Meet Ant-Roach, an inflatable clackety six-legged robot with a protruding proboscis. It’s made of fabric inflatable actuators and pneumatic piping, and its limbs are driven by central manifolds that dispense compressed air. It’s tough enough that you can ride it, which is undeniably awesome.
When in doubt, look to nature. It’s the creed of the biomimicry movement, and it’s not lost on blue-sky thinkers over at DARPA. Research carried out by MIT and the Florida Institute of Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC) is delivering to the DoD a robotic biped that will run faster than Usain Bolt--perhaps as fast as 50 miles an hour eventually. Presenting DARPA’s robo-ostrich.
Japanese company NSK has pulled off the mother of all Kinect hacks, and all they had to do was build a fully functioning robotic dog around Microsoft’s gaming peripheral. With help from Tokyo-based University of Electro-Communications, NSK has built a robotic guide dog for the visually impaired that uses a Kinect to evaluate and understand its environment and help its owner safely navigate.
Keio University researchers are taking telepresence to the next logical level with a new “telexistence” robot called TELESAR V, a robotic platform that doesn’t just transport the user's eyes to another location, but also his or her ears and hands as well. The idea is to break through the limitations of time and space to allow a user to actually feel like he or she is present elsewhere via a remotely operated robot that returns three sensory stimuli back to the user.
We have a lot of love for microdrones here at PopSci--everything from bird-like flapping wing drones to cyborg insects controlled by microcomputers--so we’re thrilled to see the Air Force is showing them some love as well. The Air Force Research Lab has build a “Micro-Aviary” at Wright Patterson AFB in Ohio where tiny flying robots will be the central focus. And aside from being drone-centric, it is one sweet sensor-filled laboratory.
Trevor Prideaux was having trouble texting. Prideaux, who was born without his left forearm, used to have to balance his smartphone on his prosthetic arm or lay it on a flat surface to text, dial, or otherwise take advantage of the technology. So with some help form the Exeter Mobility Center in Devon, UK, the 50-year-old Prideaux has become the first person to have a smartphone dock embedded in his prosthetic limb.
Like most machines, Robots are generally built toward a purpose or a set of narrowly defined applications, like automobile manufacturing or explosive ordnance disposal or making doner kebabs. So how do you make a robot that is truly multi-utility, adaptable to any job? You make a robot that can make itself.
San Francisco-based Meka Robotics wants to make robots that are human-safe and human-scale, but their new S2 humanoid head is more anime than animal. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. Mechanically, it's a marvel: seven degrees of freedom, zero-backlash gearing in the neck, high-res cameras in each eye, and eyelids that move with the fluidity of the real thing.
The holy grail of prosthetics research is and has been a kind of “Luke Skywalker hand” interface--prosthetics that respond to stimulus from the brain and function just as the original appendage it is replacing. But ideally the prosthetic wouldn’t just respond to stimulus from the brain--it would also provide sensory stimulus to the brain. It would have a sense of touch. And in a paper published today in Nature, we see the groundwork for just such a breed of prostheses.