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LERN: Iron-Man Inspired, Light Up Prosthetic Hand for Kids

Pat Starace says his light-up Iron Man prosthetic was designed to be "awesome." Photo courtesy of PatStarace.com.

A new Arduino-powered prosthetic hand not only looks like Iron Man’s, it also lights up in multiple ways. Mechanical designer and animator Pat Starace says he designed the child-sized hand with three goals in mind. “It had to look awesome, it had to perform awesome, and there would be no strings or mechanics that could distract from the visual impact,” ... Read More »

LERN: EyeCane Offers Better Navigation for Visually Impaired

Two sensor beams, one pointing directly ahead, and one pointing towards the ground collect data on obstacles. Photo Courtesy of the Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience.

A new electronic travel aid for the visually impaired could offer a major improvement on the white cane, by providing information about obstacles using sound and motion. Weighing less than 100 grams, the device provides information simultaneously for two directions: directly ahead for far away obstacles, and downwards at an angle of 45 degrees, for an assessment of what’s on the ground. ... Read More »

LERN: Turn your Car into a Tele-operated Vehicle in Ten Minutes

The Pronto4 Robotic Applique Kit can bring semi-autonomous driving capabilities to any ground vehicle. Photo courtesy of Kairos Autonomi.

Kairos Autonomi won a Game Changer Award at RoboBusiness last week for an artificially intelligent robot driver: the Pronto4 Uomo (pronounced wo-mo). While the robot’s appearance isn’t very slick, the specs are impressive. In 10 minutes, the Uomo can turn a normal car into a tele-operated vehicle, or one that can follow a course laid out in a GPS. A semi-autonomous vehicle can be created in under ... Read More »

LERN: Robotic Surgeon Performs Brain Surgery For Epilepsy via the Cheek

A fake patient in an MRI machine shows how the surgical robot that can perform epilepsy surgery through the cheek.

Researchers at Vanderbilt University have developed a working prototype for a robot that will perform precise brain surgery to treat epilepsy by entering the brain via the cheek. The approach will be less invasive than traditional surgery, which involves drilling into the skull. The Vanderbilt system nvolves specially designed, steerable needles made of a shape-memory, nickel-titanium, alloy. The needles will be inserted into the ... Read More »

LERN: Rescue Robots Fly High in the Alps

Scientists at the University of Twente are working on robots that are expected to save lives in calamity situations in the Alps. Photo courtesy of University of Twente

Scientists involved in a special project to develop rescue robots for the Alps met last week, so that different teams could discuss, test, and integrate some parts of the robot. By January 2017, the researchers hope to have a team of robots capable of assisting human rescuers in an emergency, such as an avalanche. Known as the Smart collaboration between Humans and ground-aErial Robots for imProving rescuing ... Read More »

LERN: Open-Source Tricorder You Can Make with Your Toaster Oven

Peter Jansen's open-source tricorder puts a variety of sensors at your fingertips!

Interested in exploring the universe? Open-source tool developer Peter Jensen has created a device much like a Star Trek tricorder, using mostly off-the-shelf parts that were soldered in his toaster oven. The small device, which Jensen calls the Arducorder Mini, uses a PIC32MX795F512L with 128k of RAM and 512k of flash. It includes an array of sensors, including a radiation sensor, a magnetometer, ... Read More »

LERN: Quantum Mechanics to Accelerate Progress in Robotics

Both the classical and the quantum RPS are characterized by their internal Markov chains over the clip space. The procedures the quantum agent performs in order to choose the desired actions are listed.

Researchers from Spain, Austria, and Croatia believe the field of quantum mechanics holds great promise for advancing robotics. Specifically, the researchers believe that integrating quantum physics and artificial intelligence will provide a “quadratic speedup” in robotic learning. According to the study, many robots are unable to function adequately in “moderately realistic environment” because they simply can’t think fast enough to respond from ... Read More »

LERN: A Prosthetic Hand that Feels Textures

Researchers have developed an electrical stimulation system capable of allowing the user to feel textures and relieving phantom pain. Photo courtesy of Case Western Reserve University.)

Prosthetic limbs have many limitations. One of the challenges for users is not being able to distinguish between different textures. Researchers have now developed an electrical stimulation system that helps those who have lost limbs be able to feel different textures again. While many prosthetic limbs offer advanced mechatronics, they do not provide the texture sensations that assist with fine motor ... Read More »

LERN: Robots that Can Sign

Toshiba's sign language robot can only demonstrate basic greeting. But the company hopes to add sensing, speech synthesis and speech recognition by 2020. Photo courtesy of Toshiba.

Toshiba demonstrated a humanoid able to use Japanese sign language at the Cutting-Edge IT & Electronics Comprehensive Exhibition (CEATEC) this week. Created with researchers from aLab Inc., Osaka University, Shibaura Institute of Technology, and Shonan Institute of Technology, the robot has 43 actuators in its hands but currently can sign some basic greetings. While the Toshiba humanoid is highly realistic in appearance, it ... Read More »

LERN: Sensory-Active Skins for Robots

Shape-memory alloy threads are wrapped around foam to demonstrate how the sensory skin of a soft robot. On the left, the threads bend the foam into an L shape. On the right, the threads compress the foam. (Photo courtesy of Purdue University/Rebecca Kramer)

Researchers at Purdue University have built soft robots using shape-memory alloys (SMAs) woven into fabric. By orienting the alloy threads in different ways and wrapping it around foam blocks, the material can initiate movement. “Previous works have not combined both flexible sensors and actuators in their designs, usually only addressing one or the other,” explains Michelle Yuen, a doctoral student and one ... Read More »

LERN: Robotic Trees that Sense and Grow

Leaf sensors on the robotic plant can monitor the environment. Photo courtesy of CORDIS.

Tree-like robots could help monitor the earth, as well as other planets. Created as a part of a new project called Plantoid, the robots have leaves that sense, roots that grow and move, and a trunk-full of electronics. Project coordinator Barbara Mazzolai notes that while animals and insects frequently inspire robots, plant models also offer many insights. “Plants are very efficient in terms ... Read More »

LERN: A Robot Designed to Play Nicely with Humans

Omron's robot serves the ball back nicely to its opponent. Photo courtesy of Omron Corp.

Omron Corp. recently demonstrated their ping-pong playing robot at CEATEC Japan, to show off the company’s prowess in robotics. What makes the machine remarkable, is that it’s not intended to play competitively. Instead, it’s designed to play a long, friendly game with lots of easy volleys. By monitoring the position and movements of the human player, the robot can predict the ... Read More »

LERN: Robot Bat Glides and Jumps With Ease

MultiMo-Bat researcher Matthew Woodward stands still while his creation jumps over his head. The images of the robot in it's various stages of locomotion were taken with a high-speed video camera. Photo courtesy of Matthew Woodward.

A new robot inspired by the vampire bat can jump and glide efficiently, reaching heights of more than 9 feet. The robot, called MultiMo-Bat, was designed to explore new strategies for integrating multiple modes of mobility and enhance the performance of small-scale robotic systems. “Current works have attempted this by means of a combination of independent locomotion modes, however this ... Read More »