Older Articles

Robots

Best Robot Photos of the Week: Xmas Edition

Posted 24 Dec 2012 at 19:32 UTC by steve

This week's edition of Best Robot Photos of the Week is a special holiday collection of Christmas robots submitted by our readers. We also received one holiday photo made by Hanukkah nanobots. No one posted photos of Kwanzaa bots or Festivus droids this year. Whatever your preferred winter holiday, just remember that Axial Tilt is the reason for the season and enjoy our these photos of holiday robots. Want to see your robot photo here? Post it to flickr and add it to the robots.net flickr group. If you're not a flickr member yet, it's free and easy to sign up. Read on to see the best robot photos of the week!

Read more... (0 replies)
Science

Brain's Semantic Mapping System Decoded

Posted 21 Dec 2012 at 21:04 UTC (updated 22 Dec 2012 at 05:11 UTC) by steve

Yet another brain mapping project has announced some pretty amazing new findings. Researchers at UC Berkeley's Gallant Lab have succeeded in decoding the semantic mapping space in which the brain stores all the information we take in. They've mapped the space both as abstract, multi-dimensional graphics and they've mapped the actual locations where the information nodes are stored in the physical brain. They've learned all sorts of new things about how the brain categorizes things. For example, one semantic dimension (abbreviated PC) of our brain space categorizes things by whether they move - cars, motorcycles, people vs buildings, cities, and the sky. Another dimension distinguishes between things involved in social interaction (people, verbs, furniture) and things involved in less interactive outdoor activities (geological formations, animals, vehicles). They've identified four semantic dimensions so far but believe with higher resolution scans and more work, many more will be revealed.

"Across the cortex, semantic representation is organized along smooth gradients that seem to be distributed systematically. Functional areas defined using classical contrast methods are merely peaks or nodal points within these broad semantic gradients. Furthermore, cortical maps based on the group semantic space are significantly smoother than expected by chance. These results suggest that semantic representation is analogous to retinotopic representation, in which many smooth gradients of visual eccentricity and angle selectivity tile the cortex (Engel, Glover, & Wandell, 1997; Hansen, Kay, & Gallant, 2007). Unlike retinotopy, however, the relevant dimensions of the space underlying semantic representation are not known a priori, and so must be derived empirically"

The mapping of the semantic space onto the brain reveals that as much as 20% of the brain, including parts of the somatosensory and frontal cortices, is devoted to storing these highly organized semantic maps. Less surprisingly, the maps confirm the location of previously established specialized areas. Information about humans, for example, overlaps the fusiform face area (FFA) of the brain which is known to be involved in face recognition. For more see the paper "A continuous semantic space describes the representation of thousands of object and action categories across the human brain" (PDF format). The paper will be in Neuron Vol 76, Iss 6. If you're using a browser such as Google's Chrome that supports WebGL graphics, you can explore an interactive version of the researcher's semantic brain map. And read on to see examples of the semantic space mapped onto the physical brain as well as a short video describing the research.

Read more... (0 replies)
Military Robotics

First Video of LS3 (aka Big Dog) Field Trials

Posted 20 Dec 2012 at 21:06 UTC (updated 21 Dec 2012 at 01:09 UTC) by steve

For the past two weeks the Boston Dynamics LS3 (Legged Squad Support System) robot has been undergoing field tests in the woods of central Virginia with personnel from the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab. DARPA issued a news release with video of LS3 following a marine through real world terrain and responding to voice commands. The four legged robot is designed to carry up to 400 lbs of gear anywhere a squad can go. The robot is semi-autonomous and designed to look out for itself and while keeping up with the marines. The tests seem to have positive results, Lt. Col. Joseph Hitt of DARPA reports:

"This was the first time DARPA and MCWL were able to get LS3 out on the testing grounds together to simulate military-relevant training conditions. The robot’s performance in the field expanded on our expectations, demonstrating, for example, how voice commands and 'follow the leader' capability would enhance the robot’s ability to interact with warfighters. We were able to put the robot through difficult natural terrain and test its ability to right itself with minimal interaction from humans.”

Read on to see the video, which includes shots of the robot following a soldier through the woods and being intentionally forced into situations where it will stumble. At times the robot has to run to keep up, while climbing hills, slogging through mud, and following a soldier through a maze of shipping containers.

