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Robots

The SPHERES robots are designed for upgrading (Image: NASA)

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

The artificial muscles can lift 100 times as much weight as human muscles of the same size...

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

Table tennis player Timo Boll will face a Kuka robot opponent for a showdown on March 11

German robotics manufacturer Kuka has arranged a table tennis contest between one of its robots and former world number one Timo Boll. The showdown will take place on March 11.  Read More

TERMES robots are seen as the first step towards an autonomous multi-robot system that can...

Researchers at Harvard University have taken inspiration from the swarm construction method used by termites to create TERMES. These robots are intended as the first step in a project with the ultimate goal of creating a fully automated robotic workforce that can create complex structures without the need for centralized control.  Read More

Jose Julio has created an air hockey robot

If you hated losing to the computer at Pong, then at least you could console yourself with the knowledge that the computer was on home turf; the contest took place in the computer's ethereal realm of ones and naughts. Now, a project by Spanish tinkerer Jose Julio has given rise to a competitive, merciless air hockey machine that will lay bare your mortal frailties and beat you into submission on your own physical terms. What's more, it's built largely with 3D printer parts.  Read More

The Riverview system is a symbiosis of two robots – an Autonomous Surface Vehicle (ASV) an...

The string of disastrous floods currently plaguing Britain demonstrate that managing rivers and other waterways is about more than protecting curlew nests and counting otters. To help provide a better understanding of riverine areas, a team headed by José Barata and Pedro Santana of the University of Lisbon are developing a “marsupial” robotic system called Riverwatch that teams a robotic catamaran with an on-board hexacopter to survey areas beyond the reach of the hip-boots and rubber raft brigade.  Read More

Scientists at Berkeley Lab and the University of California have created 'e-whiskers' that...

Scientists at Berkeley Lab and the University of California (UC) Berkeley have created sensitive, tactile sensors that are similar to a cat's whiskers. The so-called "e-whiskers" could be used to help robots feel their way around a space.  Read More

The University of Coimbra's minesweeping robot

A team from the Institute of Systems and Robotics at Portugal's University of Coimbra is developing a minesweeping robot to assist in the monumental task of clearing the millions of active land mines around the globe. Currently putting it through a series of field testings, the team is working to optimize the robot to automate the manual, and exceedingly dangerous, humanitarian de-mining effort.  Read More

Robot Land would immerse thousands of parkgoers in robotics edutainment and research

Since 2007, the South Korean government has dreamed of Robot Land, a robotics research park and themed destination with rides, exhibitions, shopping, and even housing. Although the originally planned open date of 2012 has come and gone, ground was officially broken for the 300-acre park last year and a new timeline seems to indicate that Robot Land may now be on target to deliver on its promise of a themed world dedicated to robots.  Read More

A diagram and a microscope image (inset) of one of the bio-bots

If you were asked to think of something microscopic that moves quickly, chances are that sperm would be the first thing to come to mind. The tiny reproductive cells are able to swim as fast as they do thanks to their long whip-like tails, known as flagella. So, imagine how helpful it might be if sperm-like machines could be used for applications such as delivering medication to targeted areas of the body. Well, that's what scientists at the University of Illinois are in the process of making possible, with the creation of their heart cell-powered "bio-bots."  Read More

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