Robotics

Google’s self-driving car takes on Mountain View streets

Google’s self-driving car takes on Mountain View streets

Let’s face it — driving is hard. Potholes, bike messengers, and everyone else’s terrible driving make for an often interesting experience behind the wheel, and that’s with a (hopefully) dynamic human mind. How will a machine react? Can a self-driving car learn all the subtle nuance of the road? Google thinks so, and has shown off their self-driving cars performance in the streets of their home town of Mountain View, California.

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GM Super Cruise self-driving car tech gets virtual playpen

GM Super Cruise self-driving car tech gets virtual playpen

GM is ramping up its self-driving car tests, using a new high-speed 360-degree simulator to test its upcoming Cadillac Super Cruise tech without having to fully build the vehicles first. Cadillac expects the first Super Cruise equipped models - which will take on some of the responsibility when on highways and in traffic - to appear in showrooms within the next 5-6 years, and has in fact already begun real-road testing of some prototypes.

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Honda ASIMO learns sign-language and masters stairs

Honda ASIMO learns sign-language and masters stairs

Honda has revealed a new version of ASIMO, its humanoid robot, now able to climb stairs smoothly and communicate using sign language. Shown off in New York this week, ASIMO may look the same as before to the casual glance, but Honda has in fact reworked both the upper and lower body, including adding extra degrees of freedom to the hands so that they can be used for more precise tasks.

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International Space Station’s robotic crew member gets legs

International Space Station’s robotic crew member gets legs

Robonaut 2 is a robot living aboard the International Space Station with its many scientists, taking on tasks that allow the crew to do more scientific research while it does menial labor. This beast was developed by NASA and GM (General Motors) and will - as of this week - be getting its own pair of Climbing Legs. These legs will allow the robot to be much more versatile than ever before.

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Google invests in Savioke robo service start-up

Google invests in Savioke robo service start-up

Google has invested in another robotics firm, with Google Ventures taking a stake in a mysterious new robo startup called Savioke that was launched by the tech guy behind the PR2 robot. Neither how much of the $2m seed finance Google Venture coughed up, nor indeed what Savioke and CEO Steve Cousins plan to do with the cash, have been disclosed, with the startup only saying that it is targeting the service industry.

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Zuta Labs Mini Mobile Robotic Printer roams page trailing ink

Zuta Labs Mini Mobile Robotic Printer roams page trailing ink

It's clearly a week for crowdfunding unusual printers, with multi-million raising home 3D printer The Micro followed by Zuta Labs Mini Mobile Robotic Printer, a shuffling printing puck small enough for your bag. Aiming for $400,000 on Kickstarter, the Zuta Labs printer is an apostrophe-shaped gadget that, rather than move a sheet of paper through it, physically roams across the page laying down ink as it goes.

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Robots employed as first fully automated solar panel cleaners

Robots employed as first fully automated solar panel cleaners

We may not yet have achieved our Jetsons utopia, but advancements in robotics have happened at a clipped rate over the years, and slowly robotic devices have worked their way into many industries, taking over tasks that would be difficult or needlessly wasteful if performed by adults. One such task is keeping a field of solar panels in the desert clean, something Ecoppia E4 robots are doing at one Israeli solar field.

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SociBot-Mini: a spooky robot that wears any face

SociBot-Mini: a spooky robot that wears any face

SociBot-Mini is a 60-centimetre-high bot that can adorn a friend’s face and even predict your mood or guess your age. Spooked? The brainchild of Will Jackson and his colleagues at Engineered Arts in Penryn, UK, the robot has many human features like a transparent plastic face, nose contours, mouth and eyes. Most of these features are highlighted due to the backlighting which is enhanced with a digital projector.

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