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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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German defense chief under fire over drone program

June 5, 2013 11:13 am | by JUERGEN BAETZ - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

Germany's defense minister on Wednesday admitted mistakes were made in the handling of a program to develop unmanned surveillance drones and announced tougher oversight procedures for all armament projects. Opposition parties say Thomas de Maiziere wasted public funds by canceling the botched 600 million euro ($800 million) program too late, but he rejected calls for his resignation.

NIST, partners offer solution to communications impasse in factories

May 29, 2013 5:15 pm | News | Comments

Once uncommunicative industrial robots and machine tools are now beginning to talk turkey, thanks to a prototype application developed by a team of partner companies led by the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM). This application was successfully demonstrated and tested by manufacturing researchers at NIST.

Artificial muscle built using carbon nanotube yarn

May 29, 2013 1:29 pm | News | Comments

Traditional methods of building electrochemically powered yarn muscles resulted in devices with slow responses, low strain and force generation, a short cycle life, and low energy efficiency. A researcher in Korea has made a substantial improvement to this technology by confining paraffin waxes within the yarn. These act as actuators and remove the need for electrolytes.

Navy's unmanned ocean recon craft makes 1st flight

May 22, 2013 5:32 pm | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

An unmanned jet built for U.S. Navy high-altitude maritime surveillance missions has made its first flight. Northrop Grumman Corp. says the MQ-4C Triton took off from Palmdale, Calif., Wednesday and completed a 90-minute flight. The aircraft is designed to fly missions lasting up to 24 hours at altitudes greater than 10 miles, allowing coverage out 2,000 nautical miles.

New technique helps robotic vehicles find their way

May 14, 2013 5:02 pm | News | Comments

A Wayne State University researcher understands that the three most important things about real estate also apply to small ground robotic vehicles: location, location, location. A recently published paper describes the development of a technique called LOBOT that provides accurate, real-time, 3D positions in both indoor and outdoor environments.

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Navy to launch unmanned aircraft from carrier

May 14, 2013 11:38 am | by BROCK VERGAKIS - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

The Navy will make its first attempt to launch an unmanned aircraft the size of a fighter jet from an aircraft carrier on Tuesday, marking a significant step toward the possibility of expanded drone use in future conflicts. The X-47B can reach an altitude of more than 40,000 feet, has a range of more than 2,100 nautical miles and can reach high subsonic speeds.

Wearable robots getting lighter, more portable

May 9, 2013 3:03 pm | by Carla K. Johnson, AP Medical Writer | News | Comments

When Michael Gore stands, it's a triumph of science and engineering. Eleven years ago, Michael  Gore was paralyzed from the waist down in a workplace accident, yet he rises from his wheelchair to his full 6-foot-2-inches and walks across the room with help from a lightweight wearable robot. Still at least a year away from the market, the 27-pound Indego is the lightest of the powered exoskeletons that are now appearing in greater numbers.

Wearable robots getting lighter, more portable

May 9, 2013 3:26 am | by CARLA K. JOHNSON - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

When Michael Gore stands, it's a triumph of science and engineering. Eleven years ago, Gore was paralyzed from the waist down in a workplace accident, yet he rises from his wheelchair and walks across the room with help from a lightweight wearable robot.

Robotic instruments provide real-time data on Maine red tide

May 8, 2013 12:36 pm | News | Comments

A robotic sensor that won an R&D 100 Award in 2009 has been put to use by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Gulf of Maine coastal waters to monitor the way red tides behave. These harmful algal blooms, which generate a potentially fatal toxin, can be a challenge to track or predict. The Environmental Sample Processors have been remotely deployed and should simplify and enhance this effort.

New research could let vehicles, robots collaborate with humans

May 3, 2013 7:39 am | by Helen Knight, MIT News correspondent | News | Comments

You get into your car and ask it to get you home in time for the start of the big game, stopping off at your favorite Chinese restaurant on the way for takeout. But the car informs you that the road past the Chinese restaurant is closed for repairs, and you will have to choose a different place. You select a nearby Korean restaurant from the options the car suggests. Autonomous devices could soon collaborate with humans in this way.

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Navy unveils squadron of manned, unmanned craft

May 2, 2013 4:59 pm | by JULIE WATSON - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

The Navy on Thursday inaugurated its first squadron with both manned and unmanned aircraft. Military officials launched the effort by reactivating the Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 35, known as the "Magicians" or HSL-35, which served for 19 years before being deactivated in 1992.

