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Tag Archives: Robots

All Kinds Of Nope: Remote Controlled Cockroaches

We’d like to take a second and introduce you to a new protagonist for your nightmares. He’s a congenial little guy most of the time, what with being called a Hissing Cockroach from Madagascar. One could even consider him… exotic. But he’s even more interesting now that some researchers from North Carolina State university have found a way to control brobro remotely, like a miniature go-kart from Hell. It works like this:

The microcontroller is wired to the roach’s antennae and cerci.

The cerci are sensory organs on the roach’s abdomen, which are normally used to detect movement in the air that could indicate a predator is approaching – causing the roach to scurry away. But the researchers use the wires attached to the cerci to spur the roach into motion. The roach thinks something is sneaking up behind it and moves forward.

The wires attached to the antennae serve as electronic reins, injecting small charges into the roach’s neural tissue. The charges trick the roach into thinking that the antennae are in contact with a physical barrier, which effectively steers them in the opposite direction.

The idea the researchers had was to use the insects to search for trapped disaster victims. And sure, that’s all fine and dandy, but you just know that from now on you’ll be doomed to dream of wave after wave of hissing roaches scurrying towards you, controlled from some distant C&C center within which an evil overlord laughs his diabolical ass off.

Want to know what it would look like? Hit the jump for a vid.

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The Pentagon is Working on an ‘Attack-Proof’ Robotic Worm Called the ‘Meshworm’

Worm Robot

An ‘attack’ proof robotic worm? What will the government think of next?

The Pentagon has reportedly teamed up with a group of universities to develop a robotic worm that’s immune to attacks from, say, a sledgehammer. Dubbed as the ‘Meshworm’, the robot looks like a bunch of rolled-up electronics that work together to crawl and creep along like earthworms do.

So out of all the creatures they could’ve chosen to base their robot on, why’d they choose the earthworm? As they say, the structure “allows the machine to be made of soft materials so it can squeeze through tight spaces and mould its shape to rough terrain.” That’s scientific-speak for saying that the robot’s got potential to become an indestructible spy–but we’ll see.

Hit the jump to check out a clip of the Meshworm in action.

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Bosch Has A Roomba For The Lawn, Except It Doesn’t Vacuum, It Cuts

By David Ponce

The above is called the Bosch Indego, and is a battery-powered autonomous lawn mowing machine. And it’s got a leg or two up on its competition. Sure, you still need to put some metal wires on the perimeter of your lawn, unless you want the Indego to wander off into the distance, but it’ll handle up to 1,000 sq. meters (or roughly 10,700 sq. ft.) of lawn all on its own thereafter. The main difference is the Indego cuts in straight lines instead of in a random pattern, which makes for a much more efficient cut since it’s not constantly going over the same spots. It apparently does this by localizing itself in relation to its base so it can keep track of where it’s been. But since mowing lawn is pretty heavy duty, its cutting protocol involves 20 minutes of action, with a quick trip back to base for a 90 minute charge, and repeat. If you have a big yard, this could take a while, but it’s hands-off so you shouldn’t really care.

The Bosch Indego will go out for a slow release in Scandinavia this year, with a wider release in 2013 for about US $2,040.

[ Press Release (In Swedish) ] VIA [ Automaton ]

LawnBott SpyderEvo Is A Roomba For Your Yard

By David Ponce

Robots for the home are coming of age, though they’re still a far cry from the tea making, back rubbing, bed tucking electro-lackeys we all figured we’d have by now. Still, we can’t complain when you realize that there are robots to vacuum your rugs, scrub your linoleum, squeegee your windows and mow your lawn. The LawnBott SpyderEvo is obviously a member of that last group, and the $1,700 machine can take care of yards up to 10,000 sq. ft. all on its own. It uses a perimeter wire as well as a set of sensors to be fully autonomous, even going back to its own options recharge station to be ready for another day’s work without any human intervention. Its internal battery will keep it cutting for up to 3.5 hours, while its rugged wheels and AWD let it tackle hills up to 27 degrees.

[ Product Page ] VIA [ Uncrate ]

Welcome Nightmares: Quadruped Robot Breaks Land Speed Record

By David Ponce

I personally wrote about Boston Dynamics 6 years ago, to the day. They were announcing their work on “Big Dog”, a larger and much, much slower version of the robot we’re talking about today. It’s interesting to see just how much progress there’s been in these years. The above creation is named Cheetah, and it’s funded by DARPA as part of their M3 program (Maximum Mobility And Manipulation). It recently broke the land speed record for legged robotic machines, reaching a peak of 18 mph. The previous record was 13.9 mph and was set in 1989. It’s movement is modelled after those of fast running animals in nature and Boston Dynamics president Marc Raibert claims that in theory, Cheetah could one day achieve the speeds (70 mph) of the animal its named after, though he admits it’ll take quite some time to get there.

