May 2013

Freaky Light-Controlled Gels Could Be the Real Future of Robotics

There’s a branch of robotics research that doesn’t necessarily believe that future automatons have to be filled with pistons, gears, and motors. Working to closely emulate Mother Nature’s more squishy creations, these robots would be made entirely from soft materials, like UC Berkeley’s new hydrogel that reacts and… Read…


Disney Teaches Its Animatronics Not to Be Classless Brutes

In an effort to make how robots move and interact with humans feel less awkward and uncomfortable, Disney Research, working with the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany, are developing a more natural approach to the problem by thoroughly studying how humans interact. Read…


Printable Self-Assembling Bots Will One Day Be Our Affordable Minions

There seem to be two major camps when it comes to robotic research these days: those working to create the most capable and human-like robots with no concern over cost, and those looking to build useful robots but on the cheap. And the researchers at Harvard and MIT behind this printable inchworm, obviously fall into… Read…


We’ve Figured Out How To Make Robot Birds Fly, Up Next: Humans?

Mankind is decades away from taking to the skies in an Iron Man-like suit, but now that researchers at the University of Maryland have cracked the secret to building robot birds that can dive and swoop like the real thing, maybe those crazy human wing designs of yesteryear are worth trying again? Read…


Robotic Insect Eyes Destined for Next-Gen Micro Drones

By Evan Ackerman | Posted 20 May 2013

Just a few weeks ago, IEEE Spectrum wrote about an artificial compound insect eye that was developed by a group of researchers based in the United States. Not to be outdone, a group from EPFL in Switzerland has announced their own artificial compound insect eye, and we got a hands-on a few weeks ago in Lausanne.


Robots Fight Hospital Superbugs

05/13/13 — They kill at least 100,000 people every single year, and the collective medical costs associated with treating people who contract them tops $30 billion a year, according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statistics. But hospital “superbugs” have a new contender in the fight for people’s lives that involves…


Robots Enabling Paraplegics to Lead More Normal Lives
05/09/2013 – If you have a disability, no matter if it’s physical or mental, there are tasks that many of us may take for granted on a daily basis that can be extremely hard to complete for people who fall into this category. Looking at a specific example of some…


Tibion Bionic Leg Wins IERA Award

The Robot Report, Posted 05/25/13 at 01:19 AM

… The Tibion Bionic Leg won the 2013 IERA (Invention and Entrepreneurship Award in Robotics and Automation) Prize at the recent ICRA Conference in Karlsruhe, Germany.
… The device is not a prosthesis (artificial limb), or a device a patient wears indefinitely. It is a robotic aid worn during therapy sessions over weeks or months, until the patient recovers their gait so they can walk without it.

April 2013

Japanese turning to robotic crypts, virtual grave visits

Apr 10, 2013, 10:07 AM | By Tim Hornyak

Some are finding their final resting place in mechanized crypts, while one Buddhist temple has virtual memorials for sale.


KUKA Robot Builds Ikea Furniture Via Kinesthetic Teaching

04/23/13 — Researchers from the Department of Advanced Robotics at the Italian Institute of Technology and the Institute of Robotics and IndustrialInformatics (News – Alert) at the Spanish National Research Council/Polytechnical University of Catalonia have developed a robot capable of learning by imitation, and have demonstrated this capability by teaching it to help build an IKEA table. In a video released by Leonel Rozo and Sylvian Calinon, two users are shown demonstrating an assembly skill requiring different levels of compliance (in this case, building IKEA furniture). Each piece has unique construction characteristics that need to be translated to the robot. Rather than manually programming the robot for each one, the…


NASA Robots Invade Greenland

NASA has unveiled its newest rover being tested from May 3 to June 8. The robot, named GROVER (Greenland Rover and Goddard Remotely Operated Vehicle for Exploration and Research) will deploy ground-penetrating radar to study how snow accumulates on an ice sheet over time.


Robot Used to Locate Three Burial Chambers Lost for Centuries Under Aztec Temple

The Tlaloc II-TC robot has proven its value after it was used to find historic burial chambers hidden under an ancient Aztec temple in Mexico.The robot helped archeologists locate three burial chambers that had been lost for many centuries at Teotihuacan.


17 robotic innovations among 2013 Edison Award winners

by Hallie Siegel, May 1, 2013

Last Thursday in Chicago at a ceremony attended by 400 international business leaders and innovators, the Edison Awards – which honours game-changing new products and services – announced its 2013 winners. While the innovations featured at the event crossed a broad spectrum of industries and applications, seventeen of 130+ award-winners came from the fields of robotics, automation or sensing.


ShanghAI Lectures 2012: Lecture 9 “Ontogenetic development”

by Nathan Labhart, April 25, 2013

In the 9th part of the ShanghAI Lecture series, we look at ontogenetic development as Rolf Pfeifer talks about the path from locomotion to cognition. This is followed by two guest lectures: The first one by Ning Lan (Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China) on cortico-muscular communication in the nervous system, the second by Roland Siegwart (ETH Zurich) on the design and navigation of robots with various moving abilities.

March 2013

Emerging Robotic Technology Overcomes Previous Limitations

Automation World-Mar 12, 2013

In the mobile solutions space, robots are gaining traction against traditional automated-guided-vehicle (AGV) and fixed-conveyor solutions. Along the spectrum


Flying Rescue Robot Could Be the Lifeguard of the Future

Geekosystem-Mar 27, 2013

A research lab in Iran is hard at work building a new robotic lifeguard that could respond instantly to passengers and crew who fall from ships by flying to their


Iranian robotics lab works on ocean rescue drone 27, 2013

A team of Iranian roboticists at the RTS Lab in Tehran is developing an aerial robot designed to save people drowning near coastlines. Pars is a quadcopter that


Startup Spotlight: SynTouch Seeks to Enable Robots With ‘Machine Touch’

Matt Borzage  /  Thu, March 28, 2013

This is the fourth post in our Startup Spotlight series featuring new robotics companies from around the world. We’re inviting representatives from the companies to describe their technologies and how they see the marketplace. The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not represent positions of IEEE Spectrum or the IEEE.

Read More…


Japan to Send Humanoid to Space

03/06/13 — Dentsu Inc. has announced the names “Kirobo” and “Mirata” for two humanoid communication robots being developed under the KIBO ROBOT PROJECT, a joint research project being carried out in collaboration with the Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, the University of Tokyo, ROBO GARAGE Co., Ltd., and Toyota Motor…


A visual history of robotic Mars probes | Wired UK

March 11, 2013 by Hallie Siegel

The 60s space race to the Moon was a mere sprint compared to the decathlon to Mars. Using Nasa’s archived data of both US and international missions, Paul Butt‘s graphic illustrates the history of Mars exploration by robotic probes, and the many successes and failures along the way. “For each launch, I read through the mission planning and execution to interpret what the mission hoped to achieve, and what it actually did,” explains Ipswich-based Butt.



February 2013

How a Monkey Can Mentally Control a Robot 7,000 Miles Away

February 22, 2013 – Miguel Nicolelis is an ambitious man. For years he’s been decoding brain signals and trying to use them as electrical commands for robots—and now he’s at a stage where he can get a monkey to mentally control a robot which is 7,000 miles away. More »


Meet Pneupard, Osaka University’s Air-Powered Cheetah Robot

Jason Falconer  /  Mon, February 25, 2013

Roboticists around the world are in the process of reverse engineering the anatomical construction of cheetahs and other cats in an attempt to develop faster and more agile legged robots. The latest project, dubbed the Pneupard, hails from Osaka University. Although still early in development, the new biomimetic platform stands out from some of the others through its use of pneumatic artificial muscles as its primary means of locomotion.


IFR Press Release – IFR International Federation of Robotics

CEO Statements at IFR Round Table 2013

Robots are the Future

The 4th IFR CEO Round Table discussion on 22 January 2013 at the Automate in Chicago focused on the impact of industrial robots on employment.

CEOs of the global robotics industry present in the audience took the opportunity to give their statement to “Robots are the Future”.

