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by   -   October 23, 2020
MorphSensor glasses
An MIT team used MorphSensor to design multiple applications, including a pair of glasses that monitor light absorption to protect eye health. Credits: Photo courtesy of the researchers.

By Rachel Gordon

We’ve come a long way since the first 3D-printed item came to us by way of an eye wash cup, to now being able to rapidly fabricate things like car parts, musical instruments, and even biological tissues and organoids

Robot swarm painting

By Conn Hastings, science writer

Controlling a swarm of robots to paint a picture sounds like a difficult task. However, a new technique allows an artist to do just that, without worrying about providing instructions for each robot. Using this method, the artist can assign different colors to specific areas of a canvas, and the robots will work together to paint the canvas. The technique could open up new possibilities in art and other fields.

by   -   October 13, 2020

It’s Ada Lovelace Day and once again we’re delighted to introduce you to “30 women in robotics you need to know about”! From 13 year old Avye Couloute to Bala Krishnamurthy who worked alongside the ‘Father of Robotics’ Joseph Engelberger in the 1970s & 1980s, these women showcase a wide range of roles in robotics. We hope these short bios will provide a world of inspiration, in our eighth Women in Robotics list! 

by   -   October 6, 2020

By Oleh Rybkin, Danijar Hafner and Deepak Pathak

To operate successfully in unstructured open-world environments, autonomous intelligent agents need to solve many different tasks and learn new tasks quickly. Reinforcement learning has enabled artificial agents to solve complex tasks both in simulation and real-world. However, it requires collecting large amounts of experience in the environment for each individual task.

Therapist holding patient's arm, who is wearing an intelligent wereable device
A team led by Wyss Associate Faculty member Paolo Bonato, Ph.D., found in a recent study that wearable technology is suitable to accurately track motor recovery of individuals with brain injuries and thus allow clinicians to choose more effective interventions and to improve outcomes. Credit: Shutterstock/Dmytro Zinkevych

By Tim Sullivan / Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital Communications

A group based out of the Spaulding Motion Analysis Lab at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital published “Enabling Precision Rehabilitation Interventions Using Wearable Sensors and Machine Learning to Track Motor Recovery” in the newest issue of Nature Digital Medicine. The aim of the study is to lay the groundwork for the design of “precision rehabilitation” interventions by using wearable technologies to track the motor recovery of individuals with brain injury.

by   -   September 30, 2020


By Ashvin Nair and Abhishek Gupta

Robots trained with reinforcement learning (RL) have the potential to be used across a huge variety of challenging real world problems. To apply RL to a new problem, you typically set up the environment, define a reward function, and train the robot to solve the task by allowing it to explore the new environment from scratch. While this may eventually work, these “online” RL methods are data hungry and repeating this data inefficient process for every new problem makes it difficult to apply online RL to real world robotics problems. What if instead of repeating the data collection and learning process from scratch every time, we were able to reuse data across multiple problems or experiments? By doing so, we could greatly reduce the burden of data collection with every new problem that is encountered.

by   -   September 16, 2020


By Misha Laskin, Aravind Srinivas, Kimin Lee, Adam Stooke, Lerrel Pinto, Pieter Abbeel

A remarkable characteristic of human intelligence is our ability to learn tasks quickly. Most humans can learn reasonably complex skills like tool-use and gameplay within just a few hours, and understand the basics after only a few attempts. This suggests that data-efficient learning may be a meaningful part of developing broader intelligence.

by   -   August 26, 2020

By Lindsay Brownell

Minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery, in which a surgeon uses tools and a tiny camera inserted into small incisions to perform operations, has made surgical procedures safer for both patients and doctors over the last half-century. Recently, surgical robots have started to appear in operating rooms to further assist surgeons by allowing them to manipulate multiple tools at once with greater precision, flexibility, and control than is possible with traditional techniques. However, these robotic systems are extremely large, often taking up an entire room, and their tools can be much larger than the delicate tissues and structures on which they operate.

by   -   August 12, 2020

One of the biggest challenges in computing is handling a staggering onslaught of information while still being able to efficiently store and process it.

By Adam Conner-Simons

Big data has gotten really, really big: By 2025, all the world’s data will add up to an estimated 175 trillion gigabytes. For a visual, if you stored that amount of data on DVDs, it would stack up tall enough to circle the Earth 222 times. 

by   -   July 28, 2020
Protein-based artificial muscles for soft robotic actuators
Series of protein-based artificial muscles, with performance exceeding that of biological muscle. Other soft robotic parts could include soft grippers and soft actuators. IMAGE: ABDON PENA-FRANCESCH, LEAD AUTHOR OF THE PAPER AND A FORMER DOCTORAL STUDENT IN DEMIREL’S LAB (NOW STARTING HIS OWN GROUP IN UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN).

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Repeated activity wears on soft robotic actuators, but these machines’ moving parts need to be reliable and easily fixed. Now a team of researchers has a biosynthetic polymer, patterned after squid ring teeth, that is self-healing and biodegradable, creating a material not only good for actuators, but also for hazmat suits and other applications where tiny holes could cause a danger.

by   -   July 27, 2020

The DARPA Subterranean (SubT) Challenge aims to develop innovative technologies that would augment operations underground. On July 20, Dr Timothy Chung, the DARPA SubTChallenge Program Manager, joined Silicon Valley Robotics to discuss the upcoming Cave Circuit and Subterranean Challenge Finals, and the opportunities that still exist for individual and team entries in both Virtual and Systems Challenges, as per the video below.

by   -   July 22, 2020

Human thumb next to our OmniTact sensor, and a US penny for scale.

By Akhil Padmanabha and Frederik Ebert

Touch has been shown to be important for dexterous manipulation in robotics. Recently, the GelSight sensor has caught significant interest for learning-based robotics due to its low cost and rich signal. For example, GelSight sensors have been used for learning inserting USB cables (Li et al, 2014), rolling a die (Tian et al. 2019) or grasping objects (Calandra et al. 2017).

by   -   July 18, 2020

RSS 2020 was held virtually this year, from the RSS Pioneers Workshop on July 11 to the Paper Awards and Farewell on July 16. Many talks are now available online, including 103 accepted papers, each presented as an online Spotlight Talk on the RSS Youtube channel, and of course the plenaries and much of the workshop content as well. We’ve tried to link here to all of the goodness from RSS 2020.

by   -   July 15, 2020

By Rachel Gordon
The opposing fingers are lightweight and quick moving, allowing nimble, real-time adjustments of force and position.
Photo courtesy of MIT CSAIL.

For humans, it can be challenging to manipulate thin flexible objects like ropes, wires, or cables. But if these problems are hard for humans, they are nearly impossible for robots. As a cable slides between the fingers, its shape is constantly changing, and the robot’s fingers must be constantly sensing and adjusting the cable’s position and motion.

by and   -   July 15, 2020

This year the International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) is being run as a virtual event. One interesting feature of this conference is that it has been extended to run from 31 May to 31 August. A number of workshops were held on the opening day and here we focus on two of them: “Learning of manual skills in humans and robots” and “Emerging learning and algorithmic methods for data association in robotics”.

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