August 6, 2008

Heart Robot Displays Emotion


The Heart Robot was developed in part by Holly Cave, shown here. This plastic bot reacts to sound, touch, and those around it. It was given its name because of its visible heart that beats at different speeds. This robotic puppet was on display last week at the Antenna Gallery at London's Science Museum. This is yet another example of how scientists believe that emotions will help bridge the gap between our botty friends and humans.

Via Space Daily

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August 4, 2008

H.A.L.E. Mindstorms Have a Safe Landing


We are happy to report that all the Lego Mindstorms NXT that were launched at last week's H.A.L.E. have successfully returned to the planet. While up there, each of them took pictures and performed a variety of experiments. Check the site for more images to come and to find out what else the little robotic buggers are planning.

Via Gizmodo at Lego Mindstorms NXT

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August 1, 2008

ESA Robotics Challenge to Create New Lunar Vehicle


Now that NASA is thinking moon again, the ESA (European Space Agency) has created a robotics challenge to design a better vehicle. Eight university teams were selected to create a robotic rover that must move from where it lands to a crater, go into it at an incline of up to 40º, retrieve something from the bottom, come back, and must do it all remotely. Each team must maintain a web blog during the challenge.

Via Space Daily

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July 30, 2008

Bob Simon Meets Robonaut


If you caught "60 Minutes" this past Sunday, then you are already familiar with the Robonaut, a NASA robot that is designed for "EVA" tasks, those not meant specifically for robots. While he has been around for a couple of years, we got to watch him go through some of his paces as he tooled around and shook hands with reporter Bob Simon, then passed him a rock. Robonaut's arm has a 2º degree of freedom wrist, and a five finger, 12º of freedom hand. If you missed it, or its original airing in April, you can catch up on the CBS site.


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July 29, 2008

Sixth Framework Creates Empathetic Robots


Feelix Growing is developing software that allows robots to express empathy. The bot features cameras and sensors and can identify a facial expression, a voice, and an emotional state. Coordinator Dr. Lola Canamero says that, "tactile feedback and emotional feedback through positive reinforcement, such as kind words, nice behavior or helping the robot do something if it is stuck."

The Sixth Framework Program has been going on for about 3 years with researchers from from 6 countries. They are hoping that adding this trait will make robots more accepted by those that use them.

Via ICT Results

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H.A.L.E. to Celebrate 10 Years of Lego Mindstorms NXT


Nevada Space Grant, Energizer, the University of Nevada-Reno and National Instruments have teamed together to celebrate the 10th anniversary of
Lego Mindstorms NXT
. College professors, middle school students, and Mindstorms freaks in general are planning on launching several of the bots today to collect data and explore Earth's atmosphere. All concerned are hoping to set a world record with H.A.L.E. (High Altitude Lego Extravaganza.)

The robots will be inserted into 2 weather balloons, launched outside Reno, and will go as high as 100,000 feet up. After the balloons burst, the NXTs will parachute back down to the planet.

Via Mindstorms News at Lego Mindstorms NXT

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July 25, 2008

Mars Lander Turns Itself Off


This past weekend, the Mars Lander Phoenix's robotic arm received instructions to do something, but realized that it could injure itself. While it recognized the problem and tried to correct it, it was unable to do so. It shut itself down! While the NASA team sent it new instructions, they are still waiting to see if that resolves the issue. The concept of it being able to do that is almost incredulous. Maybe it will sing "Daisy" a la Hal when it is really injured.

Via PC World

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Robo-Fish Take to the Water

Kristi Morgansen, a roboticist at the University of Washington, and her team have developed some robotic fish that group together to track other fish or pollution. So far there are only three that are each controlled by an onboard computer, depth sensor, compass and radio transceiver. While being tested, the robo-fish keep in touch with each other and alter their course when necessary with two pectoral fins and a tail for propulsion.

Morgansen says that by using several at a time there is a better collection of data. "Artificial fish have been on the wish lists of oceanographers and the military for years. It is hoped that mimicking nature's propulsion methods could allow vehicles to be more efficient and maneuverable, and deploying them in shoals would allow more complex missions."

We get it. Our enemies would never guess that instead of submarines we have schools of robotic spies.

Via New Scientist

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July 23, 2008

Snakes and Locusts Go Robotic

Herose Fukushima Robotics Lab is working on robots that can move without legs. After studying how the reptiles can do this, they developed the Snake Robot. We didn't even know snakes had biomechanisms.

Now take a look at this prototype bot that can jump more than 24 times its own size. Based on the common locust, the Laboratory of Intelligent Systems' Self Deploying Microglider is 5 cm and weighs 7g, and has elastic elements and a linkage leg system for lift-off.

Via HF Robotics Lab and LIS

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July 18, 2008

Bon Voyage to the Scarlet Knight Glider


Rutgers University students and engineers literally launched an underwater robot off New Jersey's coast May 21. The RU-17 nicknamed the Scarlet Knight Glider will be traveling for the next six months across the Atlantic carrying letters to whoever manages to catch it when it lands. Goals include education, testing of new lithium batteries, and creating an international community. The plan is for the underwater glider to head for Cape Touriñán, Spain which is about 3,308 miles away at a speed of 0.5 knots (~.58 mph.) So we figure we should check back in about 240 days.

Via Rutgers

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