Photokina 2014 highlights

Robots

A convoy of driverless US Army trucks (Photo: Department of Defense)

Over the next quarter of a century, the US Pentagon sees robots becoming more and more a part of military life with robot warplanes, submersibles, and infantry vehicles taking their place on the battlefields of the future. It may conjure up a very flashy vision of Transformer-like killing machines, but the US Army sees the first robots as autonomous vehicles used in the more prosaic task of delivering groceries and other supplies.  Read More

BugJuggler is a gigantic 70 ft tall robot designed to juggle cars

BugJuggler is a 70 ft tall robot that its designers claim will hurl full-size cars into the sky and catch them again in mid-air. Designed to use a diesel generator, enormous hydraulic rams, and hydraulic accumulators to allow for rapid movements, BugJuggler will not only be impressively large, but exceptionally agile for its size.  Read More

'Ladybird' is an autonomous farm robot capable of conducting mobile monitoring of a variet...

Ladybirds are happily welcomed by gardeners into their yards, knowing that they will consume the most prolific plant pests like white flies, mites, and aphids. Imagine, then, how useful an autonomous, solar-powered, intelligent robotic ladybird could be on a farm. Enter the University of Sydney’s "Ladybird," not actually an eater of insect pests, but a robot capable of conducting mobile farm reconnaissance, mapping, classification, and detection of problems for a variety of different crops.  Read More

Robots have helped to create a lightweight, ultra-thin wooden exhibition hall (Photo: ICD/...

The Landesgartenschau Exhibition Hall in Stuttgart, Germany, is claimed to be the first building to have its core structure made entirely from interlocking timber sections created by robots. Made up of over 240 individual segments of beech plywood created using a robotic fabrication method, the 17 meter (55 ft) tall, 245 square meter (2,637 sq ft) structure required just 12 cubic meters (424 cubic feet) of timber to construct.  Read More

Crowdsourcing could help robots more quickly learn the best way to accomplish complicated ...

If robots are going to work alongside humans, the machines are going to need to swallow their pride and learn to ask for help. At least, that’s the thinking of computer scientists at the University of Washington (UW), who are working on ways for robots to crowdsource their problems when learning new tasks. If successful, this approach points the way toward future robots that are capable of asking for assistance to speed up their learning when it comes to figuring out how to carry out household tasks.  Read More

Otonaroid interacts with the public face-to-face (Photo: Miraikan)

Recent advances in robotics have included machines that can learn by having folks talk to them, or droids capable of reading human emotion. Most still look pretty much like motorized mannequins or variations on the Johnny 5 theme, though. Even advanced humanoid bots like Honda's ASIMO would stand out as distinctly non-human in a police line-up. Such things certainly can't be said of the lifelike (some might even say positively creepy) creations of Osaka University professor Hiroshi Ishiguro. Two of his latest androids have now joined the staff of Tokyo's Miraikan National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, and will act as announcer and science guide for visitors to a new permanent exhibition.  Read More

Cornell researchers have developed a robot that follows spoken instructions to learn new t...

Many robots today are able to follow verbal instructions. However, the robot first has to be programmed with software code that allows it to respond to those instructions in some predetermined way, and that software must be added to every time the robot's task list is enhanced. Wouldn’t it be easier if we could just avoid all that messy fiddling about with software and talk to a machine as we would a human and explain what we wanted it to do? Researchers at Cornell University thought so, that’s why they designed and built a learning robot as part of their "Tell me Dave" project.  Read More

Working together, a team of 3D-printing 'Minibuilders' can construct structures many times...

3D printers are great at creating small objects – and some can even be pressed into doing larger things, such as cars – but a 3D printer able to print a full-sized house would have to be, well, bigger than a house. To tackle this problem, a team of researchers from the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia in Barcelona removed the size restrictions of a printer altogether by using mobile 3D printer robots to print directly on site.  Read More

hitchBOT will hit the road this July, looking to hitch hike across Canada

In what is hailed as a world first for robots, a Canadian robot dubbed "hitchBOT" hopes to be the first to hitchhike across Canada this July. Wearing jaunty red boots and yellow garden gloves (with one in a permanent "thumbing a ride" gesture), hitchBOT is going to try to use his good looks and power of speech to convince people to pick him up and drive him from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Victoria, British Columbia.  Read More

Pepper is a personal robot that can gauge human emotions for more natural human/robot inte...

One thing that allows human beings to live together is their ability to read one another’s emotions before the frying pans start to fly. If personal robots are to join the household, they’ll have to learn how to deal with emotions as well. Pepper is a semi-humanoid robot designed to do just that, with the ability to gauge human emotions and alter its behavior accordingly as a way to better fit into family life.  Read More

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