Robotics

Researchers create jumping robot inspired by jumping spiders

Researchers create jumping robot inspired by jumping spiders

When most of us think of spiders, we think about little bugs that live in a web and try to catch bugs to eat. Not all spiders make webs though; some of them hunt their food and then jump to grab it. These jumping spiders are the inspiration behind a robot constructed at the University of Cape Town in South Africa called LEAP.

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Disney Research creates soft skin for robots

Disney Research creates soft skin for robots

Disney Research has detailed a new project in which it is developing soft skin for use on robots. The skin module, as it’s called, features an airtight cavity that is used to detect air pressure with a feedback controller. It wouldn’t be used for animatronics, however, instead being developed for use with toy-sized robots. These parts are 3D printed, and safe to have in use around delicate objects.

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Harvard’s robotic bee gets swimming ability

Harvard’s robotic bee gets swimming ability

Harvard’s robotic bee, aptly dubbed RoboBee, has been updated with new powers, in this case, swimming. The device is smaller than a paper clip and equipped with wings that allow it to fly around like an insect. It’s not the first tiny robot we’ve seen, but it is quickly becoming one of the most functional. Recently the researchers working on RoboBee revealed that it can now swim in water, making it suitable for at least two types of environments.

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Soft robotic hands no longer crush your objects

Soft robotic hands no longer crush your objects

Researchers at MIT have created a robot with the ability to identify the objects it picks up - at least their dimensions - by touch. This robot is working at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and utilizes a 3D-printed hand made with silicone rubber. Each of this robot's three fingers has sensors that, working together, are able to estimate the size and shape of an object. This system is accurate enough to allow the robot to identify objects from a set.

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Researchers use origami to build crawling, jumping robots

Researchers use origami to build crawling, jumping robots

One robot can can crawl on four "legs" without the need for any sort of motor. Another can jump to seven times its height. Both can fit on the palm of one hand. Yes, these are not your average robot and are not even close to any humanoid robot you may have seen. They look more like metallic origami figures, and that isn't that far from the truth. In fact, the researchers at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne or EPFL in Switzerland call these robots as "robogami".

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Russian researchers make realistic robot cockroaches

Russian researchers make realistic robot cockroaches

Russian scientists have created what they say is the smallest robot ever, and it comes in the form of a lowly cockroach. The robot walks like the insect and, excepting up-close examination, looks like it, too. Unlike real cockroaches, though, this small robot could serve humanity is some important -- and maybe bothersome -- ways. As one example, robots could slip through cracks to search for survivors under rubble.

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WEpod to be first self-driving shuttle on public roads

WEpod to be first self-driving shuttle on public roads

While some car makers and technology companies like Google are still somewhat scrambling to make self-driving private cars a reality on public roads, Netherlands might already be taking the next big step towards autonomous driving: public transport. Called the WEpods, these electric shuttles will be ferrying commuters between the towns of Wageningen and Ede in Gelderland starting November. And it won't be settling for just some special, restricted road. These self-driving pods will be cruising along public roads and rubbing shoulders with regular vehicles and drivers.

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Giant baby faced robot used to study infant expressions

Giant baby faced robot used to study infant expressions

Sure, a robot walking through the woods on its own is a bit disconcerting. A robotic big cat that can run you down? Worthy of some consternation. A robot with a giant baby face, though? Downright creepy. At least one such creation exists, however, thanks to a project by researchers at US San Diego. Among other things, the team found that babies and comedians have something in common.

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Boston Dynamics’ Spot robo-dog being tested by Marines

Boston Dynamics’ Spot robo-dog being tested by Marines

DARPA and Boston Dynamics’ robotic dog Spot, which we talked about back in February, is now being tested by the Marine Corps for possible use in warfare situations. DARPA trained Marines located at the Marine Corps Base in Quantico on how to operate Spot, which weighs 160 lbs. Among other things, Spot is being tested as a way to search for enemies ahead of Marines entering a building.

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Japan’s Pepper robot will soon have a snarky U.S. personality

Japan’s Pepper robot will soon have a snarky U.S. personality

Japan’s Pepper robot, the adorable little robotic helper that works at some stores in Japan, is getting a new personality for use in the United States. It is expected Pepper will come to the US in 2016, and when it does, it will be a little more sarcastic than its Japanese counterpart. Rather than bowing, the robot will offer up a high-five. And if you ask it a dumb question, you might get a sassy remark back.

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iRobot’s new Roomba 980 can be controlled with a smartphone

iRobot’s new Roomba 980 can be controlled with a smartphone

iRobot has rolled out its new Roomba 980, the latest among its long line of robotic vacuum cleaners. Says the company, the 980 is its best Roomba so far, able to clean better and handle itself in a more capable fashion than the previous version. This is the maker’s first Roomba to use visual localization and adaptive navigation together, as well as control from a mobile app over WiFi and the improved ability to suck dirt off your floor.

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Volvo garbage truck concept has a robot do all the lifting

Volvo garbage truck concept has a robot do all the lifting

Volvo has just announced a new joint venture product that aims to develop small, quiet robots that pick up your trash. Dubbed ROAR, for Robot-based Autonomous Refuse handling, the robots act as assistants to garbage truck drivers, taking care of the heavy lifting so they don't have to, and performing the task much more discreetly than the loud automated claw arms (seen above) in wide use today. It also helps to make the idea more appealing with the robots' concept design looking like something right out of a Pixar movie.

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