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Harvard's RoboBees could one day work together in search and rescue operations (Photo: Kev...

Almost since the beginning of their existence, robots have taken inspiration from one of nature's wonders: insects. Technological limitations typically prevent these robots from matching the small size of their many-legged muses, resulting in gargantuan examples like Festo's BionicOpter dragonfly. In stark contrast is Harvard's RoboBee, which is the first in the world to demonstrate controlled flight by an insect-sized robot.  Read More

The OTIS glider and an Atlantic sturgeon, which is about to be tagged and released (Activi...

The Atlantic sturgeon, which is one of the world’s oldest species of fish, can live up to 60 years, reaching a length of of 15 feet (4.6 meters) and a weight of over 800 pounds (360 kg). It’s also endangered, due to past overfishing for its caviar. In order to protect the sturgeon that are left, it’s important to keep fishermen from catching them accidentally. That’s why researchers at the University of Delaware and Delaware State University are calling upon satellites, and an underwater robot known as OTIS.  Read More

The SmartMow development platform

RobotLabs has launched a KickStarter campaign to develop a robot lawnmower. Though that may not sound particularly new, the company claims other automated lawnmowers aren't true robots because they don't adhere to Isaac Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics. In other words, they're not safe enough, RobotLabs claims. RobotLabs claims its SmartMow is different, shutting down almost instantaneously when people or animals get close.  Read More

Researchers from the University of Maryland have built a new micro air vehicle dubbed Robo...

Researchers from the University of Maryland have built a new micro air vehicle dubbed Robo Raven that's such a convincing flyer, it's been attacked by a local hawk during testing. Though numerous other robotic birds have successfully taken to the skies in recent years, including Festo's visually stunning SmartBird, this featherless mechanical marvel is capable of impressive complex aerobatic maneuvers thanks to completely programmable wings that can flap independently of each other.  Read More

DARPA's ARM program hand is flexible enough to pick up a basketball...

Back when DARPA first announced its Autonomous Robotic Manipulation (ARM) program in 2010, the average cost of a military-grade robot hand was around US$50,000. That's expensive even by the US military's standards – especially for something that is bound to be in close contact with explosives – which is why the hardware team of the ARM program tasked participants with developing a reliable low-cost hand. Now, thanks to work by iRobot (yes, the company that makes the Roomba robotic vacuum) and researchers at Harvard and Yale, the ARM program has a surprisingly effective new hand to play with that costs just $3,000 (in batches of 1,000 or more).  Read More

Quadru-bot is just one of the kit's 14 forms

Robots made for kids tend to move in a way that can only be described as lurching. The 14-in-1 Educational Solar Robot Kit puts that expectation to good use with its shambling Zombie-Bot model, but with thirteen other forms, it can also mimic several animals, wheeled transportation, robots, and even multiple seafaring contraptions. As it's equipped with a solar panel you'll never have to have to find a battery charger.  Read More

The IBM maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) (Photo: IBM)

If you've ever tried typing while talking to technical support with the phone crammed between ear and shoulder, then you know the meaning of frustration. Now imagine doing that upside down inside an airplane wing while juggling wires, crimps and a schematic printout. For some field engineers, that sort of thing is an everyday occurrence, so IBM in collaboration with the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) in the UK is developing a mobile maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) prototype robot. It's a combination of a smartphone app and a camera/projector mounted on a robot arm, that allows supervisors and experts to have a more active presence on the job.  Read More

NASA astronaut Tom Marshburn conducts the SPHERES-VERTIGO investigation aboard the Interna...

Take the little floating ball that gave Luke Skywalker so much trouble during lightsaber practice, slap a pair of huge welder’s goggles on it and you start to get a picture of NASA’s latest foray into flying robots. Currently being tested aboard the International Space Station (ISS), MIT Space Systems Laboratory’s SPHERES-VERTIGO system is a free-flying robot with stereoscopic vision that is part of a program to develop ways for small satellites to autonomously create 3D maps of objects such as asteroids or disabled satellites.  Read More

Blabdroids are designed as hackable, social robot companions

Sure, robots do all kinds of useful work from exploring Mars to imitating baby sea turtles, but when was the last time you had a conversation with one? Developed by artist Alexander Reben and filmmaker Brent Hoff, BlabDroid is a “social robot companion” that was originally used at the Tribeca Film Festival to get visitors to open up and chat about things that they wouldn't say to a human being. This proved so successful that the little cardboard robot is now the focus of a Kickstarter project aimed at putting it into production.  Read More

FlipperBot makes its way through a bed of poppy seeds (Video still: Institute of Physics)

US researches have developed a robot that gets about with a pair of flipper-like arms. By recording FlipperBot's adventures using a high-speed camera, the researchers are gaining understanding about the mechanics of traversing "complex surfaces" such as sand.  Read More

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