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  • Modeled after a water strider, the legs of this robot are made of a a porous, water-repellent nickel foam. Real water striders, of course, do not have nickel foam legs, but the concept is the same: you spread the weight of the robot out enough that the surface tension of the water can support it. This is a tall order for a robot this large: weighing in at 11 grams, this porker is over a thousand times the mass of its biological inspiration.To get the robot to jump, a separate set of legs was added, bringing the total to five. By using these actuating legs to push against the surface of the water, the robot was able to make leaps 14 centimeters high and 35 centimeters long, taking off at nearly 65 kph, which impressive for such a little guy.
  • this is the Insectothopter, a miniature UAV modeled (quite realistically) after a dragonfly, designed to carry a tiny microphone around without being noticed: think was build.. 40 years ago!
  • Researchers at the Technical University Delft will present the smallest flying flapping robot carrying a camera today. With a wing span of just 10 centimeters and weighing in at a mere 3.07 grams, the remote controlled dragonfly is half the size of Borneo's Tetracanthagynaplagiata dragon flies. video below shows the DelFly Micro's first test flight indoors. The smaller picture in the bottom right corner shows video data transmitted from the robot in-flight to a ground station. Using image recognition software developed by the DelFly team, objects can then be recognized automatically. This may allow the robot be operated from - or by - a computer.
  • n a series of demonstrations (published in Nature Materials), scientists at Seoul National University’s MultiscaleBiomimetic Systems Laboratory showed off a pressure-sensing membrane that is sensitive enough to feel the fall of water droplets, a human pulse in the wrist, and even the whisper-light tread of a lady-bug walking across the “electronic skin.”True to its “biomimetic” creed, the group took its cue from the signal transduction systems found in the ear, intestines, and kidney—nanoscopic hairs that interlock and produce signals by rubbing one another when their base membranes dent, ripple, or twist. They also added a self-assembly feature inspired by the locking mechanism on a beetle’s wing.The device features two sheets of polyurethane acrylate. The sheets, which can be as big as 9 by 13 centimeters, are molded onto dense arrays of minute polymer hairs, each 100 nanometers in diameter and 1000 nm tall. Each of the hairs is coated with a 20 nm layer of platinum and bonded to a basement membrane (polydimethylsiloxane treated to enhance conductivity).
  • some spectacular research from UC Berkeley exploring what happens when you give a little wheeled robot a controllable tail, like a lizard. As it turns out, robots with tails can fly through the air while maintaining their orientation, and now other robotic platforms are testing out this technique, thanks to a collaboration between UC Berkeley and the University of Pennsylvania.The bot in the picture above is X-RHexLite, or XRL for short. It should look a little bit familiar: just like EduBot and SandBot, it's based on RHex, UPenn's original legged hexapod, except with a lighter and more modular design. The new bit is, of course, the actuated tail, which gives XRL the ability to right itself in midair when dropped at weird angles, as well as (towards the end of the vid) a way of maintaining its orientation as it runs off a ledge:
  • This research, from the Harvard Microrobotics Lab, doesn't actually seem to be directly related to this other research in robots powered by micro rockets (from the Army Research Laboratory and the University of Maryland Microrobotics Lab). The rockets that were presented at IROS last year were designed for jumping, whereas these robots are meant for flying. The reason to go with little tiny rockets for microrobots (as opposed to a more conventional propulsion system powered by batteries) is fairly straightforward: energy density: you can get a lot more energy per unit of mass from a rocket than you can from a battery. These particular rockets use APCP (Ammonium Perchlorate Composite Propellant), and each has multiple stages, with integrated "delay charges" that modulate the thrust from the rocket by significantly reducing its output for up to about five seconds. Here's what the design looks like:
  • Hanson Robotics is well known for its family of robots with delicately engineered, highly expressive faces made out of something that isn't called Flubber. At anywhere from $8,500 to $14,500, this level of sophistication doesn't come cheap, but a new model of Zeno the robotic boy has dropped some hints about a new generation of smaller cousins which will be much less expensive.You get what you pay for with robots like Zeno: the top-of-the-line version comes with a full set of Dynamixel RX-28 and RX-64 servos, plus a sensor suite that includes an IMU, gyro, accelerometer, compass, torque sensors, touch sensors, and even temperature sensors. But the highlight (and the reason to buy one of these as opposed to something else) is the head: software is open source. Robert Hanson on why we should build humanoid robots:
