Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Robotic

Wheel scuff mark made by Curiosity to expose fresh soil for collection (Image: NASA/JPL-Ca...

Scooping up a handful of dirt may seem simple, but for a robot operating on another planet, it’s a major operation. NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is making itself ready to collect its first soil sample at an area called “Rocknest.” The preparations involve testing the nuclear-powered rover’s motorized scoop and cleaning out its Chemistry and Mineralogy (ChemMin) and Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) laboratories of any terrestrial contaminants before receiving soil samples.  Read More

The RS1-T2 Thermite firefighting robot

Howe and Howe Technologies of Waterboro, Maine, has unveiled the firefighter of tomorrow called the Thermite RS1-T2. Based on technology developed for the U.S. Army, this squat little modular robot on tank treads is a small, powerful fire fighting machine that provides crews with a means for remote reconnaissance and fighting fires in hazardous areas safely.  Read More

Muscle Actuator Motor Company unveiled two robotic patient care devices at the 39th Home C...

Japan's super-aging society may be able to live a little longer at home thanks to a couple of new robotic devices introduced last week. The new robot lifter and bodily waste removal systems were demonstrated at Japan's 39th Home Care & Rehabilitation Exhibition. Designed to provide relief for stressed caregivers, the devices will be available to rent to private residences on a monthly basis.  Read More

Autonomous driving would allow drivers to relax on trips (Image: Volvo)

The SARTRE (Safe Road Trains for the Environment) project that first hit the road in 2011 before conducting its first public road test earlier this year has now been completed. As well as finding that semi-autonomous “follow the leader” road train technology is mature enough for practical applications in the near future, the participating partners in the project have concluded that it could be integrated on conventional highways and operate in a mixed environment with existing road users.  Read More

Curiosity's self-portrait (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems)

NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity has limbered up its robotic arm, taken a good look at itself and has been given a clean bill of health. It’s now on the move as it starts its two-year mission of discovery on the Red Planet. On Thursday, it traveled 105 feet (32 m) as it seeks out its first rock for serious investigation. Meanwhile, the nuclear-powered explorer sent back images of Mars’s moon Phobos as it passed in front of the Sun.  Read More

DARPA's Cheetah robot has set a new robotic land speed record of 28.3 mph (45.5 km/h)

Usain Bolt might have taken home the 100 meters gold medal from the recent London 2012 Olympics, but things could have been different had DARPA’s Cheetah robot been allowed in the field. Living up to DARPA's original goal of developing a robot that could outrun any human, the quadruped robot has set a new robotic land speed record of 28.3 mph (45.5 km/h) for a 20-meter (65.6 ft) split, bettering Bolt’s human speed record by 0.52 mph (0.8 km/h).  Read More

The Honda Miimo has a low-profile, sleek design

Is mowing the lawn one of those household chores that you absolutely dread? Well, Honda is offering a new product in Europe designed to make it so you never have to walk behind a lawn mower again. The Honda Miimo is Honda’s entry into the growing robotic lawn mower market.  Read More

Artist's concept of Curiosity on the move (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The Curiosity rover has taken its first drive today on Mars. It wasn’t much of a road trip. The unmanned craft went about 15 feet (4.57 m), turned 120 degrees and then reversed about 8 feet (2.43 m). Curiosity is now about 20 feet (6.09 m) from its landing site, now named Bradbury Landing after the late author Ray Bradbury. That may not seem like much, but it was a successful test of Curiosity’s mobility and takes it a step (or a roll) closer to beginning its two-year mission to look for areas where life may have or does exist on the Red Planet.  Read More

Mighty Eagle during its successful test flight (Photo: NASA/MSFC)

The crash of NASA’s Morpheus lander was an unfortunate setback, but like any good space pioneer, the agency has more than one string to its bow - and more than one lander in the hanger. On August 8, NASA’s prototype “Mighty Eagle” autonomous lander carried out the latest in a series of flight tests at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Though smaller than Morpheus and much less powerful, the craft is being used to develop a new class of autonomous robotic landers to explore the airless bodies of the Solar System from the planet Mercury to the moons of Jupiter.  Read More

Stride Walking Assist is designed to help those with difficulty walking

We've been following Honda’s Stride Management Assist since its first unveiling in 2008, to the introduction of its sturdier cousin into the workplace and then its U.S. tour in 2009. Now the ASMIO spin off is scheduled to undergo field tests by Japan's National Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology (NCGG). The NCGG will test 40 units of the device on people with limited walking ability at the Elder Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Center at Resora Obu Shopping Terrace in Obu, Japan.  Read More

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