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All the latest news for robotics

Robot co-workers could help out with repetitive jobs and heavy lifting by reacting to human actions. Image credit – Italian Institute of Technology

by Anthony King
Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk fear that the robotic revolution may already be underway, but automation isn’t going to take over just yet – first machines will work alongside us.

Robots across the world help out in factories by taking on heavy lifting or repetitive jobs, but the walking, talking kind may soon collaborate with people, thanks to European robotics researchers building prototypes that anticipate human actions.

Researchers are running tests on pig skin to better understand how skin behaves and pave the way for bioengineering applications. Image credit – Dr Aisling Ni Annaidh at University College Dublin

Artificial skin with post-human sensing capabilities, and a better understanding of skin tissue, could pave the way for robots that can feel, smart-transplants and even cyborgs.

Emily – short for Emergency Integrated Lifesaving Lanyard – is a remote-controlled rescue boat used by lifeguards to save people’s life at sea (Photo: Hydrolanix – EMILY robot)

This article was first published on the IEC e-tech website.

Rapid advances in technology are revolutionizing the roles of aerial, terrestrial and maritime robotic systems in disaster relief, search and rescue (SAR) and salvage operations. Robots and drones can be deployed quickly in areas deemed too unsafe for humans and are used to guide rescuers, collect data, deliver essential supplies or provide communication services.

Join us at the 2017 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS 2017) for a full day workshop that will bring together international stakeholders in robotics to examine best practices for accelerating robotics innovation through strategic policy frameworks.

Figure 8: Example of a 15 robot swarm of GRITSBots on the arena surface of the second instantiation of the Robotarium.

When developing algorithms for coordinating the behaviors of swarms of robots it is crucial that the algorithms are actually deployed and tested on real hardware platforms. Unfortunately, building and maintaining a swarm robotics testbed is a resource-intense proposition and, as a consequence, resources rather than ideas tend to be the bottleneck and swarm robotics research does not progress at the rate it could. The Robotarium sets out to remedy this problem by providing remote access to a large team of robots, where users can upload their code, run the experiments remotely, and get the scientific data back. This article describes the structure and architecture of the Robotarium as well as discusses what constitutes an effective, remotely accessible research platform.

This paper won the IEEE Robotics & Automation Best Multi-Robot Systems Award at ICRA 2017.

Crops are key for a sustainable food production and we face several challenges in crop production. First, we need to feed a growing world population. Second, our society demands high-quality foods. Third, we have to reduce the amount agrochemicals that we apply to our fields as it directly affects our ecosystem. Precision farming techniques offer a great potential to address these challenges, but we have to acquire and provide the relevant information about the field status to the farmers such that specific actions can be taken.

This paper won the IEEE Robotics & Automation Best Automation Paper Award at ICRA 2017.

Why are spiders’ webs so complex? Might they have other functionalities besides being a simple trap? One of the most interesting answers to this question is that spiders might use their webs as computational devices.

by   -   June 20, 2017

WeRobotics Global has become a premier forum for social good robotics. The feedback featured below was unsolicited. On June 1, 2017, we convened our first, annual global event, bringing together 34 organizations to New York City (full list below) to shape the global agenda and future use of robotics in the social good sector.  WeRobotics Global was kindly hosted by the Rockefeller Foundation, the first donor to support our efforts. They opened the event with welcome remarks and turned it over to Patrick Meier from WeRobotics who provided an overview of WeRobotics and the big picture context for social sector robotics.

by   -   June 15, 2017

Mosquitos kill more humans every year than any other animal on the planet and conventional methods to reduce mosquito-borne illnesses haven’t worked as well as many hoped. So we’ve been hard at work since receiving this USAID grant six months ago to reduce Zika incidence and related threats to public health.

by   -   June 14, 2017
Photo: Cirque du Soleil – PARAMOUR on Broadway – at the Lyric Theatre. Featuring Flying Machine Design and Choreography by Verity Studios. Pictured: Ruby Lewis as ‘Indigo’ Ryan Vona as ‘Joey’. ©, Cirque du Soleil Theatrical. Photo by: Richard Termine

Over the past year, 398 audiences of up to 2,000 people witnessed an octet of colorful lampshades perform an airborne choreography during Cirque du Soleil’s Broadway show Paramour, which ran until April 20th. The work behind the design and choreography of the flying lampshades, which turn out to be self-piloted show drones, bears the signature of the Swiss high-tech company Verity Studios.

But how novel is it really that robots have appeared in theater? Since Karel Capek’s science fiction play R.U.R. (short for Rossum’s Universal Robots) introduced the word “robot” to the English language and to science fiction almost 100 years ago, the technical challenges of incorporating robots into live performance and theater have been difficult to master. Before these Broadway drones, nearly all theater robots were remote-controlled puppets, relying on humans hidden off-scene to steer their movements and provide their intelligence.

It is unclear if Masayoshi Son, Chairman of Softbank, was one of the 17 million YouTube viewers of Boston Dynamic’s Big Dog before acquiring the company for an undisclosed amount this past Thursday. What is clear is the acquisition of Boston Dynamics by Softbank is a big deal. Softbank’s humanoid robot Pepper is trading up her dainty wheels for a pair of sturdy legs.

by   -   June 12, 2017

FIRST (For Recognition and Inspiration of Science and Technology) is a robotics program for students from K-12, and I was in the last division, FRC. The program is about more than introducing students to STEM and giving them hands-on experience, it’s about helping students to grow and have positive impacts by recognizing community service efforts, celebrating good values, developing soft skills, and guiding students to pursue higher education.

Mori pictured in a hand as scale

The fields of modular and origami robotics have become increasingly popular in recent years, with both approaches presenting particular benefits, as well as limitations, to the end user. Christoph Belke and Jamie Paik from RRL, EPFL and NCCR Robotics have recently proposed an elegant new solution that integrates both types of robotics in order to overcome their individual limitations: Mori, a modular origami robot.

The device named “Spark” flew high above the man on stage with his hands waving in the direction of the flying object. In a demonstration of DJI’s newest drone, the audience marveled at the Coke can-sized device’s most compelling feature: gesture controls. Instead of a traditional remote control, this flying selfie machine follows hand movements across the sky. Gestures are the most innate language of mammals, and including robots in our primal movements means we have reached a new milestone of co-existence.

We develop the fastest, smallest and lightest distance sensors for advanced robotics in challenging environments. These sensors are born from a fruitful collaboration with CERN while developing flying indoor inspection systems.



Tensegrity Control
August 18, 2017


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