With working organs and a realistic face, the world’s most high-tech humanoid made his debut in London yesterday and will be a one-man show at the city’s London Science Museum starting tomorrow.
The robot goes by Rex (short for robotic exoskeleton) or Million-Dollar Man (because that’s how much it cost to build him). Rex looks somewhat lifelike in that he has prosthetic hands, feet and a face modeled after a real man. That man is Swiss social psychologist Bertolt Meyer, who himself has a prosthetic hand. Such technology is now becoming more widely available to the general public.
But where Rex really breaks new ground is his suite of working organs. Read More
Today, Rethink Robotics, a Boston-based start-up run by famous roboticist Rodney Brooks, has unveiled a manufacturing robot that can safely interact with humans, is easily programmable, and at $22,000 is pretty inexpensive, as industrial robots go. Brooks thinks that the robot, Baxter, which goes on sale in October, could revolutionize manufacturing by creating a new source of inexpensive factory labor.
While robots have long been invaluable when it comes to doing all sorts of heavy lifting, they lack a gentle touch. Hefting around auto parts is easy enough, but transporting eggs or glassware poses a significant challenge.
Scientists have now, however, made a flexible plastic robot tentacle that can, among other dexterities, pick flowers without crushing them, the latest of several robot appendages made of softer materials and able to accomplish delicate tasks.
The researchers control the tentacle by pumping air through three separate channels, giving it a wide range of motion and letting it reconfigure to grasp a variety of objects without being limited by the shape of its grip. The parts for the bot—mostly elastomer tubing—cost less than $10, far cheaper than the complex components of many far less flexible robotic hands.
What has two antennae and receives radio signals? A cockroach, of course.
Researchers from the iBionicS lab at North Carolina State University have created a remote-control system to stimulate and steer cockroaches, they reported at the 34th Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine & Biology Society last month. In this system, described in their paper for the conference, they equip a Madagascar hissing cockroach with an electrical circuit board with wires connecting to the tips of the cockroach’s antennae. They can then use a a joystick to send radio signals to the antennae in order to make the roach feel as though it has run into something and needs to turn away. A zap to the right antenna and the roach turns left; a zap to the left and it turns right.
The latest in DARPA’s ever-evolving line of headless robots is this cheetah right here. Clocking in at 18 miles per hour, it’s the fastest land robot ever. Watch it go to work on that treadmill!
Cheetah comes from the same collaboration, Boston Dynamics and DARPA, that brought you BigDog and AlphaDog. They aren’t as fast, but what they lack in speed, they make up for in resilience. If you need someone—erh, some robot—to carry heavy loads across rough terrains, these robot “dogs” are the way to go.
These spiral generators scavenge power when the beetle beats its wings.
What’s the News: Building tiny fly-like robots—for spying, search and rescue, and so on—has a long history in robotics. But some researchers, citing the challenge of building agile, dynamic machines at that scale, have turned to Mother Nature instead and made living beetles into cyborgs, controlling their flight via neural implants.
Finding a power source that’s light enough for these beetles to port around has been difficult, but now, a team of roboticists have found that harvesting power from their beating wings could be a way to make these ‘borgs go battery-less.
Matternet’s design for a Medical Aid Quadcopter
What’s the News: Many of the unmanned aerial vehicles we hear about are flying off to war, laden with weapons or surveillance equipment. The tech start-up Matternet, however, is designing small quadcopter UAVs to carry peaceable payloads, delivering medical supplies and other necessities to areas dangerous or difficult to reach by road.
Since before the Great Pyramid of Giza was enumerated as a wonder of the world two millennia ago, people have pored over the mysteries of these vast tombs. Now, modern technology is helping researchers glean new insight into the pyramids, revealing them from far above and exploring them from deep within.
Satellite images have revealed 17 “lost” pyramids and thousands of ancient tombs and settlements in Egypt, according to a BBC News report. Using a new imaging technique, researchers could pick out the outlines of ancient buildings buried under the surface.
What’s the News: Google’s self-driving cars have been generating buzz lately, with the news that the company has been lobbying Nevada to allow the autonomous vehicles to be operated on public roads. But it remains to be seen whether hordes of self-driving cars really going to work in the real world.