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Walking With Robots: A Look Inside Exciting New Technology From Berkeley Bionics (TCTV) - 1 views

  • The Berkeley-based startup is developing exciting new technology that is truly the stuff of comic books and, formerly, of science fiction. Specifically, the company is making wearable, artifi­cially intelligent bionic devices that it calls “exoskeletons”. This has taken shape in two significant forms: eLEGS and HULC. Both of which you can see (as well as an interview with Berkeley Bionics CEO Eythor Bender) in the accompanying video.
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Cutest Quadcopter Ever Sounds Like a Swarm of Angry Bees - IEEE Spectrum - 1 views

  • Instead of calling CrazyFlie (as it's known) a tiny quadcopter, it might be more accurate to just describe it as a PCB that happens to also be able to launch itself into the air. Measuring a scant 10 centimeters per side, CrazyFlie uses its PCB as a primary structural component, which helps keep the size and weight to a minimum... In total, we're talking about only 20 grams.

    Despite its tinyness, the quadcopter includes a charging port, radio, 3-axis accelerometer, two gyroscopes, and a lightweight 110 mAh LiPO battery that gives it about four and a half minutes of flying time: 

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robots.net - Swarming Micro Air Vehicle Network - 0 views

  • aims at developing swarms of flying robots that can be deployed in disaster areas to rapidly create communication networks for rescuers. Flying robots are interesting for such applications because they are fast, can easily overcome difficult terrain, and benefit from line-of-sight communication.
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Robotland: Rescue Robots & Systems Research in Japan - 0 views

  • The Special Project for Earthquake Disaster Mitigation in Urban Areas (2002-2006) conducted by the Earthquake Research Institute at the University of Tokyo. The project revealed the detailed geometry of the subducted Philippine Sea plate (PSP) beneath the Tokyo Metropolitan area and improved information needed for seismic hazards analyses of the largest urban centers. In 2007 the Special Project for Earthquake Disaster Mitigation in Tokyo Metropolitan Area started focusing at  the vertical proximity of the PSP down going lithospheric plate and the risks for the greater Tokyo urban region that has a population of 42 million and is the center of approximately 40 % of the nation's activities. A M 7 or greater (M 7+) earthquake in this region at present has high potential to produce devastating loss of life and property with even greater global economic repercussions. The Central Disaster Management Council of Japan estimated that a great earthquake in the region might cause 11,000 fatalities and 112 trillion yen (1 trillion US$) economic loss. The Earthquake Research Committee of Japan estimated a probability of 70 % in 30 years for a great earthquake in this region. 
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Diode propulsion could power microbots - tech - 15 March 2007 - New Scientist - 0 views

  • A new form of propulsion that could allow microrobots to explore human bodies has been discovered. The technique would be used to power robots and other devices such as microfluidic pumps from a distance.

    Finding a propulsion mechanism that works on the microscopic scale is one of the key challenges for developing microrobots. Another is to find a way to supply such a device with energy because there is so little room to carry on-board fuel or batteries.

    Now a team lead by Orlin Velev at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, US, has found that a simple electronic diode could overcome both these problems. Velev and Vesselin Paunov from the University of Hull, UK, floated a diode in a tank of salt water and zapped the set-up with an alternating electric field.

  • A new form of propulsion that could allow microrobots to explore human bodies has been discovered. The technique would be used to power robots and other devices such as microfluidic pumps from a distance.

    Finding a propulsion mechanism that works on the microscopic scale is one of the key challenges for developing microrobots. Another is to find a way to supply such a device with energy because there is so little room to carry on-board fuel or batteries.

    Now a team lead by Orlin Velev at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, US, has found that a simple electronic diode could overcome both these problems. Velev and Vesselin Paunov from the University of Hull, UK, floated a diode in a tank of salt water and zapped the set-up with an alternating electric field.

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One Per Cent: Microbots made to twist and turn as they swim - 0 views

  • Tiny microbots swimming through liquid invariably conjures up images of Isaac Asimov's sci-fi classic Fantastic Voyage.

    But while microbots exist, and they can be made to swim, it's getting them to change direction that has been tricky so far - a bit of an issue if you're even planning on sticking them in a human body, for instance.

