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Leading Edge Robotics News

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 …

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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 …

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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. …

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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 …

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Sailors To Pilot 27-Foot Drone For Training

Drive a Robot half a mile under the waves! The NAVY Times reports that the NAVY is taking a significant step forward in the development of underwater drones, according to the Naval Undersea Warfare Center Keyport in Washington State. Sailors will be able to pilot battery …

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Cheap, Swarming Research Robots

Colias robots provids a platform for researchers who want to study swarming but don't have a lot of money to spend on robots. Photo courtesy of University of Lincoln.

Researchers at the University of Lincoln, UK, and the Tsinghua University in China have developed an inexpensive robot called Colias, that they say is ideal for studying applications involving teams of robots working together. Named after a genus of butterfly, the robots are said to be able to …

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Can Female Robots Help Humans Overcome Gender Stereotypes?

Robot Man and Woman

Taezoon Park, an associate professor in Soongsil University in South Korea, raises some interesting questions about human-robot interaction in Harvard Business Review this week. Park notes past research on the subject suggests humans view robots as social actors. Park suggests that as a consequence, robots could …

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Fleet of Robots Gathering Data in the Altantic Ocean

The Waveglider robot receives last minutes checks before being deployed into the ocean. Photo courtesy of the Natural Environment Research Council.

Seven unmanned robots were released into the open ocean off Southwest England, on a three-week mission to collect data on the ocean and marine life. Some of the vehicles are battery-powered submarine gliders, while others float on the surface of the water and are powered by …

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Combining a Human Brain with Rat Eyes for Better Navigation

Michael Milford with one of the robots he plans to use with his human-rat hybrid navigation system. Photo Courtesy of Queensland University of Technology.

Roboticists often look to the living world for guidance on locomotion. There are countless robots designed to move like animals: some run like cheetahs, others slither like snakes, and a few even fly like insects. Michael Milford thinks roboticists should consider a two-pronged, biomimetic approach to …

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Robot Spy Moves Stealthily Through Water

Researchers at MIT have developed a sneaky underwater robot intended to find ships with illegally imported goods. The robot, which resembles a two-tone football, was built using a 3D printer. It consists of two halves: one is waterproof and contains the electronics, accelerometers, gyroscopes and the battery. …

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Evolutionary Algorithms Create Robot Technology

The Evolvable Systems Group at NASA Ames Research Center investigates computer algorithms that automate the design and optimization of complex engineering systems for NASA exploration missions. The core technologies are based on adaptive and evolutionary algorithm methods. The methods, which include geneticalgorithms, genetic programming, and artificial …

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How Space Robots Will Be Protected From Dust

The dozen astronauts who landed on the moon between 1969 and 1972 found moondust to be an unexpected challenge. Not only was it so abrasive that it wore partially through the outer gloves of their space suits, it stuck to everything. The more they tried to …

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Mind Over Matter

Research Holds Promise for Human Paraplegics It was reported in the Science Translational Medicine department of Science magazine that monkeys have been able to control two robot arms through an electronic Brain-Computer interface. It is hoped that this research will ultimately help human patients overcome paralysis …

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