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— Space

SPHERES remote control demonstration bodes well for future space exploration

Controlling a robot in space from the ground can be a bit like hitting a moving target. There’s a one to three second delay as data passes back and forth between the robot and ground control, which means that operators have to anticipate how the robots will move during these delays. This week, the Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Center (ATC) announced the first-ever demonstration of collaborative tele-operations that involved control of robots on the International Space Station (ISS) by astronauts on the ISS and operators on the ground. Read More
— Marine

Rolls-Royce outlines vision for robotic ships of the future

Running away to sea has been a dream of escape for centuries, but unless you plan to be a tap dancer on a cruise ship, that door may be closing. In a report on the future of cargo shipping, Rolls-Royce Vice President for Innovation, Engineering and Technology, Oskar Levander, outlines a vision for a time not far from now when freighters and other ships are unmanned robots that cruise the oceans under remote control by shore based captains. Read More
— Health and Wellbeing

Rehab system dangles patients below a robot

When a patient is undergoing rehab for a condition that compromises their gait or sense of balance, the process certainly isn't helped by the constant worry that they might fall. In fact, even the caregivers themselves can be injured when trying to move patients around. That's why California-based rehabilitative tech firm Bioness developed its Vector Gait and Safety System. It involves suspending the patient below a robotic trolley, that moves with them to hold them up. Read More
— Space

International Space Station's SPHERES robots to get new smarts

If you want to know how big the crew of the International Space Station (ISS) is at present, the answer depends on whether or not you’re counting the robots on board. Some of the non-human residents will soon be getting smarter, with NASA announcing that the Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites (SPHERES) robots currently on the station will later this year get a new smartphone. The increased capability of the soon to be Smart SPHERES is designed to help transition them from engineering testbeds to workaday companions that can take over some of the duties of the station astronauts. Read More
— Science

Powerful artificial muscles made from ... fishing line?

Artificial muscles could find use in a wide range of applications, including prosthetic limbs, robotics, exoskeletons, or pretty much any situation in which hydraulics or electric motors just aren't a practical means of moving objects. Scientists have been working on such muscles for a number of years, using materials like vanadium dioxide, graphene, carbon nanotubes and dielectric elastomers. Now, however, some of those same scientists have discovered that very powerful artificial muscles can be made from much more down-to-earth materials – regular polymer fishing line, and metal-coated nylon sewing thread. Read More