyDRAS robot

Researchers at the Robotics and Mechanisms Laboratory at Virginia Tech have designed a series of autonomous serpentine robots that are able to climb poles and inspect structures too dangerous or inaccessible for humans. The robots coil themselves around a beam and roll upward using an oscillating joint motion, gathering important structural data with cameras and sensors.  Read More

Dragon Runner Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle (SUGV)

Both in the air and on the ground, unmanned robotic systems have been deployed to battlefields in growing numbers over the past decade and it's safe to predict that these numbers will only grow in coming years. The reason is simple - they keep human beings out of the firing line. The latest example to join QinetiQ North America's TALON family is the versatile Dragon Runner Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle (SUGV) - a lightweight, portable modular robot which can be quickly configured for both reconnaissance and improvised explosive device (IED) disarmament.  Read More

The FEELIX GROWING project is aiming to provide robots with a working knowledge of human b...

Researchers estimate that body language makes up between 50-80% of communication, which means robots aren’t ready to become caregivers and companions until they get a good handle on nonverbal expression. To meet these challenges, a €2.5 million EU-funded project is developing robots that are capable of identifying different emotions based on facial expressions  Read More

The MechRC has 17 independently controllable servos.

Is this Megatron's love-child? The MechRC is a programmable, remote controlled robot with 17 independently controllable servos (points of articulation), each capable of up to 180 degrees of movement. This provides the bot with an extremely wide range of actions – and the database of 100 pre-programmed motions and sound can be expanded by using the included software to create new manoeuvres.  Read More

Six-inch bat spy
 Photo Credit: Eric Maslowsk

Micro Air Vehicles (MAVs) undoubtedly have the potential to revolutionize both military and civilian surveillance operations, and the quest to find the most efficient design for these airborne spies of the future is leading to all kinds of radical platforms being investigated. Several are derived from nature, where evolution has produced designs that out-strip the performance and efficiency of humanity's aerial achievements on a proportional scale. Even extinct examples like the pterodactyl are not immune from this scrutiny, but in this case, the inspiration comes from the only mammal naturally capable of flight - the bat.  Read More

After pulling an activation pin, the hardy robots can be thrown into place, or fired from ...

California’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has agreed to test remote-controlled, 1.2-pound surveillance robots in hostile prison situations. After pulling an activation pin, the hardy robots can be thrown into place, or fired from a tear-gas launcher.  Read More

CAD-Design of the I-SWARM robot platform 
 Image: I-SWARM

Hundreds of micro-robots will work together to carry out repairs inside machinery, explore deep-sea environments, and even colonize Mars according to predictions from the EU-funded I-SWARM project, which is developing centimeter-scale autonomous robots that co-operate like a colony of ants and therefore can compensate for the failure of individual members.  Read More

The robot plant

Not only are humanity's days as the dominant life form on the planet numbered – it seems plants might have to start looking over their shoulders as well. The robot research laboratory at Chonnam National University in Korea has developed a robotic plant that has humidifying, oxygen-producing, aroma-emitting, and kinetic functions.  Read More

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