  • Hiroshi Fujiwara, Executive Director, JARA, Japan
  • Arturo Baroncelli, IFR Vice President
  • Thomas Visti, CCO, Universal Robots, Denmark
  • Steward Shepherd, CEO, Kuka Robotics, USA
  • Steve Barhorst, President & CEO, Yaskawa, USA
  • John Bubnikovich, ABB, USA
  • Michael Ferrara, Director, Epson Amerika, USA


New robot advances underwater research

University of Delaware Review-Mar 4, 2013

The robot has a front camera, a frontward high definition camera, a rear camera and sonar capabilities and is controlled by a joystick, which moves it to the front,


BigDog Robot Can Now Hurl Cinder Blocks

PC Magazine-by Angela Moscaritolo-Mar 1, 2013

The four-legged robot, developed by Boston Dynamics with funding from the U.S. Army’s Robotics Collaborative Technology Alliance, can now pick up and hurl


Mitsubishi Electric Robot picks stem cells

Process & Control Today-9 hours ago

A dynamic British company has harnessed the precision of robots, flexibility of machine vision and powerful laboratory automation software to push forward


Robot Of The Week: Artas Harvests Living Human Hairs, One By One

Popular Science-Mar 1, 2013

Artas is the first ever FDA-approved hair transplant robot, designed to accomplish the painstaking, yet technically difficult task of harvesting hundreds to



January 2013

Amazingly Articulated Robot Hand: Skynet Meets Lego

January 4, 2013 – This remarkably articulate robot hand was supposedly built by Lego enthusiast ‘Barman’ using two Mindstorms NXT control units, six motors, and some utterly brilliant engineering.


This Robot Vomits So You Won’t Have To

January 2, 2013 – Sometimes inventions, even the important ones, aren’t pretty. Case in point: this vomiting robot. It could help us understand, and then battle, an illness that no one’s found a cure for in 40 years.


Meet ATHLETE, NASA’s Next Robot Moon Walker

January 23, 2013 – To build and supply a lunar base, astronauts will need heavy-duty space trucks for transporting gear. There’s just one problem: no roads. That’s why NASA engineers designed the rover they call ATHLETE (All-Terrain Hex-Limbed Extra-Terrestrial Explorer)-to handle any terrain, whether dusty, rocky,…


Why You Shouldn’t Be Too Quick to Cheer Self-Driving Cars

January 10, 2013 – One of the clear automotive technology trends at CES this year is cars that drive themselves. From Audi to Lexus to Ford, the world’s largest car companies are beginning to follow Google’s lead in an effort to produce cars smart enough to drive themselves.


Great, Researchers Give This Creepy Cyborg Fish the Ability To Swim Forever

January 17, 2013 – Researchers at Michigan State University have upgraded their autonomous swimming robo-fish named Grace—short for Gliding Robot ACE—with the ability to passively glide through the water, potentially letting it swim forever on a single charge. Right now it’s designed for research, but…


iRobot’s Mirra 530 Gets More Power To Better Compete With Pool Boys

January 4, 2013 – iRobot’s updated Mirra 530 pool-cleaning robot promises to make it even easier to tidy up your cement pond come summer. Designed to replace the company’s Verro 500 model, the Mirra features a set of large wheels instead of treads to better hug the ground and walls of a pool, as well as a more…


DARPA Robots Learning How To Bring Satellites Back From the Dead

Evan Ackerman  /  Thu, January 24, 2013

It’s ever so hard to not write about DARPA when it keeps doing so much cool stuff. Today, we’ve got an update on the Phoenix program, which aims to create a new network of communications satellites by sending up robots to harvest body parts from old communications satellites. Insert space zombie joke here.*



December 2012

Skeleton Muscle Bot Brings I, Robot’s Future One Step Closer

December 11, 2012 – Eerily reminiscent of the design of Sonny and the other NS-5s in I, Robot, Kenshiro is the University of Tokyo’s latest attempt to create a humanoid robot that accurately mimics human movement.


Swiss aim to birth advanced humanoid in 9 months

Roboy is a tendon-driven robot designed to emulate humans, right down to the gestation period.

News – Dec 19, 2012, 12:19 PM | By Tim Hornyak



November 2012

New Artificial Muscle Could Replace Traditional Motors in Robots

11/28/12 — New artificial muscles made from nanotech yarns and infused with paraffin wax can lift more than 100,000 times their own weight and generate 85 times more mechanical power than the same size natural muscle, according to scientists at The University of Texas at Dallas and their international team from Australia, China, South Korea, Canada and Brazil. The artificial muscles are yarns constructed from carbon nanotubes, which are seamless, hollow cylinders made from the same type of graphite layers found in the core of ordinary pencils. Individual nanotubes can be 10,000 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair, yet…


Honda Researchers Advance Robot Audition with HEARBO

11/21/12 — Research seeking to improve the features and functions of robots has made impressive gains with prototypes of robots that can help out in settings that range from assistive living, to hospital care, to inventory-taking retail stores. One area of robot technology receiving special attention at Honda is “robot audition.” How effectively can scientists fashion robots that can hear? And, by hearing, how can hearing be ramped up to include speech recognition, even with noise interference? HEARBO, which stands for (HEAR-ing roBOt) is a robot that has been developed at Japan’s Honda Research Institute–(HRI-JP), and its creators want HEARBO to stand…


Robot Skin Paves the Way for Healable Devices

11/14/12 — U.S. researchers, led by Zhenan Bao of Stanford University in California, have created a flexible, touch-sensitive, electrically conducting and pressure-sensitive polymer-based material that could have ‘e-skin’ applications for robots or prosthetic body parts, such as artificial hands. The polymer matrix consists of a network of randomly branched oligomers that contain…


The Most Realistic Artificial Brain Has a Mind of Its Own

November 30, 2012 – Computers can do practically anything these days, but they’re still a far cry from robotic brains that don’t just do what they’re told but actually think for themselves.


Academics to Study Threat of Robot Uprising

11/27/12 Robots and intelligent machines rising up against their creators has long been the stuff of science fiction. But could it…



September 2012

Japan building robot that would pass college exams

Tim Hornyak, CNET, Sep 12, 2012

Researchers have teamed up to create an AI that would be smart enough to pass the notoriously difficult entrance exams to the University of Tokyo. Don’t expect it to help with your homework though.


Pentagon Robot Is Faster Than Usain Bolt—and Freaks the Hell Out of Me

September 5, 2012 – This is freaking scary. This is even scarier than Big Dog. It’s the latest version of the Pentagons’s newest Cheetah robot and it now runs faster than Usain Bolt.


Study: Intelligent Cars Could Boost Highway Capacity by 273%

Evan Ackerman  /  Tue, September 04, 2012

You’re a terrible driver. Yes, you. Terrible. At least, you’re terrible compared to a robot, which is smarter, faster, and more experienced. In fact, if we all just give up driving on highways and let robots take over for us, we could effectively end highway congestion as we know it by boosting the capacity of our existing roads by a staggering 273%.


Kinect@Home Wants to Start 3D Scanning the World

Evan Ackerman  /  Wed, August 29, 2012

Back in January, Adept’s Erin Rapacki told us all that it’s time to start 3D scanning the world. We agree with her, but it’s not an easy thing to actually go and, you know, do. There are approximately 975 bajillion different objects out there in the world that robots need to know how to interact with, and the only way we’re going to learn about them all (short of Google throwing approximately 975 bajillion dollars at the problem) is through a cooperative, crowdsourced effort like this new project called Kinect@Home.


Coralbots Use Swarm Approach to Save Endangered Reefs

09/05/12 — Researchers at Heriot-Watt University have developed a swarm of intelligent “coralbots” that will piece together damaged bits of coral, with the goal of regrowing and saving endangered reefs. The robotic swarm approach mimics that of insects like bees that collectively build nests or other large structures. The team is still “training” the…


Robot culture blossoms in Bay Area

San Jose Mercury News-Sep 21, 2012

But the robots have begun to arrive — and many of them are being sired right Bot & Dolly, “our robot will be the 21st-century version of Rosie on the Jetsons.”



July-Aug. 2012

Cyton Gamma robot arm to work with humanity

Jul 25, 2012, 6:00 AM | By Tim Hornyak

Ready to hold hands with a robot arm? Lighter than a laptop, this articulated mechanical limb “is not just another robot for roboticists,” says Robai.


Robots might mine asteroids for water; article renews debate over …

Washington Post-Aug 6, 2012

Then a robot probe will be sent on a flyby mission to assess the rock’s value and, if necessary, stake a claim. Finally, a team of miners — not pickaxe-wielding


Robot divers to report on Lake Superior’s depths

Minnesota Public Radio-Aug 7, 2012

DULUTH, Minn. — With its frigid, often ice-choked water and legendary storms, Lake Superior can be a dangerous place for scientists to conduct research.