    Now a system used to propel swimming microbots without the need for on-board fuel has brought this idea one step closer. Researchers at North Carolina State University have coaxed their bots to perform U-turns on command.
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robots.net - Microbots can now swim back and forth - 0 views

  • Until now you can have big elaborate robots or very small microbots but it is very difficult to have both. A blog post from New Scientist (where this video is from) points out the research on microbots, very small machines that will move, navigate and perform simple tasks. The ability to remotely power a microbot, thus eliminating the need for onboard battery or fuel, is already proven and one of the methods is the application of an AC field to a liquid where the robot is located. This microbot is essentially a diode, a one-way electric conductor. The different electric charges at its ends force the neighboring ions to move thus creating a small thrust that propels the bot. The team of Rachita Sharma and Orlin Velev from North Carolina State University developed a method where a controlled application of an additional DC field changes the ion distribution around the microbot and this time the ion field creates a torque that rotates the microbot. The DC field is applied until the completion of a 180-degree turn. Then the microbot moves again, now in the opposite direction. It is only 1.3mm long and as claimed by other scientists like Vesselin Paunov from the University of Hull, UK this arrangement can be further scaled down where it can be useful for diagnostic and localized drug supply applications.
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Automaton, Know Thyself: Robots Become Self-Aware: Scientific American - 0 views

  • Robots might one day trace the origin of their consciousness to recent experiments aimed at instilling them with the ability to reflect on their own thinking.

    Although granting machines self-awareness might seem more like the stuff of science fiction than science, there are solid practical reasons for doing so, explains roboticist Hod Lipson at Cornell University's Computational Synthesis Laboratory.

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This Robotic Dragonfly Flew 40 Years Ago | BotJunkie - 0 views

  • In the 1970s the CIA had developed a miniature listening device that needed a delivery system, so the agency’s scientists looked at building a bumblebee to carry it. They found, however, that the bumblebee was erratic in flight, so the idea was scrapped. An amateur entymologist on the project then suggested a dragonfly and a prototype was built that became the first flight of an insect-sized machine.

    A laser beam steered the dragonfly and a watchmaker on the project crafted a miniature oscillating engine so the wings beat, and the fuel bladder carried liquid propellant.

    Despite such ingenuity, the project team lost control over the dragonfly in even a gentle wind. “You watch them in nature, they’ll catch a breeze and ride with it. We, of course, needed it to fly to a target. So they were never deployed operationally, but this is a one-of-a-kind piece.”

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Robots with a human touch - A*STAR Research - 1 views

  • In recent years, ‘social’ robots—cleaning robots, nursing-care robots, robot pets and the like—have started to penetrate into people’s everyday lives. Saerbeck and other robotics researchers are now scrambling to develop more sophisticated robotic capabilities that can reduce the ‘strangeness’ of robot interaction. “When robots come to live in a human space, we need to take care of many more things than for manufacturing robots installed on the factory floor,” says Haizhou Li, head of the Human Language Technology Department at the A*STAR Institute for Infocomm Research. “Everything from design to the cognitive process needs to be considered.”
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Building a Super Robust Robot Hand - IEEE Spectrum - 0 views

  • German researchers have built an anthropomorphic robot hand that can endure collisions with hard objects and even strikes from a hammer without breaking into pieces.

    In designing the new hand system, researchers at the Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics, part of the German Aerospace Center (DLR), focused on robustness. They may have just built the toughest robot hand yet.

    The DLR hand has the shape and size of a human hand, with five articulated fingers powered by a web of 38 tendons, each connected to an individual motor on the forearm.

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Interview: iRobot's AVA Tech Demonstrator | BotJunkie - 0 views

  • With all of the new competition in the consumer robotics field, it’s about time for iRobot to show that they’re still capable of innovating new and exciting things. AVA, their technology demonstrator, definitely fits into the new and exciting category.

