Proving that robots really do have a place at the pub -- time to change your archaic anti-droid policies, Mos Eisley Cantina -- the team over at Willow Garage has programmed one of its PR2 robots to play a pretty impressive game of pool. More impressively, they did it in just under one week.
It can be very difficult to coax every individual on a soccer squad into stepping up the level of play all at the same time (just ask Australia's World Cup team). But at the RoboCup, the American team is doing just that, using a new physics-based algorithm that helps their footballing 'bots not only execute plays but to anticipate where the action on the field is likely to unfold next.
Sure, you can make a robot walk or cook or even play beer pong, but can you make a robot friendly? Ben-Gurion University of the Negev wants to know, so the Israeli university will host the world's first international competition to build a robot that can shake a human hand.
As oil spill estimates continue to worsen, frustration in the Gulf Coast is reaching a boiling point. But one possible reason people may feel like nothing is happening because people are not doing the bulk of the work -- robots are.
Remotely operated robots are shooting video, carrying equipment, drilling pieces into place, and monitoring the flow of oil. BP has contracted with at least four robotics companies, including Oceaneering International Inc., Subsea 7 and C-Innovation, to do the work, according to NPR.
Call it job creation: this week a handful of sea lions and dolphins trained to locate undersea mines earned their jobs back, jobs that were supposed to be turned over to undersea mine-sweeping robots. And why were these seafaring mammals brought back into service? To find the very robots that were supposed to replace them, four of which have gone AWOL somewhere off the coast of Virginia. You can't make this stuff up.
In the U.S., we often complete the run-up to graduation by writing 25 pages of extremely dry thesis that is typically read and appraised by a single person before being relegated to the library stacks forever. Bi Heng, a student at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in China, decided that instead he would create a 4-ton, $43,000 Transformer-inspired sculpture honoring legendary Chinese general Guan Yu.
Two rotors are better than one, and if our recent excitement over UPenn’s quadcopter is any indication, four rotors is better than two. Sometimes. Researchers at the ETH Zurich recognize that different tasks call for different aircraft, and with that in mind they’ve designed the Distributed Flight Array, a flying platform consisting of multiple small autonomous single rotor aircraft that can dock with one another to create a larger, more powerful aircraft.
Neural networks -- collections of artificial neurons or nodes set up to behave like the neurons in the brain -- can be trained to carry out a variety of tasks, often having something to do with pattern or sequence recognition. As such, they have shown great promise in image recognition systems. Now, research coming out of the University of Hong Kong has shown that neural networks can hear as well as see. A neural network there has learned the features of sound, classifying songs into specific genres with 87 percent accuracy.
Fully embracing the notion that there’s no point in building a UAV if it doesn’t make other UAVs look completely lame by comparison, UPenn’s GRASP Lab has developed an autonomous quadcopter that does a lot more than hover. It flips, dives, twists and otherwise dazzles, executing aggressive aerial maneuvers like dashing through tight windows with just three inches clearance and zipping in between other hovering quadcopters with graceful ease. All by itself.
PackBot, iRobot's longtime military robot, is getting some new cousins that just may be the most efficient cleaner bots yet. Nicknamed Warrior, the PackBot lookalike launches a rocket that tows a string of grenades to blow up land mines, barbed wire or other obstacles.
iRobot unveiled Warrior over Memorial Day weekend, and this impressive video (after the jump) might make you proud to be a robot-loving American.