Solar panels need regular cleaning to ensure they are working at their optimum efficiency, and spraying them with the hose from the ground or relying on a heavy downpour won't necessarily get the job done. Like the windows on your house, they need to be scrubbed and polished for maximum effect. Enter Scrobby, a solar-powered, autonomous robot prototype designed to keep domestic solar panels clean and clear. Read More
The weird and wonderful world of Disney may be about to get a little more weird and wonderful, depending on how you feel about drones. The Walt Disney Company has filed three patents suggesting it may intend to deploy unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to control giant marionettes, replace fireworks and suspend floating displays in its future theme park shows. Read More
A collection of autonomous robots designed to scuttle around on distant planets looking for resources and material in much the same way that members of insect colonies do on Earth are currently being tested by NASA engineers. The robots, dubbed ‘swarmies’, are designed to individually survey an area, signal the others when they have found something of value, and then divide up the task of collecting the material and returning it to their base. Read More
One of the steps towards to making robots into the all powerful overlords envisioned in books and movies is to teach them all human knowledge. A project named Robo Brain can do this without any help from humans, trawling the web in search of information and then sharing it with robots. Read More
The prospect of delivery drones brings with it a few notable issues. Beyond visions of colliding rotor blades and unsolicited package drops lies another problem: the huge amount of computational power needed to take into account real world uncertainties, such as strong winds, limited battery life and navigational errors, in order to provide a reliable delivery service. This has been the focus of new study from MIT, with a team of researchers devising a new algorithm said to massively reduce the level of computation required, enabling the drone to monitor its "health" in real time. Read More
While continual improvements are allowing larger UAVs to stay in the air for longer, the lifting capacity and endurance of smaller UAVs is largely constrained by the weight and size of their batteries. In a move that could greatly expand the reach and applications of small UAVs, a team of robotics researchers propose pairing a UAV with a ground vehicle that would provide a place of respite. However, such a vision requires autonomous coordinated docking between the two vehicles, which is exactly what the team has achieved. Read More
Personal helper and service robots like Milo from RoboDynamics have been in development for some time. Milo was a pretty basic machine, however. It certainly didn't have the dexterity to twist open a bottle like Honda's most recent ASIMO. Nor could it gauge human reactions and crack jokes like the Pepper personal robot that's due to be released next year. Now helper robot company Savioke has announced that it is to start trialing service robots for hotels. The SaviOne robot can autonomously deliver items to guests in hotel rooms. Read More
An origami-inspired robot that self-assembles and then scuttles away under its own power has been revealed by researchers from Harvard University and MIT. Still in the experimental stage, the prototype is able to transform itself from a flat structure into a moving, functional machine in around four minutes before scrambling away under its own power at a speed of about 2 in (5 cm) per second. Read More
Robots created by a team working at the University of California, Santa Barbara are able to look through solid walls using just Wi-Fi signals. With potential applications in search and rescue, surveillance, detection and archeology, these robots have the capability to identify the position and outline of unseen objects within a scanned structure, and then categorize their composition as metal, timber, or flesh. Read More
With robots set to play a more prominent role in society in the coming years, it makes sense to find fun ways to educate youngsters on the technology. To that end, Thomas Alva has developed Edison, a palm-sized, bright orange, programmable robot compatible with Lego bricks that is intended as an affordable introduction to programming and robotics. Read More