robots

Robot Love: Inside Dean Kamen’s FIRST Championship 2014

Robot Love: Inside Dean Kamen’s FIRST Championship 2014

The screaming in the stadium is so loud, I can hardly hear the announcer. Enthusiasm spills from the stands in waves; only gets louder when President Obama appears on the big screen for an unexpected address. The Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis isn’t playing host to the Rams as usual, however; instead, the seats are filled with row after row of students from K-3 up to high school age, all here for the FIRST Championship 2014. Brainchild of Dean Kamen - better known perhaps for being the father of the Segway - this is no ordinary robotics competition.

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Morphing DIY robot looks like a Portal ‘bot for real

Morphing DIY robot looks like a Portal ‘bot for real

Don't look now if scuttling robots send shivers of dread down your spine: engineer Kåre Halvorsen is bringing the sort of transforming 'bot tech you'd expect to see in CGI movies to life, with his new hexapod. The spherical robot, dubbed MorpHex MKII, actually is a double-hexapod, with effectively two sets of legs paired back to back, and integrated into individual sections of the translucent outer shell so that it can both roll around and walk.

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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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Robo-termite builders could colonize Mars without our help

Robo-termite builders could colonize Mars without our help

Robotic termites capable of building complex structures without requiring human supervision, prior programming, or even intercommunication could change the way construction, emergency services, or even space exploration are managed, borrowing swarm behaviors from nature. The TERMES project, handiwork of the self-organizing systems research group at Harvard University, has taken four years to create a scalable artificial intelligence system made up of simplistic robots that together can create towers, pyramids, and castles, even erecting temporary staircases to allow them to climb higher.

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10 years from now it’s Google’s world: we’ll just be living in it

10 years from now it’s Google’s world: we’ll just be living in it

I don't have a crystal ball, so it's hard for me to see into the future like some. But the writing appears to be on the wall in the technology industry: Google, the company that made a name for itself in search, will go on to become the most influential and important company in the world within the next decade. Moreover, the company's efforts will turn us all into citizens of a world we'll call Google.

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