Tag Archives | Robotics

DARPA Seeking Small Business Partners To Develop Robots

800px-DARPA_LogoHard to believe that DARPA is feeling the pinch as Obama’s never-ending wars push our national debt to unimaginable levels, but apparently they need help. Report from Fast Company:

Back in July the government identified robots as one of the R&D priorities for the 2012 budget (about a decade behind the rest of us). Now there’s a research funding round to aid small business robotic’s efforts, to build robot gear DARPA can’t manage.

The Office of Science and Technology Policy was behind July’s thinking that “Robotics is an important technology because of its potential to advance national needs such as homeland security, defense, medicine, healthcare, space exploration,” and a whole list of other purposes. The OSTP thinks it’s also a tech at “a tipping point in terms of its usefulness and versatility,” thanks to innovations in programming, hardware, and computer vision.

Now the White House has announced that five federal agencies have banded together to create a fund to spur “small business research.” Companies can apply for cash to aid work on “robot-assisted rehabilitation, robotics for drug discovery, and robots that can disarm explosive devices.” This last one is particularly revealing, given how much the U.S.

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Breakthrough In Artificial Skin With The Ability To Feel

ALeqM5hhluheFU9tOjAGiK26fxruhsyxpQThe robots of the future will have soft skin with as refined and sensitive a sense of touch as ours. Smell and taste are now the biggest hurtles in terms of replicating the human senses electronically — as of now, androids will be able to see, hear, and touch, and yet be unable to savor a juicy hamburger. Via Google, AFP reports:

Biotech wizards have engineered electronic skin that can sense touch, in a major step towards next-generation robotics and prosthetic limbs.

The lab-tested material responds to almost the same pressures as human skin and with the same speed, they reported in the British journal Nature Materials.

The “e-skin” made by Javey’s team comprises a matrix of nanowires made of germanium and silicon rolled onto a sticky polyimide film.

The team then laid nano-scale transistors on top, followed by a flexible, pressure-sensitive rubber. The prototype, measuring 49 square centimetres (7.6 square inches), can detect pressure ranging from 0 to 15 kilopascals, comparable to the force used for such daily activities as typing on a keyboard or holding an object.

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Interview: What’s It Like To Be A Robot?

That was the starting topic of New York Times reporter Amy Harmon's interview with Bina48, a cutting edge humanoid robot housed at the Terasem Movement Foundation in Vermont. There's long way to go before robots develop the conversational skills necessary to blend in with the general public, although they could pass as disturbed weirdos -- Bina48's answers were often confusing, sometimes creepy, and occasionally cheeky.
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Rover Is Now the Longest-Running Mission to the Red Planet, If It Still Lives…

After a some rocky times with the red planet in the late 1990’s, NASA finally succeeded with the Mars Rover.  This cute little fellow may be near the end of its life, but it has survived years past its original 90-day mission.  Popsci reports:

from Wikimedia Commons

from Wikimedia Commons

A stuck robotic rover may have overtaken NASA’s Viking probe as the longest-surviving mission on Mars — so long as it’s still alive. But its robotic twin Opportunity could also still grab the record next month if the Spirit rover has slipped into its final winter slumber.

The golf-cart-sized Mars Exploration Rovers have long since outlived their 90-day missions; they both celebrated their six-year anniversaries on the red planet in January. Rather than sigh over the voided warranties, NASA’s rover handlers have celebrated their hardware’s persistence on a rugged and alien world.

Time and tough conditions finally caught up to the rover twins more recently.

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100 Robots Converge For Giant Global Robot Expo Online

Via h+ magazine: Robot Expo
More than 100 university robotics labs around the world have created a giant robot expo online, including MIT, Cambridge, Carnegie-Mellon and Oxford.
It includes the University of Reading's robot, which uses a biological brain, and humanoid robots from Osaka University, which can interact with humans.
The University of Michigan contributed its OmniTread snake robots, which can crawl through small holes, and the University of Zurich's ECCEROBOT (funded by the EU) even has human-like cognition.
And the expo also features MIT's robotic flower gardens and robot technology embedded into lamps and clothing, plus Leonardo, a socially intelligent animatronic robot capable of near-human facial expression that learns from natural human interaction.
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Hiroshi Ishiguro’s Geminoid-F Humanoid Mimics Earthlings, is Definitely the Beginning of the End

From Engadget:
Hiroshi Ishiguro (or his evil android twin, one) is back in business, and nearly four years after his Geminoid HI-1 startled youngsters everywhere, the Geminoid-F has arrived to consternate the grown-ups. Shown off this weekend in Osaka, Japan, the lifelike lady you see above (pictured left, just in case you were wondering) was designed to mimic human facial expressions that are fed in to its internal computer. The rubberized face has a rather insane amount of flexibility, enabling it to pull off subtle gestures that have thus far been impossible to replicate on a robot.
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