From leaping over obstacles to pulling objects thousands of times their own weight,
robots are great at many things. What they're not so good at is working
as an autonomous team in an unfamiliar setting – until now, that is. A
team of researchers from MIT has developed an algorithm that streamlines
the way robots collaborate on construction tasks, significantly cutting
down planning time.
The last time we heard from the researchers working on MIT's robotic cheetah project, they had untethered their machine to let it bound freely across the campus lawns. Wireless and with a new spring in its step, the robot hit speeds of 10 mph (16 km/h) and could jump 13 in (33 cm) into the air. The quadrupedal robot has now been given another upgrade in the form of a LIDAR system and special algorithms, allowing it to detect and leap over obstacles in its path.
Starting in April 2011, the European Union CoCoRo (Collective Cognitive
Robots) research consortium has been developing three varieties of
autonomous underwater robots that school together like fish. By doing
so, the little bots can share and learn from each others' "knowledge" of
their environment, acting as a collective cognitive system that's
smarter than any one of its individual parts.
In nature, you're not likely to ever see a bird get a piggyback ride from a cockroach and then take off from its back. But in the world of bio-inspired robotics, such things can and do happen. Researchers from the UC Berkeley's Biomimetic Millisystems Lab have successfully demonstrated a cooperative launching system that puts a lightweight ornithopter on the back of its VelociRoACH robotic carpet crawler for a short run before the H2Bird takes to the air.
We hear plenty of discussion about robots taking over our jobs, so it's a
refreshing change to hear about a robot designed to create them
instead. Its name is Nobot, and what makes this machine unique is that
it's largely controlled remotely by a human being rather than by a set
of software algorithms.
DARPA has announced a new program designed to harness expertise from smaller sources of innovation, routinely overlooked by large agencies. Looking to small businesses and individuals, the agency hopes to undertake a series of cost-effective projects that will deliver new robotics capabilities to warfighters, helping to keep them ahead of the technological curve.
Ants have a reputation as the hard workers of the animal kingdom, in part because they can lug around impressively heavy loads with respect to their size. But tiny new robots being developed at Stanford University are giving them a run for their money with the ability to pull up to 1,800 times their own weight.
On June 5 and 6, the 2015 DARPA Robotic Challenge (DRC) Finals will take place at Fairplex in Pomona, California. Open to the public, it will see 25 international teams compete for US$3.5 million in prizes as part of an effort to develop robots for disaster relief. Here's what to expect.
When surgeons are trying to operate on hard-to-reach organs, they'll
often have to make multiple incisions to get at the area from different
angles, or use tools such as retractors to pull other tissue out of the
way. A team of researchers from Italy's Sant'Anna School of Advanced
Studies, however, is developing an alternative – a flexible octopus arm-inspired tool that can squirm its way between organs, then hold them back while simultaneously operating.
Until now, rehabilitation exoskeletons have generally been one-armed, and haven't been of much help in providing the sort of two-arm training that many patients need to recover coordination for carrying out daily tasks. Researchers at the Cockrell School of Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin have now developed Harmony, a two-armed, robotic exoskeleton that uses mechanical feedback and sensor data to provide therapy to patients with spinal and neurological injuries.