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Yearly Archives: 2014

Fusing Robotic Sound and Sight to Enhance Communication

Researchers at Inria used a NAO robot to test a novel system for detecting and localizing talking humans. Photo courtesy of Aldebaran.

Ideally, humans shouldn’t have to wear microphones to have a decent conversation with a robot. But background noise coming from the environment and the bot itself, can make it difficult for a bot to pick up a clear audio signal. Turning toward the person speaking tends …

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New Self-Balancing, Reconfigurable Pi Bot Recognizes Faces

This PiKit robot balances itself upright and can be programmed to avoid obstacles, recognize faces, and follow lines. Photo courtesy of Anima Technika.

A new series of robotics components are available via Indiegogo. Made by the Slovakian robotics company Anima Robotics, the centerpiece of the kit is a small, black box with four buttons called the PiController. The PiController comes in two flavors: Raspberry ($289) and Banana ($299). Each black box also includes 3 – axis …

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SuperDroid Releases Robotic Snowblower

This remote control, 4WD snow blower is made to order in six to eight weeks. Photo courtesy of SuperDroid Robots.

Using a snowblower certainly beats shoveling, but you still have to push the darn thing along. A new snowblower from SuperDroid Robotics offers an easier solution: a 4WD, remote-controlled machines that can conquer any driveway. While the snowblower won’t create a wall of snow bricks, it’s still …

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U.S. Navy Finishes Testing Robotic Spy Fish

The GhostSwimmer robot is designed to stealthily gather surveillance data. Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Edward Guttierrez III.

An unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) disguised as a fish could help the U.S. Navy keep our waters safe. Known as GhostSwimmer, the bot can operate autonomously or, when being stealthy isn’t a priority, it can be controlled by a laptop on a 500-foot tether. “GhostSwimmer will …

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Soft Robot from Harvard Inches Through Tubes

The way the fiber is woven around each segment of expandable, red tube impacts its function. Photo courtesy of Harvard University.

Roboticists often try to built machines capable of moving through very tight spaces that humans can’t access. A new video from Harvard University’s Biodesign Lab shows a machine with a lot of promise in this area: a soft bot that can inch its way through tubes. The …

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Library of 3D Parts for Search and Rescue Robots in Development

The RAPTER aerial hexarotor is built using interchangeable, #D printed components. Photo courtesy of Robotics Research LLC.

The US Department of Homeland Security and Robotic Research LLC of Maryland, are building a library of compatible 3D parts that can be used for search and rescue robots. The objective is to have a system in place so that parts can be quickly made to suit …

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Set Up Shop with the Hack Pack Workshop

With the Hack Pack Workshop Supply Kit you can quickly set up shop! Photo courtesy of Sparkfun.

Sparkfun’s new Hack Pack Workshop Supply Kit is ideal for those setting up a new communal shop. With enough gear for five workstations, the kit comes with all the basics for your shared hacker space or electronics classroom. The kit includes five variable temperature soldering irons plus stands, …

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Smart Prosthetic Skin is Robust and Sensor Laden

Researchers have developed a skin smart enough to sense its environment and robust enough to tackle everyday tasks. Photo courtesy of Jaemin Kim et al.

A new skin for prosthetic hands can sense a lot about its environment. Sensors embedded through the material can detect temperature, pressure, moisture, and strain. The stretchable skin, which is made of gold and silicon, also includes stretchable multi-electrode arrays for nerve stimulation and electroresistive heaters to help …

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iRobot Releases Programmable Robot for STEM Education

The Create 2 from iRobot is designed to give kids an inexpensive platform to learn about programming and hardware. Photo courtesy of iRobot.

iRobot has found a great use for old Roombas: STEM education. The company announced today that it is selling remanufactured Roomba 600s, as programmable, expandable robots for students and developers. Called the Create 2, the robots come with all of the lights, sensors, and behaviors that …

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Bring Holiday Cards to Life with Chibitronics Circuit Stickers

LED stickers and copper tape are used to create crafts that light up and make sounds. Photo courtesy of Chibitronics.

With circuit stickers from Chibitronics, crafts and cards can easily be turned in to working circuits. Chibitonics offers a variety of stickers, including light, sound, and trigger sensors. Effects stickers can also be added to make the LEDs twinkle, fade, blink, or mimic a heartbeat. Micro-controller …

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Building a Better Robotic Leg by Considering Pressure

Dr. Robert Gregg stands next to a robotic leg that was designed by UTDesign students and is similar to the one reported in his research. Photo courtesy of University of Texas, Dallas.

Researchers have developed a new way of analyzing walking, with the hope of improving robotic legs. Usually, researchers look at time as the all-important variable when trying to develop models for robotic legs. But a team at the University of Texas, Dallas, decided to focus on …

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Chinese Restaurant Replaces Waitstaff with Robots

Hi, I'm a robot and I'll be your server this evening.

Engineers have long built bots to compete in robot waiter competitions. It was generally a pretty hilarious competition, with robots banging into each other, and accidentally serving snacks to garbage cans. Finally, the technology is ready for the real world and a restaurant in Zhejiang, China has opted …

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Snow Revoval Robot Compresses Flakes into Bricks

Do you operate a snow plow for a living? Look out! The YukiTaro robot not only shovels snow, it converts it into a short, melting wall. (Photo credit: of Research and Development, Inc.)

As winter takes hold, a roboticists mind can help but think of an old favorite: YukiTaro, Japan’s answer to snow. This adorable bot doesn’t just shovel the snow: it turns it into stacks of frigid bricks. The yellow bot autonomously avoids humans using cameras and image-processing software, so it can clear …

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