Bionic Foot Releases Energy


The University of Michigan created a bionic foot that can return some of the impact energy when the user walks. They are supposedly 30% more efficient than traditional prosthetic feet.

Professor Art Kuo said, "All prosthetic feet store and return energy, but they don't give you a choice about when and how. They just return it whenever they want. This is the first device to release the energy in the right way to supplement push-off, and to do so without an external power source."

Via U of M

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March 1, 2010

QTC Skin Allows Robots to Feel


Peratech is developing an artificial electronic skin for MIT's Media Lab. "Quantum Tunneling Composite" (QTC) is a low-cost, touch sensitive material that allows robots to know where and how much they have been touched. This is done via sensors on various body parts. This one practically makes its own punchline, considering the recent glut of bots like Roxxxy.

Via Technology Review

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February 19, 2010

Second Gen ApriAttenda More Flexible

Toshiba recently released a second version of their ApriAttenda. The newest bot has two arms with 3-fingered hands that can hold simple objects and a head cam for navigation and recognition. While the original was designed to follow its user around, this one is designed to take a more active role. The company is also testing the iArm, a super-waldo designed to assist in grabbing, eating and other "handy" duties.

Via Plastic Pals

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February 12, 2010

Robots Evolve Via Darwinian Selection


A Swiss team from the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne and University of Lausanne have developed robots using Darwinian selection. After a few hundred generations, the bots evolve "collision-free movement, homing, sophisticated predator versus prey strategies, coadaptation of brains and bodies, cooperation, and even altruism." Perhaps the scariest part of the study is that when the researchers were "breeding" for a predator they included strategies such as lying in wait and circling walls.

Via PLoS

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February 9, 2010

Robonaut 2 - Building Better Cars in Space

Team GM and NASA together and you end up with Robonaut 2, the second generation of service bots that can be used as both an astronaut and assembly plant worker. Developed at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, it can lift 20 lbs. with each arm and has nimble hands, fingers and opposable thumbs. We don't expect that unemployed auto workers will be cheered by his release, but he will cut down on the amount of Tang needed in space.

Via Robonaut

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February 8, 2010

RP-7 Communicates With Patients


If you happen to be at the Ryder Trauma Center at the University of Miami/Jackson Medical Center in Florida, you may run into InTouch Technologies' RP-7. The 5 ft. tall wireless robot allows patients and staff communicate to with doctors through a monitor mounted on top. Electronic tools, such as stethoscopes and ultrasound, can be connected to the robot's expansion bay in order to transmit medical data. Future applications may include using more of the robotic dudes on a battlefield to treat injured soldiers.

Via InTouch Health

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February 5, 2010

CalcBots Teach Students by Calculation


NASA has generously donated CalcBots, miniature Mars rovers, to the Takoma Park Middle School Science Club in Washington. By using TI-84 calculators, students, under the guidance of naval mechanical engineer Michael Britt-Crane, must figure out equations to allow the robots to function on a "mission." Perhaps one of their projects could include getting the full-size and now defunct Spirit to stop spinning its wheels and move along.

Via Washington Post

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February 2, 2010

Eat Less With Mandometer


There are lots of toys out there that talk to you, like clocks and singing bass on the wall, and now the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden has devised an electronic plate that watches and responds to what you eat. The Mandometer connects to an electronic scale that weighs your food so your portions are limited and the speed that you eat it. Eat too fast and it tells you to slow down. So far the talking scale has been tested and found to be effective on younger children and teens.

Via My Digital Life

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February 1, 2010

May The Spirit RIP


NASA's rover Spirit has been stuck in one place since last spring and its mission managers have finally given up trying to set it free. On Mars since its 2004 landing, it has taken over 100,000 pictures and will continue to take readings if it can. It's botty twin, Opportunity, is on the opposite end of the planet and still can function. We are thinking that perhaps the Oppbot can free the Spiritbot by giving it a gentle nudge or two, but then we are not exactly rocket scientists.


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January 18, 2010

UCSD Creates Ugliest RoboBaby Ever


This is just wrong on so many levels. Dr. Javier Movellan and the Machine Perception Laboratory at UCSD created "Diego-San." And this is not just an ugly baby head, it's a giant ugly baby head. Apparently it has been designed to study brain development in infants and has 20 moving parts, can stand up and communicates with facial expression. Featured in the Japanese mag Kokoro News, we wonder if the next page showed the evil bot chewing off its maker's head.

Via BotJunkie

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