A tactile sensor has been developed by a team from USC's Viterbi School of Engineering. The researchers came up with a new algorithm that is similar to human touch based on exploratory movements from prior experience. The finger-sized Bio-Tac sensor has soft skin that covers liquid and a small hydrophone that detects vibrations to recognize textures while discerning from different temperatures. After testing, the Fishel-built fingerbot could identify randomly selected material with an incredible 95% accuracy.
Robots have been assembling car parts for years, so it seems only logical when designer Gregory Epps began studying robotics to be able to devise one that could create furniture. RoboFold is a multi-ton arm that twists 200 lb. sheets of steel in a way that would probably be impossible by a human. Designers use Rhino CAD to pick their shapes and the bot does his origami thing.
Too lazy to make your bed? Then this one should be your next purchase. Spanish furniture makers OHEA has devised the Smart Bed that can make itself in 50 seconds. It will do this after three seconds of being empty when set on automatic mode. A mechanical arm rolls the covers up to the top of the bed while the pillows are straightened and set back down. No price is mentioned but we expect it to be one of those cases that if you have to ask how much it costs...
Dan Chen's latest project combines ethics and robots in the field of service care. You feel a bit uneasy as the Last Moment Robot comments about its purpose, eerily comforts the patient and eventually calls out the time of death.
"I am here to help you and guide you through your last moment on earth."
Displayed at the Last Moment Hospital in Rhode Island, this interactive art installation certainly causes one to think of the need for someone close "at the end" and the possibility of a non-human filling the part. Chen readily admits that the idea partially came as a result of Paro, a MAID (Mechanical Assisted Intimacy Device) used as companions for the elderly and those with Alzheimers.
UC Berkeley scientists have been studying cockroaches' methods of escape. After studying one under a to camera they realized its hind legs grab the surface so that it can swing itself under a ledge, similar to the way that lizards with toenails do it. They then came up with a 6-legged robot named DASH (Dynamic Autonomous Sprawled Hexapod) with Velcro strips. They also gave it the insect's ability to rapidly run in reverse. The research is being studied for both military applications and rescue operations.
We wondered what Robonaut 2 had been up to lately and found him busily obeying his masters on the ISS. Last week he practiced working on a task board then was given the task of measuring the airflow from 5 vents to make sure there was no blockage. This test is performed every 90 days and is a perfect chore for the astrobot that can hold the gauge steady and not measure other air flow sources such as exhaling from humans.
The ASV Roboat will be setting sail on July 9. The robotic sailboat created in 2006 will go to the Baltic Sea and have to travel for about 100 hours over 150 nautical miles, breaking the previous record of 78.9 miles. Solar panels control most of the power along with a backup methanol fuel cell. It features multiple sensors, runs by WLAN, UMTS/GPRS and communicates via an IRIDIUM satellite communication system. Roboats builders INNOC sees their vessel being used as an early warning systems for tsunamis, oil spill clean-up and oceanographic measurements.
A Northeastern University team has developed an Eye-Controlled Robotic Arm Feeding Technology that can be manipulated by looking. The iCraft was designed for the disabled or elderly. By looking towards the food desired, the robotic arm will take over. Their prototype was built with about $900 and they have released open source software for those who would like to build their own.
It is not enough to see the tune Thriller recreated by Filipino inmates or the occasional flash mob. These NAO robots, built by Aldebaran Robotics and programmed by MIT, use a quorum sensoring system and couple oscillators to synchronize the group. The video is especially eerie when the one out of sync rejoins the others. Imagine the technology being adapted in large factories or forming a robo-army for the eventual takeover.
Honda has one-upped themselves with the UNI-CUB, an advanced version of their 2009 U3-X. The battery-powered personal mobility device can move in all directions and is meant to carry one where perhaps Segways cannot. The third wheel aids in better steering and this new version has a soft seat. Starting next month, the UNI-CUB will be taken to Japan's National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation for display and testing before unleashing it on the public. We wonder if ASIMO could hitch a ride.