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LERN: Robots Used to Test Theory of Snake Movement

This snake robot, which measures two inches in diameter, was used to test theories on how real snakes move. (Photo credit: Carnegie Mellon University.)

In a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences researchers report that they successfully tested their hypothesis on snake movement using robots made at Carnegie Mellon University. The researchers hypothesized that sidewinding snakes move using vertical and horizontal body waves that change in phase and amplitude to achieve exceptional maneuverability. When the researchers tested their ... Read More »

LERN: Nao Co-Writer Teaches Handwriting by Feigning Ignorance

A new research project seeks to help students struggling with handwriting by empowering them to teach a Nao robot. (Photo credit: EPFL.)

Children struggling with handwriting might one day benefit from a research project involving the Nao robot. The Nao Co-Writer interacts with the child using a tablet. First the child makes the word using magnetic letters. Next, the robot writes the word on the tablet — but somewhat badly. Then the child writes the word on the tablet, while pointing out the robot’s ... Read More »

LERN: Next-Gen Robotic Materials Will Autonomously Change to Suit Needs

This soft robot, developed at Correll Lab is made of an autonomous material that rolls using distributed control. (Photo credit: Correll Lab.)

Prosthetics with a realistic sense of touch. Bridges that detect and repair their own damage. Vehicles with camouflaging capabilities. Advances in materials science, distributed algorithms, and manufacturing processes are bringing all of these things closer to reality every day, says a new review written by Nikolaus Correll, assistant professor of computer science, and research assistant Michael McEvoy, both of the ... Read More »

LERN: Robot Study Shows Body Posture Influences Infant Learning

A robot is taught to distinguish between two objects as part of research on the effect of body posture on infant learning. (Photo credit: University of Plymouth)

Research with robots has determined that posture is critical in the early stages of acquiring new knowledge. The project offers a new approach to studying the ways of cognition, such as how words or memories of physical objects, are tied to the position of the body. “This study shows that the body plays a role in early object name learning, and how toddlers use the ... Read More »

LERN: Yamaha Industrial Robot Makes Disco Debut on Custom, Lighted Dance Floor

The 360 SCARA shows off its moves on the dance floor. (Photo credit: Yamaha Robotics.)

Normally, it’s all work and no play for factory robots. But one lucky bot at Yamaha Robotics in Indiana has a custom-made disco floor and knows how to use it. Soon the robot will be traveling to Chicago and dancing in front of a live audience at Automate 2015. “The team here was thinking of ways to spruce up the ... Read More »

LERN: Underwater Robot Locates Sunken Japanese Battleship

With the help of an underwater robot, researchers were able to tour the wreckage of lost Japanese battleship Musashi. (Photo credit: Paul G. Allen.)

Bluefin Robotics underwater autonomous vehicles scour the ocean floors around the world looking for items critical to the defense industry, oceanographic researchers, and the oil and gas industry. Most recently, a Bluefin vehicle was used by Paul G. Allen and his team of researchers in their search for the sunken Japanese battleship Musashi, the largest battleship in naval history. Allen ... Read More »

LERN: Sensor Package For Modeling Pits on Moon and Mars Ready for Flight Test

This Spring, a team of Carnegie Mellon University undergraduates will flight test a sensor package they developed for analyzing large pits in the surface of the moon or Mars. For the tests, the equipment will be loaded on to a reusable vertical-takeoff, vertical-landing XA-0.1-B rocket that will be flown over California’s Mojave Desert. Ultimately, the hardware and software developed by ... Read More »

LERN: Flexible Fabric Powers Diodes and Displays

Material made from silver (Ag), polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), and zinc oxide captured energy generated by pressure and used it to power diodes and displays. Photo credit: ACS Nano.)

Scientists have created the first durable, flexible cloth that harnesses human motion to generate energy. The material can also charge batteries and super capacitors without an external power source. As reported in the journal ACS Nano, the “mechanically robust” material can even be folded — just like standard cloth. Silver, polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), and zinc oxide nanorods are carefully layered and ... Read More »

LERN: Autonomous Drone Assists Naval Firefighters

A quadrotor autonomously navigates through compartments of the ex-USS Shadwell. (Photo Credit: ONR)

Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute and spin-off company Sensible Machines recently flew an autonomous drone through dark, smoke-filled compartments to map fires and locate victims. The demonstration was part of an Office of Naval Research (ONR) project called Damage Control Technologies for the 21st Century (DC-21). “With the micro-flyer, we wanted to show that it could autonomously navigate ... Read More »

LERN: Oculus Rift Robot Displaces Reality

The Intuitive Rift Explorer combines virtual reality and robotics. (Photo credit: Jonas Lauener.)

Jonas Lauener’s Intuitive Rift Explorer combines a robot and a head-mounted display, to create a mobile virtual reality system that’s worth a nod. The camera mount on the robot is wirelessly connected to an Oculus Rift display, so that when the person wearing the Rift tilts their head, the camera mount tilts, too. The vision system uses two wide-angle cameras and a 3-axis gimbal mounted ... Read More »

LERN: Making Legs that Can See

The small, computer controlled actuator adjusts the ankle using cables that work much like the break cables on a bike. (Photo credit: Michigan Technological University.)

Researchers at Michigan Technological University are working on a vision system for prosthetic legs. The system uses an inexpensive camera to get a better sense of the terrain, and an actuator that adjusts the ankle accordingly. “The camera can identify the profile of the ground, while the computer knows where the next footstep will be, based on how the user is moving ... Read More »

LERN: A New Kind of Bionic Hand Restores Function for Three Men

After a brachial plexus injury, this man opted to have the hand he could no longer operate removed and replaced in a new kind of bionic reconstruction. (Photo credit: The Lancet.)

Three Austrian men have undergone a new technique called bionic reconstruction, enabling them to use a robotic prosthetic hand controlled by their mind. The technique involves selective nerve and muscle transfers, as well as amputating the affected limb. The limb was then replacing with a prosthesis containing sensors that respond to electrical impulses in the patient’s muscles. The new technique was developed by professor ... Read More »

LERN: A Robotic Nurse with a Bearish Grin

Force feedback sensors on the ROBEAR robot encourage soft handling of patients. (Photo credit: RIKEN.)

Researchers at the RIKEN-SRK Collaboration Center for Human-Interactive Robot Research in Nagoya, Japan have developed a robotic nurse that looks like an adorable bear. The robot, called ROBEAR, can help nursing staff with the heavy work: lifting patients from beds and wheelchairs, and providing physical support to patients who need help to stand. “We really hope that this robot will lead to advances ... Read More »