A new robot face can display a realistic virtual visage from any angle, making telepresence somewhat less creepy by using actual human features. Mask-Bot, as it’s known, displays three-dimensional heads on a transparent plastic mask.
A new spider robot moves delicately over uneven surfaces, carefully picking its way across debris, chemicals or other locations where a human — or a clumsier robot — could not safely tread. Unlike other spiderbots we have seen, this German robot is designed to move with care and grace.
It’s alarming enough when robots ingest plant detritus like twigs and grass clippings. It’s another thing entirely when they can start chowing down on members of the animal kingdom. A pair of prototype robots are designed to catch bugs, a major step on the path toward robots that can hunt, catch and digest their own meals.
Soft robots would be useful for a variety of things — they could grip objects with precision and sensitivity, and they could roll along more quietly than their counterparts with metal exoskeletons. Here is a new one that could do such tasks purely on its own, without any external power source or command center.
We have been enjoying plenty of BigDog/AlphaDog videos of late, showing off the Marines’ sure-footed four-legged robot. Well apparently the U.S. isn’t the only country planning to build a pack of quadruped bots. Check out this small South Korean robot dog, prancing quietly around a trade show.
We just can’t resist, so here’s one more video from the maker of the military’s robotic pack animals. Check out Boston Dynamics’ new AlphaDog — which was previously nicknamed BullDog — in a newly released, DARPA-sanctioned video.
It runs along a guide rail, keeps its balance after two guys try to tip it over, and rights itself after lying on its side, not unlike your pet getting up from its nap.
A bipedal robot developed at the University of Michigan can run with a human-like gait, the fastest-ever robot with knees. Feedback algorithms are helping Mabel, a headless robot with impressive gams, to keep its balance as it runs in a round pen.
Here’s a heartwarming story about one of our favorite robots, the adorable PR2. We’ve already seen it performing cute household tasks like folding laundry and baking cookies, but now PR2 is serving a decidedly more useful function: helping a paraplegic man help himself.
Headphones on, everyone. The moaning mouth 'bot is back, this time to sing you a Japanese nursery rhyme. (Freaking you out is a side effect, not the main goal.) Hideyuki Sawada of Kagawa University in Japan brought the mouthbot to Robotech 2011 to demonstrate its new powers. You can watch it below singing "Kagome Kagome," a children's song.
In the finale of RoboCup 2011, two Virginia Tech robots took top honors in the adult-size and child-size categories. The full-size humanoid CHARLI-2, making its public debut at RoboCup, won the adult-size robot soccer match with a penalty kick, beating Robo Erectus of Singapore 1-0.
Humanoid robots and gadget-y autonomous machines can perform lots of tasks pretty admirably. But when you have a specific need, you need a specifically-equipped robot — which can mean making modifications to existing robot archetypes, or building a specialized ‘bot designed for a sole purpose. Welcome to the age of zoobotics, in which robots are inspired not by people, or restrained by technology like in the early days of robotics. Instead, zoobotics is animal-inspired.
Our favorite robot is learning to shop for, prepare and serve entire meals — from cookies to a round of beers and now, breakfast. In this latest robot-cook experiment, PR2 gets some help from a German ‘bot named Rosie, and the pair serves up a traditional Bavarian sausage breakfast.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.