Robots may be the wave of the future, but it will be a pretty chaotic future if they don't learn to work together. This cooperative approach is known as swarm robotics and in a first in the field, a team of engineers has demonstrated a swarm of intelligent aquatic surface robots that can operate together in a real-world environment. Using "Darwinian" learning, the robots are designed to teach themselves how to cooperate in carrying out a task.
A software developer from Kansas has developed a robot that can seemingly solve a Rubik's Cube in nigh on one second. Jay Flatland and his friend Paul Rose use a setup that includes a Linux-powered PC, an Arduino, webcams and stepper motors. They are targeting a world record.
If the current batch of robot vacuum cleaners don't seem Jetsony enough, then the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC) Robotics lab may have something that fits the bill – an Atlas robot pottering about the lab with a Hoover. While the scenario may not provide an accurate picture of the domestic help of tomorrow, it does show what you can do when you've got a very expensive state-of-the-art humanoid automaton going spare.
Not all that long ago a bag of marbles or a deck of cards might have been the go-to tools for a bit of family fun, but today's households harbor all kinds of games, both virtual and real-world. Combining the two by bringing robotics into the mix promises an interesting blend of education and entertainment, something startup CutThroatRobotics is aiming to achieve with ZoZbot. A basic omnidirectional rover at a minimum and a customizable, multi-purpose gaming platform at most, ZoZbot can be put to work in everything from lounge room floor soccer matches to table-top games of pool.
Can a superbike-riding humanoid robot challenge the lap times of a MotoGP legend such as Valentino Rossi? This is the ultimate target that was set at the CES Robotics Conference, as Yamaha Motor Company announced its partnership with SRI International. The first step for this synergy will be to develop the Motobot's ability to navigate a racetrack independently by 2017.
Lego Education has updated its aging WeDo robotic learning system with WeDo 2.0. Geared toward schools or parents looking to add some structured learning to playtime, it comes in kit form and is an aid to spark young students' interest in science, computing, engineering and technology subjects.
Like the Dash and Dot from our round-up of last year's best tech toys for kids, the upcoming Code-a-Pillar has been designed to teach kids how to code in an entertaining and engaging way. Fisher-Price's effort sees a wheeled caterpillar head sporting a constant smile and blinking eyes that can be connected via USB to a number of segments. The order in which the segments are connected determines the actions of the completed bot.
Luggage lying around unattended at an airport justifiably triggers the jitters. The hazardous task of getting up close to inspect what could potentially be a bomb that could explode any time invariably falls to the bomb squad. Researchers have come up with a way to minimize the risk by creating a sophisticated, robot-mountable, sensor system that allows authorities to scan a piece of luggage and get an accurate image of its contents. The contact-free detection system could not only potentially help bomb specialists assess the danger quickly, but it could also help them obtain vital evidence.
Scouring a multi-story car-park to find a space can be an unforgiving task. It's not necessary, however, at a new multi-story lot at the Dokk1 community complex in Aarhaus, Denmark. Drivers leave their cars with an automated system, which picks them up and carries them to a space.
Removing tumors from the inner ear can be a tricky business, with surgeons often having to remove a large amount of bone to safely complete procedures. Researchers at Germany's Fraunhofer Institute have created a new tool, likened to a robotic worm, that is designed to revolutionize the process, while lowering the physical impact of the surgery on the patient.