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Tag Archives: Robotics

Harvard Developing Colony Of Robot Bees

robobee

By Evan Ackerman

I guess the bee crisis is worse than it seems, because the National Science Foundation is giving Harvard a cool $10 million to develop a robot bee colony. That’s right, not just one, but an entire colony of robot bees. The bees will buzz around on flapping wings, use optical flow sensors for navigation and obstacle avoidance, sport cute little antennae as well as “pollination and docking appendages,” and use an as yet unspecified power source…

Read More At BotJunkie…

Nissan Teaches Cute Little RoboCars To School Like Fish

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By Evan Ackerman

You ever notice how fish never, ever find themselves stuck in traffic jams? It’s frustrating, isn’t it? You’re stuck on the highway behind some yahoo in a 1994 Volvo 940 turbo wagon driving 3 miles an hour, and over there are a bunch of fish just crusin’ along at full speed. You might think it’s because fish can take advantage of a highway that’s about 1.347 billion cubic kilometers in volume, but you’d be wrong… It’s because they know how to school.

Nissan (according to their website, they make computers) is exploring how fish avoid traffic jams so successfully…

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LittleDog Clips And Outtakes

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By Evan Ackerman

Browsing around the MIT website (as I do from time to time so that you don’t have to), I ran across the web page of Katie Byl (that’s “bill”), who is currently working at the Harvard Microrobotics Lab (on stuff like this). Katie used to study legged locomotion at MIT, which involved developing dynamic motions for LittleDog. And sometimes, these motions didn’t quite work out as planned… Also in the following video are clips of LittleDog walking on pegs (”Karate Kid” style), and a slow motion clip of LittleDog bounding up onto terrain…

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Bloodbot Stabs You Like A Pro

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By Evan Ackerman

Wired posted a gallery on Friday of surgical robots, and Bloodbot here caught my eye, largely because it seemed to be the most practical. The robot consists of an arm with a needle and a probe. In order to find an accessible vein, the robot probes around your arm until it finds an area of flesh that is a little bit less squishy than the rest. Then it jabs you with a needle, and when it feels a little pop indicating that it’s punched through into a vein, it knows to stop the jabbage, lest it go right through the other side of your vein, out the back of your arm, and into your femoral artery, causing a massive amount of hemorrhaging that will no doubt kill you in minutes.

So far, the robot is accurate about 78% of the time…

So…

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Spherical Soft Robots Can Roll And Jump

By Evan Ackerman

This may not look like the most promising design for a robot, but there’s a lot of potential to be had with robots that can change their shape. These robots, from Ritsumeikan University in Japan, are constructed with spherical shells of spring steel attached to an inner core (which contains the power source and electronics) via shape memory alloy wires. Applying voltage to the wires causes them to contract, deforming the shape of the robot. By doing this, the robot can change its center of gravity to roll in any direction…

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I-SWARM Micro Robots

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By Evan Ackerman

While most robot designers shoot for more capable and more complicated robots, the philosophy behind swarm robotics is totally different: make the robots as simple as possible, and let complex capabilities emerge from the cooperative powers of a whole bunch of them. We’re already familiar with macro-scale swarm robots, but researchers in Europe are trying to shrink things down to insect scale.

These tiny (4 millimeters on a side) robots are members of the I-SWARM project…

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Robot Grasshopper Grows Wings

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By Evan Ackerman

Last May, we wrote about a 7 gram robot grasshopper that is capable of jumping a distance of 1.4 meters, which is pretty huge for such a small robot. By using reduction gears and legs that act as springs, the robot is a very efficient mover, as well. We commented in that post that “the great thing about jumping is that it combines the advantages of being on the ground with one of the most important advantages of being able to fly: obstacle avoidance.” Of course, the other big advantage of being able to fly is that you can cover large distances quickly and efficiently (albeit mostly due to the aforementioned avoidance of obstacles).

Researchers at EPFL’s Laboratory of Intelligent Systems have made their robot grasshopper into a true flier by…

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ASIMO Reaches Pinnacle Of Sophistication, Now Plays Frogger

By Evan Ackerman

Earlier this week we covered several different incremental improvements in robot AI, including grasping and object recognition. In the video above, ASIMO is demonstrating another (arguably more) important aspect of robot intelligence: the ability to navigate around a dynamically changing environment. It’s not likely that ASIMO will find itself in a situation where it needs to avoid stepping on whirling pink blades of death, but at some point (soon, please) we’ll have ASIMOs walking around our homes, and…

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The End Is Nigh: Robots Evolve The Ability To Deceive

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By David Ponce

Robots are now learning how to lie. Here’s how it happened. Researchers at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne setup an experiment with a bunch of autonomous bots. They programmed them to look for food (a light colored ring on the floor) and avoid poison (a dark ring). The bots also had a blue light that could be detected by the other bots. The longer the bots stayed around the food, the more points they got. Since space was limited, bots would jostle around the food while simultaneously creating a cluster of blue lights that could serve as a beacon for other bots that food had been found.

The researchers then introduced “evolution” into the experiment by “by copying and combining the artificial neural networks of the most successful robots. The scientists also added a few random changes to their code to mimic biological mutations.” By the 50th generation the found that robots were flashing their blue lights less and less when they found food. A few hundred generations later and hardly any robots flashed their lights once they had found the food, thereby increasing their chances of getting more points while concealing their find to their neighbors.

The slimy bastards.

Researchers concluded this study may help them better understand the evolution of biological communication systems.

[ Upcoming Study Abstract ] VIA [ Technology Review ]