Robot chauffeurs: Google self-driving cars log 300K miles

VentureBeat-Aug 7, 2012

Google announced today that its self-driving cars have logged over 300000 miles without a single accident — a step closer to being able to say, “Look Mom,

FACE Robot Mimics Human Facial Expressions, Aims To Cross …

Huffington Post-Jul 16, 2012

Modeled after a research team member’s wife, the robot was created to show a wide range of human facial expressions, with the goal of going beyond the


Czech Republic Aims to be Home of Robotics and Wide-ranging Research

07/11/12 — Eurasia—In 1920, Czech writer Karel Capek introduced the word ‘robot’ to the world. His play R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots) was a work of science fiction, but robots, albeit very different from how Capek imagined them, are rapidly becoming a reality today. Their development is being helped by groundbreaking research taking place in the Czech Republic, a country with a long history of innovationin many fields. The Czech Technical University (CTU) in Prague, the oldest institute of technology in Central Europe, stands at the forefront of robotics research. Teams there are working on a range of technologies that promise great advances…


US Digital: Enabling 21st Century Robotics Innovation

08/02/12 — There is a revolution occurring in today’s robotics industry. It is no longer only about heavy-duty industrial robots the world is accustomed to seeing. What was once limited to the pages of science fiction is becoming reality, thanks to a host of technological advancements, especially within motion control. Whether it’s…


June 2012

Who Is To Blame When A Robotic Car Crashes?

06/11/12 — Society must make two big leaps in order to enable truly self-driving cars. The first is technological. Engineers need to improve today’s cars (which can warn a driver that he’s drifting out of his lane) beyond current Google and Darpa prototypes (which maintain the lane on their own) to the…


Automation may cut traffic deaths

Detroit Free Press – Jun 13, 2012

Automated vehicles could be the technology leap that significantly reduces U.S. fatalities because of car crashes, a top safety official said Wednesday at the first …


Berlin is abuzz with mechanical ‘robot‘ bees

‎CNN (blog) – June 30, 2012

By Christopher Cottrell, Special to CNN Berlin, Germany (CNN) — Its brain is the size of a pinhead, but that doesn’t stop the common honeybee from knowing …


Soon, a robot that can fill potholes, make city cleaner

Hindustan Times – 1 day ago

The Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (IIT-B) launched its pan-India robotics competition, E-Yantra, on Tuesday, open to all undergraduate engineering …


May 2012

Microbots Made of Bubbles Have Engines Made of Lasers

Evan Ackerman  /  Tue, May 22, 2012

We’re used to thinking of robots as mechanical entities, but at very small scales, it sometimes becomes easier to use existing structures (like microorganisms that respond to magnetic fields or even swarms of bacteria) instead of trying to design and construct one (or lots) of teeny tiny artificial machines. Aaron Ohta’s lab at the University of Hawaii at Manoa has come up with a novel new way of creating non-mechanical microbots quite literally out of thin air, using robots made of bubbles with engines made of lasers.


Video: Throwable Robot, Roomba-Riding Humanoid, and More from ICRA 2012

Erico Guizzo & Evan Ackerman  /  Mon, May 21, 2012

If you couldn’t make it to ICRA this year, don’t worry: We’ll bring ICRA to you. The 2012 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation attracted more than 1,700 people to the River Centre convention center in St. Paul, Minn., last week. We’ve been keeping you informed about the coolest (and the weirdest) projects presented at the conference, and we still have many more stories to come. But today we want to take you to ICRA’s show floor, where over two dozen exhibitors demoed their robotic creations. Check out our video montage after the break.


Video Friday: Robo Cheetah Goes for a Trot, Mind-Controlled Arms, and Robots Playing Football

Evan Ackerman  /  Fri, May 18, 2012

You didn’t think that just because we’re going all-out covering ICRA that we’d let any other cool robot news slip past us this week, did you? Of course you didn’t! There are many more awesome ICRA articles in the works for next week, but in the mean time, here are two robot vids that weren’t at the conference, plus several more that definitely should have been.


African Project Aims To Innovate in Educational Robotics

Erico Guizzo  /  Tue, May 01, 2012

Abibiman mma a wɔn anigye robot ho, yɛnkambom!

That’s how you say, “African robot enthusiasts unite!” in Twi, one the main native languages in Ghana, a vibrant nation of 25 million people in West Africa. Roboticists there and in the United States are launching today an initiative to enhance robotics education, research, and industry in Africa. The African Robotics Network (AFRON) wants to mobilize a community of institutions and individuals working on robotics-related areas, strengthening communication and collaboration among them.


Europe’s Largest Robotics Laboratory Opens in UK

05/10/12 — The Bristol Robotics Lab is a partnership between UWE Bristol (University of the West of England) and the University of Bristol. It is home to 70 academics and businesses who are leading current thinking in ‘nouvelle’ and service robotics, intelligent autonomous systems and bio-engineering. Over $2.5 million has been spent on the new facilities which cover 2,400 sqm, with over 300 metres of specialised laboratory space and two Flying Arenas. “This is probably the largest robotics lab in Europe,” said Libor Kral, Head of Unit Cognitive Systems for Interaction Robotics at the European Commission. Robotics is a key element for…


New-look Moon Rover Robot to Land in 2014

05/24/12 — The lunar rover ‘Asimov’ due to land on the Moon in 2014, will be the first autonomously navigated rover on the Moon. It’s autonomous navigation system is a major technological leap. While the Russian Moon rovers Lunokhod 1 and 2 in the early 70s were fully controlled from Earth, today’s Mars rovers like NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover ‘Opportunity’, which has been tirelessly exploring the Red Planet since 2004, are autonomous. However, Opportunity requires nearly three minutes to process a pair of images — a delay that causes it to move at an average speed of just 1 cm/sec or less.…


Four Factors Critical to the Success of Robotics

05/04/12 — The Atlantic—Successful and failed transformations suggests watching four critical factors: Make it easier for people to do what they are trying to get done.  While the iPad feels like an overnight success, its roots trace back to the Newton Personal Digital Assistant Apple introduced in the 1990s. The Newton was…


Robotic Arm Weaves A Structure Like A Spider

05/01/12 — First, this is not a robotic spider, it’s a non-autonomous robotic arm pre-programmed to weave a structure out of its own surroundings. Down the road, the researchers plan to make the robotic arm autonomous so it can sense where objects are and build its own structure to fit the surroundings.…


Jan.-April 2012

Robot companies come to bury C-3PO

Apr 03, 2012, Martin LaMonica

Robotics is heating up, but the shape and function of today’s robots are the polar opposite of humanoid robots that proliferate in popular culture.


Rethinking the robot through history (images)

Apr 03, 2012, Martin LaMonica

The early days of automatons and robots were often viewed as mechanized humans, but today’s robots come in a wide variety of shapes and address a growing number of very specialized tasks.


Single-atom transistor built with precise control

Feb 19, 2012, Martin LaMonica

Seeking to keep Moore’s Law on pace, researchers have developed a repeatable technique for assembling a single-atom version of the transistor–the building block of semiconductors and computers.


RoboBees ready for mass production. Thanks, Harvard!

Feb 16, 2012, Martin LaMonica

Harvard University’s robotics lab designs an origami-inspired method for stamping out large numbers of pop-up flying microrobots.


Robots still lack the human touch

Mar 06, 2012, Martin LaMonica

Just like computers needed a friendly interface before taking off, robotics pioneer Rodney Brooks tells human-robotics interaction researchers to focus on the user experience with bots.


Boxie the robot will kill you with cuteness

Jan 04, 2012, Bonnie Cha

How do you get people to engage and connect with machines and computers? Researchers at MIT have a pretty simple answer


Robotic Octopus Takes First Betentacled Steps

Evan Ackerman  /  Mon, April 09, 2012

The holy grail of the whole soft robotics initiative that many research groups are so interested in is, arguably, the octopus. Anyone who has ever seen an octopus in action can understand why: they’re capable of some extraordinary maneuvers, thanks to relatively large brains, very fine motor control, and a near-total lack of bones. The Octopus Project is a European, er, project that’s working on “investigating and understanding the principles that give rise to the octopus sensory-motor capabilities and incorporating them in new design approaches,” and their newest design approach is this fully mobile roboctopus with eight soft tentacles.


The Future of Robotics and Artificial Intelligence Is Open

POSTED BY: William Hertling  /  Thu, April 05, 2012

At South by Southwest Interactive last month, I debated the future of artificial intelligence with my co-panelists. The roboticist on the panel argued that AI is an intellectually challenging field where the problems are difficult, and therefore can be solved only by highly intelligent people working on obscure mathematics and algorithms. The future, he argued, will look much like the past: a series of incremental, hard-won improvements in very narrow fields.


The Pirate Bay Planning ‘Low Orbit Server Drones’

POSTED BY: Evan Ackerman  /  Tue, March 20, 2012

The Pirate Bay, the file-sharing site, has, at this point, generally accepted the fact that their front-end servers are perpetually at risk of being confiscated by some government or other that they’ve ticked off with their crazy ideas of freedom of information. Whether or not you agree with what The Pirate Bay represents, you can probably understand the seriousness of what they’re up against, so it’s not really that surprising that they’ve been looking for a place a bit more out of reach to stash their hardware. Their latest idea? Low Orbit Server Drones.


