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Autonomous Vehicles

New York City-based robotics developer Falkor Systems is working on autonomous flying robots that could fly alongside extreme athletes, shooting video of their exploits in the process. Beyond that, however, the company envisions a day in which such machines may hover around everyday people, acting as their assistants and perhaps even becoming their “friends.” In a demonstration of how such a relationship could be possible, Falkor recently used an augmented AR Drone quadcopter to take part in a modern dance performance with a human partner. Read More
While companies like Google, BMW, Audi and Volkswagen pour millions into developing self-driving car technology with expensive components, 19-year-old Romanian high school student Ionut Budisteanu has designed an autonomous vehicle system that would cost just US$4,000. Budisteanu’s design took out the Gordon E. Moore Award in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair to pocket him a sweet $75,000. Read More
German automotive companies BMW and Continental have teamed up to develop self-driving car technology, or as they call it, an “electronic co-pilot” for cars. The main goal of the joint venture is to develop and test technologies that would usher in an era of highly automated driving on European freeways from 2020, with fully automated systems expected from 2025. Read More
Toyota, Honda, and General Motors have been toying with the concept of eco-friendly single-seater urban vehicles over the past few years, and Hitachi has taken notice. Although it may look like a miniature car, Hitachi's ROPITS is more like a robotic wheelchair designed to assist people with difficulty walking (i.e. Japan's growing elderly population). The key difference is that – unlike the concept vehicles demonstrated by the auto makers – ROPITS drives itself. Read More
Oxford University’s Mobile Robotics Group (MRG) has developed an autonomous navigation system for cars at a build cost of only £5,000 (US$7,700). Installed in a production Nissan LEAF, the robot car uses off the shelf components and is designed to take over driving while traveling on frequently used routes. Read More
If you’re in charge of a parts warehouse, a distribution center, or some other big building full of things that need to be moved around, the Adept Lynx might be just what you need. Made by California-based Adept Technology, the autonomous indoor vehicle (AIV) is able to find its own way as it carries cargo from point to point, within “challenging environments.” Read More

Audi has become the second recipient – and the first auto manufacturer – of a license to allow it to test autonomous vehicles on Nevada’s public roads. It follows in the tire tracks of Google, which was given the first self-driving license and exclusive red license plates last year, giving it the go ahead to test its modified Toyota Prius on the state’s roads. Read More

For some time now, engineers have been researching the possibility of equipping UAVs (unmanned air vehicles) with robotic arms. This week, DARPA announced that a successful test of just such an “armed” UAV has been performed. Read More

The Korean Atomic Energy Group and LIG Nex1 (an aerospace and defense subsidiary of LG Corp) have jointly developed what they are calling the world's first bird strike defense robot. Birds are a major headache around military air bases and civilian airports all over the world, as they can cause significant damage when they collide with aircraft or get sucked into engines. The robot is a six-wheeled unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) that uses a combination of directional acoustics and laser patterns to scare birds away. Read More
In the same way that we didn’t go straight from landline phones to smartphones, there are likewise going to be some intermediate steps between today’s manually-driven cars and tomorrow’s fully self-driving models. We’re already seeing some of those steps starting to pop up, in the form of things like Cadillac’s Super Cruise control, Volkswagen’s Temporary Auto Pilot, and Volvo’s traffic jam assistance system. Nissan’s latest contribution is its recently-announced Autonomous Emergency Steering System. Read More
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