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A robot sea turtle built to explore fin-based propulsion takes its first dip in the pool

In early October we took a look at the naro - tartaruga, a biomimetic robot based on sea turtles being built by researchers at ETH Zurich (the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology). It's a research platform that tests the concept of fin propulsion, and now we have a video of its first swim, which is surprisingly life-like.  Read More

Stanford's autonomous Audi TTS entering the second part of a chicane at Thunderhill Racewa...

Stanford's autonomous Audi TTS research vehicle is gaining on the performance of its human-piloted counterparts. In contrast to its slightly pedestrian romp up Pikes Peak back in 2010, the self-driving car known as Shelley has recently hit speeds of 120 mph and posted lap times only just behind those of expert race car drivers at Thunderhill Raceway in California.  Read More

A kite makes its maiden voyage at the test site in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania (Photo: © Fr...

Despite offering numerous advantages over its rotating brethren, most notably the ability to reach the high-speed winds found at higher altitudes, kite-based energy systems are yet to really get off the ground in a meaningful way. But things are looking up. Earlier this year, NASA revealed it is investigating ways to improve the aerodynamics and autonomous flight control of kites for power generation applications, and now Berlin-based wind energy developer NTS GmbH has teamed with the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation (IPA) to make their own kite energy system concept a reality.  Read More

Volvo's new traffic jam assistance system autonomously follows the car in front

There are few things more frustrating than crawling along in stop/start traffic. Volvo has now come up with a system designed to make such monotonous trips a little more tolerable. At the push of a button, the traffic jam assistance system will automatically follow the preceding vehicle in slow-moving lines of traffic traveling at speeds of under 50 km/h (31 mph).  Read More

A conceptual rendering of the completed naro - tartaruga robot

Well, we shouldn’t be surprised. Scientists have created swimming robotic versions of the cow-nosed ray, the jellyfish, the sunfish, the tuna, and just the generic “fish,” so why not the sea turtle? That’s what a group of scientists from the ETH Zurich research group are in the process of doing, and they’ve named it naro - tartaruga (the original naro was another robotic tuna). As it turns out, a couple of the sea turtle’s natural features make for a pretty good robot.  Read More

Autonomous driving would allow drivers to relax on trips (Image: Volvo)

The SARTRE (Safe Road Trains for the Environment) project that first hit the road in 2011 before conducting its first public road test earlier this year has now been completed. As well as finding that semi-autonomous “follow the leader” road train technology is mature enough for practical applications in the near future, the participating partners in the project have concluded that it could be integrated on conventional highways and operate in a mixed environment with existing road users.  Read More

The 'Solbot' optimizes the orientation of the solar panel in relation to the sun

Although solar trackers can significantly increase the energy output of solar cells by keeping them optimally aligned to the sun, installing them on all the panels at an installation can add significant expense and provides multiple points of failure. A new tracking system from QBotix avoids these problems by getting a robot to do the rounds of the solar installation throughout the day and adjust the panels at 40-minute intervals to ensure they are optimally facing the sun.  Read More

Scientists are designing autonomous 'coralbots,' that would work together to rebuild damag...

Scotland may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of coral reefs, but the deep waters west of the nation are indeed home to reefs not unlike those found in the tropics. Unfortunately, a commercial fishing technique known as bottom trawling regularly damages that coral, putting the reefs at risk. Now, scientists are working on a possible solution to the problem – swarms of small, autonomous coral-fixing robots.  Read More

Artist's concept of the ACTUV in action (Image: DARPA)

Submarine combat may seem like an obsolete relic from World War II films and Cold War thrillers, but the past 20 years have seen a growing number of increasingly quiet diesel-electric submarines turning up in some very unfriendly navies. In order to counter this threat, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded a contract to the Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) of McLean, Virginia to develop unmanned submarine hunters capable of operating for months on end without human intervention.  Read More

The Looj 330 sports new features and a more compact shape to help shift stubborn leaves an...

Purveyor of autonomous cleaning helpers and military hardware iRobot has announced the release of some new bots in the form of an updated Looj 330, which is designed to perform the unpleasant and potentially dangerous task of cleaning out gutters, and the entry-level Roomba 600 Series of indoor cleaning robots.  Read More

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