A commonly shared dream by engineers and fire & rescue services, would be to have swarms of such drones help in search-and-rescue scenarios, for instance to localize gas leaks without endangering human lives. Tiny drones are ideal for such tasks, since they are small enough to navigate in narrow spaces, safe, agile, and very inexpensive. In this article, we show how we tackled the complex problem of swarm gas source localization in cluttered environments by using a simple bug algorithm with evolved parameters, and then tested it onboard a fully autonomous swarm of tiny drones.
Engineers at EPFL have developed a predictive control model that allows swarms of drones to fly in cluttered environments quickly and safely. It works by enabling individual drones to predict their own behavior and that of their neighbors in the swarm.
The World Bank estimates that 3.5 million tons of solid waste is produced by humans everyday, with America accounting for more than 250 million tons a year or over 4 pounds of trash per citizen. To the fictional Dr. Emmett Brown, this garbage is akin to “black gold” – ecologically powering cities, cars, and machines. In reality, the movie, “Back to The Future II” was inspired by the biomass gasification movement of 20th century in powering cars with wood during World War II when petroleum was scarce. Professor Loannis Leropoulos of the University of Bristol’s Robotics Laboratory is working on the next generation of bio-engineered fuel cells. Last week, Dr. Leropoulos demonstrated his revolutionary Microbial Fuel Cells (MFCs) for me. As witnessed, he is not just inspired by nature, but harnessing its beauty to power the next generation of robots.
The deepest regions of the oceans still remain one of the least explored areas on Earth, despite their considerable scientific interest and the richness of lifeforms inhabiting them. But a new small self-powered underwater robotic fish appears to offer an alternative. According to a recent paper, the robot was able to reach the deepest part of the Pacific Ocean – the Mariana Trench – at a depth of almost 11 km (6.8 miles).
If you’ve ever swatted a mosquito away from your face, only to have it return again (and again and again), you know that insects can be remarkably acrobatic and resilient in flight. Those traits help them navigate the aerial world, with all of its wind gusts, obstacles, and general uncertainty. Such traits are also hard to build into flying robots, but MIT Assistant Professor Kevin Yufeng Chen has built a system that approaches insects’ agility.
Most of the ocean is unknown. Yet we know that the most challenging environments on the planet reside in it. Understanding the ocean in its totality is a key component for the sustainable development of human activities and for the mitigation of climate change, as proclaimed by the United Nations. We are glad to share our perspective about the role of soft robots in ocean exploration and offshore operations at the outset of the ocean decade (2021-2030).
Schools of fish exhibit complex, synchronized behaviors that help them find food, migrate, and evade predators. No one fish or sub-group of fish coordinates these movements, nor do fish communicate with each other about what to do next. Rather, these collective behaviors emerge from so-called implicit coordination — individual fish making decisions based on what they see their neighbors doing.
Interesting discussion with Prof. Ali Khademhosseini, CEO of the Terasaki Institute, and one of the pioneers of the Bioengineering field. Prof. Ali’s journey from Harvard and UCLA to the Terasaki Institute is truly inspiring. What does the institute do to bring a product to the real world? Learn about the design challenges of biomaterials, organs on a chip, and soft robotics in this episode of the IEEE RAS Soft Robotics Podcast.
How do honeybees land on flowers or avoid obstacles? One would expect such questions to be mostly of interest to biologists. However, the rise of small electronics and robotic systems has also made them relevant to robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI). For example, small flying robots are extremely restricted in terms of the sensors and processing that they can carry onboard. If these robots are to be as autonomous as the much larger self-driving cars, they will have to use an extremely efficient type of artificial intelligence – similar to the highly developed intelligence possessed by flying insects.
Interesting discussion with Hod Lipson, head of Creative Machines Lab, Columbia University in New York. Can robots be self-aware? Can they design other robots and self-repair? Why should we evolve robots to do tasks that animals do so well? Why don’t we have useful autonomous robots in the real world yet? Find out Hod’s answers to these questions and updates on VoxCAD development for designing and simulation of soft robots in this episode of the IEEE RAS Soft Robotics Podcast.
Abate interviews Benjamin “Pietro” Filardo, CEO and founder of Pliant Energy Systems. At PES, they developed a novel form of actuation using two undulating fins on a robot. These fins present multiple benefits over traditional propeller systems including excellent energy efficiency, low water turbulence, and an ability to maneuver in water, land, and ice. Aside from its benefits on a robot, Pietro also talks about its advantages for harnessing energy from moving water.
Scientists from the University of Bristol and the Royal Veterinary College have discovered how birds are able to fly in gusty conditions – findings that could inform the development of bio-inspired small-scale aircraft.
In this episode, Kate Zhou interviews Farrell Helbling, postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Microrobotics lab, who has worked on developing the RoboBee, an insect-inspired robot that is the lightest vehicle to achieve untethered flight. Farrell discusses challenges with building the robot at centimeter-scale as well as integration of sensors and power electronics particularly in considerations with weight trade-offs.
As we continue to develop social robots designed for connectedness, we struggle with paradoxes related to authenticity, transience, and replication. In this talk, I will attempt to link together 15 years of experience designing social robots with 100-year-old texts on transience, replication, and the fear of dying. Can there be meaningful relationships with robots who do not suffer natural decay? What would our families look like if we all choose to buy identical robotic family members? Could hand-crafted robotics offer a relief from the mass-replication of the robot’s physical body and thus also from the mass-customization of social experiences?