The next big breakthrough in robotics


While drones and driverless cars dominate the headlines, another breakthrough--robot dexterity--is likely to have an even greater impact in both business and everyday life. "Robot manipulation is the next shoe to drop," says Robert Platt, computer science professor and head of the Helping Hands robotics lab at Northeastern. "Imagine a robot that can do things with it's hands in the real world--anything from defusing a bomb to doing your laundry. This has been a dream in the research community for decades, but now we're finally getting to the point where it could actually happen." Recent advances in machine learning, Big Data, and robot perception have put us on the threshold of a quantum leap in the ability of robots to perform fine motor tasks and function in uncontrolled environments, says Platt.

Amputee 'feels again' using Star Wars-style bionic hand

Daily Mail

Scientist have developed the first bionic hand with a sense of touch that can be used outside a laboratory. Almerina Mascarello, 62, lost her left hand in an accident in a steel factory in 1993. The married mother-of-two has now been fitted with the robot hand that is not only controlled by her brain, but can also feel what it picks up. It allow her to carry out actions that most of us take for granted but pose great difficulties for amputees – such as getting dressed. Mrs Mascarello says the device, which has been compared to the robotic hand fitted to Luke Skywalker in Star Wars, 'is almost like [her hand] is back again'.

South Korean panel says there's no proof cash from Kaesong industrial park was diverted to North's arms program

The Japan Times

SEOUL – There was no evidence North Korea diverted wages paid to its workers by South Korean firms in a now-closed border industrial park to bankroll its weapons programs, an expert panel appointed by Seoul's Unification Ministry said Thursday. The investigation by the panel reversed the contention by the previous South Korean government that most of the cash that flowed into the jointly run Kaesong complex was diverted to North Korea's nuclear and missile programs. South Korea laid the claim when it pulled out of the joint venture in response to the North's launch of a long-range missile last year. But in July, two months after liberal President Moon Jae-in was elected, a South Korean government official said there was no hard evidence to back up the assertion. About 120 South Korean companies paid about double the $70 a month minimum wage in North Korea for each of the 55,000 workers hired in Kaesong.

No Proof Kaesong Cash Funded North Korea Arms Programs: South Korea Expert Panel

U.S. News

SEOUL (Reuters) - There was no evidence that North Korea had diverted wages paid to its workers by South Korean companies operating in a now-closed industrial park on their border to bankroll its weapons programs, an expert panel appointed by Seoul's Ministry of Unification said on Thursday.

Engineers get the feeling for robotic fingers


A robotic gripper that can screw in lightbulbs or use a screwdriver without needing to'see' them or be pre-programmed to recognize them has been developed at the University of California San Diego (UCSD).

MekaMon is an anime-styled battle bot you pilot with your phone


Between the success of shows like BattleBots and the amount of interest in last month's MegaBots debacle, it's pretty obvious that people really want to watch robots fight. But while watching two mechanical titans grapple can be satisfying, few things have captured the feel of the robot battles in video games and anime. Reach Robotics' $300 MekaMon, which launches today in the Apple Store, might be the closest we've seen to capturing that cyber-future ambience. Its bots can run and climb around the physical world while also using AR to add virtual weaponry for the full Japanese mech experience. Each MekaMon is a 2.2-pound spider-like device with a round torso that can fit in your hand.

Inside SynTouch, the Mad Lab Giving Robots the Power to Feel


The robot can sense how much pressure it's applying, and quantify the give of the material it's applying pressure to. Even if they're both room temperature, the tile will feel colder because it transfers heat from your bare foot faster than the carpet. SynTouch's finger measures not just a material's temperature, but its perceived temperature, by precisely measuring this rate of heat transfer. By referencing its stockpile of measurements, SynTouch says its robot finger can more accurately quantify the feel of something than a human expert.

Iran tests new missile after U.S. criticizes arms program

The Japan Times

The United States has imposed unilateral sanctions on Iran, saying its missile tests violate a U.N. resolution, which calls on Tehran not to undertake activities related to missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons. "You are seeing images of the successful test of the Khoramshahr ballistic missile with a range of 2,000 km, the latest missile of our country," state television said, adding this was Iran's third missile with such a range. "Extremely concerned by reports of Iran missile test, which is inconsistent with U.N. resolution 2231. Iran's defense minister said on Saturday foreign pressures would not affect Iran's missile program.

Girl with 3D-printed robotic hand to throw first pitch at World Series game


A seven-year-old Las Vegas girl will throw out the first pitch in game four of the upcoming World Series. Hailey Dawson was born with Poland syndrome and is missing three fingers on her right hand. At the time, Dawson couldn't find any companies that could fit Hailey with a robotic hand for a reasonable cost. Over more than a year, the UNLV engineering students and faculty worked to develop a variety of robotic 3-D printed hands for then-five-year-old Hailey.

Artificial skin lets robot hand feel hot or cold


A robot hand with artificial skin reaches for a glass of ice water. Researchers at the University of Houston have created an artificial skin that allows a robotic hand to sense the difference between heat and cold. The discovery of stretchable electronics could have a significant impact in the wearables market, with devices such as health monitors or biomedical devices, says Cunjiang Yu, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Houston and the lead author for the paper. When the stretchable electronic skin was applied to a robotic hand, it could tell the difference between hot and cold water.