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Monthly Archives: October 2014

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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New Lynxmotion UAV Flight Controller is Smaller and Feature-Packed

The Lynxmotion Quadrino Nano UAV Flight Controller is now available on pre-order for $99.99.

Looking for the perfect holiday gift for the flying robot builder who has everything? A new flight controller for unmanned aerial vehicles promises an easy-to-use interface and sports a low price. The Lynxmotion Quadrino Nano UAV Flight Controller is compatible with MultiWii software and has an onboard gyroscope, accelerometer, magnetometer, barometer and …

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Ikea’s Robotic Mirror Doles Out the Compliments

A new mirror offers Ikea customers compliments.

Ikea has unveiled a new mirror in a store in England. What makes this mirror special isn’t the shape or frame. This mirror gives out compliments. Using the Kinect’s motion sensor technology, the mirror offers personalized messages that automatically appear on the surface of the mirror …

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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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Ubooly: A Robot for the Pre-School Set

The Ubooly plush toy is lined with memory foam to protect your tablet or phone from the whims of toddlers.

Handing over any electronic device to a two-year old is a big risk. Wrap an app in a stuffed animal, however, and you’ve just upped the cuteness factor and decreased the chance of breaking the screen. Enter Ubooly: an interactive toy that uses your smart phone or …

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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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A Very Handy Ball for a Game of Robotic Pick Up

The Versaball takes a novel approach to picking up objects: using suction and a granular substance, the ball molds itself around each item. Photo Courtesy of Empire Robotics.

A unique gripper system called the Versaball made it’s first appearance as a commercial product last month, at the International Manufacturing Trade Show in Chicago. Built by Empire Robotics, the Versaball is not a typical robot hand. It can pick up a wide range of items without lifting a …

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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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Harvard Unveils a Toolkit for Soft Robots

Making robots out of pliable materials is a whole new challenge, made easier with the creation of the Soft Robotics Toolkit Website. Photo courtesy of Eliza Grinnell, Harvard SEAS.

If you’re interested in moving from hard to soft robots, Harvard University is now providing free instructions, guidelines, and starter code online. The Soft Robotics Toolkit Website includes detailed information on how to build your own fluidic control board to operate soft actuators, which can easily perform …

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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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Learn C with a Robot that’s Ready to Climb

The RP6V2-C was designed as a fun way to introduce students to the C programming language.

If your love of robots predates the Web, you probably remember a little guy called the Rug Warrior Pro. Without any formal training in electronics and only one other robot under my belt, the Rug Warrior Pro was a real challenge for me to make. It probably spent …

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