    AVA is short for ‘Avatar,’ although iRobot was careful not to call it a telepresence robot so as not to restrict perceptions of what it’s capable of. AVA is capable of fully autonomous navigation, relying on a Kinect-style depth sensing camera, laser rangefinders, inertial movement sensors, ultrasonic sensors, and (as a last resort) bump sensors. We got a run-down a few days ago at CES, check it out:

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Kinect-enabled robotic telepresence | Computer Vision Central - 0 views

  • Taylor Veltrop used a Kinect to read his arm movements which were then carried out by a robot. The robot was programmed using Willow Garage's open-source robot operating system (ROS). As Kit Eaton suggest, this quick experiment provides an illustration of the path towards robotic avatars.
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robots.net - It's Cognitive Robotics, Stupid! - 0 views

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Urus Project - 0 views

  • In this project we want to analyze and test the idea of incorporating a network of robots (robots, intelligent sensors, devices and communications) in order to improve life quality in urban areas. The URUS project is focused in designing a network of robots that in a cooperative way interact with human beings and the environment for tasks of assistance, transportation of goods, and surveillance in urban areas. Specifically, our objective is to design and develop a cognitive network robot architecture that integrates cooperating urban robots, intelligent sensors, intelligent devices and communications.
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Video: Impressive Strawberry Picking Robot - 1 views

  • Developed by Japan’s National Agriculture and Food Research Organization and other local institutions, the robot may sound boring (when compared to humanoids, for example), but it’s actually pretty cool. The main bullet points are that it automatically detects how ripe the strawberries are (which fruit is ready for harvesting) and that it cuts the stalks without damaging the strawberries.
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・ARMAR-III - 0 views

  • Continuing to work on a humanoid helper robot called ARMAR, the Collaborative Research Center 588: Humanoid Robots at the University of Karlsruhe began planning ARMAR-IIIa (blue) in 2006. It has 43 degrees of freedom (torso x3, 2 arms x7, 2 hands x8, head x7) and is equipped with position, velocity, and force sensors.  The upper-body has a modular design based on the average dimensions of a person, with 14 tactile sensors per hand.  Like the previous versions, it moves on a mobile platform.  In 2008 they built a slightly upgraded version of the robot called ARMAR-IIIb (red).  Both robots use the Karlsruhe Humanoid Head, which has 2 cameras per eye (for near and far vision).  The head has a total of 7 degrees of freedom (neck x4, eyes x3), 6 microphones, and a 6D inertial sensor.
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・HRP-2FX - 1 views

  • Bipedal humanoid robots can step over obstacles and negotiate stairs where their wheeled counterparts cannot, but this comes with the risk of falling down.  Naturally, humanoid robots will never be accepted in society if they break when they fall down.  The bigger the robot, the more likely it is that it will damage itself during a fall and be unable to get up.

    In 2003 the HRP-2P was the first full-scale humanoid that could fall over safely and get back up, and so far remains alone; not even Honda’s ASIMO can do this.  As soon as it detected that it was falling, the HRP-2P would bend its knees and back, which helped to reduce the ground impact.  This motion, called “UKEMI”, is quite similar to how the SONY QRIO would react when falling over to reduce the risk of damaging its components.

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SRI International's Electroadhesive Robots - 0 views

  • Events such as natural disasters, military actions, and public safety threats have led to an increased need for robust robots — especially ones that can travel across complex terrain in any dimension. The ability to scale vertical building surfaces or other structures offers unique capabilities in military applications such as urban reconnaissance, sensor deployment, and setting up urban network nodes. SRI's novel clamping technology, called compliant electroadhesion, has enabled the first application of this technology to wall-climbing robots that can help with these situations. 

    As the name implies, electroadhesion is an electrically controllable adhesion technology. It involves inducing electrostatic charges on a wall substrate using a power supply connected to compliant pads situated on the moving robot. SRI has demonstrated robust clamping to common building materials including glass, wood, metal, concrete, etc. with clamping pressures in the range of 0.5 to 1.5 N per square cm of clamp (0.8 to 2.3 pounds per square inch). The technology works on conductive and non-conductive substrates, smooth or rough materials, and through dust and debris. Unlike conventional adhesives or dry adhesives, the electroadhesion can be modulated or turned off for mobility or cleaning. The technology uses a very small amount of power (on the order of 20 microwatts/Newton weight held) and shows the ability to repeatably clamp to wall substrates that are heavily covered in dust or other debris.

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