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The modular Linkbot robot building platform

Though somewhat time consuming and a bit of a brain drain, robot building can also be rewarding and fun. For those just starting out, however, the prospect of simultaneously playing the roles of designer, tinkerer, programmer and troubleshooter in order to breathe life into a pile of wires, motors, plastic and metal might be just a little overwhelming. Linkbots offer a gentler learning curve with a modular platform that starts with a single working unit, and grows into more complex robots by attaching accessories and connecting other units.  Read More

CurvACE reproduces the architecture of the eyes of insects and other arthropods

Robots are getting down to the size of insects, so it seems only natural that they should be getting insect eyes. A consortium of European researchers has developed the artificial Curved Artificial Compound Eye (CurvACE) which reproduces the architecture of the eyes of insects and other arthropods. The aim isn't just to provide machines with an unnerving bug-eyed stare, but to create a new class of sensors that exploit the wide field of vision and motion detecting properties of the compound eye.  Read More

UPenn's XRL robot jumping and grabbing the edge of a cliff five times its own height (Phot...

Most land-dwelling animals with skeletons (exo or endo) have the ability to jump. It is of particular importance to survival, as running primarily consists of a long series of jumps. Without the ability to jump, a robot's freedom to move around is limited, something that is particularly true of smaller robots for which even relatively narrow trenches or low walls can prove too much of an obstacle. A robotics group at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) has taught a six-legged crawling robot to jump, giving it remarkable acrobatic capabilities.  Read More

The robot matches the type of hand-off with the most appropriate response in its database

They may not make for the showiest videos, but some of the most interesting problems in robotics are to do with the subtleties of human interaction. Even something as apparently simple as receiving an object poses great difficulty, but it's a problem that will need to be solved before multipurpose robots are ready for the home. By building a database of captured human motion, Disney Research and Karlsruhe Institute of Technology are making strides towards building a robot that can take an object handed to it by a human.  Read More

Cygan, the vintage robot that goes under the hammer in September (Photo: Christie's Images...

Most modern robots look nothing like those predicted by 1950's era science fiction. But if you’re in the market for a retro-style robot with world-domination-worthy looks you might want to dust off your auction paddle. Christie’s auction house is putting the vintage robot Cygan on the block as part of its Out of the Ordinary sale on September 5.  Read More

 Makr Shakr madeits debut at Google I/O

Robot bartenders aren’t new, but they tend to be more drink vending machine than cool mixologist. To inject a little panache, researchers at the MIT Senseable City Lab in collaboration with Coca-Cola and Bacardi Rum have developed Makr Shakr – a robot drink-mixing system that made its debut at the Google I/O annual developer conference in San Francisco on Wednesday as the world’s first crowd-controlled robotic bar.  Read More

Hyundai Heavy Industries tests out its new miniature robotic welding arm

Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), which lays claim to being the largest shipbuilding company in the world, says it has developed a miniature welding robot that can be easily transported by a worker and affixed to a ship using magnets. The small, portable robot is expected to increase worker productivity two to threefold.  Read More

Home-Exploring Robot Butler (HERB) being trained to identify household objects

One of the major anticipated applications for robots is in care for the elderly and helping them with daily tasks. This means that robots have got to adapt to human lifestyles, not the other way around, because granny can’t be expected to program the robot or rearrange her house to suit the machine’s limitations. The Carnegie Mellon University Robotics Institute’s Lifelong Robotic Object Discovery (LROD) project aims to address this by developing ways to use visual and non-visual data to help robots to identify and pick up objects so they can work in a normal human environment without supervision.  Read More

An iRobot PackBot navigates a school, in a demonstration of the Cognitive Patterns system

It’s sometimes easy to forget that for all their human-like qualities, robots are in fact machines. While some systems allow them to recognize basic objects, they still don’t necessarily make sense of what they’re looking at – they might see and recognize a box, for instance, but what does the presence of a box suggest to them? Now, researchers at Massachusetts-based engineering firm Aptima are developing a system known as Cognitive Patterns. It allows robots and humans to collaborate on building the robots’ understanding of the world, thus allowing them to operate on their own more effectively.  Read More

Scientist have developed microrobots that may be able to help prevent blindness

Just like other parts of the body, the retina needs oxygen in order to survive. If it doesn’t receive enough – should its blood supply be restricted, for instance – permanent blindness can result. Therefore, the sooner that doctors know if a patient’s retina is receiving insufficient oxygen, the better the chances that they can take action in time. Soon, they may be able to use tiny injectable robots to get them the information they need.  Read More

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