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LERN: Project Using Drones to Assess Farmland Wins $100K

A new project at MIT will use drones to monitor crops. Known as RaptorMaps, the project involves flying drones over farmland collecting images to track crop health and hopefully boost yields. “We are making drones to feed the world,” said Forrest Meyen, a PhD student in aeronautics and astronautics and part of the RaptorMaps team. By analyzing the images collected ... Read More »

LERN: Researchers Highlight Potential Security Issues for Telerobotic Surgery

UW reseachers mounted cyberattacks while study participants used the Raven II surgical robotic system to move rubber blocks on a pegboard. (Photo credit: University of Washington)

A University of Washington engineering team hacked a next-generation teleoperated surgical robot to see how easily they could hijack the system and operate it remotely.  Fortunately, the hijacked robot was on that’s only used for research purposes, and, at the time, was actually being used with a patient. Researchers at the UW BioRobotics Lab demonstrated that next generation teleoperated robots ... Read More »

LERN: Robots in Easy-to-Manage Swarm Share Data for Optimal Planning

Gliding fingers across the tablet shift the position of red beams of light that appear on the floor. An algorithm causes the robots to seek out the light and attempt to evenly cover the lit areas. (Photo credit: Georgia Tech.)

A new system designed at Georgia Institute of Technology can control a swarm of robots, simply by using one finger to shift a beam of light. Each robot is also flexible enough to develop its own plan, based on input received from others in the swarm. “It’s not possible for a person to control a thousand or a million robots ... Read More »

LERN: Understanding and Improving Scene Recognition

The first layers (1 and 2) of a neural network trained to classify scenes seem to be tuned to geometric patterns of increasing complexity, but the higher layers (3 and 4) appear to be picking out particular classes of objects. Photo courtesy of the researchers.

Scene recognition and object recognition systems could work in tandem, according to a paper presented last weekend at the International Conference on Learning Representations. In fact, the researchers believe that one might reinforce the other. The findings come after researchers created the most successful scene classification system ever, using the world’s largest machine-learning database of images labelled by scene type ... Read More »

LERN: Higher Level Thinking Enabled for Underwater Robots

A Slocum glider navigates underwater using the Enterprise system. (Photo credit: Enterprise Research Team)

Programming underwater robots can be a tedious task. Engineers have to break down missions into small, simple tasks, and then write scripts for each low-level command. Now a new approach, developed by researchers at MIT, will enable the robots to figure out more on their own. In the new paradigm, the robot would plan the mission based on some basic ... Read More »

LERN: A Soft Material that Moves When Exposed to Light Could be Ideal for Robotics

When exposed to non-uniform light, the SP-BZ gel moves. This diagram shows how the material moves over time when only the ends are exposed to light. (Photo Credit: University of Pittsburgh)

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering have designed a synthetic polymer gel that can generate enough chemical energy to shape-shift and propel itself forward. The researchers modeled their research after the single-celled organism euglena mutabilis, which processes energy to expand and contract its shape in order to move. “Movement is a fundamental biological behavior, exhibited by ... Read More »

LERN: Robot Takes a Walk in a Lumpy Garden, Endures Barrage of Balls

Researchers lob balls at ATRIAS to test its balance. (Photo credit: Oregon State University.)

Researchers at Oregon State University took their two-legged robot out for a field test last week, in an actual field. The ground selected was intentionally uneven, to see if the robot, named ATRIAS, would be able to keep its balance while walking about 3 miles per hour and being hit with a ball. It did. ATRIAS moved across changing terrain ... Read More »

LERN: Stanford’s Small But Powerful Microtugs

Stanford's super strong MicroTugs were inspired by geckos and ants. (Photo credit: Karen Ladenheim)

Imagine a human capable of pulling a whale. Tiny robots called Microtugs now exist with similar superpowers. Researchers at Stanford have created small robots than can apply orders of magnitude more force than they weigh. The team plans to present its work next month at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation in Seattle, Washington. A few different variations of ... Read More »

LERN: Strain Sensor Could Help Robots Read Facial Expressions

A new facial expression sensor reported in the journal ACS Nano could help robots decipher our feelings. Developed by researchers in Korea, the stretchable, transparent sensor is worn on a person’s face, near the side of the lip. The sensor, which can detect small strains on human skin, was made by layering a carbon nanotube film on two kinds of ... Read More »

LERN: Team of Robots Designed to Move Suspect Vehicles

These recovery robots slide under a car and gently glide it away. (Photo credit: AVERT.)

European researchers have demonstrated a prototype robotic system that can move a car from a parked position. The system, called the Autonomous Vehicle Emergency Recovery Tool (AVERT), is designed to remove vehicles that are blocking entry or positioned suspiciously close to vulnerable positions such as tunnels, low bridges, or critical infrastructure. If there’s concerns a vehicle might have a bomb ... Read More »

LERN: Human Navigation System Demonstrated

By electrically stimulating the right muscles, researchers were able to control which way humans walked using a smart phone. (Photo credit: University of Hannover, University of Munich, University of Stuttgart.)

Can’t chew gum and walk at the same time? Worry not! Researchers in Germany have demonstrated a remote-control system for human legs that can successfully steer people around a busy park, and on uneven ground. The actuated navigation system is intended to reduce the cognitive load on humans as they walk. Walking might seem simple, but it takes a lot ... Read More »

LERN: Robotic Ultrasound Enables Long-Distance Heart Exams

Dr. Partho Sengupta performs the first long-distance, tele-robotic ultrasound exam between The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City and Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. (Photo credit: Mount Sinai.)

Doctors in New York are currently testing a tele-robotic system that performs ultrasound exams on patients in Chicago, over the Internet. The study, which brings together cardiovascular imaging specialists at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York and Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, will investigate whether the telerobotic long-distance exams of the carotid artery in the ... Read More »

LERN: Robotic Submarines Used to Recover Radioactive Waste

A Sellafield operator remotely controls a mini sub handling waste material. (Photo credit: Sellafield.)

Cobalt isotopes that have been sitting in British storage ponds since the 1950s are finally being recovered, using miniature submarines. The project involves moving hundreds of the cartridges retrieved from Sellafield Ltd’s Pile Fuel Storage Pond and First Generation Magnox Storage Ponds. “A few years ago remotely operated vehicles were thought of as expensive toys, but they are now becoming ... Read More »