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Autonomous

Designing a robot that can convincingly move like a member of the animal kingdom is a much more difficult prospect than merely building something that has the outward appearance of one. Some of the best examples of both have come from the engineers at Festo, including a herring gull named SmartBird and a bit of a bounder known as the BionicKangaroo. As a taste of things to come at next month's Hannover Messe trade show in Germany, the company has now revealed three more biomimetic creations: a small colony of ants, a gripper modeled on a chameleon's tongue and some fine flyers in the shape of some big blue butterflies. Read More
In anticipation of more ambitious planetary missions, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, in collaboration with Masten Space Systems in Mojave, California, has recently been testing new landing technologies using an Autonomous Descent and Ascent Powered-flight Testbed (ADAPT). Aimed at developing new systems for landing on Mars and other planets with much greater precision, a new imaging landing system and algorithm were tested using the demonstration vehicle on two successful flights. Read More
Though the Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) Dream Chaser spaceplane was kicked out of the running to ferry crew to the ISS, a variation on the craft may still end up visiting the station. As part of its bid to win NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services 2 (CRS2) contract, SNC has unveiled an unmanned autonomous version of Dream Chaser to carry cargo into orbit. Read More
Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk has a complicated outlook when it comes to the future of "smart" machines. He's warned about the dangers of strong artificial intelligence, but he's all-in on the lesser forms of artificial smarts, like those at the core of Teslas. He's also bullish on self-driving cars, and this week Musk went so far as to declare that they may completely replace the cars we drive today. Read More
It may not be as glamorous as building vehicles that go faster, fly higher or shoot more beautiful images, but making drones less likely to crash into walls and people's faces is pretty critical to advancing the technology all the same. One company working on this problem is the team at Panoptes, which has just launched a Kickstarter campaign for eBumper4, an obstacle avoidance system that can be slapped on two of the more popular consumer drones to stop them running into things. Read More
DJI's US$1100 Phantom 2 Vision+ is the best selling camera drone on the market – and with good reason. It's a relatively affordable, relatively friendly and relatively easy to fly quadcopter that arrives nearly fully assembled and is easy enough for a beginner to operate straight out of the box, even if we recommend you fly something cheaper first to get the hang of things. It has a decent quality, tilt-controllable camera that shoots 1080p HD video footage and 14 megapixel photos, and the camera delivers smooth footage thanks to a multi-axis stabilizing gimbal. But it has a bunch of other tricks up its sleeve. Gizmag spends a few weeks with the latest 2015 version of the #1 consumer camera drone. Read More

As we all know, having lots of cars littering your workplace can be a hazard and a barrier to productivity. Conscious of this, Audi has enlisted some robots to tidy all their spare cars out of the way until they're needed. What's more, the "Ray" robots get on with it without bothering anyone. Read More

There's little doubt that drones will play an increasingly prevalent role in our skies in the future, so any aircraft manufacturer that wants to stay ahead of the curve is either already building them, has some in the pipeline, or is madly trying to get them up and flying. Piaggio Aerospace is not a newcomer to the game of flight by any stretch of the imagination, being one of the oldest airplane manufacturers in the world. It is, however, perceived as more of a civilian and business aircraft manufacturer. But it is determined to make its mark in the lucrative defense and security sector and the successful maiden test flight of its Prototype 001 P.1HH HammerHead UAS is an important step down that path. Read More
Creating swarms of soft, robotic hands that can safely dissolve within a living body once they've performed surgical procedures or delivered drugs just got a step closer thanks to work done by John Hopkins University scientists. They've created minute biodegradable microgrippers by adding stiff polymers containing magnetic nanoparticles to soft hydrogels, allowing them be magnetically guided to any location in the body. Read More
In 2005, Boston Dynamics unveiled its robot "mule," Big Dog. Now it has a smaller, nimbler littermate called Spot that can take a good kick. Weighing in at 160 lb (72.5 kg), the electrically-powered, hydraulically-actuated, four-legged robot made its debut in a YouTube video released by the company on Tuesday. Read More
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