Read more... (0 replies)
Hardware

Berkeley Lab Creates Powerful Microactuator

Posted 19 Dec 2012 at 17:29 UTC by steve

Berkeley Lab reports the creation of a powerful microscale actuator that can deliver three orders of magnitude greater force per weight than human muscles. The tiny actuators are only about 100 microns in size and made from vanadium dioxide. They could potentially replace less-powerful piezoelectric actuators, which are complicated to make and require toxic materials. From the abstract of the researcher's report:

Here we demonstrate a set of microactuators fabricated by a simple microfabrication process, showing simultaneously high performance by these metrics, operated on the structural phase transition in vanadium dioxide responding to diverse stimuli of heat, electric current, and light. In both ambient and aqueous conditions, the actuators bend with exceedingly high displacement-to-length ratios up to 1 in the sub-100 μm length scale, work densities over 0.63 J/cm3, and at frequencies up to 6 kHz. The functionalities of actuation can be further enriched with integrated designs of planar as well as three-dimensional geometries. Combining the superior performance, high durability, diversity in responsive stimuli, versatile working environments, and microscale manufacturability, these actuators offer potential applications in microelectromechanical systems, microfluidics, robotics, drug delivery, and artificial muscles.

More details can be found in the paper, Giant-Amplitude, High-Work Density Microactuators with Phase Transition Activated Nanolayer Bimorphs (PDF format) and the Physical Review Letters report, "Decoupling of Structural and Electronic Phase Transition in VO2" (PDF format). Additional information can be found on the Berkeley Lab's Wu Group webpage. To see some cool video of the microactuators actuating, read on.

Read more... (0 replies)
Medical Robotics

From Quadriplegic to Chocolate-Eating Cyborg

Posted 18 Dec 2012 at 17:46 UTC by steve

Jan Scheuermann was diagnosed with spinocerebellar degeneration in 1996. As the connection between her brain and muscles degenerated, she lost any ability to move. In 2011 she saw a video of a UPMC research study that interfaced a robot arm to the brain of Tim Hemmes, another quadriplegic. She called immediately and said, "sign me up!" On Monday, UPMC issued a news release with her results.

Before three months had passed, she also could flex the wrist back and forth, move it from side to side and rotate it clockwise and counter-clockwise, as well as grip objects, adding up to what scientists call 7D control. In a study task called the Action Research Arm Test, Ms. Scheuermann guided the arm from a position four inches above a table to pick up blocks and tubes of different sizes, a ball and a stone and put them down on a nearby tray. She also picked up cones from one base to restack them on another a foot away, another task requiring grasping, transporting and positioning of objects with precision.

Two 96 channel intracortical microelectrodes were implanted to provide the brain-computer interface with the 7 DoF robot arm. More technical details can found in the paper, "High performance neuroprosthetic control by an individual with tetraplegia" (pay-walled) and in the NIH Study description. See also the UPMC photo gallery. Jan herself was less interested in the technical details than in the pleasure of being able to move a limb for the first time in eight years. And she had a goal in mind. "I’m going to feed myself chocolate before this is over," she said when the study started. Read on to see the video of her eating chocolate.

Read more... (0 replies)
Robots

Best Robot Photos of the Week

Posted 17 Dec 2012 at 17:12 UTC by steve

Every week we post a collection of the best robot photos submitted by our readers to our robots.net flickr group. Why? Because everyone likes to see cool new robots! This week's collection includes several well-known robots such as the Asimo, iCub, Nao and even a miraculous appearance of Crow T Robot. There's a blurrycam photo of a mysterious legged planetary robot prototype. Plus a few art robots too! Want to see your robot here? Post it to flickr and add it to the robots.net flickr group. It's easy! If you're not already a flickr member, it's free and easy to sign up. Read on to see the best robot photos of the week!

Read more... (0 replies)
Announcements

Robots Podcast #119: Orbotix and Sphero

Posted 17 Dec 2012 at 03:05 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

In Robots Podcast episode 119, reporter Per talks with Ian Bernstein about the hugely successful Sphero robot and the company he co-founded, Orbotix. A hardware tinkerer from a young age, Bernstein became involved with BEAM Robot Games. First attending New Mexico Tech then Colorado State University, he decided to start his own company after the options available at a career fair all bored him. In 2010, realizing the technology in smart phones far surpassed that being used in most consumer robots and wondering why those phones couldn't be used to control robots, he and cofounder Adam Wilson participated in an intensive, three-month program sponsored by startup accelerator TechStars, which helped them define and design their product, and helped them establish contacts through which they were able to find funding and a production facility they could work with. Sphero, the result of this process, is not just a product by a platform with its own growing ecosystem.

