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Curbs shut U.S. drone makers out of export markets

February 13, 2014 4:08 am | by Kelvin Chan - AP Business Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Military brass shopping at Asia's biggest defense expo this week have drones high on their to-buy list. But for U.S. manufacturers including General Atomics, which makes the Predator hunter-killer, there's one problem: they can only sell to a few countries because of tight export restrictions.

Herding robots

February 12, 2014 7:50 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | Videos | Comments

Writing a program to control a single autonomous robot navigating an uncertain environment with an erratic communication link is hard enough; write one for multiple robots that may or may not have to work in tandem, depending on the task, is even harder. As a consequence, engineers designing control programs for multiagent systems have restricted themselves to special cases. Until now.

New advance in 3-D printing and tissue engineering technology

February 11, 2014 8:46 am | News | Comments

Researchers have introduced a unique microrobotic technique to assemble the components of complex materials, the foundation of tissue engineering and 3-D printing. Tissue engineering and 3-D printing have become vitally important to the future of medicine for many reasons. The shortage of available organs for transplantation, for example, leaves many patients on waiting lists for life-saving treatment.

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Artificial hand feels what you touch

February 6, 2014 12:23 pm | by Lauran Neergaard, AP Medical Writer | News | Comments

It's not quite the bionics of science fiction, but European researchers have created a robotic hand that gave an amputee a sense of touch he hadn't felt in a decade. The experiment lasted only a week, but it let the patient feel if different objects were hard or soft, slim or round, and intuitively adjust his grasp.

Mimicking how ants adjust to microgravity in space could lead to better robots

January 20, 2014 1:09 pm | by Bjorn Carey, Stanford Univ. | News | Comments

Several hundred ants have boldly gone where no ants have gone before: the International Space Station (ISS), high above Earth. An unmanned supply rocket delivered 600 small black common pavement ants to the ISS. Their arrival marked the beginning of an experiment designed by a team at Stanford Univ. to determine how the ants, in these exotic surroundings, adapt the innate algorithms that modulate their group behavior.

Tiny swimming bio-bots boldly go where no bot has swum before

January 20, 2014 8:00 am | News | Comments

The alien world of aquatic microorganisms just got new residents: synthetic self-propelled swimming bio-bots. A team of engineers has developed a class of tiny bio-hybrid machines that swim like sperm, the first synthetic structures that can traverse the viscous fluids of biological environments on their own.

Europe launches RoboEarth: “Wikipedia for Robots”

January 17, 2014 8:38 am | by Toby Sterling, Associated Press | News | Comments

Expectations are high for RoboEarth, a new European-funded system to speed the development of human-serving robots. Scientists from five major European technical universities have gathered in the Netherlands this week for its launch and to demonstrate possible applications. The first: the deceptively simple task of delivering a glass of milk to a patient in a mock-up hospital room.

Silver nanowire sensors hold promise for prosthetics, robotics

January 16, 2014 9:22 am | News | Comments

North Carolina State Univ. researchers have used silver nanowires to develop wearable, multi-functional sensors that could be used in biomedical, military or athletic applications, including new prosthetics, robotic systems and flexible touch panels. The sensors can measure strain, pressure, human touch and bioelectronic signals such as electrocardiograms.

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Human arm sensors make robot smarter

January 16, 2014 9:11 am | News | Comments

Using arm sensors that can read a person’s muscle movements, Georgia Institute of Technology researchers have created a control system that makes robots more intelligent. The sensors send information to the robot, allowing it to anticipate a human’s movements and correct its own. The system is intended to improve time, safety and efficiency in manufacturing plants.

3-D printing set to break out of niche

January 13, 2014 1:15 pm | by Peter Svensson, AP Technology Writer | News | Comments

Based on some of the printing technologies on display at the International CES gadget show in Las Vegas, the question is not whether everyone’s home will someday have a 3-D printer. The question is which rooms will have one: the garage, the kitchen or the wardrobe? Possibly all three. Startups are showcasing printers than can create food, robotics and even clothing in just minutes from inexpensive raw materials.

FedEx CEO says drones unlikely to make big impact

December 18, 2013 2:50 pm | by JOSHUA FREED - AP Business Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

The CEO of FedEx doesn't see drones taking over the package delivery business anytime soon. Fred Smith says FedEx has several drone studies underway. But the idea of delivering items by drone is "almost amusing," Smith said on a conference call on Wednesday after the company reported financial results.

Google deal adds to company's robotics toolbox

December 17, 2013 8:44 am | by Michael Liedtke, AP Technology Writer | News | Comments

Google may be gearing up to build robots that resemble props in science-fiction movies as the ambitious Internet company expands into yet another technological frontier. To gather the expertise and research it needs, Google has purchased eight companies that specialize in robotics this year. The acquisitions are being assembled into a new robotics division headed by Andy Rubin, who oversaw Google's development of Android.