Robots able to reach through clutter with whole-arm tactile sensing

April 30, 2013 9:57 am | News | Comments

Whether reaching for a book out of a cluttered cabinet or pruning a bush in the backyard, a person’s arm frequently makes contact with objects during everyday tasks. Animals do it too, when foraging for food, for example. Much in the same way, robots are now able to intelligently maneuver within clutter, gently making contact with objects while accomplishing a task. This new control method has wide applications.

Unmanned aircraft system proposal takes flight

April 26, 2013 8:59 am | News | Comments

A consortium of Washington-based organizations will soon submit the final section of a proposal to site an unmanned aircraft system research and testing facility in central Washington. If successful, the proposal to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will result in the FAA naming the Pacific Northwest Unmanned Aerial Systems Flight Center as one of six U.S. testing facilities later this year.

Robot to wash high-rise windows

April 23, 2013 8:03 am | News | Comments

As long as buildings have windows, engineers will fret about how best to keep them clean. Rice University engineering students are no exception and are working on better ways to keep skyscrapers shiny. The WashBOT team of seniors based at Rice’s Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen is part of a multiyear robotics project to automate the process of cleaning recessed windows in buildings.

Israeli official says drones could replace planes

April 21, 2013 1:57 pm | by DANIEL ESTRIN - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

Israel's air force is on track to developing drones that within four to five decades would carry out nearly every battlefield operation executed today by piloted aircraft, a high-ranking Israeli officer told The Associated Press Sunday. The officer, who works in the field of unmanned aerial vehicle intelligence, said Israel is speeding up research and development of such unmanned technologies for air, ground, and naval forces.

Robot hands gain a gentler touch

April 18, 2013 12:10 pm | by Carolina Perry, Harvard University | News | Comments

What use is a hand without nerves, that can't tell what it's holding? What use is a hand that lifts a can of soda to your lips, but inadvertently tips or crushes it in the process? Researchers at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences have developed a very inexpensive tactile sensor for robotic hands that is sensitive enough to turn a brute machine into a dextrous manipulator.

School’s “Drone Lab” reimagines possibilities for UAVs

April 17, 2013 9:17 am | News | Comments

Say the word “drone” and the image most often conjured is a flying object that is spying on an enemy, or delivering a weapon to a target. Students at University of California, Berkeley’s Drone Lab are developing open-source software that helps put drones to more socially beneficent use. Their efforts require little more than a consumer-grade drone, a smartphone, and a new JavaScript-based software platform.

Robot hot among surgeons but U.S. taking fresh look

April 9, 2013 6:10 pm | by Lindsey Tanner, AP Medical Writer | News | Comments

The biggest thing in operating rooms these days is a million-dollar, multi-armed robot named da Vinci, used in nearly 400,000 surgeries in America last year. But now the high-tech helper is under scrutiny over reports of problems, including several deaths that may be linked with it, and the high cost of using the robotic system. Is it time to curb the robot enthusiasm?

Robot hot among surgeons but US taking fresh look

April 9, 2013 2:02 pm | by LINDSEY TANNER - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

The biggest thing in operating rooms these days is a million-dollar, multi-armed robot named da Vinci, used in nearly 400,000 surgeries in America last year—triple the number just four years earlier. But now the high-tech helper is under scrutiny over reports of problems, including several deaths that may be linked with it, and the high cost of using the robotic system.

Technique finds software bugs in surgical robots

April 9, 2013 5:08 am | News | Comments

Surgical robots could make some types of surgery safer and more effective, but proving that the software controlling these machines works as intended is problematic. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and Johns Hopkins University have demonstrated that methods for reliably detecting software bugs and ultimately verifying software safety can be applied successfully to this breed of robot.

Swarming robots could be the servants of the future

April 3, 2013 10:56 am | News | Comments

Researchers in the U.K. have been working to program a group of 40 robots to carry out simple fetching and carrying tasks, by grouping around an object and working together to push it across a surface. Even after being scattered, the robots can group again and organize themselves by order of priority. The team says the ability to control robot swarms could prove hugely beneficial in a range of contexts, from military to medical.

Telerobotic system designed to treat bladder cancer

April 3, 2013 9:18 am | by David Salisbury, Vanderbilt University | News | Comments

Although bladder cancer is the sixth most common form of cancer in the U.S. and the most expensive to treat, the basic method that doctors use to treat it hasn’t changed much in more than 70 years. A research team may soon be changing that dramatically after having developed a prototype telerobotic platform designed to be inserted through natural orifices—in this case the urethra—that can provide surgeons with a much better view, making it easier to remove tumors.

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