Crashing Drones Into Test Dummies for Safety

Alan Levin for Bloomberg:  Hank sat impassively on a Virginia Tech athletic field, ready to take it on the chin for the future of drone commerce. About 30 yards away, an eight-rotor unmanned copter hovered, buzzing like a swarm of bees. The 21-pound drone tilted forward, accelerated sharply and slammed into Hank’s head, smacking the crash-test dummy’s neck backward and embedding shards of shattered propeller in his plastic face. There is little disagreement that the small- and medium-sized drones flooding the U.S. market can seriously injure or even kill someone. Understanding and minimizing the risk will be key to convincing regulators to expand their permitted uses, clearing the way for plans by Amazon.com Inc. and Alphabet Inc. to have them deliver packages or news outlets such as Time Warner Inc.’s CNN to use them for aerial video.   Cont'd...

Miso Robotics Unveils "Flippy" in CaliBurger Kitchen, Plans Worldwide Rollout

Miso Robotics and Cali Group today unveiled Flippy, an artificial intelligence-driven robot that will work alongside kitchen staff to grill burgers at CaliBurger restaurants. Flippy had its debut at the CaliBurger location in Pasadena, California. A video demonstration captured the robotic kitchen assistant flipping burgers and placing them on buns. Flippy will roll out in early 2018 and expand to more than 50 CaliBurger restaurants worldwide by the end of 2019.  Miso Robotics is pioneering the use of computer vision and deep learning software to bring low-cost, adaptable robotics into restaurants. The company's collaborative kitchen assistant handles the hazardous, tedious and time-sensitive aspects of grilling and cooks burgers to perfection every time. It easily integrates into CaliBurger's current kitchen layout without needing to reconfigure existing equipment.   Full Press Release:

Brain-controlled robots

CSAIL system enables people to correct robot mistakes using brain signals. Adam Conner-Simons via MIT News:  For robots to do what we want, they need to understand us. Too often, this means having to meet them halfway: teaching them the intricacies of human language, for example, or giving them explicit commands for very specific tasks. But what if we could develop robots that were a more natural extension of us and that could actually do whatever we are thinking? A team from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and Boston University is working on this problem, creating a feedback system that lets people correct robot mistakes instantly with nothing more than their brains.   Cont'd...

Table tennis playing robot breaks world record - Japan Tour

Developed by Omron Corporation, FORPHEUS (Future Omron Robotics Technology for Exploring Possibility of Harmonized aUtomation with Sinic Theoretics) has officially been given the Guinness World Records title for being the First robot table tennis tutor for its unique technological intelligence and educational capabilities.   According to the project's lead developer Taku Oya, the goal of FORPHEUS was to harmonise humans and robots, by way of teaching the game of table tennis to human players. 

Cobalt Robotics Introduces a (Mostly) Autonomous Mobile Security Robot

Evan Ackerman for IEEE Spectrum:  Today, Cobalt Robotics (a startup based in Palo Alto, Calif.) is announcing an autonomous mobile robot designed for indoor security applications that can “work alongside human guards to provide better security than people can do alone.” The key realization here is that security guards spend the vast majority of their time doing almost nothing, and even in a worst case scenario (like someone trying to break in, or a fire or other serious problem), their primary responsibility is making the right phone call as quickly as possible as opposed to dealing with the situation directly.   Full article:

Dyson backs Britain plc with $2.5bn AI and robotics investment

Andrew Orlowski for The Register:  Britain's most successful engineer Sir James Dyson is taking on Google and Facebook with a $2.5bn investment to turn the former RAF base at Hullavington near Malmesbury into a research campus for robotics, AI, and other advanced technology, including batteries and vision systems. The size of the planned facility dwarfs the existing HQ.  The investment marks both a change of direction for Dyson, which will now begin to challenge US data giants in the race to find practical implementations of AI, and expresses a vote of confidence in a post-EU British economy. The founder recently hinted that it was examining how to incorporate pattern recognition and decision making into its 360 Eye robot vacuum cleaner.   Cont'd...

