Highlights from the 2015 Geneva Motor Show

Autonomous

Ehang's Ghost Drone in action

It was just this June that we heard about the HEXO+ and AirDog drones, which were two of the first consumer multicopters to offer a Follow function – that's the ability to track the location of their user, and fly along above them. Since then, models including the Iris+ and Zano have come out with the same feature. Now, Chinese/American company Ehang is successfully raising production funds for its Follow-equipped GoPro-toting Ghost Drone. Developed in partnership with Duke University, not only is the quadcopter able to track and film its user, but it's also reportedly easier to fly than its competitors.  Read More

Bhuneshwar Prasad (left), Associate Professor S.K. Panda and Abhra Roy Chowdhury, holding ...

They may be slow on land, but when they're in the water, sea turtles are fast and maneuverable – qualities that are also desirable in underwater robots. Additionally, the robotic equivalent of a turtle's streamlined shell could be stuffed full of electronic components and batteries. It shouldn't come as a surprise, therefore, that both ETH Zurich and the ARROWS project have recently created their own turtle-bots. Now, the National University of Singapore has announced its own entry in the field, that can self-charge its batteries while at sea.  Read More

2014 saw the emergence of some truly innovative drone projects

2014 wasn’t the year that drones first entered the consumer lexicon, but it did see the notion of using these unmanned vehicles to our advantage become much more palatable. Package deliveries and carrying out conventional robotic tasks are some concepts that have defined the progress of drones in the past 12 months, but, as is typical of emerging technologies, the more their potential is realized the more they find uses in unexpected new applications. Let’s have a look over some of the year’s more surprising, yet significant, drone projects that promise to shake things up in exciting new ways.  Read More

DARPA is seeking a UAV that can operate in debris-strewn close quarters (Image: DARPA)

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) are the eyes in the skies for soldiers and disaster relief crews, but despite over a century of aviation progress, they still leave a lot to be desired and close quarters are very difficult for them to navigate on their own. To make UAVs more practical in debris-strewn areas, DARPA's Fast Lightweight Autonomy (FLA) program aims to develop algorithms that will allow autonomous fliers to negotiate obstacles as easily as a bird of prey.  Read More

The GhostSwimmer cruises the waters of Virginia Beach

Should you be swimming in the ocean sometime soon and spot a shark-like dorsal fin cutting through the water towards you, just relax – it might simply be a military robot, that's made to look like a shark. A US Navy team has recently been testing just such a device at its Joint Expeditionary Base East, in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Known as the GhostSwimmer, the robot was developed by Boston Engineering as part of the Navy's Silent NEMO project, which is aimed at creating nature-inspired unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs).  Read More

Rolls-Royce oX provides collision warnings and data

Rolls-Royce, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, and Aalto University are expanding on their ideas for a virtual bridge that could soon lead to a future where the line between manned and robotic ships becomes completely blurred. Combining automated ship systems and constant high-data level communications, it's part of what Rolls-Royce see as the "next major transition for the shipping industry."  Read More

The MOS/AUV approaches a target at Okayama University

Although it's tempting to refer to vehicle in the photo above as an ROV – a Remote-Operated Vehicle – the whole idea behind it is that it doesn't require an operator. Created by a team at Japan's Okayama University, the MOS/AUV (Move on Sensing/Autonomous Underwater Vehicle) is designed to find its own way along the bottom of the sea or a lake, performing various tasks as it does so.  Read More

The autonomous flying robot will soon be capable of independent navigation and inventory a...

Inventories are a necessary evil that need to be carried out at least once a year. Despite their necessity, they are also tedious, time consuming, labor intensive, and often involve businesses shutting their doors for whole days as they count how many unsold widgets are in the back room. The Fraunhofer Institute's InventAIRy Project plans to change that by developing a new flying robotic drone that not only takes over the drudgery of stock taking, but also acts as a new tool for record keeping and streamlining warehouse operations.  Read More

Amazon uses Kiva autonomous robots to bring the items required for an order to a staff mem...

From 1-Click shopping to the Fire phone, Amazon is known for its culture of innovation. Even its order fulfillment and logistics processes are highly refined, with talk of deliveries eventually being made by drones. Today, the firm has revealed how an army of robots runs its fulfillment centers.  Read More

The Andy Rover is designed to explore rough lunar terrain ( Photo: CMU)

Carnegie Mellon University has unveiled Andy, a four-wheeled unmanned rover designed to explore the rough terrain and recently discovered pits of the Moon. Developed in cooperation with Pittsburgh's Astrobotic Technology, the solar powered robot is CMU's entry for the US$20 million-plus Google Lunar XPrize, and may one day help pave the way toward permanent outposts on the Moon.  Read More

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