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 Museum of Modern Art's exhibition "Talk To Me" explores the complicated interactions between machines and their humans in a fun and fascinating way. Next week, the museum's holding an all-day symposium, open to the public.
It will feature discussions and presentations by curator Paola Antonelli and some 20 other luminaries, including chef Marcus Samuelsson, artist Natalie Jeremijenko, and performer Sputniko.
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.
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.
The tedious, carpal-tunnel-inducing pipette work of cell biologists may soon be relegated to robots, thanks to a new cell factory developed in Germany. This could free humans to perform new studies and ask new questions, as automated equipment takes over the time-consuming task of growing, feeding and observing cells in the lab.
Micro air vehicles, or MAVs, make for a tantalizing option for intelligence and surveillance agencies looking to surreptitiously gather information or deliver surveillance devices without being seen. But MAVs--usually modeled after small birds or insects-- are notoriously unstable in flight and difficult to maneuver in cluttered environments. So the Pentagon is handing out research contracts to make the DoD’s little robotic bugs more stable by making them more bug-like.
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.
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.
Last week, I visited Solingen, Germany's "city of blades," where knives, swords, and the like have been made for centuries. In between sipping beers and munching wursts, I paid a visit to the factory of Zwilling J.A. Henckels, at their kind invitation, to peer at the semi-roboticized lines where they produce their knives.
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.