Robotics

Alphabet’s Intrinsic breaks cover to teach old robots new tricks

Alphabet’s Intrinsic breaks cover to teach old robots new tricks

Alphabet has started up a new robotics company, Intrinsic, with Google's parent firm looking to make smarter industrial 'bots. The announcement comes shortly after Alphabet sold Boston Dynamics - known for its attention-grabbing human and animal inspired robots - to Hyundai, but it seems Intrinsic will focus on a very different area of the field.

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BTS’ dance moves look a lot creepier when it’s Boston Dynamics’ robots doing them

BTS’ dance moves look a lot creepier when it’s Boston Dynamics’ robots doing them

Hyundai has welcomed Boston Dynamics into the fold, though while the robot dogs may be able to keep up with superband BTS' dance moves it's all still a little creepy. The South Korean automaker inked a deal with SoftBank to take majority ownership of Boston Dynamics earlier this year, and given Hyundai's existing promo deals with the band it was only a matter of time before a mashup.

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Heineken BOT is an autonomous beer cooler that follows you around

Heineken BOT is an autonomous beer cooler that follows you around

If it's summer where you live, you're likely spending many hours outdoors. A cold beer is a refreshing companion on a hot summer day, but there's a downside: having to lug around a heavy cooler full of cans. Here to solve that first-world problem is B.O.T, an autonomous cooler from beer company Heineken that can follow you around just about anywhere you go.

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SoftBank’s Pepper robot reportedly gets the chop

SoftBank’s Pepper robot reportedly gets the chop

SoftBank's Pepper robot has ceased production and is unlikely to return, insiders say, a premature retirement for the anthropomorphized robo-humanoid. Revealed back in 2014, Pepper was billed as "emotion-sensing" thanks to expression and voice analysis, a technique which SoftBank said would make the robot more welcome in retail environments.

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TRI reveals new robotics capabilities for complex tasks in the home

TRI reveals new robotics capabilities for complex tasks in the home

Toyota Research Institute (TRI) has revealed new robotics capabilities to solve complex tasks in the home environment. Roboticists were able to train robots to understand and operate in complicated situations that would confuse typical robots. The complex situations included recognizing and responding to transparent and reflective surfaces in a variety of circumstances.

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Hyundai now controls Boston Dynamics and its clever/creepy robots

Hyundai now controls Boston Dynamics and its clever/creepy robots

Hyundai has finalized its acquisition of Boston Dynamics, taking a controlling stake in the robotics company and revealing some of its plans for the company's robo-dogs and two-legged 'bots. The deal - first announced in December last year - is part of what Hyundai is describing as "its strategic transformation into a Smart Mobility Solution Provider" rather than simply an automaker.

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Unitree’s four-legged robot is surprisingly affordable

Unitree’s four-legged robot is surprisingly affordable

Robots tend to fall into a few different classes. Some robots are inexpensive toys aimed at enthusiasts, and others are extremely expensive products aimed at emergency services, the military, and researchers. The "real" robots aimed at professional and scientific use tend to be extremely expensive. For example, Boston Dynamics has a four-legged robot called Spot that costs about $74,000.

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Researchers bring the sense of touch to robotic prosthetics

Researchers bring the sense of touch to robotic prosthetics

The human sense of touch is critical to being able to perform many activities of daily living. We take our ability to feel how heavy a cup of hot liquid is and make adjustments without thinking about it to prevent liquid from spilling from the cup. For people who use prosthetic devices, even advanced futuristic mind-controlled prosthetics of the future won't have the normal human sense of touch to rely on. Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh Rehab and Neural Engineering Labs have shown a new method that describes how adding brain stimulation can provide tactile sensations making it easier for operators of a brain-controlled robotic arm to manipulate the prostatic.

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Strange robotic thumb can impact how the hand is represented in the brain

Strange robotic thumb can impact how the hand is represented in the brain

UCL researchers have created a strange robotic "third thumb" that attaches to the hand and adds a large extra digit on the opposite side of the hand from the thumb. Researchers found that using the robotic thumb can impact how the hand is represented in the brain. For the research, scientists trained people to use an extra robotic thumb and found they could effectively carry out dexterous tasks such as building a tower of blocks using a single hand with two thumbs.

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Researchers attempt to help robots learn to use soft materials like rope

Researchers attempt to help robots learn to use soft materials like rope

Researchers from the University of Michigan are working on making robots more functional and capable in the real world. Researchers working on the study say the models robots use to perform tasks typically work well in a structured environment inside the laboratory. However, when the robots are used outside the laboratory, some of the most sophisticated models prove inadequate in certain situations. Situations that prove particularly difficult for robots to perform are working with soft materials like rope or cloth.

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AiFoam helps robots interact with their environment

AiFoam helps robots interact with their environment

Researchers at the National University of Singapore have created something they call AIFoam. The material is a smartphone designed to give machines a more human-like sense of touch, allowing robots to judge human intentions and respond to changes in the environment. Artificially innervated foam, or AIFoam, is a new material that's soft and spongy. It's designed to mimic the sense of human touch and can sense nearby objects without actually having to touch them.

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BOBbots are tiny robots able to perform tasks as a group

BOBbots are tiny robots able to perform tasks as a group

Researchers from Georgia Tech have been conducting experiments designed to show the simplest of robots can still accomplish tasks. The team created a group of robots they call BOBbots, which stands for "behaving, organizing, buzzing bots." The robots are made using a cylindrical chassis with vibrating brushes underneath and lose magnets on the periphery. The magnets cause them to spend more time at locations with more neighbors.

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