Robotics

Amazon Echo’s weirdest talent is making you feel heard

Amazon Echo’s weirdest talent is making you feel heard

Amazon’s Echo is a lot of things - shopping companion, music player, portal to Wikipedia - but its most surprising feature says more about human comfort with next-gen electronics. Echo’s cleverness is in the cloud; the black column of its local hardware is really just a gateway to that remote functionality. Yet it also has to satisfy a few core requirements, such as demonstrating attentiveness. The solution Amazon came up with is both simple and elegant.

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3D printed robot built like a squid, hops like a rocket

3D printed robot built like a squid, hops like a rocket

A squishy, explosively-bouncing robot might herald the next age of 'bot design and could almost be a robo-squid, if only it had a beak. 3D printed robots aren't new, but this is the first time graduated layers of hardness have been used, allowing the explosion-powered blob created by engineers led by Nicholas Bartlett at Harvard University to not only adjust the direction it bounces off in, but to deform in a controlled way on landing that balances preserving the electronics while landing elegantly.

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BUDDY robot is your family pet, guard, nanny, and more

BUDDY robot is your family pet, guard, nanny, and more

Did Softbank's hot selling Pepper robot leave you yearning for some robot love? The BUDDY might be a fit for your. Sure, he (or it) may not be as emotionally mature as Pepper, or anthropomorphic for that matter, but BUDDY is poised to be more functional and therefore more useful at home. Almost like the perfect butler, BUDDY can perform many tasks like waking each family member up, guarding the hose when everyone is away, turn off smart appliances, or even play with your kids.

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Inside FIRST’s scheme to make Android the heart of STEM robotics

Inside FIRST’s scheme to make Android the heart of STEM robotics

For a platform called Android, it’s surprising that it’s taken this long to see it jump into robotics, but if FIRST and Qualcomm have their way a new generation of young people will make it the de-facto standard. FIRST - the organization set up by Dean Kamen of Segway fame “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology” - announced back in March it would drop LEGO for Android for one of its robotics tournaments, and while those games don’t start until 2016, I stopped by this year’s FIRST Championship in St. Louis to get a preview of the system.

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Bring it! Japan accepts giant robot fight challenge

Bring it! Japan accepts giant robot fight challenge

Oh it's definitely on! Since MegaBots Inc. appealed to nationalism, without anyone asking them to, challenged Suidobashi Heavy Industries to the world's first ever giant robot fight. Of course, the Japanese robotics company had no choice but to accept, also in the name of Japan. Especially after the country's defeat in the Women's World Cup yesterday at the hands of who else but the US. That said, Suidobashi isn't going to simply play into MegaBots' hands and is dictating its own requirements for the battle.

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US Army develops arm exoskeleton to speed up shooting skills

US Army develops arm exoskeleton to speed up shooting skills

The US Army has developed an exoskeleton designed to be worn over the arm, and its purpose is to help future soldiers develop their marksmanship skills without the long duration of training typically involved. The mechatronic arm exoskeleton, as it is being called, is currently in testing as a future potential training tool. The benefits could exceed the speed of skill acquisition, as well, having other benefits like reducing the amount of ammunition used during training and, thusly, reducing training costs.

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3D printed seahorse tails inspire tougher robots

3D printed seahorse tails inspire tougher robots

Seahorses might not seem the ideal animal to inspire tough new robots, but torture-testing of 3D tail models suggests the whimsical creatures may be hardier than we think. Unlike most animal tails, which are circular in cross-section, seahorse tails are formed from square prisms, each surrounded by bony plates and interconnected by joints. Turns out, that unusual structure has some big advantages, which could lead to sturdy yet flexible search-and-rescue robots, or even new types of body-armor.

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US vs JP giant robot fight fantasy might be reality soon

US vs JP giant robot fight fantasy might be reality soon

If you pit a Gundam against a Jaeger, which one would win? While we are still probably decades away from seeing such a battle ensue, presuming there would ever be a justification for one, we can, perhaps settle for the next best thing. Or the next smaller thing. The gloves are off as US-based MegaBots Inc. has just issued a challenge to Japan's Suidobashi Heavy Industries for the robot battle of the decade. This is no almost comic Robot Wars. This is full scale, head-on Giant Robot Fight!

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LEGO Maker program aims to put robotic bricks in creators’ hands

LEGO Maker program aims to put robotic bricks in creators’ hands

LEGO announces their next effort to engage the creators of the world with LEGO "prototyping kits". These kits will be sent out to 50 "makers" as a part of their "Are You a LEGO Maker?" program, encouraging people to create the most innovative pieces of industrial design they can conjure up. With LEGO bricks, of course. LEGO is also providing makers access to a LEGO MINDSTORMS Expert Builder "who can offer suggestions and guidance" as well as inspiration from the Lemelson Center.

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Brick-laying robot can ‘3D print’ a home in two days

Brick-laying robot can ‘3D print’ a home in two days

Robots can do a lot of things, from smart pills to 3D printing an entire steel bridge. This robot-powered invention from Perth, Australia's Fastbrick Robotics can lay bricks more efficiently than a team of humans, building a brick exterior of a home in just two days. It's really a giant 3D printer for homes. The creators dubbed the robot Hadrian, named after the Roman emperor who built the vast, eponymous Hadrian's Wall.

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Robo-Mate exoskeleton gives industry workers a hand

Robo-Mate exoskeleton gives industry workers a hand

They actually give them two hands, two legs, and superhuman strength. Sort of. Dubbed as the first industrial exoskeleton, the Robo-Mate aims to literally take a load off labor workers shoulders, backs, and limbs and help them get through the most strenuous parts of their job. Although it's still a long way to go before a finished product is ready, the exoskeleton already shows promise, bringing a bit of robotics into the workplace without threatening to displace humans as the primary actors of the industry.

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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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