Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Robotics

Researchers at Georgia Tech found that when assigned the task of teaching a robot to play ...

If Angry Birds is known for anything, it's an ability to keep youthful eyes glued to the screen for extended periods of time. But a new study conducted at Georgia Tech has shown that teaching a robot how to play the video game keeps kids slinging those wingless birds through the air for even longer, a finding that could help in the rehabilitation of cognitive and motor-skill disabilities.  Read More

Changing how orders are given to robotic joints has the potential to cut energy usage

Getting robots to carry out repetitive tasks precisely and untiringly is relatively easy. Getting them to do it in the most efficient way possible is another thing entirely. Unai Ugalde-Olea, lecturer in the Department of Electronics Technology of the UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country is working on a new way of controlling robot joints that promises energy savings of up to 40 percent by changing the way the robot handles instructions.  Read More

The University of Illionois has demonstrated a bio-robot built from a flexibly hydrogel sp...

If you're going to deploy robots in biological settings – for example, inside the body – it makes a lot of sense to build those robots out of actual biological body parts. Muscle, for example, is a very effective, biodegradable replacement for an electric actuator that can run in a nutrient-rich fluid without the need for any other power source. Bio-robotics experts in Illinois have demonstrated a walking bio-bot built from 3-D printed hydrogel and spinal muscle tissue that can "walk" in response to an electrical signal. Their next step will be trying to incorporate neurons that can get the bot walking in different directions when faced with different stimuli.  Read More

MIT researchers are developing extra robot limbs that can help out humans where an extra h...

Featured in comic books since 1963, Dr. Octopus, or "Doc Ock" is an enemy of Spiderman with four extra robotic arms attached to his back that assist him in his nefarious plans. That vision of humans with extra limbs – minus the supervillain part – is taking shape at MIT with researchers adding "supernumerary robotic arms" to assist with tasks that ordinary two-armed humans would find difficult.  Read More

BugJuggler is a gigantic 70 ft tall robot designed to juggle cars

BugJuggler is a 70 ft tall robot that its designers claim will hurl full-size cars into the sky and catch them again in mid-air. Designed to use a diesel generator, enormous hydraulic rams, and hydraulic accumulators to allow for rapid movements, BugJuggler will not only be impressively large, but exceptionally agile for its size.  Read More

'Ladybird' is an autonomous farm robot capable of conducting mobile monitoring of a variet...

Ladybirds are happily welcomed by gardeners into their yards, knowing that they will consume the most prolific plant pests like white flies, mites, and aphids. Imagine, then, how useful an autonomous, solar-powered, intelligent robotic ladybird could be on a farm. Enter the University of Sydney’s "Ladybird," not actually an eater of insect pests, but a robot capable of conducting mobile farm reconnaissance, mapping, classification, and detection of problems for a variety of different crops.  Read More

Robots have helped to create a lightweight, ultra-thin wooden exhibition hall (Photo: ICD/...

The Landesgartenschau Exhibition Hall in Stuttgart, Germany, is claimed to be the first building to have its core structure made entirely from interlocking timber sections created by robots. Made up of over 240 individual segments of beech plywood created using a robotic fabrication method, the 17 meter (55 ft) tall, 245 square meter (2,637 sq ft) structure required just 12 cubic meters (424 cubic feet) of timber to construct.  Read More

Crowdsourcing could help robots more quickly learn the best way to accomplish complicated ...

If robots are going to work alongside humans, the machines are going to need to swallow their pride and learn to ask for help. At least, that’s the thinking of computer scientists at the University of Washington (UW), who are working on ways for robots to crowdsource their problems when learning new tasks. If successful, this approach points the way toward future robots that are capable of asking for assistance to speed up their learning when it comes to figuring out how to carry out household tasks.  Read More

The ReWalk motorized exoskeleton, which has been available in the UK since 2012, has now b...

Following multiple clinical studies, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has cleared the way for the ReWalk to be sold for personal use in the US. This makes the ReWalk the first motorized exoskeleton designed for people with lower body paralysis due to spinal cord injury to be cleared for personal use in the US.  Read More

Otonaroid interacts with the public face-to-face (Photo: Miraikan)

Recent advances in robotics have included machines that can learn by having folks talk to them, or droids capable of reading human emotion. Most still look pretty much like motorized mannequins or variations on the Johnny 5 theme, though. Even advanced humanoid bots like Honda's ASIMO would stand out as distinctly non-human in a police line-up. Such things certainly can't be said of the lifelike (some might even say positively creepy) creations of Osaka University professor Hiroshi Ishiguro. Two of his latest androids have now joined the staff of Tokyo's Miraikan National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, and will act as announcer and science guide for visitors to a new permanent exhibition.  Read More

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