Tether free actuator hailed as soft robotics breakthrough

Jon Excell for The Engineer:  Designed by a team at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart, the new device is claimed to have considerable advantages over existing pneumatically-powered soft actuators as it doesn’t require a tether.

The device consists of a dielectric elastomer actuator (DEA): a membrane made of hyperelastic material like a latex balloon, with flexible (or ‘compliant’) electrodes attached to each side.

The stretching of the membrane is regulated by means of an electric field between the electrodes, as the electrodes attract each other and squeeze the membrane when voltage is applied. By attaching multiple such membranes, the place of deformation can be shifted controllably in the system. Air is displaced between two chambers.

The membrane material has two stable states. In other words, it can have two different volume configurations at a given pressure without the need to minimize the larger volume. Thanks to this bi-stable state, the researchers are able to move air between a more highly inflated chamber and a less inflated one. They do this by applying an electric current to the membrane of the smaller chamber which responds by stretching and sucking air out of the other bubble.  Cont'd...

WORLD ROBOT OLYMPIAD USA TO HOST 2016 NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP AT NORTHERN ILLINIOS UNIVERSITY

Global Robotics Competition Names William Wong National Organizer, Increases Local Participation

SoftBank Robotics America Announces New Developer Portal and Android SDK to Boost Expansive Ecosystem of Support for Pepper - the Interactive, Humanoid Robot

In Preparation for Pepper's U.S. Debut, Developers are Invited to Collaborate, Create Applications and Be at the Forefront of the Robotics Evolution, Starting Today

Sony Joins Forces with Cogitai to Conduct Research and Development for the Next Wave of Artificial Intelligence

Sony has invested in Cogitai and the two companies plan to collaborate towards the development of novel AI technologies using deep reinforcement learning with prediction technology that could be used as the basis for the next generation of AI applications and products.

Makeblock, the Ultimate DIY Robotics Construction Platform for Makers & STEM Learners to Showcase its Portfolio Expansion at Maker Faire Bay Area 2016

Makeblock Makes DIY & STEM Educational Robots More Diverse & Accessible for Everyone

Real-time behaviour synthesis for dynamic Hand-Manipulation

From Vikash Kumar at University of Washington:

Dexterous hand manipulation is one of the most complex types of biological movement, and has proven very difficult to replicate in robots. The usual approaches to robotic control - following pre-defined trajectories or planning online with reduced models - are both inapplicable. Dexterous manipulation is so sensitive to small variations in contact force and object location that it seems to require online planning without any simplifications. Here we demonstrate for the first time online planning (or model-predictive control) with a full physics model of a humanoid hand, with 28 degrees of freedom and 48 pneumatic actuators. We augment the actuation space with motor synergies which speed up optimization without removing flexibility. Most of our results are in simulation, showing nonprehensile object manipulation as well as typing. In both cases the input to the system is a high level task description, while all details of the hand movement emerge online from fully automated numerical optimization. We also show preliminary results on a hardware platform we have developed "ADROIT" - a ShadowHand skeleton equipped with faster and more compliant actuation... (website)

University spin-out company with Sebastian Conran to develop next generation of robots

A new company has been formed to bring next generation assistive and companion robots to market by combining University-developed robotics research with the best of British design.

Mapping And Navigating With An Intel RealSense R200 Camera

In our latest demonstration, Archie provides an overview of the R200 sensor and shows how it can integrate seamlessly with ROS and a TurtleBot to accurately map and navigate an environment.

Water-based reconfigurable robot could offer new solutions to underground pipe network inspection

Researchers at the University of Sheffield have created an aquatic robot which could be used to inspect otherwise inaccessible pipe networks to deal with blockages.

Winners Announced in First-Annual $100,000 International Robot Art Competition

GeckoSystems' SafePath(tm) AI Mobile Robot Demo Secures Licensing Agreement

The demonstration of GeckoSystems' "loose crowd" level of mobile robot autonomously self-ambulating to the seven CEO's and senior management of these international robotics firms was an unqualified success.

DARPA Demo Day 2016 Aims to Speed Transition of Game-Changing Technologies to Military Services

Pentagon event showcases more than 60 DARPA research programs-and the teamwork with the science & technology communities that make those programs possible

Ingestible origami robot

MIT News via Larry Hardesty for RoboHub:  In experiments involving a simulation of the human esophagus and stomach, researchers at MIT, the University of Sheffield, and the Tokyo Institute of Technology have demonstrated a tiny origami robot that can unfold itself from a swallowed capsule and, steered by external magnetic fields, crawl across the stomach wall to remove a swallowed button battery or patch a wound.

The new work, which the researchers are presenting this week at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation, builds on a long sequence of papers on origamirobots from the research group of Daniela Rus, the Andrew and Erna Viterbi Professor in MIT’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.  Cont'd...

Vayyar Releases Walabot SDK Globally; Gives Developers the Tools to Build Great 3D Sensing Apps

Walabot SDK gives creators worldwide the ability to create content designed to track people or things, see through walls, monitor breathing, and much more

The 5 Chinese Robot Companies That Cannot be Overlooked

The robotic industry is booming in China, there are thousands of local robotic companies jump into the market, both of industrial robots and service robots.

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Maplesoft - Free Whitepaper: Developing a Robot Model using System-Level Design

Maplesoft - Free Whitepaper: Developing a Robot Model using System-Level Design

This paper uses NAO, the humanoid robot from Aldebaran Systems, to demonstrate how MapleSim can be used to develop a robot model, and how the model can be further analyzed using the symbolic computation engine within Maple.