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Robotics

Bigger may be better, but better isn't always better. In October, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California unveiled a new and improved version of its RoboSimian robot. Called Surrogate, it has many advantages over its predecessor, but it's RoboSimian that is going to next year's DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals. Read More
Carnegie Mellon University has unveiled Andy, a four-wheeled unmanned rover designed to explore the rough terrain and recently discovered pits of the Moon. Developed in cooperation with Pittsburgh's Astrobotic Technology, the solar powered robot is CMU's entry for the US$20 million-plus Google Lunar XPrize, and may one day help pave the way toward permanent outposts on the Moon. Read More
A couple of years ago, we first heard about the SoloShot. It's a robotic device that sits between a video camera and a tripod, automatically panning the camera to keep the surfing, skiing, etc subject centered in the shot. The idea is that you can get video of yourself doin' your thing, without calling upon someone else to act as a videographer. The SoloShot2 takes things a step further, most notably by also tilting the camera. Read More

Most cats enjoy a good hunt, but your average cat toys pale in comparison to stalking real prey, as they're too predictable and don't react to an attack. The creators behind Mousr reckon their robotic cat toy is the most engaging cat toy ever made, as it reacts to a cat's attack and can intelligently avoid obstacles. Read More

The robotic revolution is very often less about replacing human workers than finding ways of working alongside them. That means being as flexible at doing tasks as humans, as well as being able to work with all the jostling and chaos that people take for granted. Rethink Robotics’ new Robot Positioning System lets the Baxter robot do factory work without being bolted to the floor, adjusting itself as it endures random bumps. Read More

Not content with working as sales assistants and burger flippers, robots are landing jobs on cruise ships as bartenders and entertainers. Leading the way is Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas, which is currently on its maiden voyage. Read More

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
What happens when you're immersed in a virtual world – such as a game – and you want to use your real-world fingers to control your virtual fingers in that world? Well, we've already seen a number of sensor-equipped gloves, but China's Dexta Robotics is taking what it claims is a more cost-effective approach. Its Dexmo is an exoskeleton for your hand, which can even provide the user with a limited sense of touch. Read More
DARPA has awarded a first-phase US$2.9 million follow-on contract to the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University as part of its Warrior Web program to create a soft exoskeleton. The Wyss Institute is studying the biometrics of walking as part of an effort to develop a soft fabric exoskeleton called the Soft Exosuit that uses robotics and biomimetics to augment the wearer’s musculoskeletal system as a way to reduce fatigue and injuries in soldiers and the disabled. Read More
A collection of autonomous robots designed to scuttle around on distant planets looking for resources and material in much the same way that members of insect colonies do on Earth are currently being tested by NASA engineers. The robots, dubbed ‘swarmies’, are designed to individually survey an area, signal the others when they have found something of value, and then divide up the task of collecting the material and returning it to their base. Read More
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