Breaking News: Rattlesnakes Don’t Like RoboSquirrels

Evan Ackerman  /  Wed, March 14, 2012

Animals generally tend to treat robots with either indifference or, more commonly, curiosity. After all, robots are clearly not food, and they’re not usually threatening, so more often than not, animals are satisfied to just try and figure out what the heck is going on. Most of the time. Turns out, if you build a robot that’s deliberately designed to provoke an animal, that works out pretty well too. Meet RoboSquirrel.


Origami Robots Make Complex Movements With Just Paper and Air

Evan Ackerman  /  Fri, February 10, 2012

You remember that freaky air-powered boneless robot, right? Well, the same group that unleashed that thing on the world (George M. Whitesides lab at Harvard) has started to manufacture these beautiful (and superbly functional) air-powered origami robotic actuators out of paper and elastic.



June – Dec. 2011

Review: Apocalyptic AI by Robert M. Geraci

Posted 8 Dec 2011 by steve

Get ready for the four robots of the apocalypse as we review a book that should be close to the hearts of readers – because you actually helped research it: Robert M. Geraci‘s “Apocalyptic AI: Visions of Heaven in Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, and Virtual Reality“. Geraci, a professor of religion and researcher of all things eschatological, notes that,

“excepting rapture theologians of fundamentalist Christianity, popular science authors in robotics and artificial intelligence have become the most influential spokespeople for apocalyptic theology in the Western World.”

You heard that right, roboticists and AI researchers have risen to second place when it comes to who we think of when the topic is apocalyptic theology. And with fundamentalists blowing two more apocalyptic predictions since the book was published, who knows, we may be number 1 now. But how can robots and AI be theology? Read on for a full review of Geraci’s book.


MSL Curiosity Rover

Posted 26 Nov 2011 at 16:21 UTC (updated 26 Nov 2011 at 18:08 UTC) by IKE_RobotsPodcast

One of the biggest steps in space exploration, the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) named Curiosity was launched today with an Atlas V 541 vehicle and it is now on its way to Mars. The Curiosity rover is similar in size and weight to a small car and it will be the largest spacecraft to ever land on Mars. A very elaborate landing procedure not only enables it to reach safely the Martian surface but also to land in a relatively tight spot whith great geological interest. The mission cost approximately 2.5 billion dollars and it was scheduled fr launch in 2009 but various delays forced NASA to abort that goal. The optimum launch window when Mars and Earth are in the relative position that makes the trip as short as possible occurs every two years so two years after 2009 it is now the time for launch. The primary mission will last one Martian year (98 earth weeks) and if the rover is operational it could be further extended for much more. Landing sequence is scheduled for August 2012.


AUVSI presentation on dissaster relief and rescue robots

30 Sep 2011, IKE_RobotsPodcast

This video is from a presentation organized by AUVSI that took place on National Press Club on August 11, 2011. Four experts analyze the use and deployment of robots for rescue and disaster relief missions. After the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 many companies and organizations volunteered to help, and robots were extremely useful while their use depended largely in improvisation given the unprecedented circumstances. As expected Japan is the main subject but other topics are also covered like the Gulf oil spill, forest fires and more.


Giant Robotic Jumping Spider. Giant Robotic Jumping Spider!Yeah, so this right here is a giant robotic spider. By “giant” I mean that those legs are 20 centimeters long each, and if the body adds another 20 centimeters, we’re looking at a robot arachnid that’s a terrifying two feet across (0.6 meters). For what it’s worth, this is approximately twice the size of the largest real spider, the Goliath bird-eater, and the Goliath bird-eater doesn’t even jump.


Google Robot Car Crashes, But Can It Out-Drive Humans?

WSJ, 08/08/11

A Toyota Prius hybrid car that is part of Google Inc.’s fleet of automated information-gathering vehicles rear-ended another…


Fukushima Daiichi Post-Shutdown: Ready for the Robots

Now that Japan has declared victory in the first, crisis phase of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident, meet Quince: One…
12/16/11, Japan Real Time


IBM scientists create the world’s smallest magnetic memory bit using only 12 atoms

First-ever demonstration of engineered atomic-scale structures storing information magnetically at low temperatures is at least 100 times denser than today’s hard disk drives and solid state memory chips.

By Robotics Trends’ News Sources – Filed Jan 13, 2012

Punctuating 30 years of nanotechnology research, scientists from IBM Research have successfully demonstrated the ability to store information in as few as 12 magnetic atoms. This is significantly less than today’s disk drives, which use about one million atoms to store a single bit of information. The ability to manipulate matter by its most basic components – atom by atom – could lead to the vital understanding necessary to build smaller, faster and more energy-efficient devices.


Futuristic Robots To Enhance Ocean Explorations

International Business Times AU – Dec 27, 2011

“We are leveraging our automation, sensors, biotechnology, and systems expertise to develop unique robots that can be deployed by the hundreds,


Robotic surgery for run-down satellites

Futurity: Research News – Dec 30, 2011

An artist’s conception of a rendezvous between a remote-controlled robotic surgeon (right) and a satellite in need of repair.


Living robots may be coming within 15 or 20 years

Zee News – Dec 31, 2011

Washington: We are a lot closer to living robots than we may realize, says a scientist who has developed a robot that uses the same words, expressions and



Feb. – May 2011

ICRA 2011 Expo Gallery

Evan Ackerman  /  Mon, May 23, 2011

While most of ICRA was devoted to research presentations, there was a lively expo floor stuffed with robots that would be from all corners of the globe, if a globe had any corners. We’re nowhere near finished with our coverage of the research, but for today, enjoy this gallery of pics from the expo.


High-Speed Robot Hands Fold a Towel in 0.4 Second

Evan Ackerman  /  Thu, May 19, 2011

Remember those crazy fast robotic hands that can dribble a ball in the blink of an eye? A research group from the University of Tokyo has been teaching them to fold towels (very small towels) at blistering speed, poking some fun at Berkeley’s PR2 and its rather more, um, sedate pace.


Treebot Learns to Autonomously Climb Trees

Evan Ackerman  /  Wed, May 18, 2011

This is Treebot. As you might expect, Treebot was designed to do one thing: climb trees. It is by no means the first robot able to do this, but its arboreal predecessors (RiSE and Modsnake and accidentally PackBot are just a few) weren’t autonomous and didn’t have the skills necessary to negotiate the complex network of branches that you tend to find on trees worth climbing.


This Begging Robot Can Have All My Money

Evan Ackerman  /  Fri, April 22, 2011

Seriously, how could you walk past this adorable little robot and not give it everything you have in your pockets? This is DONA, an “Urban Donation Motivating Robot,” which wanders around public spaces and proceeds to look cute until people give it money. ‘Cause, you know, robots have to make ends meet too. And from the looks of it, it totally works.


Geminoid Robots and Human Originals Get Together

Erico Guizzo  /  Mon, April 04, 2011

The ultrarealistic androids, each a copy of a real person, met on March 30 at Japan’s ATR laboratory, near Kyoto. Attending were Geminoid F, Geminoid HI-1, and Geminoid DK, as well as their respective originals: a twentysomething woman (whose identity remains a secret), Prof. Hiroshi Ishiguro of Osaka University, and Prof. Henrik Scharfe of Aalborg University, in Denmark [photo above].


Top 10 Robot Videos of the Month

Evan Ackerman  /  Tue, March 15, 2011

February was a big month for robots, but then, from our perspective, every month is a big month for robots. Robonaut finally made it to the ISS, and Watson proved that humans are doomed at Jeopardy, more or less. And did we mention a bomb-disposal bot dropped a real grenade on live TV [image above]? Oops.


Stochastic Robots Assemble and Disassemble Themselves

Evan Ackerman  /  Tue, February 22, 2011

“Stochastic” is another way of saying random, and stochastic robots are robots that harness the powers of randomness to construct themselves. It’s a fairly simple idea that can result in fairly complex objects: you’ve got some number of different modules, which can come together to form a robot. Instead of putting the modules together and building the robot directly, you instead just toss all of the modules and shake it really really hard. As the modules randomly run into each other, each is programed to latch on if it happens to bump into a module that it’s supposed to be next to in the final design. And if you do this for long enough, eventually you’ll end up with a fully assembled robot. Or that’s the basic idea, anyway.


Top 10 Robot Videos of the Month

Erico Guizzo  /  Tue, February 08, 2011

Robotics is off to a good start this year. In January, there was CES, with lots of cool new robot products and demos, and we’ve also seen plenty of robot hacks using Microsoft’s Kinect 3D sensor, which is creating quite a stir. But there was much more, of course, so it’s time to review the most striking, stunning, and strange robot videos of January.


PR2 robot learns to read, follows words anywhere

Monday, May 23, 2011 by Tim Hornyak

At the University of Pennsylvania, Willow Garage’s polymath PR2 robot is reading everything in sight, including T-shirts and coffee labels.

