The scientific study of biological systems offers a complementary approach to more formal analytic methods favored by roboticists.
Honda's humanoid robot, Asimo, was demonstrating its latest abilities at the 2011 IEEE International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems recently held in San Francisco. Scientists at the Honda Research Institute in Mountain View, California are working on robotics technologies to assist humans, aiming to improve robot mobility and communication. Victor Ng-Thow-Hing, Behzad Dariush, and colleagues were at the 2011 IEEE International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems recently held in San Francisco where Spectrum captured this video demonstrating two recent advances. The software prevents self collisions and excessive joint motions that might damage its system and is integrated with Asimo's whole-body controller in order to maintain balance.The researchers say that the ability of mimicking a person in real time could find applications in robot programming and interactive teleoperation, among other things.
See also: ASIMO Copies Your Dance Moves (video)
So it looks like a half-stuffed sock -- and it is, sort of -- but this sandfish-inspired search and rescue robot has the potential to change the way machines maneuver through disaster zones. Playing off its previous endeavors, a team of Georgia Tech researchers has designed a wedge-shaped head to manipulate the vertical movement of its sand-swimming invention through "complex dirt and rubble environments. " By mimicking the pointy snout of the sandfish lizard, and attaching it to the body of its robot -- which sports seven servo-powered segments stuffed in a latex sock and sheathed by a spandex "swimsuit" -- the team found that subtle changes in the positioning of the robot's head made for drastic differences in vertical movement. For now, the robotic sandfish has been relegated to swimming in a sea of tiny yellow balls, but it's slated to dive into a pool of debris in the name of research soon.
So Tufts University researchers decided to make their bots imitate caterpillars, some of which have the extraordinary ability to rapidly curl themselves into a wheel and propel themselves away from predators — really fast. It’s called “ballistic rolling” — one of the fastest wheeling behaviors in nature. Because it forms a “Q” shape before rolling away at an impressive half-meter per-second speed. ) “GoQBot demonstrates a solution by reconfiguring its body and could therefore enhance several robotic applications such as urban rescue, building inspection, and environmental monitoring.” lead author Huai-Ti Lin from the Department of Biology, Tufts University said.
IEEE Spectrum's Automaton blog reports that SRI International showed a prototype bomb-defusing robot, for the first time publicly, at the National Robotics Week Robot Block Party at Stanford's Volkswagen Automotive Innovation Lab. This prototype, called Taurus, possesses manipulators reminiscent of those found on surgical robots. This should come as no surprise, considering SRI spun off Intuitive Surgical in 1995.
MIT's Robust Robotics Group seems to be as thrilled with the Kinect and the hacking possibilities that emanate therefrom as we are. MIT worked with the University of Washington on this project, using UW's SLAM (Simultaneous Localization And Mapping) algorithms to construct these pretty models of the environment, using the data picked up by the Kinect's sensors. The SLAM maps are actually kind of a bonus on top of the main function of the project, which is to enable fully autonomous flight in areas without GPS coverage: SLAM maps are processed off site, but they're not necessary to the operation of the quadrocopter. The project has some pretty obvious military uses, which explains why it was sponsored by the Office of Naval Research and the Army Research Office (way to mix up the naming conventions, guys).
Aptly named Athlete, bipedal robot developed in Japan takes a biomechanical approach to running in an attempt to mimic human flexibility and agility. Run, Athlete, run like the wind. We've seenrunning bipedal robotsbefore, but they tend to move like, well, robots.Ryuma Niiyamaof MIT's Robot Locomotion Group wants to build a bot that runs as much like a human as possible, right down to the black nylon running shorts. The robot, aptly named Athlete, sports an artificial musculoskeletal system that mirrors human muscles in the leg, hip, lower abdomen, and booty and has a springy elastic blade foot like those seen onprosthetic running legs.
The rising interest in quadrupeds over the past few years has led to the development of several exciting new projects based on Cheetahs. One such robot is Cheetah-Cub, a compliant quadruped developed at the Biorobotics lab at the EPFL, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne.
A new way of reasoning about what happens when a robot’s limb strikes an object could lead to more efficient and reliable robotic-control systems.
This Army Research Laboratory-funded project that aims to navigate uneven terrain for up to 24 hours while carrying hundreds of pounds of equipment is showing off an all-new ability: throwing. In a tryout video, ... Boston Dynamics demonstrates how BigDog uses its arm to not only pick up an unsuspecting cinder block, but coordinate the strength of the legs and torso to step into a toss.
Neuroscientist Miguel Nicolelis went on The Daily Show in 2011 and told Jon Stewart that he would develop a robotic body suit that would allow paralyzed people to walk again simply by thinking about it — and he’d do it in just 3 or 4 years.
It was an audacious, some might say reckless, claim. But two years later, Nicolelis insists he’s on track. And he hopes to prove it in brazen fashion in front of billions of people during one of the world’s most-watched events: the World Cup.
If your satellite isn't so far gone as to require harvesting and zombification by DARPA but could still use a tune-up, SpaceJustin the Space Robot is here to help. Or at least, they're working on it over at DLR.