Maybe not sci-fi, but robots readied for big tests

December 16, 2013 2:55 pm | by Geoff Mulvihill and Kevin Begos, Associated Press | News | Comments

The real world has not caught up yet with "Star Wars" and its talking, thinking robots, but some of the most sophisticated units that exist are heading to Florida this week for a Defense Department-sponsored competition. Seventeen humanoid robots will be evaluated Friday and Saturday for how well they can complete tasks including driving an all-terrain vehicle and opening doors.

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First rock dating experiment performed on Mars

December 11, 2013 8:23 am | News | Comments

Although researchers have determined the ages of rocks from other planetary bodies, the actual experiments have been done on Earth. Now, for the first time, researchers have successfully determined the age of a Martian rock with experiments performed on Mars. The work could not only help in understanding the geologic history of Mars but also aid in the search for evidence of ancient life on the planet.

Students' robotic arm can make you stronger

December 10, 2013 8:43 am | by Kathy Matheson, Associated Press | News | Comments

The Titan Arm, a robotic device invented by Univ. of Pennsylvania engineering students, looks and sounds like part of a superhero's costume. But its creators say it's designed for ordinary people—those who need either physical rehabilitation or a little extra muscle for their job. The arm can help its wearer carry an additional 40 pounds.

NASA: Ancient Martian lake may have supported life

December 9, 2013 12:28 pm | by ALICIA CHANG - AP Science Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

NASA's Curiosity rover has uncovered signs of an ancient freshwater lake on Mars that may have teemed with tiny organisms for tens of millions of years, far longer than scientists had imagined, new research suggests. The watering hole near the Martian equator existed about 3.5 billion years ago. Scientists say it was neither salty nor acidic, and contained nutrients—a perfect spot to support microbes.

Micro­robots could become soft, move like biological organisms

December 6, 2013 8:49 am | News | Comments

A researcher team from Spain and Italy say that when envisioning in vivo microrobots of the future, we should forget cogwheels, pistons and levers. These miniature robots will be soft, and behave much like euglenids, tiny unicellular aquatic animals. Their work in studying these creatures have given them insights on how to design soft robots with effective mechanical structures.

Amazon.com sees delivery drones as the future

December 2, 2013 1:44 pm | by Scott Mayerowitz, AP Business Writer | News | Comments

Online retailer Amazon.com aiming to deliver packages quicker than pizza. Its so-called Prime Air unmanned aircraft project, now underway in Amazon’s research and development labs, could get goods to customers in 30 minutes or less. But the company admits it will take years to advance the needed technology and for the needed federal Aviation Administration rules and regulations to be created.

Navy “mine-hunter” AUV sets mission endurance record

November 21, 2013 8:00 am | News | Comments

The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL)'s Acoustics Div., with Bluefin Robotics, executed a record setting 507 km (315 mile), long-endurance autonomy research mission using its heavyweight-class mine countermeasures autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), Reliant. NRL's Reliant AUV, when equipped with a low-frequency broadband sonar system, is perhaps best known as the prototype for the new U.S. Navy Knifefish mine-hunter.

Robots let doctors 'beam' into remote hospitals

November 17, 2013 9:54 am | by TERENCE CHEA - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

The doctor isn't in, but he can still see you now. Remote presence robots are allowing physicians to "beam" themselves into hospitals to diagnose patients and offer medical advice during emergencies. A growing number of hospitals in California and other states are using telepresence robots to expand access to medical specialists, especially in rural areas where there's a shortage of doctors.

Research brings a future of mind-reading robots ever closer

November 14, 2013 10:50 am | News | Comments

If you think with the release of every new i-device the world is getting closer to thought-controlled smart tech and robotic personal assistants, you might be right. And thanks in part to work led by the Univ. of Cincinnati's Anca Ralescu, we may be even closer than you realize.

Artificial heart to pump human waste into future robots

November 13, 2013 8:16 am | News | Comments

A new device capable of pumping human waste into the “engine room” of a self-sustaining robot has been created by a group of researchers from Bristol. Modeled on the human heart, the artificial device incorporates smart materials called shape memory alloys and could be used to deliver human urine to future generations of EcoBot—a robot that can function completely on its own by collecting waste and converting it into electricity.

“Anklebot” helps determine ankle stiffness

October 25, 2013 10:58 am | News | Comments

The act of walking is seldom given a second thought, but upon closer inspection locomotion is less straightforward. In particular, the ankle is an anatomical jumble, and its role in maintaining stability and motion has not been well characterized. A device called the “Anklebot” could help matters by measuring the stiffness of the ankle in various directions.

National Robotics Initiative invests $38 million in next-generation robotics

October 25, 2013 8:53 am | News | Comments

The National Science Foundation, in partnership with the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Agriculture and NASA, has announced new investments totaling approximately $38 million for the development and use of robots that cooperatively work with people to enhance individual human capabilities, performance and safety.

Software uses cyborg swarm to map unknown environs

October 16, 2013 8:19 am | News | Comments

Researchers have developed software that allows them to map unknown environments based on the movement of a swarm of insect cyborgs, or “biobots.” The software would also allow public safety officials to determine the location of radioactive or chemical threats, if the biobots have been equipped with the relevant sensors.

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