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Autonomous


— Drones

Cirque du Soleil and ETH Zurich collaborate on human/drone performance

By - September 22, 2014 8 Pictures
Fans of the Disney classic Fantasia will no doubt remember the Sorcerer's Apprentice segment of that film, in which a hapless Mickey Mouse accidentally brings an army of mops to life. Well, Cirque du Soleil has teamed up with ETH Zurich and spinoff group Verity Studios to create a somewhat similar video entitled Sparked – instead of mops, however, it features a fleet of lampshade-clad quadcopters. Read More
— Robotics

Low-cost autonomous robots replicate swarming behavior

By - September 21, 2014 3 Pictures
It may sound a touch like the plot of a horror movie, but tiny robotic swarms have been unleashed – albeit in the controlled environment of a scientific lab. The development comes courtesy of computer scientists at the University of Lincoln, who, with help from researchers at Tsinghua University in China, have created Colias, a low-cost autonomous micro-robot that in large numbers replicates the behavior of swarming honeybees. Read More
— Space

NASA's MAVEN spacecraft prepares for orbital insertion

By - September 19, 2014 4 Pictures
Mission operators working from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center are undergoing final adjustments for orbital insertion of the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) spacecraft, due to take place September 21. Achieving a stable orbit around the Red Planet would be the culmination of a 10-month voyage, during which the robotic explorer traveled 442 million miles (711 million km) after having ridden into space in November 2013 atop an Atlas V rocket. Read More
— Robotics

Scrobby the autonomous solar panel-scrubbing robot

By - September 16, 2014 7 Pictures
Solar panels need regular cleaning to ensure they are working at their optimum efficiency, and spraying them with the hose from the ground or relying on a heavy downpour won't necessarily get the job done. Like the windows on your house, they need to be scrubbed and polished for maximum effect. Enter Scrobby, a solar-powered, autonomous robot prototype designed to keep domestic solar panels clean and clear. Read More

NAO robot can now drive its own car

As far as consumer humanoid robots go, Aldebaran Robotics' NAO is certainly one of the more capable. Among other things, it features a two-camera computer vision system, a sonar distance sensor, two infrared emitters and receivers, nine tactile and eight pressure sensors. Now, the li'l bot can also drive a car – if that car is its new miniature electric BMW Z4. Read More
— Drones

Flirtey delivery drone startup spreads its wings

By - September 3, 2014 5 Pictures
Drone company Flirtey first caught our attention last year when it teamed up with fellow Australian startup Zookai, promising schoolbooks delivered by drone. Almost twelve months on, CEO Matt Sweeney has secured a partnership to conduct high-tech testing at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) and is eyeing off New Zealand as a testbed to grow his business. So how does a startup hinged on the speculative concept of drone delivery navigate its way through a technological and regulatory minefield? We spoke with Sweeney on his plans to take Flirtey global. Read More
— Robotics

NASA's "swarmies" robots would team up to explore alien worlds

By - August 27, 2014 6 Pictures
A collection of autonomous robots designed to scuttle around on distant planets looking for resources and material in much the same way that members of insect colonies do on Earth are currently being tested by NASA engineers. The robots, dubbed ‘swarmies’, are designed to individually survey an area, signal the others when they have found something of value, and then divide up the task of collecting the material and returning it to their base. Read More
— Environment

Autonomous mini helicopters hunt down invasive weeds from the air

By - August 26, 2014 10 Pictures
The sheer density of the rainforests in Australia's far-north creates a slight problem for local conservationists. With incursions by invasive plants posing a threat to the native flora, inaccessibility for people makes it a difficult and time-consuming task to monitor the region. Now researchers from the CSIRO have developed two mini helicopters capable of hunting down the dangerous weeds from the air, significantly reducing the resources needed to preserve local plant life. Read More
— Drones

MIT algorithm lets delivery drones monitor their health in real-time

By - August 25, 2014 2 Pictures
The prospect of delivery drones brings with it a few notable issues. Beyond visions of colliding rotor blades and unsolicited package drops lies another problem: the huge amount of computational power needed to take into account real world uncertainties, such as strong winds, limited battery life and navigational errors, in order to provide a reliable delivery service. This has been the focus of new study from MIT, with a team of researchers devising a new algorithm said to massively reduce the level of computation required, enabling the drone to monitor its "health" in real time. Read More
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