In the video, the robot is kept in the centre of the treadmill with a boom like device, but DARPA plans to have it run free later this year. While Cheetah itself may not have any direct real world applications just yet, it’s one more step in the development of something that the military can use in combat. So… 70 mph free running robot on the horizon… Scared yet?

Watch the video above and then try to sleep.

VIA [ CNet ]

Video: QuadRotor Swarm Now Able To Play James Bond Theme

By David Ponce

Remember that article from a month ago featuring a swarm of nano quadrotor bots flying around in tight formations? Yeah, as freaky as that was, it looks like they were just getting warmed up. The above video shows what the University of Pennsylvania’s General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception labs have been up to, and it doesn’t bode well for our robotic-apocalypse-free future. They’ve rigged their flying bots to play the James Bonds theme song using instruments. We’re talking keyboard, drums, cymbals, guitar, and maracas here.

Of course, there’s a good likelihood that this all took the team, led by Deputy Dean for Education and GRASP Lab member Vijay Kumar, along with Lab members Daniel Melligner and Alex Kushleyev, an ungodly number of hours to program. So it’s not like you’re likely to wake up to a swarm of bots jamming on your band gear anytime soon. But their goal is to “help scientists and engineers create smarter, faster, and more flexible robots by mimicking the swarming behaviors of birds, fish and insects. Figuring out how to move in unison without crashing into obstacles, or one another, is a critical skill for robot teams to develop, especially since they may one day be used to survey landscapes, build structures… or even play music.” And that, they’ve done.

[ UPenn Article ] VIA [ HackADay ]

Robotic Arm Throws Things With More Precision Than You Ever Could

By David Ponce

Paving the way for the day we will watch professional sports played out not by overpriced humans but rather waiting-to-annihilate us robots, the Positive Pressure Universal Gripper performs some neat tricks that have us awed right now, but will have us running when the balls get replaced with bullets. Or something. Setting the overused “robots are going to kill us one day” trope aside, this robotic arm from Cornell’s Creative Machines Lab is tipped with a gripper that functions very differently than most robotic grippers. It’s an elastic balloon filled with a sandlike material. When placed over an object, the soft balloon conforms to its shape. The air is then sucked out and the balloon hardens around the object. Once air is quickly pumped back in, the object can be thrown with a fair amount of precision. Watch the video to see the robot get nothing but net with a few baseballs and a pretty tight cluster in darts.

While the intended use is not to throw things around, the video does demonstrates the new gripper’s capabilities which include: “performance increases of up to 85% in reliability, 25% in error tolerance, and the added capability to shoot objects by fast ejection.”

[ Cornell’s Abstract ] VIA [ IEEE Automaton ]

Start Building That Bunker: We’ve Reached The Quadrotor Nano-Bot Formation Flying Stage

By David Ponce

If you watch the above video, you’ll get a grasp of what you’re witnessing: the birth of the very things that will one day haunt our minds, and hunt our bodies. In our quest for progress, we have reached the stage where the University of Pennsylvania’s General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception lab have developed tiny flying robots capable of complex formations. Sure, right now the video is simply jaw dropping; seeing 20 of these hand sized bots fly around doing figure 8s, and passing through window frames is impressive. But that loud droning noise is a stark reminder that one day these very same bots (or even smaller ones) could be coming in through your windows, with intentions unknown. Never forget that if the technology exists, someone somewhere will find a way to put it to bad use.

Until then, we build our forts and we study the enemy. By watching the video.

Just watch it. It’s freaking cool.

VIA [ DVice ]

Rydis H800 Takes The Home Robot Craze To The Air Purifying Space

By David Ponce

There are robots to clean your floor, like the Roomba (which vacuums) or the Scooba (which scrubs). There are also robots like these to clean your windows. And now there is a robot to go around your house, purifying air. See the thing about air purifiers is that they’re static. They’ll try to cycle as much of your home’s air as they can, but there’s only so much they can do while just sitting in a corner. So the Rydis H800, from Moneual, goes around your home, filtering the air as it does. It has sensors to avoid bumping into obstacles and “you can use a multi-function remote control to turn filter settings from low to high, or to send the H800 into another room. In sleep mode, the H800 operates at a 22dB sound level, and in turbo mode it can go up to 48dB.”

There is no price or availability information at the moment.

[ Rydis Home ] VIA [ Gizmag ]