November 23, 2010

CHARLI Takes a Walk

Dennis Hong, Virginia Tech associate professor of Mechanical Engineering, recently released a video of CHARLI walking, their humanoid project. The team explains why they are interested in the subject as well as showing off the next generation's new leg. Future applications will include more realistic prosthetics for humans.

Via Virginia Tech

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November 12, 2010

Stick to Anything With Electroadhesion

Based on polymer and electrostatic technologies, SRI is developing electroadhesion. It allows an object to be stuck on any surface and move around or stay put. The company says that 11 sq.ft. of it can support 440 lbs. while using only 40mW of power. They are hoping to incorporate the tech into robots that can travel across any terrain to inspect natural disasters, military actions, and public safety threats.

Via SRI

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November 8, 2010

Last Discovery Flight Suffers Delays

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The delay continues for the final Discovery flight that will include crew member Robonaut 2. A hydrogen leak and small crack located in the foam insulation on the side of the giant tank have been discovered. NASA plans another launch attempt later this month. Because they only have the week of Nov. 30 through Dec. 5 or 6 to take off, if that is a no-go the flight would have to be delayed until late February 2011.

Via NASA

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November 5, 2010

NASA Live Feed of Rover Assembly

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How many technicians does it take to build a rover? Last time we checked it was 12, although one seemed to be just wandering around. Maybe he/she was supervising. If you find yourself unable to tear yourself away from animal cams or are guilty of being one of those who tweeted to the space station, then you will really dig NASA's live feed of the Mars Science Laboratory's clean room in Pasadena, California. The "Curiosity Cam" runs Monday through Friday while a team assembles NASA's Curiosity Mars Rover.

Via NASA

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November 2, 2010

One Small Step for Humans, One Giant Leap for Robotkind

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Originally scheduled for today, two gas leaks have delayed the final launch of Discovery to Wednesday, Nov. 3 at 3:52 p.m. The space shuttle will deliver 6 NASA astronauts as well as Robonaut 2, who will become a permanent resident on the ISS. The Discovery will be carrying a Permanent Multipurpose Module that contains the bot, spare parts and supplies, and will be attached to the outside of the space station. While R2 is to be confined to a limited area after arrival, future plans include him assisting astronauts on space walks.

Via NASA

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October 28, 2010

First All Robotic Surgery Performed

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Canada's McGill University Health Center has performed the first all robot operation. The prostatectomy was done by a surgical DaVinci while a robot named McSleepy handled the anesthesia. A human team controlled the bots from a dedicated workstation via video control with 3D HD image quality. Dr. TM Hemmerling claims that the team will use the results to learn and plans on using the knowledge on different types of surgery in the future.

Via TG Daily

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Jamming Transition Used as Robotic Gripper

Cornell University decided that the best way to design robotic hands would be by using "jamming transition," the theory being that densely packed particles act like a solid while loose ones behave like a liquid. They used a latex party balloon, filled it with coffee grounds and attached it to a robotic arm. The team, funded by DARPA, proceeded to test their theory by lifting a raw egg, shock absorber and various other items. The balloon deforms around the object, then a vacuum sucks all its air out. If you can make it through the entire video, we figure a robotic fist bump is in order.

Via Cornell

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October 21, 2010

Do Babies See Robots As Real?

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In a bizarre experiment, University of Washington researchers tried to learn if babies believe that robots are sentient or inanimate. One of them brought out Morph and interacted with it for 90 minutes in front of 64 18-month-old babies, then left the room. Their conclusion was that 13 out of 16 that witnessed the exchange would continue to observe the robot, while in the control group that did not witness Morph relating to the researcher, only 3 of them seemed interested.

Via Science Direct

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October 20, 2010

Experiment Tests Robotic Violence

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Slovenian Borut Povse somehow managed to get some of his coworkers to volunteer to let his robot, a small production-line worker from the Japanese firm Epson, punch them continuously. Some of the six allowed the violence to go on 18 times and then rated their pain. A majority of them said that it was mild to moderate. While Povse claims that the experiment was designed to learn how to keep robots from harming humans, we wonder if it is a good idea to tempt Isaac Asimov's law of robotics that clearly states "a robot may not injure a human being."

Via New Scientist

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October 19, 2010

iRobot Debuts Next-Gen Robots

iRobot introduced its 5th generation Roomba at a recent a press event in New York, built with modular parts that can easily be replaced. It also has iAdapt technology, an internal sensor that "listens' for dirt rather than mapping and memorizing a room.

CEO Colin Angle spoke about the company's chembot being developed by the University of Chicago that he described as a"shape shifting, amorphous, squishable blob that can roll itself."

Kudos also goes to the company that launched their Seaglider, developed at the University of Washington and licensed by iRobot, that is still in the Gulf. It captures and monitors samples to detect oil as far down as 1,000 meters as well as reportng a wide variety of data, including measuring the level of dissolved oxygen.

Via PC World

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