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Robotics

From left: the 2011 NWR 002 prototype, the 2013 commercially-ready LIGHBOT and the prototy...

There is no better example of the rapid rate of product development than NSK's move into the area of robotics. At IREX 2011, NSK showed a prototype robot designed to safely guide the visually-impaired, with a footprint of 520 x 660 mm (20 x 26 in) and weight of 40 kg (88 lb). This week, just two years later, NSK showed two versions its Lighbot guide robot that represent a 75 percent weight reduction and an 83 percent footprint reduction. The ingenious right-or-left-hand-drive interface has been both replaced and improved, and all other aspects of the latest bots are equal to or better than the original.  Read More

The proposed ROBINSPECT robot

For anyone who worries about being caught in a cave-in, you'll be glad to know that tunnels such as those found in subways or mountain roads are regularly checked for structural degradation. These tests are typically performed using the naked human eye, and require the tunnel to be closed to use for as long as the process takes. With this in mind, the European Union ROBINSPECT program is now developing a robotic tunnel inspection system, that should be both quicker and more thorough than human inspectors.  Read More

REEM-C takes its first steps inside PAL Robotics' headquarters

The United Arab Emirates, known for its lavish building projects like the Burj Khalifa, is also financing an equally ambitious robot project. PAL Robotics, based in Barcelona, Spain, was contracted to build a robot that could stand next to the likes of Honda's ASIMO. Now, after nearly a decade, the company has unveiled its third generation humanoid robot.  Read More

Toyota showcased its new torque servo module in a pair of compliant robot arms (Photo: Mik...

In the first decade of the new millennium, Toyota's Partner Robot program was known for its truly incredible humanoid robot band that could play the trumpet, trombone, tuba, drums, and even the violin. Gradually these projects, which were designed to entertain while demonstrating the deftness with which Toyota's robot hands could manipulate objects, gave way to more practical applications. The automotive giant was on hand at the International Robot Exhibition (IREX) 2013 to showcase its latest robotic innovations, including the Winglet, the Human Support Robot, and a new compliant robot arm.  Read More

Robugtix's T8X octopod robot will ship June 2014

Robugtix has been hard at work fulfilling orders for its T8 tarantula robot that debuted earlier this year, as well as showing off its lifelike motion engine in a new video. Now the company has also announced a much cheaper version of the robot called the T8X which can be pre-ordered for a fraction of the cost of the original.  Read More

The UNiMO Grace is a stylish Apple-esque armchair-on-wheels, while the Adventure model is ...

The tracked UNiMO 400 W EV drive-train debuted at IREX last week, promising new levels of personal mobility for wheelchair users. Both models of the Unimo wheelchair will be in production by the end of this month: the US$18,000 Unimo Grace and the US$10,000 Unimo Adventure, one a stylish armchair on wheels, the other a sport model for going places you cannot normally go in a wheelchair.  Read More

A couple of social trash box robots, on display in Tokyo at IREX 2013

Wouldn't it be great if we had robotic garbage cans that could move around on their own and pick up litter? Well, engineers from the Interaction and Communications Design Lab at Japan's Toyohashi University of Technology are part-way there. Their bots, however, ask people to pick up the trash for them.  Read More

As you can see, Shovelhead creates insects, fish and animals that look like they are alive...

If you are a geek-at-heart, there's likely no more loved artist than Yasuhito Udagawa (AKA Shovelhead). I photographed one of his exhibitions two years ago and it caused an avalanche of interest in his techno-mutant life-forms, so when he emailed me to let me know there was another exhibition on the last day of the International Robotics Expo, I was there!  Read More

SociBot-Mini, on display in Tokyo

Full-bodied humanoid robots are undeniably fascinating, but why pay for the lower part of the body if you don't need it? For that matter, why pay for the arms if you don't need them, either? That's the thinking behind the SociBot and SociBot-Mini interactive robots, which we just "met" at the International Robotics Exhibition.  Read More

Realityworks' RealCare Baby 3 is an electronic stand-in for the real thing

There's a popular educational exercise in which teens are required to take care of a bag of flour for several days, as if it's a baby. The idea is that by having to lug that bag around with them everywhere they go, while keeping it from getting damaged, the kids will realize how much responsibility is involved in raising an infant. As any parent will tell you, however, there's a lot more to baby-raising than just safely lugging them around. That's why products like Realityworks' RealCare Baby were created.  Read More

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