Introducing Handle from Boston Dynamics

Handle is a research robot that stands 6.5 ft tall, travels at 9 mph and jumps 4​ ​feet vertically. ​It uses electric power to operate both electric and hydraulic actuators, with a range of about 15 miles on one battery charge. ​​​ Handle uses many of the same dynamics, balance and mobile manipulation principles​ found in the quadruped and biped robots we build, but with only about 10 actuated joints, it is significantly less complex. Wheels are efficient on flat surfaces while legs can go almost anywhere: by combining wheels and legs Handle can have the best of both worlds.

Tech firms keep expanding 'Robotics Row,' Pittsburgh's mini Silicon Valley

Aaron Aupperlee for TribLive:  Advancements in robotics, autonomous manufacturing, self-driving cars and more are taking place in the former warehouses, factories and foundries of Pittsburgh's Strip District and Lawrenceville neighborhoods. Argo AI, an self-driving car startup partnering with Ford, became the latest to join Robotics Row, a string of technology companies setting up shop along the Allegheny River. The company announced Thursday it would base its headquarters in the Strip District. "We see the Strip District as a mini Silicon Valley," Argo AI CEO Bryan Salesky told the Tribune-Review. "In my mind, that is the future of the tech hub in Pittsburgh." At least 20 companies and organizations working on robotics and autonomous technologies call the three-mile stretch of riverfront home.  Cont'd...

NXT Robotics Unveils Rugged All-Terrain, All-Weather Outdoor Security Robot

SAN DIEGO, CA--(Marketwired - February 21, 2017) - Mobile robotics are playing an increasingly important role in the security of our borders, military facilities, and even power plants. To meet this growing demand, San Diego-based NXT Robotics has developed Scorpion, a rugged all-terrain and all-weather outdoor security robot designed to provide organizations with round-the- clock physical security monitoring and reporting capabilities. NXT Robotics, known for its advanced mobile security patrol platform, will debut Scorpion at West 2017 at the San Diego Convention Center, Feb. 21-23 (Booth 1208). Scorpion is an autonomous security patrol that lowers costs while maximizing physical security surveillance capabilities. Scorpion is designed for places such as military facilities, power plants, borders, parking structures, farms and ranches, and seaports. Scorpion's rugged outdoor design, multi-camera use, video capture and rich sensor payload helps secure assets and ensure public safety while navigating challenging environments.  Cont'd...

Rise of Robots: Boon for Companies, Tax Headache for Lawmakers

Linda A. Thompson for Bloomberg News Agency:  European lawmakers are grappling for answers to a question that until recently seemed like the stuff of science fiction: If robots take our jobs, who will pay taxes? In an age of unprecedented technological change occurring at a faster rate than the Industrial Revolution, concerns over the growing robotization and automation of work have prompted fears about mass unemployment and plummeting tax revenue in the near future, pitting companies and robotics manufacturers against lawmakers and worker advocates. The issue is taking on new urgency ahead of a Feb. 16 vote before the EU Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee on whether to create a robotics agency to deliberate on tax and liability issues.   Cont'd...

Six-legged robots faster than nature-inspired gait

Science Daily:  When vertebrates run, their legs exhibit minimal contact with the ground. But insects are different. These six-legged creatures run fastest using a three-legged, or "tripod" gait where they have three legs on the ground at all times -- two on one side of their body and one on the other. The tripod gait has long inspired engineers who design six-legged robots, but is it necessarily the fastest and most efficient way for bio-inspired robots to move on the ground? Researchers at EPFL and UNIL revealed that there is in fact a faster way for robots to locomote on flat ground, provided they don't have the adhesive pads used by insects to climb walls and ceilings. This suggests designers of insect-inspired robots should make a break with the tripod-gait paradigm and instead consider other possibilities including a new locomotor strategy denoted as the "bipod" gait. The researchers' findings are published in Nature Communications.   Cont'd...