Autonomous Robots Explore and Map Buildings

There isn’t a radio-control handset in sight as several small robots roll briskly up the hallways of an office building. Working by themselves and communicating only with one another, the vehicles divide up a variety of exploration tasks – and within minutes have transmitted a detailed floor map to humans stationed nearby.


January 2011

Japanese Robot Cargo Ship En Route to Space Station – ‎Jan 24, 2011‎

An unmanned Japanese cargo spaceship is closing in on the International Space Station, on track to link up with the orbiting lab Thursday (Jan. 27).


Seoul To Spend US$89.5 Million On Robot Pilot Projects

Bernama – ‎Jan 26, 2011‎

SEOUL, Jan 27 (Bernama) — The government will spend 100 billion won (US$89.5 million) on robot-related pilot projects to bolster growth of the cutting edge …


After 50 Years Robots Have New Horizons

by Bennett Brumson, Contributing Editor

Posted: 01/11/2011 Advancements in safety systems, end-effectors and sensors are rapidly bringing robotics into new applications…


Building a Super Robust Robot Hand

Erico Guizzo  /  Tue, January 25, 2011

German researchers have built an anthropomorphic robot hand that can endure collisions with hard objects and even strikes from a hammer without breaking into pieces. In designing the new hand system, researchers at the Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics, part of the German Aerospace Center (DLR), focused on robustness. They may have just built the toughest robot hand yet. The DLR hand has the shape and size of a human hand, with five articulated fingers powered by a web of 38 tendons, each connected to an individual motor on the forearm.


Cloud Robotics: Connected to the Cloud, Robots Get Smarter

Erico Guizzo  /  Mon, January 24, 2011

In the first “Matrix” movie, there’s a scene where Neo points to a helicopter on a rooftop and asks Trinity, “Can you fly that thing?” Her answer: “Not yet.” Then she gets a “pilot program” uploaded to her brain and they fly away. For us humans, with our non-upgradeable, offline meat brains, the possibility of acquiring new skills by connecting our heads to a computer network is still science fiction. Not so for robots. Several research groups are exploring the idea of robots that rely on cloud-computing infrastructure to access vast amounts of processing power and data. This approach, which some are calling “cloud robotics,” would allow robots to offload compute-intensive tasks like image processing and voice recognition and even download new skills instantly, Matrix-style. Imagine a robot that finds an object that it’s never seen or used before—say, a plastic cup. The robot could simply send an image of the cup to the cloud and receive back the object’s name, a 3-D model, and instructions on how to use it, says James Kuffner, a professor at Carnegie Mellon currently working at Google


Top 20 Robot Videos of 2010

Erico Guizzo  /  Tue, January 11, 2011

Last year was an incredible time for robotics, and to recap the best robot moments of 2010 we decided to compile a list of our favorite videos. Check out below our selection — going from No. 20 to the No. 1 — and let us know what you think.


The Best Robots of CES 2011

Erico Guizzo  /  Tue, January 11, 2011

Robots made a big appearance at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. There were home robots, robotic pets, humanoids, telepresence systems, and even a little robot to massage people’s backs. Check out the highlights…



December 2010

France Developing Advanced Humanoid Robot Romeo

Erico Guizzo  /  Mon, December 13, 2010

France is set to join the select club of countries that have developed advanced adult-size humanoid robots. Paris-based Aldebaran Robotics, famed for its small humanoid robot Nao, is working with major French research organizations to build a larger and more capable humanoid called Romeo, to be unveiled next March. Designed to assist elderly and disabled individuals in their daily activities, the 1.4-meter-tall robot will be able to walk through a home, fetching food from the kitchen, taking out the garbage, and acting as a loyal companion who helps entertain its owners and keep tabs on their health.


Running robot aims to take on Usain Bolt

Monday, December 13, 2010 Posted by Leslie Katz

Aptly named Athlete, bipedal robot developed in Japan takes a biomechanical approach to running in an attempt to mimic human flexibility and agility.


November 2010

Mexico uses robot to explore ancient tunnel

The Associated Press – ‎Nov 10, 2010‎

The one-foot (30-cm) wide robot was called “Tlaloque 1” after the Aztec rain god. The grainy footage shot by the robot was presented Wednesday by Mexico’s …


Coffee Ground Filled Balloon Gripper Holds Promise

28 Oct 2010,

The age-old problem of creating a robotic gripper capable of grasping unusually shaped objects has advanced one more step with this interesting development from researchers at Cornell, the University of Chicago and iRobot Corp. The Universal Gripper as they call it consists of a balloon filled with a jam-able particulate. When the balloon comes in contact with an object it conforms easily, then when a vacuum is applied, the particulates interlock providing the grasping action. Early material included rice and ground-up tires, but coffee seems to work really well. Video


Superfast Robotic Camera Mimics Human Eye

Erico Guizzo  /  Mon, November 01, 2010

German researchers have developed a robotic camera that mimics the motion of real eyes and even moves at superhuman speeds. The camera system can point in any direction and is also capable of imitating the fastest human eye movements, which can reach speeds of 500 degrees per second. But the system can also move faster than that, achieving more than 2500 degrees per second. It would make for very fast robot eyes.


Geminoid F Looks More Realistic Than Ever

Erico Guizzo  /  Mon, November 01, 2010

Kokoro Co., the Japanese firm that manufactures the android and sells it with the name Actroid F, recently demonstrated its newest capabilities. The android features facial movements even more realistic than before. It blinks and twitches and moves its head with remarkable realism.


Watch This Robot Mouse Blow Through a Maze Faster Than You Can

Sam Biddle, 10/28/10

Okay, this might not look impressive at first. The maze isn’t that complicated. But imagine being the size of the robotic Micromouse—relatively, this is a human-sized hedge maze. Then imagine running to the finish in only five seconds.


Becoming the Microsoft of the Robot World

BusinessWeek – Joel Stonington – ‎Nov 2, 2010‎

Robots build our cars and electronics. They sort packages with ease, lift enormous weights, and perform microsurgeries too small for the human eye. In Afghanistan, robots are fighting our wars. What they can’t do is share an operating system. Today approximately 8.6 million robots are around the world, according to IFR World Robotics. That’s equal to roughly the population of New Jersey. And most of these have been designed from scratch. For years, tinkerers in garages, professors at universities, and scientists at corporations have essentially been reinventing the wheel each time they develop a new robot. That means designing the hardware and writing the code that drives the actions. From robot welders to robot vacuum cleaners, the robotics industry at this point is essentially siloed. But maybe not for much longer. Enormous profits await the company that could become the Microsoft (MSFT) of the robotic world. “There is competition over who is going to have the dominant operating system for robots,” says Ryan Calo, director of the Consumer Privacy Project at Stanford University’s Center for Internet and Society.



October 2010

Piano player bot tickles the ivories in Taiwan

Wednesday, October 20, 2010 Posted by Tim Hornyak

Quirky robots showcased at the Taipei International Robot Show include a 10-fingered keyboard player and a bizarre horse-drawn carriage.

Robot can bowl a perfect strike every time

Tuesday, October 19, 2010 Posted by Matt Hickey

U.S. Bowling Congress shows off EARL, a programmable, one-armed bowling robot that it uses to design and test equipment like lanes, balls, and even pins.

Hey robots, census wants to know all about you

Wednesday, October 13, 2010 Posted by Leslie Katz

Data gathering for the U.S. 2010 Census may be finished, but it’s just begun for Carnegie Mellon’s Robot Census 2010. Have a robot? Let it stand up and be counted.

Study Shows That If a Robot Acts Like a Human, A Baby Will Think It’s Human

Switched – Amar Toor – ‎Oct 20, 2010‎

A metal robot may not look like a human being, but as long as it acts like one, babies won’t be able to tell


Underwater robot studying ice-covered Antarctic Ocean – ‎Oct 23, 2010‎

An underwater robot owned by the University of British Columbia is probing the ice-covered waters off Antarctica as part of a project designed to give


Going Where No Underwater Robot Has Gone Before

International Business Times – Gabriel Perna – ‎Oct 1, 2010‎

The robot, which is called AQUA, is an amphibious machine with the ability to operate on land and underwater. It is an ongoing project from York, …


Robot cars invade California, on orders from Google

October 09, 2010 – Edward Moyer

Google has been testing self-driving cars on roads in California, according to a report, and so far they’ve avoided everything but a minor fender bender–caused by a human-driven car.

Robotic legs for paraplegics march forward

October 07, 2010 – Leslie Katz

Berkeley Bionics unveils eLegs, one of a number of bionic exoskeletons that get paraplegics out of their wheelchairs and on their feet.

