Within the confines of the PopSci universe, the Da Vinci surgical robot requires no introduction. But while we've seen Da Vinci do some amazing things--most notably, perform prostate surgery, though lacing the football and making paper planes were pretty cool too--we're always thrilled to see the dexterous machine do something else. And so we bring you this footage of Da Vinci, peeling a grape like peeling grapes is easy.
Researchers at the National University of Singapore are enhancing robots’ sense of touch by mimicking the ridged and contoured surfaces of human fingertips. Fingerprints, it turns out, don’t just give humans better grip but also carry out a sensitive type of signal processing. By imparting that same kind of signal processing to robots, we could reduce the processing loads to robots’ CPUs and help them better identify objects through their shapes.
America's drone fleet has become an increasingly relied-upon wing of its counter-insurgency strategy and plays a key role in its geopolitical policy, particularly in Pakistan where unmanned aircraft routinely venture into sovereign territory and deliver lethal payloads to targets on the ground.
Our favorite Twitter ‘bot--no, like an actual robot that tweets--is out of the box and live-tweeting its new life on the International Space Station. Robonaut 2 was actually unboxed several months ago (it was delivered by the final Discovery mission in February) but has been sitting idly, waiting for the crew to get around to firing it up. Now R2 is plugged in, and man is it ever chatty.
"One time we dropped it out of a helicopter from more than 100 feet," one of the designers tells me. "The worst that happened was that one wheel was slightly damaged so it wanted to drive a little wobbly. But it still rolled."
I'm at AUVSI's (that's the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International) Unmanned Systems North America convention at the Recon Robotics booth, checking out the company's Scout reconnaissance robot, a tiny two-wheeled system weighing just more than a pound. It's a diminutive machine, about the size of a tallboy beer can. And I've just been invited to chuck it over an eight-foot wall.
At AUVSI's (Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International) massive robot conference in D.C. this week there is no shortage of robots designed to seek out--and in some cases destroy--human targets. Sandia National Labs chose to go in the opposite direction with their Gemini-Scout, a remotely controlled rolling robot designed specifically to lead search and rescue efforts in the event of a mining disaster.
It seems like a lot of trouble just to retrieve a book from a shelf, but this video of a distributed parallel system--a robot swarm--pulling some Tom-Cruise-before-the-Mission-Impossible-franchise-went-off-the-rails theatrics is pretty amazing--not only for the grappling hooks and blinking lights, but because "Swarmanoid" really is a true recon robot.
Singing robots are nothing new, but this one from the National Taiwan University of Science and Technology in Taipei is the first one that we know of that actually reads a musical score before performing it. Nevermind the fact that watching it do so is undeniably uncomfortable--the researchers behind this humanoid head say that someday a collection of them could form a theatrical robotic musical troupe.
By Victor Youk,18, MIT freshman, as told to Ryan BradleyPosted 08.15.2011 at 10:14 am 3 Comments
Usually high-school rocket clubs launch an egg and try to have it land safely. But our teacher suggested that we do something harder: enter a competition to build a Mars rover that could be deployed from a rocket. A few of us started working on it. The goal was to launch a robot 1,000 feet in the air, have it land safely on the ground, and then drive it about 30 feet. But the robot had to fit inside a rocket that was just four inches in diameter and 20 inches long—it looked like a stick.
Willow Garage's PR2 has provided a unique, open source robotics platform to all kinds of labs and institutions that otherwise wouldn't have access to a complex robotics system--but not to that many. For all the absolutely cool things you can do with PR2, the $400,000 price tag is prohibitive--only about two dozen commercial and academic labs have their own PR2s. So, in an attempt to make their robot more accessible, Willow Garage is introducing the PR2 SE this week, a pared-down version of the same robot costing a mere $285,000.