  • the MH-2 wearable miniature humanoid lives on your shoulder and can be remotely inhabited by your friends from anywhere in the world. Do not let Khannea whisper naughty notions into your ear all day! It can warp you. MH-2 (that’s “MH” for “miniature humanoid”) is a wearable telepresence robot that acts as an avatar for a remote operator. With two 7-DOF arms, a 3-DOF head and 2-DOF body, plus one additional DOF for realistic breathing (!), MH-2 is designed to be able to mimic human actions as accurately and realistically as possible. Think Telenoid, except it can actually do stuff besides wiggle around semi-creepily.This may seem a little bit weird at first, but here’s the idea: you’ve got a friend or a relative that you want to share an experience with. Like, you’re traveling or something, and you want some company. Instead of having said friend come along with you (we’ll assume that they’re busy as opposed to just antisocial), you can bring along an MH-2 instead. Back home, your friend puts on a 360-degree immersive 3D display and stands in front of some sort of motion capture environment (like a Kinect, for example). Then, they get to see whatever the MH-2 sees. Meanwhile, the robot on your shoulder acts like an avatar, duplicating the speech and gestures of your friend right there for you to interact with directly. Ultimately, this is what the MH-2 is going for:
  • Festo, the big German automation-firm-cum-mad-science-lab, is famous for its SmartBird robotic seagull and elephant trunk manipulators, among other things. Last week the company unveiled its latest bionic contraption: the ExoHand is an exoskeleton glove that you can wear to teleoperate a separate robot hand in real time. But the cool part is that the device, powered by eight pneumatic actuators, can also be used to make your hand stronger and reduce fatigue during repetitive tasks. Festo says the ExoHand could find applications in manufacturing and medical therapy. Bionic handshake anyone?
  • The next time you find yourself in a South Korean prison (and don't worry, it happens to the best of us), this not especially friendly looking robot is going to be either your new best buddy or your new worst enemy. But probably the latter.Sinister, yeah?The thing I'm not sure about here is just how complicated this robot looks relative to what it's actually capable of doing. It's huge and presumably very expensive, but aside from a microphone, a camera, some flashing lights, an alarm, and what looks to be an off-the-shelf Kinect sensor, it doesn't seem to really be able to do much. Like, you sort of get the feeling that you could do 90 percent of what this robot does with a Rovio or some other telepresence platform.The sophisticated part might be the software, which looks to be able to analyze behavior and make decisions as to when to alert a human operator that something is up. This is handy, but again, you don't necessarily need something so gigantic and unwieldy to send audio and video back to a computer somewhere that can do the same kinds of things.
  • HDT Global has just introduced some new robotic limbs to give explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) robots like PackBots and Talons [pictured above] a helping hand (or two) when it comes to complex and delicate tasks like defusing bombs. This is a very good idea, since just poking high explosives with a simple gripper doesn't always work out the way everyone would like.The MK2 limbs can be mounted either singly or as a dual-arm torso on top of an EOD robot, replacing the much simpler open/close gripper systems. Instead of grippers, MK2 comes with actual jointed arms and hands with 4 degrees of freedom and an opposable thumb. The idea is to make the system similar enough to human arms and hands, so that an operator can do just about everything they'd want to do with their own arms and hands while still staying as far away from the sorts of things that sensible people stay far away from. Like, you know, bombs.The full torso offers a total of 27 degrees of freedom in a package that only weighs 23 kilograms (51 pounds). And these arms are more muscular than they look: together, they can lift 50 kilograms (110 pounds) with approximately the same speed as a human, and they're dexterous enough to unzip backpacks, disassemble complex devices, and even use tools:
  • Robots0812

    1. 1. Robot News
    2. 2. Walking on Water, Jumping Too!
    3. 3. CIA Spy Bug
    4. 4. Robotic Dragonfly
    5. 5. Cheap, Pressure Sensing e-skin
    6. 6. What if you add a tail?
    7. 7. Micro-rockets for robot insecns
    8. 8. Zeno R-50 bot with a face
    9. 9. Need a friend?
    10. 10. Warrior Robots
    11. 11. Robocop: South Korea Prisons
    12. 12. Arms and Hands