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LERN: Teaching Robots How to Fall Safely

setting by creating a reduced-gravity environment using a tilted surface similar to an air hockey table outfitted with a leaf blower. Photo courtesy of Georgia Institute of Technology.

Unlike humans and robots, cats are known for their ability to always land on their feet. Now researchers at Georgia Tech’s School of Interactive Computing are studying the way cats reorient themselves during a fall, in an effort to make robots more robust. According to the paper outlining the research, what makes a cat’s ability so extraordinary is that it can rapidly ... Read More »

LERN: Bridging the Gap Between Simulation and Real-World Performance

Researchers at the University of Oslo test the performance of their 3D printed robots against simulation data. Video courtesy of the University of Oslo.

Researchers at the University of Oslo are working with a diverse group of 3D printed robots to improve their ability to traverse different kinds of terrain. “We tell the simulation program what we would like the robot to do, how fast it should walk, its size and energy consumption. For instance, we may want the robot to be able to turn around and ... Read More »

LERN: Robot Lands on Comet: A Sci-Fi Dream Come True

Philae was supposed to secure itself to the comet using harpoons. Photo courtesy of the ESA.

After spending 10 years traveling through space, the robot Philae safely landed on Comet 67P. That act alone is historic: this is a first time humans have ever soft landed anything on a comet. It’s was tricky encounter, partly because Philae cannot be steered. It was all down to releasing Philae from the orbiter, Rosetta, at the right time. Philae’s malfunctioning ... Read More »

LERN: Robots Discover Warm Storms Deep in the Ocean

Researchers prep the glider robot before its launch in January 2012. Photo courtesy of Alan Jamieson/Caltech.

The dynamic systems causing sheets of ice in West Antarctica to melt are less mysterious, thanks to a team of glider robots. Using data collected by the bots, the team was able to deduce that swirling ocean eddies help transport warm waters to the Antarctic coast. Knowing how the warm water travels will help researchers be able to better determine how fast the ice is ... Read More »

LERN: Can a Robot Make a Better Cup of Coffee?

The Poursteady Coffee Robot readies five cups of liquid caffeine. Photo courtesy of Engadget.

Brooklyn-based Poursteady brought their coffee making machine to Engadget Expand earlier this week. The automated device is designed to replicate the very particular, very pretentious, pour-over coffee making technique. The process requires that precisely heated water be poured over the grounds at certain intervals, using a circular motion. Poursteady decided to take an industrial robotics approach to the process and create a ... Read More »

LERN: Creating a Ghostly Presence with Robotics

A master-slave robotic system was used by researchers in Switzerland to create a ghostly experience through sensory dissonance. Photo courtesy of Alain Herzog/EPFL.

New research suggests that if you program your robot in just the right way, and you could create enough sensory dissonance to scare the heck out of your friends and family. Researchers in Switzerland used a master-slave robotic system to try to create a ghostly experience, in order to study the nature of hallucinations. In the first part of the experiment, ... Read More »

LERN: Rescue Roaches Steered Toward Sounds Via Circuitry

Researchers have created a circuit that guides cockroaches toward sounds picked up on a tiny microphone. Photo courtesy of Eric Whitmire, North Carolina State University.

After a disaster, rescuers often search for trapped victims by listening for sounds of life. Researchers at North Carolina State University hope to assist this effort, by enlisting roaches. The bugs could crawl into tiny spaces human rescuers can’t easily access, with small microphones on their backs to detect sounds. The researchers call the roaches “biobots” and have developed two types. One carries a ... Read More »

LERN: Building a Robot to Swim in the Human Body

This microscopic robot using reciprocal motion to swim through non-Newtonian fluids. Photo courtesy of Nature Communications.

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems have created microscopic machines that can slowly swim through non-Newtonian fluids, such as those found in connective, epithelial and neural tissues. Made out of silicon rubber, the robots are cast in a 3D printed mold. Just like a scallop, each robot has two shells connected by a thin, narrow hinge. But these shells have a rare earth micro magnets attached — one per shell. When ... Read More »

LERN: ARTI: A Robust, Rolling Robot Chassis for Climbing Stairs

The ARTI chassis can climb up and down stairs with ease. Even non standard, uneven, and bullnose stairs are easily tackled. Photo courtesy of Transcend Robotics.

If you are looking for a robot chassis that can handle unpredictable terrain, consider ARTI from Transcend Robotics. Invented by retired entrepeneur Andrew Ferguson, the three-part chassis climbs up and down stairs — and all sorts of other obstacles — with ease. It doesn’t matter whether the stairs are non-standard, uneven, or have a protruding bullnose: ARTI can climb them. Video of the bot ... Read More »

LERN: Fold Your Own Robot

Zoobotics' Zuri robot was made using paper and cardboard. Photo courtesy of Zoobotics.

If you love origami and robots, you’ll definitely want to check out the Zoobotics Website. Zoobotics has posted some inspiring photos of an Arduino-based, paper robot. While the electronics are rather straightforward (it has a distance sensor and can be programmed wirelessely via Bluetooth), the innovative way Zoobotics created the bot’s body is worth noting. Using paper, cardboard, glue, cutters and a ... Read More »

LERN: Help Kickstart a Giant Robot Battle

One of the members of the MegaBots team sits inside his creation. Photo courtesy of MegaBots.

Three engineers are leading a movement to bring giant fighting robots to a live venue near you. Their prototype bot, a 15-feet tall, 15,000 pound walking humanoid, is just the beginning. The co-creators of MegaBots, Inc. imagine many huge bots, fighting it out in a variety of competitions, including death matches, free-for-alls, escort missions, and capture the flag games. But ... Read More »

LERN: Rescue Robots Adopt a Video Game Approach

The robot above was tested by firefighters in Italy and found to be easier to use when the video camera moved in sync with the body. Photo courtesy of KTH The Royal Institute of Technology.

Tests conducted recently in Italy suggest searching emergency scenes would be easier if cameras on rescue robots moved in tandem with the body of the bot. For example, when the robot is looking to the right, pressing the lever to make the robot move forward will cause it to move to the right. This approach, known as free look control, is commonly used ... Read More »

LERN: Visualization System Projects Robot’s Thoughts

A projection system displays a robot's thoughts regarding path planning. Photo courtesy of Melanie Gonick/MIT.

Researchers at MIT have built a system that displays an autonomous robot’s path planning options, as the bot considers its route. The system was designed in response to visitors of the school’s Aerospace Control Lab who often thought the robots were simply displaying random behaviors. “Normally, a robot may make some decision, but you can’t quite tell what’s going on in its mind — ... Read More »