Boston Dynamics' BigDog quadruped bot gets a lot of time in the spotlight it seems, but a new video shows its little brother has been making some serious strides in four-legged locomotion as well. LittleDog, a DARPA-funded project under development at USC, has learned how to evaluate seriously challenging terrain, negotiating gaps, unstable terrain, and difficult grades with ease and, dare we say, a little bit of grace.
As elegance in engineering goes, it doesn't get much better: a functioning ornithopter modeled after a swallowtail butterfly. Japanese researchers fashioned their faux swallowtail to mimic the precise flying motion of the real thing, hoping its unique flying motion can inform future aerodynamic designs.
We’re rolling out our annual invention awards today, so it’s perhaps a fitting coincidence that this video should surface of the so-called peasant inventor Wu Yulu, a Chinese farmer and robot hobbyist displaying his whimsical creations at Shanghai’s Rockbund Art Museum.
With the strains of "Ave Maria" playing in the background, a Japanese couple said their vows Sunday afternoon under the direction of a robot with flashing eyes and plastic pigtails. It was the first wedding performed by a robot, according to the manufacturer, Kokoro.
Automakers are already mass producing cars that will parallel park themselves, but the rudimentary sensor-based systems on the latest Lexus or Buick have nothing on Junior. The Stanford Racing Team's autonomous car can throw itself into reverse, jam the accelerator to the floor, and slam on the brakes at 25 miles per hour, sliding sideways into a parking space in a display that would make the Duke boys proud.
Anyone looking for work these days knows how hard it is to get your resume into the hands of a human. Fortunately, perhaps, it may soon be possible to get hired without that step.
Freelancer.com, an Australian jobs site, is using software algorithms that allow computers to automatically recruit, hire and pay workers to do a wide range of tasks, New Scientist reports.
"Software can now simply post a job and hire one, three, or 500 humans; software can now literally assemble an army overnight to solve complex problems," says Matt Barrie, Freelancer.com's CEO, in a press release.
Canadian researchers trying to integrate robots into our lives have come up with a pair of dancing, crying cell phone 'bots. The robots, called Callo and Cally, are cell phones with limbs.
Cally stands about 7 inches high and walks, dances and mimics human behavior. Callo stands about 9 inches tall, and his face, which is a cell phone display screen, shows human facial expressions when he receives text-messaged emotions. When he receives a smile emoticon, Callo stands on one leg, waves his arms and smiles. If he receives a frown, his shoulders slump and he will cry. If he gets an urgent message, or a really sad one, he'll wave his arms frantically.
Robots run amok have occasionally maimed or killed industrial workers, giving German researchers cause to wonder about a future where humans host robots in every home. In their study, the BBC reports, a robot arm was programmed to strike, stab and puncture using an array of household tools that included a steak knife, kitchen knife, scissors and screwdriver. Stabs and cuts inflicted on a silicone lump and the leg from a dead pig were deemed potentially lethal.
For now, mechanized household servants are pretty much limited to floor-cleaners -- though they do hold a special place in our hearts.
But what if a robot, after a long dinner party, could bus the table and head to the sink? Now there's a relationship we can build on. Japan's HRP-2 humanoid 'bot, pictured here, has learned to do just that.
James Cameron's love of science and high-tech cameras has previously shone through with his undersea documentaries -- not to mention Titanic or even Avatar. Now the film director is playing "public engagement co-investigator" on NASA's upcoming SUV-sized rover mission, which will carry full-color digital cameras and zoom lenses -- but it's a race to complete the lenses in time for the mission's 2011 launch.