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Robotics

Face cloning: steps in modeling the digital face and the final result in silicone (Image: ...

The “uncanny valley” is one of the frustrating paradoxes of robotics. Every year, roboticists make humanoid robots that more accurately imitate human beings, but it turns out that the better the imitation, the creepier the end result. It’s that strange, hair-raising sensation one gets when visiting the Hall of Presidents at Disneyland. True, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln look very lifelike, but there’s always something wrong that you can’t quite describe. In the hope of bridging this valley, a Disney Research team in Zurich, Switzerland, has invented a new robot-making technique dubbed “face cloning.” This technique combines 3D digital scanning and advanced silicone skins to give animatronic robots more realistic facial expressions.  Read More

Robotic arms and hands on an adjustable gantry designed to simulate a UAV’s movements

UAVs have proven very successful as surveillance, intelligence-gathering and mapping craft, but their ability to interact with the ground has been largely confined to launching missiles. Now, Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is planning to endow them with arms and hands to allow them to work on such tasks as repairing infrastructure and disaster recovery while hovering near the ground.  Read More

Emma's custom 'magic arms' were created using 3D printing technology

A two year old girl born with arthrogryposis, a congenital disease that left her unable to lift her own arms, although able to walk, has been given a new lease on life by a 3D printed robotic exoskeleton, enabling her to move freely for the very first time. The exoskeleton, made of a similar material to Lego, was manufactured using a Stratasys Dimension 3D printer so as to create a prosthetic light enough for young Emma to continue walking around freely.  Read More

Stompy isn't just an overcooked fair ride though - it has practical purposes as well

Project Hexapod is aiming to make the construction of large scale robots cheaper and easier for hobbyists with Stompy - an 18 ft wide, 4,000 pound, 6-legged hydraulic robot that you can ride. The Massachusetts-based team behind the project has already made significant progress with the giant robot and are looking to raise funds to complete the ambitious build before making it "open hardware" by releasing all of the plans, diagrams and the list of materials used in the construction to anyone brave enough to build one of their own.  Read More

Zeno the humanoid robot from Hanson Robokind is all grown up and now stands 27-inches (67 ...

Back in 2007, we did a report on Zeno, a humanoid robot with a remarkable range of movement and impressive artificial intelligence that was aimed at the children’s toy market. Built by Hanson Robotics, the 17-inch (43 cm) tall robot could stand, make eye contact and had artificial intelligence software with voice recognition to enable it to engage in conversations. Projected retail price was US$300. Five years later, Hanson has released a YouTube video announcing that the latest version of Zeno is going into production, though it’s a bit taller and a lot more expensive.  Read More

The Freestyle Semiconductor Mechatronics Robot with its 32-bit RISC microprocessor board (...

A hundred years ago, the state-of-the-art of automotive technology was being pushed forward as quickly by shade-tree mechanics as it was by formal industrial R&D. To paraphrase John Steinbeck: "Two generations of Americans knew more about the planetary system of gears than the solar system of stars." The current situation in robotics could be seen in a similar light - open source hardware and software provide very similar tools and capabilities to hobbyists and robotics start-up company alike. To ease entry into the field, Freescale Semiconductors has just introduced FSLBOT, which provides the basic hardware and software for development of a walking, sensor-laden robot starting at only US$200.  Read More

The BioTac sensor can correctly identify a randomly selected material from a a sample of 1...

We’ve seen the development of a number of technologies that could be used to provide robots with a sense of touch, such as proximity and temperature sensing hexagonal plates and artificial skin constructed from semiconductor nanowires. However, perhaps none are as impressive as a tactile sensor developed by researchers at the University of California’s Viterbi School of Engineering. The group’s BioTac sensor was built to mimic a human fingertip and can outperform humans in identifying a wide range of materials, offering potential use for the technology in robotics and prostheses.  Read More

Clean lines, simple design. John Deere's new E5

The options continue to expand for those of us who'd rather sit on a garden lounge than tackle the task of cutting copious tracts of lawn. Earlier this week we looked at Bosch's foray into the robo-mower market, now it's time for a closer look at John Deere's autonomous offering - the all-weather TANGO E5.  Read More

With multiple jamming segments and four control cables, the robotic arm can flex and grip ...

Regular readers might remember the robotic universal gripper that can pick up a wide variety of objects thanks to an elastic membrane filled with coffee grounds. Earlier this year, the developers revealed they had given their versatile gripper the ability to “shoot” objects some distance, and now a team at MIT has “extended” the technology to create a robotic arm that can twist, flex and grip in a way not dissimilar to an elephant’s trunk.  Read More

A paralyzed woman has used the experimental BrainGate neural interface system to get herse...

Last April, for the first time since she became paralyzed 15 years ago, a 58 year-old woman was able to get herself a drink of coffee – she did so via a robotic arm, which was controlled by her thoughts. Although that rather astounding feat took place over a year ago, it was just made public today, in a report published in the journal Nature. The woman was a volunteer test subject, in a clinical trial of the experimental BrainGate neural interface system. Although still very much in development, the system could someday restore mobility to people who have suffered paralysis or limb loss.  Read More

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