EU wants ethical standards for robotics

Members of the European Parliament on Thursday urged the European Commission to propose rules on robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) with a view to fully exploiting their economic potential and guaranteeing a standard level of safety and security. Parliamentarians noted that regulatory standards for the use of robots were currently being planned in several nations. They argued that the EU needed to take the lead on setting such standards so as not to be forced to follow those set by third countries. They also emphasized that draft legislation was urgently required to clarify liability issues, especially for the use of self-driving cars. MEPs suggested a mandatory insurance scheme and a supplementary fund "to ensure that victims of accidents involving driverless cars are fully compensated."   Cont'd...

Exhibition Charts 500 Years of Evolution of Robots

Lynne ODonnell for Sci-Tech Today:  Inspired by his belief that human beings are essentially terrified of robots, Ben Russell set about charting the evolution of automatons for an exhibition he hopes will force people to think about how androids and other robotic forms can enhance their lives. Robots, says Russell, have been with us for centuries -- as "Robots," his exhibit opening Wednesday at London's Science Museum, shows. From a 15th century Spanish clockwork monk who kisses his rosary and beats his breast in contrition, to a Japanese "childoid" newsreader, created in 2014 with lifelike facial expressions, the exhibition tracks the development of robotics and mankind's obsession with replicating itself.   Cont'd...

Ford invests $1B in robotics startup in driverless car quest

Ford Motor Company announces it is investing $1 billion during the next five years in Argo AI, an artificial intelligence company, to develop a virtual driver system for the automaker's autonomous vehicle coming in 2021 - and for potential license to other companies.  Founded by former Google and Uber leaders, Argo AI is bringing together some of the most experienced roboticists and engineers working in autonomy from inside and outside of Ford. The team of experts in robotics and artificial intelligence is led by Argo AI founders Bryan Salesky, company CEO, and Peter Rander, company COO. Both are alumni of Carnegie Mellon National Robotics Engineering Center and former leaders on the self-driving car teams of Google and Uber, respectively.  "The next decade will be defined by the automation of the automobile, and autonomous vehicles will have as significant an impact on society as Ford's moving assembly line did 100 years ago," said Ford President and CEO Mark Fields.   Full Press Release:

Raspberry Pi-powered arm: This kit aims to make robotics simple enough for kids

Nick Heath for TechRepublic:  Think it's tricky to build and program a robot arm? Think again. Powered by the Raspberry Pi, the MeArm Pi is a robot arm designed to be simple enough that kids aged 11+ can build and program it. The lightweight plastic arm, which can pick up small objects such as Lego bricks, comes as a kit that keeps the number of screws to a minimum and is relatively straightforward to assemble using the included hex keys. It can be controlled via the Pi, either using joysticks attached to the included Pi HAT add-on board or by programming it from the Pi.   Cont'd...

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Personal & Service Robots - Featured Product

ST Robotics - K11R robot controller now available for your own robot!

ST Robotics - K11R robot controller now available for your own robot!

St Robotics is making the K11R robot controller available for any robot that uses stepping motors including the IGUS range. Providing you use low inductance motors the K11R will provide surprising power and speed from it's 55v DC supply and Gecko micro-stepping drives controlled by a fast DSP and micro-controller. The software is RoboForth II V17 embedded in the controller which together with the PC project supervisor gets your robot going within minutes. It is a text based conversational language that is so easy to use yet permits programs of great complexity when required. The kinematics are easily tailored to any size of robot and any number of axes from 3 to 6. The controller will also provide easy calibration to sensors and also reads back and compares encoders if you fit them. Speed, acceleration and rate of acceleration (3rd order) are all programmable as is emergency stop and many other features. Your positional data and programs may be saved on your PC and also in the controller's flash memory. The K11R will also control external devices such as pneumatic gripper, vacuum pickup, air cylinders and communicate with a PLC. Pricing starts at $2500. Contact ST at sales@strobotics.com