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Underwater model of a ship's propeller created using algorithms developed by MIT researche...

In addition to human divers equipped with sonar cameras, the U.S. Navy has also trained dolphins and sea lions to search for bombs on and around vessels. All these methods are expensive and can’t always deliver the best performance in all environments. Robots would seem to be the obvious answer and underwater robots have been the focus of much research and development in recent years. Now researchers at MIT have developed new algorithms to vastly improve the navigation and feature-detecting capabilities of these robots.  Read More

The system developed at Langley flies a kite in a figure-8 pattern to power a generator on...

Currently, land-based tower wind turbines are the dominant source of wind power, but they take up a lot of space and generally need to be placed in high visibility areas, such as the tops of hills or ridges. They are also located close to the ground, where friction from the Earth’s surface slows the wind and increases its turbulence, negatively affecting the efficiency of the turbines. NASA engineers are looking at technologies that would help airborne wind power systems, capable of generating much more power, get off the ground.  Read More

The Freestyle Semiconductor Mechatronics Robot with its 32-bit RISC microprocessor board (...

A hundred years ago, the state-of-the-art of automotive technology was being pushed forward as quickly by shade-tree mechanics as it was by formal industrial R&D. To paraphrase John Steinbeck: "Two generations of Americans knew more about the planetary system of gears than the solar system of stars." The current situation in robotics could be seen in a similar light - open source hardware and software provide very similar tools and capabilities to hobbyists and robotics start-up company alike. To ease entry into the field, Freescale Semiconductors has just introduced FSLBOT, which provides the basic hardware and software for development of a walking, sensor-laden robot starting at only US$200.  Read More

The ESA's Seeker rover being put through its paces in Chile's Atacama Desert (Photo: ESA)

With remote control of rovers on Mars out of the question due to radio signals taking up to 40 minutes to make the round trip to and from the Red Planet, the European Space Agency (ESA) has developed a vehicle that is able to carry out instructions fully autonomously. The ESA team recently tested their Seeker full-scale rover in Chile where the rover was able to chart its own course through the Mars-like Atacama Desert.  Read More

Clean lines, simple design. John Deere's new E5

The options continue to expand for those of us who'd rather sit on a garden lounge than tackle the task of cutting copious tracts of lawn. Earlier this week we looked at Bosch's foray into the robo-mower market, now it's time for a closer look at John Deere's autonomous offering - the all-weather TANGO E5.  Read More

The EPFL UAV rights itself after a fall

Researchers from the Laboratory for Intelligent Systems at Switzerland’s EPFL federal research institute were inspired by the resilience of flying insects, and set out to replicate it in a miniature unmanned aerial vehicle. They succeeded, creating a UAV that can crash into things, fall down, then right itself and get back in the air.  Read More

Bosch has introduced its new robotic lawnmower, the Indego

Well, the Auto-Mower, Robby Garden XP, Evolution, and Robomow now have another competitor to content with – last month, Bosch launched its Indego autonomous lawnmower. Like existing “robo-mowers,” this one handles the cutting of the grass without human intervention, while its owner presumably lies nearby in a hammock with an iced tea and says things like “Now this is the life!”. According to Bosch, however, it also has a few features that make it special.  Read More

A research team from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology has modified a commercial...

Researchers from RMIT in Melbourne, Australia have developed a flying running companion called Joggobot. The system uses the built-in camera on a commercially-available Parrot AR Drone quadrocopter to track the position of a jogger, and fly a few feet out in front. While the current version has some serious limitations, there is huge potential for the development of a fully interactive training partner or coach in the very near future.  Read More

Boeing's Phantom Eye unmanned autonomous aircraft made its first flight on June 1st

After four years of development, Boeing’s liquid hydrogen-powered Phantom Eye unmanned autonomous aircraft made its first flight last Friday. It took place at Edwards Air Force Base in California, with the dual-propeller-driven aircraft lifting off of its launch cart at 6:22am PST.  Read More

The autonomously controlled Volvo convoy takes part in the first demonstration of SARTRE t...

The automobile has been with us for more than a century and while road laws, traffic management and automotive technology in general have constantly evolved during that time, the act of driving remains essentially the same - it's all up to the person behind the wheel. That's what makes the SARTRE (Safe Road Trains for the Environment) project so significant - it represents the beginning of a new era where the organized chaos of individual drivers can be blunted by a semi-autonomous "follow-the-leader" approach that has clear benefits for road safety, congestion and vehicle fuel consumption ... not to mention being a bonus for those of us who would rather read the paper than concentrate in the road ahead. As demonstrated by a platoon of Volvos driving automatically along a public motorway outside Barcelona recently, this reality may be closer than you think.  Read More

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