Hopper vehicle could explore Mars by jumping

Monday, October 04, 2010 – Tim Hornyak

Martian hopscotch, anyone? Bouncing vehicles proposed by Draper Laboratory could cover dozens of miles on Mars with a few leaps.

Humanoid Robots Rise. Now, Can They Walk?

Erico Guizzo  /  Mon, October 04, 2010

Japan has long held world dominance when it comes to full-body walking humanoid robots. There’s the pioneering Waseda robots, the impressiveHRPseries, the diminutive but nimble Sony Qrio and Toyota Partner robots, and of course, the country’s most famous emissary: the charismatic, child-size, astronaut-like Honda Asimo, which ambles, runs, and climbs stairs with (almost) perfect precision. Until recently, only South Korea — with its Hubo and Mahru robots — had demonstrated humanoids with legs as impressive as those of their Japanese counterparts. Now other countries are trying to catch up. Below I describe four humanoids that may give the Asian humanoids a run for their money. Or as one editor here put it, these robots may kick your Asimo.

Researchers Using Rat-Robot Hybrid to Design Better Brain Machine Interfaces

Tim Hornyak  /  Mon, October 04, 2010

A strange creature, half robot, half rat, has been seen scuttling across a laboratory in Japan. It’s RatCar, a rat-vehicle experiment that scientists hope could lead to improved mobility for people with disabilities. Researchers at the University of Tokyo wanted to see whether rats could control a miniature vehicle through the brain signals that move their limbs. They recently presented their project at the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Societyannual conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina.


September 2010

Real Wireless Charging Will Arrive by 2012, Fujitsu Claims

Kat Hannaford, Gizmodo 09/13/10

We’ve seen wireless chargers over the years, but like PowerMat’s Portable 2x model, batteries for the dock and swappable-batteries for the actual gadgets are still required. Fujitsu’s looking beyond all that, with their “magnetic resonance” technology. No wires! No batteries!


Autonomous Vehicle Driving from Italy to China

Erico Guizzo  /  Tue, September 21, 2010

The van is an autonomous vehicle developed at the University of Parma’s Artificial Vision and Intelligent Systems Laboratory, known as VisLab. Crammed with computers, cameras, and sensors, the vehicle is capable of detecting cars, lanes, and obstacles — and drive itself. The VisLab researchers, after getting tired of testing their vehicles in laboratory conditions, decided to set out on a real-world test drive: a 13,000-kilometer, three-month intercontinental journey from Parma to Shanghai. The group is now about halfway through their trip, which started in July and will end in late October, at the 2010 World Expo in China. (See real time location and live video.)


Robot research plane to fly into Hurricane Earl

USA Today – Doyle Rice – ‎Sep 1, 2010‎

An unmanned drone aicraft – known as the Global Hawk – is scheduled to fly directly into 135-mph Hurricane Earl tonight to help unlock some of the mysteries


Shapeshifting Robot Plane Flies in Bad Weather

TechNewsDaily – Charles Q. Choi – ‎Sep 2, 2010‎

Shapeshifting ed


Researchers Give Robots the Ability to Lie

Robotics Trends Staff – Filed Sep 12, 2010

A robot deceives an enemy soldier by creating a false trail and hiding so that it will not be caught. While this sounds like a scene from one of the Terminator movies, it’s actually the scenario of an experiment conducted by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology as part of what is believed to be the first detailed examination of robot deception.


Inventor predicts errand-running robot will be on the market in 5 years

September 12, 2010

As Edwards explains in his book Junior Automated Courier, A Robot for Errands, JAC is an automated courier robot that acts like a well-trained Labrador retriever. You give it a command to bring you a physical object, and it goes and gets the object for you. In doing so, it saves you time and energy of having to go get the object yourself.


Is Telepresence the Next Big Thing in Robotics?

Erico Guizzo  /  Tue, September 07, 2010

Is telepresence the next big thing in robotics? Will telepresence robots revolutionize work, manufacturing, energy production, medicine, space exploration, and other facets of modern life? Or is it just all hype?


Test-driving Willow Garage’s telepresence robot

September 11, 2010 Posted by Tim Hornyak

I got to kick the tires on Willow Garage’s Texai robot, piloting it around the company’s offices in Menlo Park, Calif. The Texai emphasizes man over machine.


Artificial ‘E-skin’ May Soon Help Robots ‘Feel’

PC World – 9/12/10

Engineers at the University of California, Berkeley, have developed a new technology that may help robots feel, give the sense of touch back to those with


Smart Grid – Vision and Reality

San Jose Mercury News – ‎Sep 7, 2010‎

The classical grid developed over the last 100 years represents a rather inflexible one-way system from power generation via transmission and distribution to the consumer. Due to the availability of new technologies in communications, networks and automation we are now in the position of transforming the energy network into a two-way (feedback-control) system also called smart grid. Thus, the power network can be balanced, the energy consumption can be reduced, operating costs will become less and reliability and transparency will increase. 



August 2010

Velodyne Introduces HDL-32E LiDAR Sensor

By Robotics Trends Staff – Filed Aug 21, 2010

The HDL-32E is a small, light, and competitively priced next generation product designed to meet the explosive demand for autonomous navigation and 3D mobile mapping applications

Velodyne Lidar, Inc., a manufacturer of high definition LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) sensors, announced the introduction of the HDL-32E to meet the demand for a smaller, lighter, and less expensive product for autonomous vehicle and mobile mapping applications.


Mission to Mars: The next rover (roundup)

Friday, August 20, 2010, CNET News staff

Exploration of the Red Planet will shift into a higher gear in 2012 with the arrival of a car-sized, instrument-laden robotic rover named Curiosity.


Concept: Tree Planting Robot Keeps Our Earth Green

UberGizmo (blog) – ‎Aug 19, 2010‎

If watching movies such as The Matrix or Terminator has taught anything, it’s probably that robots might not be too interested in protecting the environment (and humankind), but the Tree Planting Robot concept design is quite the opposite, as it’s designed to help with reforestation projects. This robot is capable of carrying 320 seedlings at one go, and each seed is planted with a biodegradable plastic protective barrier, protecting it from bugs until it’s old enough to fend for itself. It’s capable of treading lightly in order to not have a negative impact on the plants and animals that it’ll have to pass by in order to get the job done. When needed, it can use hot steam to destroy competing vegetation, such as choking vines that can affect other plants. The robot is also capable of planting in patterns, so a virtual forest can be planned beforehand and programmed for the robot to carry out.


Cyborg Fly Pilots Robot Through Obstacle Course

Erico Guizzo  /  Thu, August 26, 2010

Swiss researchers have used a fruit fly to steer a mobile robot through an obstacle course in the lab.They call it the Cyborg Fly. Chauncey Graetzel and colleagues at ETH Zurich’s Institute of Robotics and Intelligent Systems started by building a miniature IMAX movie theater for their fly. Inside, they glued the insect facing a LED screen that flashed different patterns. These patterns visually stimulated the fly to beat its left or right wing faster or slower, and a vision system translated the wing motion into commands to steer the robot in real time. The fly, in other words, believed to be airborne when in reality it was fixed to a tether (“A” in the image above), watching LEDs blink (“B”) while remote controlling a robot (“C”) from a virtual-reality simulation arena (“D”). Is this The Matrix, or Avatar, for flies? Graetzel tells me the goal of the project was to study low-level flight control in insects, which could help design better, bio-inspired robots. “Our goal was not to replace human drivers with flies,” he quips.


Astrobotic Technology Announces Caterpillar Inc. Sponsorship of Robotic Mission to the Moon

Astrobotic will also leverage Caterpillar’s autonomous mining and construction machinery expertise.

By Robotics Trends Staff – Filed Aug 23, 2010

Carnegie Mellon University spin-off Astrobotic Technology announces that Caterpillar Inc. is a sponsor of the first of Astrobotic’s robotic expeditions to the lunar surface, which will collect data for NASA and extend the Internet to the Moon for the first time. Astrobotic Technology, a Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) spin-off company has announced that Caterpillar Inc. will be a sponsor its first robotic expedition to the lunar surface. The initial Astrobotic mission will revisit the Apollo 11 site in April 2013 with a five-foot tall, 160-lb. robot broadcasting 3D high-definition video. The mission will carry payloads to the Moon and convey the experience to the world via Internet video access. The expedition also will claim a financial trifecta: up to $24 million in the Google Lunar X Prize, a $10 million data sale to NASA, and Florida’s $2 million bonus for launching from that state.


Remote-controlled robots are entering the workforce

San Jose Mercury News – Troy Wolverton – ‎Aug 26, 2010‎

The robot, which resembles a Segway scooter, uses telepresence capabilities and is being operated in the next room by Kris Magri, the Anybots Engineering


Robot plants Chinese flag on seabed – ‎Aug 26, 2010‎

A robot was used to plant a Chinese national flag at the bottom of the South China Sea, CCTV said.


