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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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Dual-use submersible vehicle wins 2013 R&D 100 Award

July 10, 2013 11:07 am | News | Comments

Proteus, a new class of underwater vehicle that is unique in its ability to operate in either manned or autonomous mode, has been recognized as one of the best technical products of the year by R&D Magazine. With large payload capacity, long range, high endurance and advanced autonomous behaviors, Proteus provides capabilities unavailable in other unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs).

Navy to attempt 1st unmanned carrier landing

July 10, 2013 5:36 am | by BROCK VERGAKIS - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

The Navy will attempt to land a drone the size of a fighter jet aboard an aircraft carrier for the first time, showcasing the military's capability to have a computer program perform one of the most difficult tasks a pilot is asked to do. If all goes as planned, a successful landing of the X-47B experimental aircraft will mean the Navy can develop another unmanned aircraft that will join the fleet.

Next Mars rover should gather rocks, soil

July 9, 2013 7:44 pm | by ALICIA CHANG - AP Science Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Explore an intriguing spot on Mars. Hunt for ancient signs of Martian life. Bag a bunch of rocks and leave them on the surface for a future mission to possibly return. That's what the next rover to Mars should strive for, a NASA-appointed team said Tuesday. The scientists released a 154-page report outlining ambitious science goals for a red planet mission that NASA wants to launch in 2020.

NASA’s Polar Robotic Ranger passes first Greenland test

July 8, 2013 7:23 pm | by Maria-José Viñas, NASA | News | Comments

Although researchers had tested NASA’s new polar rover at a beach in Maryland and in the snow in Idaho, the May 6 to June 8, 2013 testing at Summit Camp, the highest spot in Greenland, was the rover’s first polar experience. Equipped with ground-penetrating radar, the robot defed 30 mph gusts and temperatures down to -22 F, demonstrating that it could operate completely autonomously in one of Earth’s harshest environments.

NASA Mars rover Curiosity begins delayed road trip

July 8, 2013 4:48 pm | by ALICIA CHANG - AP Science Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Martian mountain, here Curiosity comes. The NASA rover has officially kicked off its long-delayed road trip to Mount Sharp, a trek that involves rolling over rocky landscapes. Since July Fourth, the six-wheel rover has driven 190 feet to the southwest, leaving behind the spot where it spent the past seven months performing science experiments.

Honda's robot museum guide not yet a people person

July 3, 2013 9:09 am | by Yuri Kageyama, AP Business Writer | News | Comments

Honda's robotics technology, although among the most advanced for mobility, has come under fire as lacking practical applications and being little more than an expensive toy. The latest example is its walking, talking interactive Asimo robot, which is now acting as a museum guide in Tokyo. In addition to glitches that have interrupted its operation, it lacks voice recognition.

Conversation robot from Japan ready for outer space

June 26, 2013 11:45 am | by Azusa Uchikura, Associated Press | News | Comments

The world's first space conversation experiment between a robot and humans is ready to be launched. Developers from the Kirobo project, named after "kibo" or hope in Japanese and "robot," gathered in Tokyo Wednesday to demonstrate the humanoid robot's ability to talk.

Sandia Labs hosts annual Robot Rodeo

June 19, 2013 12:46 am | News | Comments

This week, Sandia National Laboratories is hosting the seventh annual Western National Robot Rodeo and Capability Exercise, a challenging five-day event that draws civilian and military bomb squad teams from across the country to see who can most effectively defuse dangerous situations with the help of robots. The competition provides an opportunity to practice using robots and new technology in a low-risk, but competitive environment.

A robot that runs like a cat

June 17, 2013 9:00 am | News | Comments

Thanks to its legs, whose design faithfully reproduces feline morphology, a Swiss research institute’s new four-legged “cheetah-cub robot” has the same advantages as its model: It is small, light and fast. Still in its experimental stage, the robot will serve as a platform for research in locomotion and biomechanics.

Firefighting robot paints 3-D thermal imaging picture for rescuers

June 6, 2013 8:58 am | News | Comments

Engineers in California have developed new image processing techniques for rapid exploration and characterization of structural fires by small Segway-like robotic vehicles. Thermal data recorded by the robot’s small infrared camera is maps it onto a 3-D scene created by a pair of stereo cameras, producing a virtual reality picture that can be used by first responders as the robot navigates a building.

Researchers control flying robot with only the mind

June 6, 2013 7:30 am | News | Comments

Engineers at the University of Minnesota’s College of Science and Engineering have developed a new noninvasive system that allows people to control a flying robot using only their mind. The first-of-its-kind noninvasive system has the potential to help people with disabilities.

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