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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.

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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.

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“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.

A blueprint for restoring touch with a prosthetic hand

October 15, 2013 8:34 am | News | Comments

New research at the Univ. of Chicago is laying the groundwork for touch-sensitive prosthetic limbs that one day could convey real-time sensory information to amputees via a direct interface with the brain. The research marks an important step toward new technology that, if implemented successfully, would increase the dexterity and clinical viability of robotic prosthetic limbs.

Better robot vision

October 7, 2013 7:46 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Object recognition is one of the most widely studied problems in computer vision. But a robot that manipulates objects in the world needs to do more than just recognize them; it also needs to understand their orientation. Is that mug right-side up or upside-down? And which direction is its handle facing? To improve robots’ ability to gauge object orientation, a team is exploiting a statistical construct called the Bingham distribution.

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Robohand uses 3-D printing to replace lost digits

September 11, 2013 10:50 am | by Carley Petesch, Associated Press | News | Comments

Richard Van As, a South African carpenter, lost four fingers from his right hand to a circular saw two years ago. He was unable to afford the tens of thousands of dollars to get a myoelectric hand, which detects a muscle's electric impulses to activate an artificial limb. He decided to build his own hand, made from cables, screws and thermoplastic, using only the Internet and a 3-D printer. He has since fitted 170 people with Robohands.

NASA launches robotic explorer to moon

September 6, 2013 11:44 pm | by MARCIA DUNN - AP Aerospace Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

NASA's newest robotic explorer rocketed into space late Friday in an unprecedented moonshot from Virginia. The LADEE spacecraft, which is charged with studying the lunar atmosphere and dust, soared aboard an unmanned Minotaur rocket a little before midnight. It was a change of venue for NASA, which normally launches moon missions from Cape Canaveral, Fla.

Video: First microdrone crosses the Alps

September 5, 2013 10:17 am | News | Comments

Earlier this summer, a small drone managed something that even larger flying robots had not yet been able to do. Equipped with an HD camera, and in adverse conditions, it set off from Switzerland and crossed the Saint-Gotthard Massif towards Italy. The company behind this experiment has just released video of the record flight.

Penn researchers strive for a more athletic robot

August 14, 2013 9:16 am | by Keith Collins, Associated Press | News | Comments

A new robot at the Univ. of Pennsylvania has a leg up on its predecessors now that researchers have outfitted it with jumping and climbing abilities—something that could make it particularly useful for such tricky propositions as military search missions or supply transport.

Robot uses steerable needles to treat brain clots

August 8, 2013 2:29 pm | News | Comments

Surgery to relieve the damaging pressure caused by hemorrhaging in the brain is a perfect job for a robot. That is the basic premise of a new image-guided surgical system under development at Vanderbilt Univ. It employs steerable needles about the size of those used for biopsies to penetrate the brain with minimal damage and suction away the blood clot that has formed.

Japan launches talking humanoid robot into space

August 5, 2013 11:04 am | News | Comments

Kirobo—derived from the Japanese words for "hope" and "robot"—was among five tons of supplies and machinery on a rocket launched Sunday from Tanegashima in southwestern Japan. The childlike robot was designed to be a companion for astronaut Koichi Wakata and will communicate with another robot on Earth, according to developers.

Japan launches talking humanoid robot into space

August 4, 2013 8:27 pm | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

Japan has launched the world's first talking humanoid robot "astronaut" toward the International Space Station. Kirobo—derived from the Japanese words for "hope" and "robot"—was among five tons of supplies and machinery on a rocket launched Sunday from Tanegashima in southwestern Japan, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, said.

Robotic helicopter team sets sights on impossible mission

August 1, 2013 10:12 am | News | Comments

If the mission sounds impossible, that's because it is—at least with today's technology: Build a three-pound flying machine that can, under its own control, take off, fly through a window into a model building, avoid security lasers, navigate the halls, recognize signs, enter the correct room, find a flash drive in a box on a desk, pick it up, leave a decoy, exit and land in under 10 min.

Station astronauts remotely control planetary rover from space

July 30, 2013 9:17 am | by Rachel Hoover, NASA Ames Research Center | News | Comments

Just as remotely-operated vehicles help humans explore the depths of the ocean from above, NASA has begun studying how a similar approach may one day help astronauts explore other worlds. On June 17 and July 26, NASA tested the Surface Telerobotics exploration concept, in which an astronaut in an orbiting spacecraft remotely operates a robot on a planetary surface.

DARPA unveils ATLAS robot

July 15, 2013 9:12 am | News | Comments

In DARPA’s Virtual Robotics Challenge, 28 competing teams applied software of their own design to a simulated robot in an attempt to complete a series of tasks that are prerequisites for more complex activities. Just seven teams advanced to the next round, which was unveiled last week at Boston Dynamics: ATLAS, one of the most advanced humanoid robots ever built.

Robots to revolutionize U.S. farms, ease labor woes

July 15, 2013 8:09 am | by Gosia Wozniacka and Terence Chea, Associated Press | News | Comments

Researchers are now designing robots for the last frontier of agricultural mechanization: fruits and vegetables. Sensitive to bruising, these crops have resisted mechanization. But engineers from Silicon Valley have been working on the Lettuce Bot, which can thin a field of lettuce in the time it takes about 20 works to do the job by hand.

Navy completes 1st unmanned carrier landing

July 11, 2013 9:20 am | by BROCK VERGAKIS - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

The Navy successfully landed a drone the size of a fighter jet aboard an aircraft carrier for the first time Wednesday, showcasing the military's capability to have a computer program perform one of the most difficult tasks that a pilot is asked to do. The landing of the experimental aircraft means the Navy can move forward with its plans to develop another unmanned aircraft that will join the fleet.

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