Total recall – Plymouth leads European project into robot memory (press release) – ‎Aug 27, 2010‎

A multi-million pound project has begun to design a new breed of robot that can form memories and engage in social interaction.


Roboscooper tidies up your room, whacks objects

Tuesday, August 03, 2010 Posted by Tim Hornyak

WowWee’s Roboscooper is a snarky little home robot that can autonomously pick up junk on your floor and cart it away. “One step closer to a cleaner world,” says the Wall-E-style droid.


Telenoid R1 bot meant to be ‘minimalistic human’

Monday, August 02, 2010 Posted by Tim Hornyak

Robot wizard Hiroshi Ishiguro’s latest creation comes with a high creep factor. But if you hug it, the creepiness goes away. Maybe.


Robot to explore mysterious tunnels in Great Pyramid

Independent – Andrew Johnson – Aug 7, 2010

Now technicians at Leeds University are putting the finishing touches to a robot which, they hope, will follow the shaft to its end.


LineScout Robot Climbs on Live Power Lines to Inspect Them

Samuel Bouchard  /  Fri, August 13, 2010

Canada’s Hydro-Québec Research Institute started the LineScout project after the 1998 North American ice storm that led to massive power outages and left millions of people without electricity for several days. The idea was to have a small mobile robot that could be able to roll on high-voltage transmission lines and de-ice them. The first line scout was a little rover that would hang head down like a sloth and was equipped with claws to break the ice. The new generation, featured in a recent IEEE Spectrum article, is larger and equipped with cameras and a thermo-infrared imager. The remote-controlled robot has been used dozens times to do inspection and maintenance on high-voltage lines (2000 amps, 735 kilovolts). It uses cameras to inspect line conditions and discover irregularities, while also employing a smart navigation system to pinpoint locations in need of attention.


Singapore Researchers Unveil Social Robot Olivia

Erico Guizzo  /  Fri, August 13, 2010

Olivia, a social robot from Singapore, loves to talk — and gesticulate with its sleek 6-degrees-of-freedom white plastic arms. Designed as a research platform for human-robot interaction, Olivia is a creation of the A*STAR Social Robotics Laboratory, or ASORO, part of Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology, and Research. The researchers plan to use the robot, unveiled at RoboCup 2010 in June, as a receptionist to greet visitors and provide information, and later, as a personal assistant and companion in people’s homes. Olivia’s head has a pair of stereoscopic camera eyes and it can rotate and also tilt up or down. It appears to float over a ring of light, a design that reminds me of EVE, the little flying bot from WALL-E.


Robots to Help Children With Autism

PITTSBURGH, Aug 12, 2010 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/

Interbots, Inc., a high-tech spin-off company associated with the Carnegie Mellon University Entertainment Technology Center has teamed up with the Autism Center of Pittsburgh to provide innovative robot-based therapy for children with autism. The program, “Character Therapy,” through the use of the Interbot robot “Popchilla” will test the ability of children with autism with limited or no verbal skills. According to Seema Patel, CEO and co-founder of Interbots, “We’ve had numerous individuals tell us our robots could be tremendous tools for Autism therapy. We’re excited to be working with the Autism Center of Pittsburgh and the Sprout Foundation to take this first step. We’re going to learn a lot from the next few months.” “The premise behind the program is that children with autism are sometimes more likely to communicate with a non-human entity,” said Cindy Waeltermann, Founder and Director of the Autism Centers of Pittsburgh. “When you have a child with autism, you use whatever interests them to gain access into their world. The idea is to bridge the gap between their word and ours.


Hopkins Applied Physics Lab to Test Thought-Controlled Prosthetic Limb System

DARPA funds testing of neural interface technology for artificial limb.

By Robotics Trends Staff – Filed Aug 11, 2010

Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab wins a $34.5M DARPA contract to test the Modular Prosthetic Limb (MPL) system, which was developed under DARPA’s Revolutionizing Prosthetics 2009 program, on human subjects using a brain-controlled interface. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded a contract for up to $34.5 million to The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., to manage the development and testing of the Modular Prosthetic Limb (MPL) system on human subjects, using a brain-controlled interface.


SARbot – Remotely Saving Lives

SeaBotix developes robotics underwater rescue system.

By Robotics Trends Staff – Filed Aug 05, 2010

SeaBotix, in cooperation with Tritech International and Marine Simulation LLC, have developed the first specially designed, rapid response underwater robotic rescue system. Until now remote operated technology has been used to recover drowning victims, not rescue. Improved medical studies have shown that a person experiencing near drowning in water up to 21ºC has the potential for rescue.  If the victim can be rescued from the water within approximately 90 minutes there is a good chance that the residual oxygen in their body will keep them alive without permanent damage to their vital organs.


Neuron Interface Chips Advancing

Posted 14 Aug 2010 by Rog-a-matic,

University of Calgary researchers have developed neurochips capable of interfacing to and sensing activity of biological neurons in very high resolution. The new chips are automated so it’s now easy to connect multiple brain cells eliminating the years of training it once required. While researchers say this technology could be used for new diagnostic methods and treatments for a variety of neuro-degenerative diseases, this advancement could ultimately lead to the use of biological neurons in the central or sub-processing units of computers and automated machinery.


Robot Finds Worlds Sixth Largest River Undersea

Posted 13 Aug 2010 by Rog-a-matic,

Scientists at University of Leeds are using a robotic submarine to study a deep channel that runs along the floor of the Black Sea. The underwater river is denser than the surrounding water and composed of sediment with a high salinity. There are similarities to land-based rivers but also major differences in how the mass flows. Study of the flow is being performed by a 7-metre torpedo-shaped robot called the Autosub3 because its accurate positioning system allows it to be programmed to stay just above the channel to prevent damage.


Robot Eyes Great Pyramid

Posted 11 Aug 2010 by Rog-a-matic,

Researchers from Leeds University are working on a camera and drill-weilding robot known as Djedi to solve the mystery of the blocked shafts inside the Great Pyramid at Giza. In 1992 and 2002, remote cameras were sent through the shaft under the watchful eye of antiquities master Dr. Zahi Hawass only to be stopped by limestone doors. Dr. Robert Richardson of the Mechanical Engineering department said their goal is to find out what is beyond the blocks and go as far as possible to discover the purpose of the shafts, all while doing minimal damage to the structure. Final preparations are being made now with hopes of sending the robot in before year’s end. Place your bets now!


Humanoid robot Nao gets emotion chip

Saturday, August 14, 2010 Posted by Tim Hornyak

Copying a standard sci-fi film plot, humanoid robot Nao is becoming more human by developing emotions. The RoboCup star might be able to fake it like the best human soccer players.


The First Church of Robotics

New York Times – Jaron Lanier – ‎Aug 8, 2010‎

THE news of the day often includes an item about some development in artificial intelligence: a machine that smiles, a program that can predict human tastes in mates or music, a robot that teaches foreign languages to children. This constant stream of stories suggests that machines are becoming smart and autonomous, a new form of life, and that we should think of them as fellow creatures instead of as tools. But such conclusions aren’t just changing how we think about computers — they are reshaping the basic assumptions of our lives in misguided and ultimately damaging ways. I myself have worked on projects like machine vision algorithms that can detect human facial expressions in order to animate avatars or recognize individuals. Some would say these too are examples of A.I., but I would say it is research on a specific software problem that shouldn’t be confused with the deeper issues of intelligence or the nature of personhood. Equally important, my philosophical position has not prevented me from making progress in my work. (This is not an insignificant distinction: someone who refused to believe in, say, general relativity would not be able to make a GPS navigation system.)


Waste powers autonomous robots

Cordis News – ‎Aug 12, 2010‎

As the saying goes, one person’s garbage is another person’s treasure. In this instance, the garbage in question is used by a robot to harness energy for its own operation. For the last few years, the team of EU-funded scientists behind the EcoBot series (I, II, III) of robots has generated energy by feeding the machine food waste and raw materials. They have now set their sights on converting energy from urine for the same outcome. The EcoBot-III project received EUR 320,000 in funding under the EU’s Sixth Framework Programme (FP6). Dr Ioannis Ieropoulos, Professor John Greenman, Professor Chris Melhuish, and other researchers from the Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL) in the UK are responsible for a succession of experiments undertaken with EcoBots I, II and III. Their unique approach has been to create an artificial digestion system for the robot. This ‘gut’ is designed around novel microbial fuel cell (MFC) technology, which draws on bacterial cultures to break down ‘food’ in order to generate power. ‘Over the years we have fed our MFCs with rotten fruit, grass clippings, prawn shells and dead flies in an attempt to investigate different waste materials to use as a food source for the MFCs,’ said Dr Ioannis Ieropoulos. ‘We have focused on finding the best waste materials that create the most energy.’


