At this afternoon’s Phillies-Brewers game at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, 2008 Cy Young award winner Cliff Lee will take the mound for the home team. One would think Lee’s job is secure, but even a renowned fastballer may have reason to sweat his position in the rotation after today’s game-opening festivities, when a robot fashioned by the University of Pennsylvania will toss the game's opening pitch. Insert your own “pitching mechanics” joke here.
U.S. military forces in Iraq and Afghanistan have been making use of a tiny, tossable robot for recon and observation for several years, and now--thanks to a decision handed down by the FCC--law enforcement and firefighters can deploy the hardy little ‘bot, known as the Recon Scout Throwbot.
There’s no escaping age, but a team of researchers are trying to help an aging population escape the restrictions often placed on the more senior among us by limited mobility. At Case Western Reserve University, roboticists are working on a new kind of smart wheelchair that not only allows for joystick (in this case, an Xbox controller) and voice commands to guide a powered wheelchair, but boasts onboard AI that filters each command to make sure it is safe.
What’s creepier than three of the world’s most lifelike Geminoid robots sitting around a table having a conversation? If you answered three of the world’s most lifelike Geminoid robots sitting around a table having a conversation with the flesh-and-blood humans they were designed to emulate, we invite you to test your hypothesis via the video below.
By looking to the neural networks of spiders, crabs, lobsters, and worms, European researchers are building better gait-governing systems for robots. Mimicking the rhythmic nerve impulses of some invertebrates can create automatic, repetitive motions that help robots move more naturally and seamlessly, much like the organisms they emulate.
Miklós Zrínyi of Semmelweiss University in Budapest, Hungary, has created some gels that are anything but gellin’. In fact, these gels are moving, shaking, and otherwise getting around with a little help from magnetism. The gel “snakes”--made from a mix of polymer and metal particles--bend to match the shape of any magnetic field exerted upon them.
About a month ago we wrote about robot maker TiaLinx Inc.’s Cougar20-H robot, a rolling ground-based ‘bot with sensors so acute it can detect a person breathing through a concrete wall. But, as we (and others) pointed out at the time, the limited mobility of a terrestrial robot limited the Cougar’s applications.
Most telepresence robots are geared toward providing the user with a remote presence in the workplace or home. TEROOS, a shoulder-mounted telepresence robot developed by researchers at Keio University and elsewhere in Japan, is making telepresence more of a social experience.
Manufacturing tiny, fragile wings is a delicate business, but using 3-D printing tech a team of Cornell roboticists have trimmed days off their usual production process by printing their fragile robots right on the workbench. That’s not just good news for ornithopter enthusiasts (surely they exist), but for aerospace engineers and entomologists as well.
Cracking combination locks has never been so easy. A group of engineering students at Olin College of Engineering have built a robot that will solve any MasterLock combination in a under two hours by running through all the possible combinations. Just set it and forget it.
To keep their communications from being intercepted, robots are learning to talk like cave-dwelling insects. An Australian researcher has tapped the odd mating call of the African cave cricket to allow robots to speak through rings of high-pressure air, ensuring that their communications won’t be overheard.
Who says robots can’t feel? Toyota showed off its humanoid robots’ ability to let the music move them last weekend in Tokyo at an event soundtracked by a couple of humanoids playing the violin and the trumpet with human accompaniment.
Johnny Lee wanted a telepresence robot, but he didn’t want to pay thousands of dollars for one. So he did what any good hacker would do: bought a netbook, bought a roomba-like iRobot, and built a simple one himself for about $500.
Usually when we report on DARPA’s robotic, brain-controlled prosthetic arm, we’re reporting on news from the lab. Soon we’ll be reporting from clinical trials. On Tuesday the Food and Drug Administration said it would fast-track the DARPA device, pushing it through the approval process with priority assistance in order to get it to amputees—many of which are returning from combat zones—as soon as four years from now.
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.