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Robots

Who hasn't looked at a sporting event and thought that it would be better if it involved giant robots wailing on each other? That seems to be the thinking of the people behind the MegaBots Kickstarter campaign, who are raising money to build giant humanoid robots with human drivers to take on each other in paintball arena games. Read More
The robotic revolution is very often less about replacing human workers than finding ways of working alongside them. That means being as flexible at doing tasks as humans, as well as being able to work with all the jostling and chaos that people take for granted. Rethink Robotics’ new Robot Positioning System lets the Baxter robot do factory work without being bolted to the floor, adjusting itself as it endures random bumps. Read More

Not content with working as sales assistants and burger flippers, robots are landing jobs on cruise ships as bartenders and entertainers. Leading the way is Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas, which is currently on its maiden voyage. Read More

In the near future, you might be surprised to visit to the giant hardware store in your town and find yourself greeted by a chatty robot rather than a human sales assistant. A harbinger of this age of robotic shopping is being trialled with two Oshbot robot sales assistants at an Orchard Supply Hardware store in San Jose, California. Built by Lowe’s Innovation Labs and Silicon Valley technology company Fellow Robots using "science fiction prototyping," the OSHbots are designed to not only identify and locate merchandise, but to speak to customers in their own languages. Read More
As confirmed by a strong robot presence in our round-up of the best tech toys for kids this year, there's something captivating and fascinating about interacting with robots. But rather than just play with a factory-assembled robot like the mesmerizing MiP we got to control at IFA back in the September, many folks want to build and customize their own. The Brighton, UK-based Maker Club has launched a project developed for the home and educational market that combines a custom control chip, a mobile app, an online learning package and 3D printing. Read More
Anyone who's played a first-person shooter will be familiar with using the direction that a character is looking to also control the direction they move. The concept is known as "free look control." Firefighters in Pisa, Italy, have been testing this method for operating emergency response robots. Read More

To maintain their effectiveness, solar panels need to be kept clean, but this can be a labor-intensive and costly process. Aerial Power is the latest to seek an automated solution – the London-based startup is developing brush-carrying drones that skim along the solar arrays and wipe their surfaces clean. Read More

Dealing with highly infectious diseases like Ebola is often like a logic problem. Disinfecting rooms is hard enough, but what about protective suits? True, they greatly reduce the chances of infection, but getting them off can bring the risk straight back again if the suit isn't decontaminated first. Xenex has created protocols that conform to those of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for its a line of robots that use UV lamps that to decontaminate hospital rooms and protective clothing exposed to the Ebola virus. Read More
With their ability to navigate through tight spaces and unstable environments without putting people at risk, disaster response is one of the most promising applications for robots. Researchers from Mexico's University of Guadalajara (UDG) have developed an algorithm that could come in handy in such situations by allowing robots to differentiate between people and debris. Read More
Earlier in the year, Kuka Robotics made a big fuss about its ping-pong playing robot facing up against professional player Timo Boll. Sadly, the promised match turned out to be just an advert and the robot wasn't as capable as had been made out. While Japanese firm Omron has been quick to point out that its new robot ping-pong-player is by no means capable of taking on and beating even a semi-skilled human opponent, it is capable of entering into long rallies with human players. Read More
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