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Robotics

January 2011 Previous month
  NASA engineers successfully integrated and completed system testing on a new robotic lander recently at Teledyne Brown Engineering’s facility in Huntsville in support of the Robotic Lunar Lander Project at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. The lander prototype was placed on modified skateboards and a customized track system as a low-cost solution to control movement during final testing of the prototype’s sensors, onboard computer, and thrusters. The prot ...
  Duncan Winsbury, a former station manager at the Fire & Rescue Service in Derbyshire, England, set out to build a robot that could find and retrieve cold-water drowning victims fast. Winsbury explained his vision to Jesse Rodocker, the co-founder of Seattle robot-maker SeaBotix, and the duo made SARbot, upgrading a shoebox-size remotely operated sub typically used to salvage shipwrecks. The robot transmits sonar and video data to land via a cable. Rescuers then can use its arm to latc ...
Intuitive Automata is introducing a new version of Autom, which is a personal robotic weight-loss coach. The robot has been shown to greatly increase a dieter's chance of success by providing the continuous, engaging support that hundreds of millions of people need to reach their weight loss goals. Autom has a short conversation with you every day to help you keep track of your eating and exercise quickly and simply. She provides feedback, advice, and encouragement to keep you motivated and no t ...
  Rolf Mueller, Virginia Tech associate professor of mechanical engineering, has traveled the world investigating the prolific species, using his fascination with the creatures to further a research program focusing on sensing technology for robots. Most autonomous systems have lasers, sonar, or video cameras that can deliver vast streams of two- and three-dimensional data, helping the robot or aircraft sense its position and the obstacles it must face. But sometimes there’s just too ...
  One multitasking robot can build semiconductors for solar cells on six-inch-square plates of glass, plastic or flexible metals in just over half an hour. Six of these tireless mechanical workers, chugging away at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Colorado. Each robot acts as a central hub or master chef that pivots around to dish out plates to different chambers. In the chambers, semiconductors are built up layer by micro-thin layer, or crystals which help make the solar ...
German researchers have built an anthropomorphic robot hand that can endure collisions with hard objects and even strikes from a hammer without breaking into pieces. The DLR hand has the shape and size of a human hand, with five articulated fingers powered by a web of 38 tendons, each connected to an individual motor on the forearm. The main capability that makes the DLR hand different from other robot hands is that it can control its stiffness. The motors can tension the tendons, allowing the h ...
  Some type of trees disperse their seeds by releasing ‘helicopters’, those single-winged seeds that are also called ‘samaras’. As these seeds fall to the ground, their wing causes them to swirl and spin in a process called autorotation, similar to man-made helicopters. In a new study, researchers have designed and built a mechanical samara whose dynamics are very similar to those of nature’s samaras. After testing the mechanical samara, the researchers then bu ...
In a first-of-its-kind experiment, University of Vermont roboticist Josh Bongard created both simulated and actual robots that, like tadpoles becoming frogs, change their body forms while learning how to walk. And, over generations, his simulated robots also evolved, spending less time in ‘infant’ tadpole-like forms and more time in ‘adult’ four-legged forms. These evolving populations of robots were able to learn to walk more rapidly than ones with fixed body forms. And, ...
Bangkok University is developing robotic waiters that can take your order and deliver it to your table as part of the ‘MK Robot Project’. The robot waiters are to be part of MK restaurants new service robots that will take your order and deliver your food. MK Restaurants ordered the first lot of 10 robots even though they were still in prototype development. Nevertheless, the company expects to make delivery in the first quarter of next year. “We hope to get the robots to do so ...
Researchers at Northwestern University have created a robotic fish that can move from swimming forward and backward to swimming vertically almost instantaneously by using a sophisticated, ribbon-like fin. The research team, led by Malcolm MacIver, associate professor of mechanical and biomedical engineering at Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, based their robot on a species of fish called the black ghost knifefish. Planning for the robot, called GhostBot, ...
  With the economy being as bad as it is, it may become even harder to find a job come January 28th when the HRP-4 becomes available to consumers. The humanoid robot, developed by Tokyo-based Kawada Industries and Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Sciences and Technology, is programmed to deliver mail, pour coffee, and recognize its co-workers' faces. Bill Gates predicted that the future would bring a "robot in every home." In the foreseeable future, though, it may be a robo ...
  There are already a few telepresence robots on the market, but none that use Apple’s iPad. iRobot's AVA is a self-navigating, tablet-controlled droid that can map out environments, project your presence into remote locations, and turn virtually any app into a mobile platform. AVA, short for "avatar," is a three-wheel platform that runs on software from the company's military robots like PackBot. It has a Wi-Fi-linked tablet mounted on a mast that can move up and down, from about 3 f ...
  Every year, starting in 2005, MIT has what it calls the ‘Useless Ball’, where students show off their ‘what if’ projects. Sort of a useless device symposium. Five finalist teams are awarded $100 each to manufacture a prototype of their design. The winner is then determined by an audience applause-o-meter. Students Barry Kudrowitz, Bill Fienup and Marc Graham decided to build a robot that dispenses ketchup called the ‘Catsup Crapper’. They accomplished t ...
I have been saying for years that the world needs more robotic balls. Did anyone listen? A company called ‘Orbotix’ did with their introduction of ‘Sphero’ at this year’s CES. Sphero is a robotic ball that can be controlled from an iOS, Windows Phone, or Android device that has Bluetooth. The beauty of Sphero is that the function isn't determined by the physical device, but by the software that is controlling it. For instance, a RC car is always a RC car, but Sphero ...

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