Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Manipulation

The Bimanual Dexterous Robotics Platform equipped with Modular Prosthetic Limbs (both deve...

A new bomb disposal robot developed at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) is blurring the line between advanced prosthetics and robotics. Rather than building arms and hands from scratch specifically for the robot, the Bimanual Dexterous Robotics Platform (BDRP) is equipped with artificial limbs designed for amputees. The combination is relatively unique, and provided the team with a secondary use for the Modular Prosthetic Limb (MPL) it developed for the DARPA Revolutionizing Prosthetics program.  Read More

DARPA's ARM program hand is flexible enough to pick up a basketball...

Back when DARPA first announced its Autonomous Robotic Manipulation (ARM) program in 2010, the average cost of a military-grade robot hand was around US$50,000. That's expensive even by the US military's standards – especially for something that is bound to be in close contact with explosives – which is why the hardware team of the ARM program tasked participants with developing a reliable low-cost hand. Now, thanks to work by iRobot (yes, the company that makes the Roomba robotic vacuum) and researchers at Harvard and Yale, the ARM program has a surprisingly effective new hand to play with that costs just $3,000 (in batches of 1,000 or more).  Read More

HERB brandishes a knife in a futile attempt to separate cookie from creme

The dream of an intelligent robot butler that can do the household chores may still be decades away, but a team of roboticists at Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute is doing their part to make it a reality. HERB – the Home Exploring Robotic Butler – is one of dozens of robots to come out of CMU's Personal Robotics lab, and its latest trick is separating Oreo cookies in a response to Nabisco's Cookie vs. Creme challenge.  Read More

Boston Dynamics' quadruped robot BigDog grabs a cinder block from the floor using its new ...

Boston Dynamics' BigDog may have already been replaced by the beefier LS3, but that doesn't mean it's totally obsolete. Today the company unveiled a version of the quadruped equipped with an arm where a head (or tail) would go. As can be seen in the following video, it's powerful enough to lift and toss a heavy cinder block.  Read More

While at MIT, Robot Rebuilt's founder Torres-Jara built a robot with highly sensitive hand...

Robot manipulators – or hands, as we like to call them – come in all shapes and sizes. Some, like those developed for Willow Garage's PR2, have just two fingers. Others have three, four, or five fingers – and some manage to lift objects with none at all. Now, an MIT spin-off called Robot Rebuilt is hitting up Boston venture capital firms to develop a manipulator with human-like sensitivity.  Read More

Computer scientists have developed software that can make gigapixel images available for e...

Computer scientists from the University of Utah have developed computer software that allows editing of "extreme resolution" image files in a matter of seconds, a process that could previously have taken hours. Whereas existing editing suites require the full gigapixel image to be loaded into a computer's memory before manipulation can begin, the new development draws a lower resolution preview image from an externally-stored image into the editing screen. Users are said to benefit from being able to make image-wide modifications in seconds rather than hours and on devices normally not nearly powerful enough for such things.  Read More

Both color and saturation can be controlled

Rather than using e-paper technology just for displays, the research arm of Dutch technology company Philips Electronics has developed a relatively cheap, light, thin and energy efficient means of turning the whole of the surface of a device into a digital canvas. E-skin technology could be used to change the color of a mobile phone when a call comes in, alter the appearance of a kettle when the water is boiling or even be applied to wallpaper so you can redecorate your room at the flick of a switch.  Read More

Karen Braun, Xerox color research scientist, helped develop a natural language that allows...

If you’re not a graphic designer, you may have struggled in the past to get your personal photos looking their best when relying on your printer’s color adjustment settings. Complex color wheels, sliders, brightness and contrast editors, and highlight tools all look handy – until you try to use them. Xerox has devised Natural Language Color Editing technology that allows you to adjust the colors in your printed documents by accessing plain English phrases. A drop-down Color By Words menu on your computer offers phrases like: ‘Make the blues a lot more vibrant’, which will then do just that across the entire document or image. Combining words can form thousands of different phrases to deliver the results you want. You can watch the demo video below or test drive the technology for yourself via the link at the end of this story.  Read More

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