CMU’s Walking Robot “Ranger”

by Sabine Hauert on 30 Jul 2010,

Carnegie Mellon University’s walking robot “Ranger” has set a new world record for distance walking. In a bit over 11 hours, Ranger walked 23km (or 14.3 miles) to beat the former world record of 20.6km (or 12.8 miles) set by Boston Dynamics’ BigDog. Unlike the BigDog, the Ranger uses two pairs of swinging legs that do not have knees but actuated feet to finish its step. The design allows the robot to use gravity and momentum to help swing its legs forward, which allows to optimize energy efficiency while walking. The researchers hope that insights gained from the dynamic walker can be applied to rehabilitation, prosthetics, and for improving our understanding of athletic performance.


CMU Launches $7 Million Educational Initiative

Posted 28 Jul 2010 at by steve

The CMU Robotics Institute, with the help of a seven million dollar DARPA grant, has announced the launch of a four year educational initiative called Fostering Innovation through Robotics Exploration (FIRE). The goal is to use student interest in robotics to encourage computer science education, and to steer students toward science and engineering careers. In addition to embracing existing educational robotics competitions such as FIRST and VEX, CMU will also be creating new competitions. The initiative will … create new competitions for autonomous, multi-robot teams and for computer animations that will attract a broader array of students and offer new challenges. To help, CMU is tapping robot expertise from Dallas, TX, hiring none other than Ed Paradis, current president of the Dallas Personal Robotics Group. When asked about the propsect of leaving one of the nation’s top Hobby Robot Groups for CMU, he replied, “although I’m sad to leave the Dallas robotics community, this is a hobby roboticists dream job!”.


3D designer envisions C.R.A.B. robot revolutionizing London’s police force

July 31, 2010 – Robot World News

The C.R.A.B. (Cybernetic Autonomous Remote Barricade) robot may currently be just a 3D design concept, but it’s an inspiring look at the potential abilities of future defense robots.


Check counterfeiting using botnets and money mules

Wednesday, July 28, 2010 Posted by Elinor Mills,

SecureWorks uncovers bizarre criminal operation that uses digital techniques to aid in old-school check counterfeiting.


Robot vans begin 3-month Italy-China journey

Wednesday, July 21, 2010 Posted by Tim Hornyak,

Two self-driving robot vans have started a three-month, 8,000-mile journey from Italy to China. What would Marco Polo say?


Japanese rescue-bot can sniff out disaster survivors

AFP – ‎Jul 30, 2010‎

TOKYO — Japanese emergency services are to trial a small tank-like rescue robot that can search rubble for survivors and deliver water, food or cellphone


The world’s first robot with conscience

Economic Times – ‎Jul 29, 2010‎

MADRID: Spain has designed the world’s first robot with its own “conscience” and “life”, which will “entertain, teach and be a companion” to humans who purchase it. The AISoy 1, which will go on sale in August, is the first social android developed by Spanish firm AISoy Robotics, which is now bringing its creation out of the laboratory. “It almost seems like science fiction, but it’s a reality,” said Diego Garcia, one of the “fathers” of the robot and head of AISoy’s product engineering and development division. AISoy 1 was conceived to entertain and provide company to the user, but its main objective is “to live,” just like any other being that “senses, has emotions and makes decisions”. At 25 cm in height and weighing 1.5 kg, the robot “is almost a living being. It has the same activity as a living being, it has its own autonomy and conscience”, he said. It also has a series of “basic needs, like nourishment and security, and other more advanced ones, like love, recognition, freedom and, above all, enjoying itself and getting along well”. In contrast to the available robots developed till date, its makeup does not consist of “a collection of limited actions or programmed responses. It’s dynamic, it has its own life and, at times, it’s unpredictable,” said AISoy 1’s designer. The robot is capable of learning from experience and modifying “its behaviour, values and actions it can undertake at specific times,” he said.


New Robot Surgeons Can Operate Without Human Assistance

Fast Company – Austin Carr – ‎Jul 21, 2010‎

Bioengineers at Duke University announced yesterday that they’ve created a robot that can “locate a man-made, or phantom, lesion in simulated human organs, guide a device to the lesion and take multiple samples during a single session,” all without a doctor’s supervision. Researchers hope these developments could one day lead to robots working autonomously on basic surgical operations. Nicknamed the Biopsy Bot, the robot relies on 3-D and ultrasound technology for its movement. The ultrasound scans serve as the robot’s “eyes,” enabling the doc bot to locate its target. With advanced artificial technology, the robot processes the 3-D data and sends out specific commands to its mechanical “arm” and “hand,” devices that examine lesions and are able to take samples.



July 2010

The Robotic Butterfly That Flies Like The Real Thing


The ChouChou Robotic Butterfly is just like a real butterfly, except it can live forever. Or at least until its battery runs out. You won’t even know the difference, just watch it fly.


Oceanscience Group wins grant to develop swarming river robots


The Oceanscience Group, an Oceanside technology company, has been awarded a Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase I contract by the Office of Naval Research (ONR). Oceanscience’s institutional collaborator on the project is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Center for Ocean Engineering. Oceanscience will work with MIT Professor Henrik Schmidt to develop a fleet of self-organizing drifting floats that will survey rivers autonomously. These small “smart” floats will travel in intercommunicating groups capable of repositioning themselves in a river to avoid hazards and provide real-time survey data from a variety of onboard sensors. The robotic floats are expected to weigh less than 10 pounds each. ONR has committed up to $100,000 for the design phase of the project. Upon successful completion of this phase, up to an additional $1,000,000 may be granted for further development and production. Oceanscience will work closely with Robotic Marine Systems (RMS) of Gray, Maine, experts in automation and “smart” vehicle behavior.


Centipede Robot
Markus Waibel » 16 Jul 2010

Researchers at the University of Washington have developed a microrobot with 512 feet. The robot is about the size of a fingernail and weighs about half a gram. Each of the 512 robot feet consists of an electrical wire sandwiched between two materials that expand differently under heat. By passing a current through the electrical wire, one material expands more than the other, making the feet curl. The small size of the feet results in a very large surface area compared to their volume, which makes it possible to heat up or cool down the feet in less than 20 milliseconds, allowing the robot to take 20-30 tiny steps per second. Another advantage of the bi-metal feet is their strength, allowing the robot to carry more than seven times its own weight. The researchers are now optimizing the robot for efficiency, to improve its current 10 minute power autonomy, as well as its speed which is currently limited to about 1m per hour.


QinetiQ’s Zephyr Unmanned Aircraft Soars to New World Records


07.16.2010 — Solar solar powered high-altitude long-endurance unmanned air system doubles the unofficial world record for longest duration unmanned flight and is expected to continue flying. QinetiQ announced that Zephyr, a solar powered high-altitude long-endurance (HALE) Unmanned Air System (UAS) smashed a number of long-standing world records while flying for a week. Flying high above the US Army’s Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona, Zephyr has passed the seven day / 168 hour mark and the clock is still running. This DOUBLES the unofficial world record for longest duration unmanned flight of 82 hours, 37 minutes set in 2008 and already held by Zephyr, and is well in excess of the current official world record of 30 hours 24 minutes set by Northrop Grumman’s RQ-4A Global Hawk on 22 March 2001. As a bold statement of intent QinetiQ invited the Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI), the world air sports federation, to oversee the flight and an FAI Official has been monitoring progress at the Yuma Proving Ground. Zephyr’s world records will not become official until the aircraft is safely back on the ground. The current goal is to fly for a further week and prove Zephyr is the world’s first truly eternal plane, capable of providing a low-cost, persistent surveillance capability over months rather than days. Potential applications include earth observation and communications relay in support of a range of defence, security and commercial requirements


Robot Submarine Patrols Lake Michigan for Climate-Change Study

Autonomous underwater robots studies fish populations.

07.06.2010 — Purdue University researchers are using an autonomous underwater vehicle in Lake Michigan to study how the changing physical properties of water affect the larva of fish yellow perch and alewives. Researchers at Purdue University are using a robotic submarine and other specialized tools in Lake Michigan to gather biological and environmental data showing how young fish vital to the ecosystem may cope with future climate change. The researchers are correlating larval fish growth with various factors, including water temperatures near the lakeshore, where wind patterns might be altered by climate change and threaten fish populations, said Tomas Höök, an assistant professor in the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources.


Human Trials Next for Darpa’s Mind-Controlled Artificial Arm

Katie Drummond, July 15, 2010  |  WIRED Dangerroom

Pentagon-backed scientists are getting ready to test thought-controlled prosthetic arms on human subjects, by rewiring their brains to fully integrate the artificial limbs.