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Autonomous

Robotics

Robot developed to perform ballast tank inspections on ships

In order to maintain a consistent buoyancy as their cargo loads change, ocean-going ships pump seawater in and out of their ballast tanks. Needless to say, that salty water isn't exactly the least-corrosive liquid in the world. That's why crews of inspectors regularly have to go inside those steel tanks, to check for damage. Thanks to the German/Dutch RoboShip project, however, autonomous robots may soon be performing the task. Read More

Drones

The Mind4 could take auto-tracking drones to new heights

Among the swarm of consumer drones to emerge this year, a number have been aimed squarely at action sports devotees. What defines these vehicles is a tracking feature that enables the drone to autonomously follow athletes from above, but these generally require the user to carry a smartphone to communicate their GPS position. Streaming from a built-in camera to a smartphone app, the Mind4 drone instead allows users to select any object to follow onscreen, a feature that could lead to new possibilities in aerial drone photography. Read More

Aircraft

Quadcopter and unmanned helicopter could work together to fight forest fires

You've gotta hand it to Kaman's K-MAX UAS unmanned helicopter ... it's been used to deliver cargo in a combat zone, it's set altitude and payload weight records for airdrops, and it's been part of an autonomous air/ground mission. Now it's teamed up with a quadcopter in an exercise which suggests that the two could be used to fight forest fires, without endangering human pilots. Read More

Automotive

Afkar electric cars will drive short distances autonomously

A team of engineers, mathematicians, and computer scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA are developing a robotic system for electric cars that can independently find its way around unknown spaces, navigating around obstacles in order to find its goal. It is hoped that it will soon be capable of finding a parking space or charging station and parking there, safely without a single scratch.Read More

Drones

senseFly's eXom drone uses visual and ultrasonic sensors for precision flight

Swiss company senseFly is best known for its fixed-wing industrial drones, such as the eBee and swinglet CAM. Parrot, on the other hand, has made its name with its consumer quadcopters. So, now that Parrot has owned senseFly for a couple of years, what's the result? The new senseFly eXom quadcopter, which uses multiple visual and ultrasonic sensors to avoid obstacles and maintain precise autonomous flight. Read More

Drones

Bizzby begins trials of its peer-to-peer drone delivery service

It's hard not to get caught up in the romance of delivery drones, especially when start-ups keep producing spiffy promotional videos set in a fantastical land of airborne courier services. But underneath all this hoopla, progress is certainly being made. London-based Bizzby Sky has begun trials of its autonomous drone delivery service, claiming it is capable of shipping small objects at the touch of a smartphone button. Read More

Robotics

Lowe's trials robot sales assistants

In the near future, you might be surprised to visit to the giant hardware store in your town and find yourself greeted by a chatty robot rather than a human sales assistant. A harbinger of this age of robotic shopping is being trialled with two Oshbot robot sales assistants at an Orchard Supply Hardware store in San Jose, California. Built by Lowe’s Innovation Labs and Silicon Valley technology company Fellow Robots using "science fiction prototyping," the OSHbots are designed to not only identify and locate merchandise, but to speak to customers in their own languages.Read More

VR

Measurable virtual reality reveals robots' intentions

Imagine if you were trying to develop an autonomous robot, and it continually made a mistake but you couldn't tell why. Ultimately, you might end up having to review all the lines of code that made up its programming, hoping that the error would just jump out at you. In order to avoid such scenarios, MIT's Ali-akbar Agha-mohammadi and Shayegan Omidshafiei have created a system known as measurable virtual reality (MVR). It projects a robot's perceptions and intentions onto the floor, so that designers can see what it's thinking. Read More

Drones

In a heartbeat: Ambulance Drone designed to cut cardiac arrest response times

If there's anything we can take from the barrage of delivery drones to emerge recently, its that the technology has the potential to transport objects with unprecedented efficiency. Graduate student Alec Momont from Holland's Delft University of Technology is looking to tap into this ability to reduce emergency response times to cardiac arrest incidents. His Ambulance Drone prototype carries a defibrillator to the scene and promises to dramatically increase the rate of survival.Read More

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