2014 Paris Motor Show highlights

Autonomous

Vehicle sensors and cameras scan for pedestrians and vehicles, then trigger braking and st...

Volvo Car Group, known for building safe cars, has been busy expanding its autonomous portfolio. Last year Volvo finished its multi-vehicle “Safe Road Train” (SARTRE) program in Europe with reasonable success. Next week Volvo will again bolster its autonomous program with its self-parking concept car.  Read More

The iRobot Ava 500 in an informal conversation

Business grows more global everyday and what was once done by a single corporation is now more likely to be spread over many small businesses. Ideally, managers and remotely-based employees would like a virtual presence at a location, but telepresence robots are often more like smartphones on remote-controlled sticks, so they lack a feeling of personal presence and naturalism. At the InfoComm 2013 Conference and Expo in Orlando, Florida, iRobot, in collaboration with Cisco, have unveiled the Ava 500; a telepresence robot that combines auto navigation and a high-definition screen for a more natural telepresence.  Read More

The Firefighting Robot is designed to create 3D virtual reality maps of the interiors of b...

“Quick, send in the robots!” Far-fetched as it may sound, fire-fighting robots are indeed coming closer and closer to common use. While some of them are intended to actually put out the flames, others are designed more to scout out structures before human firefighters enter, letting those people know how to safely get around and where to concentrate their efforts. One of the latest machines in the second category is the self-balancing Firefighting Robot (FFR), being developed at the University of California, San Diego.  Read More

One of Prof. Mohseni's 'hurricane drones'

When we think of aircraft that study hurricanes, most of us probably either picture powerful manned airplanes that fly straight through them, or perhaps unmanned drones that fly safely over them. The University of Florida’s Prof. Kamran Mohseni has something else in mind, however. He’s developing tiny unmanned aircraft – and submarines – that will be swept up with the hurricane, gathering data on the strength and path of the storm as they go.  Read More

Makani Power's Wing 7 prototype Airborne Wind Turbine (AWT) will now benefit from the back...

Having already put its Google Wallet where its mouth by backing a solar power tower plant in California to the tune of US$168 million, Google has now turned to wind power. According to a report from Bloomberg Businessweek, the search giant has acquired Makani Power, a California-based startup whose Airborne Wind Turbine (AWT) technology first caught our interest in 2011.  Read More

X-47B leaving the flight deck after a touch-and-go landing (Image: US Navy by Mass Communi...

On Friday May 17, the US Navy's X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstrator took another historic step as it conducted its first touch-and-go landings on the nuclear aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush off the coast of Virginia. This maneuver is a critical achievement in the Navy’s program to develop an autonomous, unmanned, jet-powered combat aircraft capable for operating from a carrier.  Read More

X-47B  flies over the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) (Photo: US  Navy cour...

Naval aviation history was made today, as an autonomous unmanned aircraft took off from a US Navy nuclear aircraft carrier in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Virginia. The X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System demonstrator (UCAS-D) took to the air from the USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) and is part of a program to develop carrier-based unmanned combat aircraft capable of carrying out missions according to pre-programmed instructions rather than being under constant control by a ground-based pilot.  Read More

An iRobot PackBot navigates a school, in a demonstration of the Cognitive Patterns system

It’s sometimes easy to forget that for all their human-like qualities, robots are in fact machines. While some systems allow them to recognize basic objects, they still don’t necessarily make sense of what they’re looking at – they might see and recognize a box, for instance, but what does the presence of a box suggest to them? Now, researchers at Massachusetts-based engineering firm Aptima are developing a system known as Cognitive Patterns. It allows robots and humans to collaborate on building the robots’ understanding of the world, thus allowing them to operate on their own more effectively.  Read More

A coralbot prototype that the research team hopes to further develop

Since humans are responsible for much of the damage to coral reefs, it makes sense that we should try and help repair them. That’s exactly what a team from the Herriot-Watt University’s Centre for Marine Biodiversity and Biotechnology is attempting to do with the development of underwater “coralbots,” which we covered last year. Now anyone can add their support to this worthy effort with the launch of a Kickstarter campaign that will help make the robots a reality.  Read More

COMAN stays on its feet despite being pushed around by its human masters

We've seen robots optimized for stability before, but where, for example, Dr. Guero's modified Kondo KHR-3HV could withstand the odd gentle prod with a finger, the Italian Institute of Technology's COMAN is apparently made of sterner stuff, remaining vertical in the face of rather more determined jostling thanks to its sensor-equipped motorized joints.  Read More

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