Read On | Tune In

Read more... (0 replies)
Robots

Random Robot Roundup

Posted 15 Dec 2012 at 14:50 UTC by steve

First up this week, Pololu Robotics is having another sale, this one in honor of 12/12/12 and running through the end of the month. Lots of cool bargains from 12% to 50% off, so check it out! Casey let us know about his ATOMS Express Toys kickstarter campaign, a set of modular robotics actuators and sensors for LEGOs. Even cooler is an IndieGogo campaign for a palm-sized UAV based on a dragonfly and developed by robotics researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology. In less fun robot news, NYU student Josh Begley is tweeting every US Drone strike since 2002 and observers have noticed a distriburbing trend toward "double tap" strikes - that's a second strike on the same target shortly after the first to kill emergency responders. This is usually considered a war crime or terrorist act. After last month's story on the Human Rights Watch group's concern about autonomous killer robots, the DoD issued a new directive that says any autonomous robots "shall be designed to allow commanders and operators to exercise appropriate levels of human judgment over the use of force" but denied any connection to the HRW report. Back to fun stuff, The Swirling Brain tipped us off to a Gizmodo story with video showing a "phallic UAV get all grabby with its scary six-foot arm". He also sent stories on a creepy Biomimetic robot with muscles and bones. Know any other robot news, gossip, or amazing facts we should report? Send 'em our way please. Don't forget to follow us on twitter and Facebook. And now you can add us to your Google+ circles too.

Read more... (0 replies)
Aquatic Robotics

Meet the MIT Marine Robotics Team

Posted 14 Dec 2012 at 19:58 UTC by steve

MIT posted an article on the MIT Marine Robotic Team which serves as a good introduction to the group if you're not familiar with them. The team works on gliders, rafts, ROVs, AUVs, and other marine robots. The group is introducing future engineers to marine engineering and collaborates with other MIT groups such as the Society for Women Engineers and Keys to Empowerment Youth. A recent project allowed them to travel to Ketchikan, Alaska:

During their time in Alaska, the team also worked with middle school students and teachers by helping with a program called SeaGlide. The goal of SeaGlide is to introduce students to underwater vehicles and teach them how to create mini-gliders using water bottles and an arduino.

The article details the experiences of Jackie Sly, Adrian Tanner, and other team members as they focus on developing autonomous glider robots that will be used to detect oil plumes and ocean currents. For more details see the MIT article about the team.

Read more... (0 replies)
Entertainment

IEEE App puts Robots on your iPad

Posted 13 Dec 2012 at 22:38 UTC by steve

There's a new Robot iPad app out for robot fans. It was designed by the folks at IEEE Spectrum magazine and should appeal to anyone who's interested in robots. It's got lots of photos and video of cool robots that even kids will enjoy watching. There are also interviews with well-known roboticists that older, geekier iPad users may enjoy. Erico Guizzo, the robotics editor of IEEE Spectrum magazine writes:

I've been following your stories on robots.net for a long time, even before I started writing about robots at IEEE! Just wanted to let you know about an iPad app we're launching today, featuring 126 robots from 19 countries, with 360-degree views, interactive animations, hundreds of photos and videos, and more.

Rodney Brooks also gives the app his seal approval, saying it's a "state-of-the-art app with an incredible collection of robots including many of my old, dear friends". You can't beat that recommendation. It's almost enough to make me want to buy an Apple product. Ha, just kidding! Maybe an Android version is in the works? You can grab the Robots app from itunes for just $1.99 right now if you want to try it out. Read on to see some video of the Robots app in action.

Read more... (0 replies)

3492 older articles...

Suggest a story

Robot of the Day

SPR

Built by
Steven Frye

Recent blogs

17 Oct 2014 mwaibel (Master)
14 Oct 2014 shimniok (Journeyer)
5 Aug 2014 svo (Master)
20 Jul 2014 Flanneltron (Journeyer)
3 Jul 2014 jmhenry (Journeyer)
3 Jul 2014 steve (Master)
2 Jul 2014 Petar.Kormushev (Master)
10 Jun 2014 robotvibes (Master)
10 May 2014 evilrobots (Observer)
2 Mar 2014 wedesoft (Master)
1 Dec 2013 AI4U (Observer)
13 Nov 2013 jlin (Master)
23 Jun 2013 Mubot (Master)
13 May 2013 JLaplace (Observer)
21 Apr 2013 Pi Robot (Master)
12 Apr 2013 Pontifier (Apprentice)
16 Mar 2013 gidesa (Journeyer)
12 Mar 2013 ixisuprflyixi (Master)

Newest Robots

7 Aug 2009 Titan EOD
13 May 2009 Spacechair
6 Feb 2009 K-bot
9 Jan 2009 3 in 1 Bot
15 Dec 2008 UMEEBOT
10 Nov 2008 Robot
10 Nov 2008 SAMM
24 Oct 2008 Romulus
30 Sep 2008 CD-Bot
26 Sep 2008 Little Johnny
TwitterFacebookGoogle+RSS

User Cert Key

Observer
Apprentice
Journeyer
Master
X
Share this page