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— Space

NASA Asteroid Grand Challenge hits the soggy and uncertain road running

On June 18, the NASA Asteroid Grand Challenge was announced to a flood of media inattention. This was probably to be expected, as NASA actually said very little about it. Maybe so as to not attract the ire of forces in the US Congress that are trying to shut down the largest portion of this Grand Challenge; namely the capture and relocation of a seven-meter (23 ft) asteroid to a stable lunar orbit for study and as a practice site for asteroid exploration and exploitation. We've dug up the formal Request for Information (RFI) associated with the Grand Challenge, which gives a better idea of where NASA wants to put its money. Read More
— Automotive

Robots take a pounding for Ford test drivers

Self-driving cars seem like they’ll be on our roads any day now, but what about self-testing cars that can drive themselves around insanely destructive tracks? Engineers at Ford’s Michigan Proving Grounds in Romeo, Michigan, say that they've come up with the industry’s first robotic test system designed to drive trucks and vans over roads that are intended to put a decade of wear on a van in around three months. Read More
— Architecture

Porsche Design Tower elevator deposits car and driver inside their luxury apartment

If you consider your car to be a work of art, then you can have it on display it in your living room ... if you live in one of the exclusive oceanfront apartments within Miami's Porsche Design Tower, that is. The Porsche Design brand has branched into architecture, and aims to give a new meaning to the term "drive in" by using three robotic elevators that deliver both the driver and their car right into the home. Read More
— 3D Printing

Mataerial 3D printer builds gravity-defying structures directly onto walls

Earlier this year, we covered the 3Doodler, a pen that lets users sketch 3D objects with plastic filament, almost like a 3D printer. It's a fun little gadget, but what if someone made a device that offers similar freedom, except it built objects over 10 times larger? It might look something like the Mataerial 3D printer, which uses a robotic arm and quick-solidifying material to form rigid, free-flowing structures on almost any surface, even vertical ones. Read More
— Military

Northrop Grumman's CUTLASS UGV ready to tackle hazardous situations

The arrest of one of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects was carried out, in part, with the help of a remote controlled robot. Such an operation highlights the growing uses of unmanned ground vehicles (UGV) in anti-terrorist and other operations. Northrop Grumman Corporation’s CUTLASS robot, developed by its division in Coventry, U.K. is designed to provide remote handling and surveillance of hazardous threats and is intended to replace British Army’s Wheelbarrow robot for bomb disposal. Read More
— Medical

Touch Bionics introduces app-controlled prosthetic hand

Whichever marketing genius came up with the Apple catchphrase, "There's an app for that," has a lot to answer for – or brag about. It's heard so often these days that it’s become a cliché. Touch Bionic’s i-limb ultra revolution robotic artificial hand gives yet another reason to repeat the phrase. It’s linked to a smartphone app, which allows for greater control of the hand, including the ability to program it to suit the wearer’s personal needs. Read More

Robotic bulls promote Korea's annual festival

South Korea's Cheongdo county is home to a famous bullfighting festival, but like many pastoral traditions its popularity has been waning over the years. What better way to modernize its image and attract some tourists than with some crazy robots? A team from the Korea Institute of Robot and Convergence was tasked with developing them, and now a year and five months later – and a budget of US$400,000 – the robots have been unveiled to the public. Read More
— Robotics

Hitachi's ROPITS tablet-controlled, self-driving urban vehicle

Toyota, Honda, and General Motors have been toying with the concept of eco-friendly single-seater urban vehicles over the past few years, and Hitachi has taken notice. Although it may look like a miniature car, Hitachi's ROPITS is more like a robotic wheelchair designed to assist people with difficulty walking (i.e. Japan's growing elderly population). The key difference is that – unlike the concept vehicles demonstrated by the auto makers – ROPITS drives itself. Read More
— Science

Robotic bat wing reveals flight secrets of bats

Recently, we've seen a robotic ostrich. Now, there’s a robot bat – or at least, part of one. Joseph Bahlman, a graduate student at Brown University, with the help of Professors Kenneth Breuer and Sharon Swartz, has developed a robotic bat wing that mimics the ligaments, skin and structural supports of the real thing. The purpose of the motorized plastic bat is to gain a better understanding of how bats are engineered and fly. Read More