Robotics

SoftBank’s emotion-sensing robot Pepper goes on sale in Japan on June 20

SoftBank’s emotion-sensing robot Pepper goes on sale in Japan on June 20

SoftBank, one of Japan's three largest telecom companies, has just announced that Pepper, its "emotionally intelligent" robot, will finally begin limited sales on June 20th. The launch will be limited to just 1,000 units sold within Japan only, with robot priced at roughly $9,000, including several fees paid over a 3-year period. First unveiled last June, Pepper is said to be capable of understanding emotions including joy, sadness, and anger, as well as analyzing expressions, gestures, and voice tones.

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Moths could gift low-light vision to new micro-drones

Moths could gift low-light vision to new micro-drones

Moths might not be the first animals you'd think to emulate when you're designing new micro-drones, but robots could learn at lot from how their eyes work. A team at Georgia Institute of Techology figured out that moths can purposefully slow their brain activity so as to see better in low-light conditions, keeping their nectar-sipping position at flowers even when the plants are moving, and potentially opening the door to future machine vision systems that can react accurately even in the depth of night.

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Robot samurai is real: man, machine face off in swordplay

Robot samurai is real: man, machine face off in swordplay

Forget SkyNet. This is the robot you should be looking out for. We've seen quite a few robotic arms that move and grip with grace and finesse to replicate the capabilities of the human hand, but there is one case that requires an insane amount of grace, strength, and concentration that has not yet been tested on robots. Until today. Yaskawa Electronics has brought its MOTOMAN-MH24 robot to learn from and compete against Isao Machii, a 5-time world record holder in the art of iaijyutsu, combative quick-draw sword technique.

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Here are the big winners in DARPA’s Robotics Challenge

Here are the big winners in DARPA’s Robotics Challenge

A South Korean team has won DARPA's Robotic Challenge Finals, besting US rivals and taking home $2m after demonstrating its disaster-response 'bot. The robot, DRC-HUBO, beat out 22 other teams, each rising to the US government agency's challenge to create a machine able to enter hazardous areas - such as the radioactive zone left by the Fukushima nuclear explosion in 2011 - and carry out tasks that would normally demand human dexterity.

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DARPA Robotics Challenge seeks disaster response robots

DARPA Robotics Challenge seeks disaster response robots

Disasters happen, but humans have made great strides toward reducing their impact. Robots will prove to be one of the bigger assets we'll use to aid in future disaster situations, and work is underway now to make that a reality. DARPA has contributed a lot to the world of robotics, and to show off the tech that already exists is DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC); its finals are taking place today and tomorrow in California. Teams competing in the finals will scramble to create robots that, ultimately, have a relevance to disaster response needs.

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This realistic R2-D2 is actually a rolling refrigerator

This realistic R2-D2 is actually a rolling refrigerator

BB-8 might be the newest beeping robot darling of the Star Wars world, which may be coming to a toy store near you, but nothing still beats the classic appeal of fan favorite R2-D2. Especially when he delivers you your beer or soda. Yes, "R" is for "refrigerator. In Japan (because where else?), Haier Asia unveiled a very authentic looking R2-D2 that can roll about wherever you guide it. Except this one doesn't bear a message to Obiwan inside. Instead, it holds cans of your favorite refreshment.

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Japanese robot could replace your moving company, shoves like a human

Japanese robot could replace your moving company, shoves like a human

In a robot, strength is important, but sometimes it's more important how the strength is directed. If you've ever had to move a refrigerator, you know that the best course of action involves pushing or pulling the object instead of lifting up, directly. The latest human-like robot developed by the University of Tokyo's JSK Laboratory takes that logic and expands on it, pushing, pulling, and scooting washing machine and large objects. The robot uses impressive posture and crouches, bracing itself so well that if it were human, it would be protecting its back from lifting strain.

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Tiny self-folding origami robot walks, swims, and then dissolves

Tiny self-folding origami robot walks, swims, and then dissolves

MIT researchers are at it again. This time, a joint research team with TU Munich has developed a self-folding origami robot capable of a range of tasks. The robot can even self-destruct after it completes its mission. The tiny device starts completely flat, and is made from ultra-thin laser-cut polystyrene layers that sandwich a magnet and PVC. The self-folding process is instigated by placing the tiny machine over a heating element. The PVC then contracts along the laser-cut lines, creating folds. The robot weighs only 0.31g and is 1.7cm long, laid flat. It can "walk" at a top speed of 4 cm per second.

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MIT’s latest robot cheetah can jump higher than you

MIT’s latest robot cheetah can jump higher than you

MIT's Biomimetics Robotics Lab has created a new version of its robotic cheetah. The Cheetah 2 is capable of even more animal-like actions than DARPA's faster and simpler predecessor. The Cheetah 2 can reliably identify and jump over objects up to 40 cm (about 15 inches) high. When it jumps, it mimics the movements of an actual cheetah, creating a double arc as its fore and high legs clear the hurdle.

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Robotic pill being developed as replacement for injection medications

Robotic pill being developed as replacement for injection medications

At some point in the future, you may no longer need to suffer through injections to have certain medications administered. The Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis and the US biotech startup Rani Therapeutics have revealed they will together in developing a "robotic pill" that could simply be swallowed and then deliver drugs to the body via needles made of sugar. This has the potential to make taking certain medication much more convenient for patients, as it could be a new delivery method for drugs that have never been possible in pill form before.

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Disney turns 3D animation into a walking robot

Disney turns 3D animation into a walking robot

In the future, when you see your favorite characters walking around Disney World, they might not be actors inside thick, stuffy character suits, but could be automated robots, instead. The scientific arm of Disney has just created a new method of bringing its animated characters to life. A team of engineers from Disney Research in Pittsburgh and the Robotics Institute of Carnegie Mellon University have developed a bipedal, walking robot that moves just like specified 3D animation.

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“Creepy” Google robot toys would be your smart home butler

“Creepy” Google robot toys would be your smart home butler

Google is flirting with the concept of interactive robotic toys, that could provide a personable - or just plain creepy - interface to the smart home. The research, revealed in a recently published patent, is the handiwork of Richard Wayne DeVaul of Google [X], the search giant's unorthodox skunkworks lab: like a cuddly, moving version of Amazon Echo, the robo-pals would listen out for trigger words and then subsequent spoken instructions, capable of responding with not only speech but actions and expressions.

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