August 22, 2008

I'm Bradley - Take Me to Your Leader

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New rover prototypes nicknamed Bradley and Bruno were unveiled by the European Space Agency (ESA.) Tested by space company UK Astrium and expected to land on Mars in 2015, the bots have six-wheel steering and can turn or move sideways. With the ability to plot their own courses and save time, they also have "wheel walking capability" which allows them to anchor with five of them on a steep slope and inch forward. It seemed scary enough when Phoenix turned itself off. Imagine what this one will be able to do as its main mission is to search for past or present life.

Via BBC

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Must Have Robot: Eco-Friendly Robug

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We thought this week we would help do our part to save the planet with our Must Have Robot. Use an ordinary aluminum soda and turn it into a Robug with this Green Science kit. It includes a plastic body, wire wings and legs, motor, wires, screws, and detailed instructions. The best part is that you have to recycle your own can, so the kidlets can use Pepsi, jockish geeks can utilize Red Bull but, as for us, we will stick with our Bud. The elementary bot comes in a gift box and has a price starting at $8.99.

Via Green Science at Robug

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August 21, 2008

NSF Develops Free-Swimming Sentry

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The National Science Foundation has been working on Sentry, an underwater bot that can go deep as 5,000 meters (3.1 miles) without linking to a ship. The 1,212 lb. free-swimming device was built and operated by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI,) who installed 1,000 lithium-ion batteries and various sensors. Designed to swim or hover, it measures such things as ocean temperature and pressure. During its first test, Sentry used a photo-mapping/seafloor imaging system to build maps off the coast of Oregon and Washington.

Via NSF

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August 19, 2008

Robot Controlled by Rat Brain

Calling Dr. Frankenstein! A robotic rat controlled by a bit of real rat brain has be made by British scientists at the University of Reading, led by Professor Kevin Warwick. The robot is linked wirelessly to 300,000 neurons kept in a cabinet. When the ratbot receives signals, it turns left or right. They are now trying to teach it to get used to its surroundings to prove that memories are retained in nerve connections.

Warwick previously experimented with a silicon chip transponder that was implanted in his forearm in 1998. He then managed to operate computers, doors, lights, and heaters without moving. He even wrote a book on the subject, "I, Cyborg."

Via New Scientist Tech at "I, Cyborg."

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August 18, 2008

U. of Tokyo Develops e-skin

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Takao Someya and his research team at the University of Tokyo have developed a type of rubber that can conduct electricity, They say that e-skin can feel heat and pressure, like its human counterpart. The technology can be applied as a skin for robots and can stretch 1.7 times its size, but its conductivity drops by about half. The e-skin is made by grinding carbon nanotubes with an ionic liquid and adding that to rubber.

Via Physorg


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August 15, 2008

UAVs Make Test Run

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In a collaboration between technology firm Qinetiq and Aberystwyth University, the first robot planes recently took test flights over UK farmland. The UAVs (autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles) stayed aloft about an hour on battery power and mapped nitrogen levels in soil to decide if they needed fertilizer. Jonathan Webber of Qinetiq says, "You don't need to put pilots in a vehicle where you are only collecting data, providing you can do it safely."

Hmm. With all the recent turmoil on the planet, why do we think they may be used for other applications?

Via BBC

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August 13, 2008

Robotic Help for ASD Children

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Researchers believe that SARs (socially assisted robotics) can connect with autistic children better than humans. They found that those who blow bubbles, make facial expressions, and toot horns seem to increase Autism Spectrum Disorder kids in both their speech and in getting along with humans.

One study paired an ASD child with a Bubblebot, which only worked when the child pushed a button. The result was that there was more interaction than when the bot blew randomly. We think that it is teriffic when bots are used in this manner rather than just helping out the military.

Via Discovery Channel

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August 12, 2008

Limbo On, Hexabot!

Partially developed by students at Nanyang Polytechnic Institute, the 6-legged spiderbot can climb stairs, squeeze into narrow places and navigate on harsh terrain. The Hexabot will be able to avoid obstacles and help rescue trapped victims or sweep minefields. When it lifts three legs it can really hustle. The video also shows it doing the limbo, most helpful when taking an exotic island cruise.

Via EE Times

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August 8, 2008

Forcefeeding the GutBot

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A research group at Carnegie Mellon has been working on the Gutbot, a small camera pill that is swallowed. The scientist then controls it with a wireless remote to tell it when to stop. One of the most difficult aspects of the project was to find an adhesive that would, "stick repeatedly to tissues like intestines, esophagus, stomach, heart, and kidney surfaces," said Metin Sitti, professor and principal investigator of the NanoRobotics Lab at CMU.

The result was using an oil-like liquid found on beetles' foot hairs. The Gutbot was recently shown off on animals with successful results.

Via Technology Review

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August 7, 2008

Tai-robot-kun to Hit the Water

If it looks like sushi, and swims like sushi, but doesn't taste like sushi, then it is probably the University of Kitakyushu's Tai-robot-kun. The sea bream (red snapper) robofish weighs 15.4 lbs. and is covered in silicone. It propels itself silently like its real-life counterpart, at least till something larger comes around and chomps down on it.

Via Pink Tentacle

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