Harvard-designed Soft Robot

Professor George Whitesides, Robert Shepherd and their colleagues from Harvard University have designed a prototype soft, agile robot capable of crawling and squeezing under obstacles current rigid robots are can't handle. The flexible robot motion is controlled by a series of chambers within the 'elastomer' layer that can be inflated with compressed air. The air is fed through tubes attached to the robot.

FroboMind

FroboMind is a conceptual architecture for field robots. The idea is to use the same generic architecture on all field robots and hereby maximizing efficiency, reliability, modularity, extendability and code reuse. FroboMind is open source and is implemented in Robot Operating System. The project includes  ASuBot , a research project focusing on weeding in organic orchards,  Armadillo , a tracked toolcarrier within precision navigation in row crops,  Casmobot , a semi-autonomous slope mower, and  Hortibot , a tool carrier capable of traversing a field of row crops.

Boeing Unmanned Little Bird

Boeing video showing its Unmanned Little Bird helicopter landing autonomously on a trailer moving along a runway at speeds up to 15 knots. The test was part of a program with France's Thales and DCNS to demonstrate technology for unmanned VTOL deck landings and take-offs on moving ships.  

IMAV 2011

Here is a video of some of the highlights from The International Micro Air Vehicle Conference and Competition held in September. The competition part of the conference required the tiny autonomous flying robots perform missions in at an indoor and outdoor tasks like collecting objects from within a structure, popping balloons or dropping objects in specific locations. A summary of all the aircrafts that participated are available in this pdf.

Ideas in Action with Jim Glassman

Ideas in Action is a weekly PBS program hosted by Jim Glassman. A recent episode focused on the future of the American economy and the role of intelligent computers and robots will play. His two guests were Martin Ford, author of "The Lights in the Tunnel: Automation, Accelerating Technology and the Economy of the Future" and Dr. Robin Hanson, Associate Professor of Economics at George Mason University. The entire episode is available here .

Roomba Co-inventor Announces New Robot

Joe Jones, a co-inventor of iRobot’s Roomba vacuum cleaning robot left iRobot to found  Harvest Automation along with three other industry veterans. Their first product is a small wheeled robot that picks up potted plants and move them from place to place. For nurseries that grow or distribute ornamental plants these task are labor intensive and the growing demand makes finding the human labor required difficult. The robot is being tested now in a few nurseries and Wired has a more detailed article here .

Collective construction

A research project at Harvard aims to demonstrate an autonomous multi-robot systems capable of the construction of 3D structures. The hardware comprises a mobile robot and specialized passive blocks; the robot is able to manipulate blocks to build desired structures, and can maneuver on these structures as well as in unstructured environments. To illustrate the robot’s ability to perform complex tasks combining these functions, they demonstrate it autonomously building a ten-block structure significantly larger than itself. The full paper can be found here .

Smile Supplement Robot

From the video its hard to tell what technology is behind this robot but heres the Google translation of the press release: Communication robots for the elderly "Nodding Kabochan SMILE SUPPLEMENT ROBOT" Launched mid-November! Pumpkin is not nodding, communication robots for the elderly in the shape of a little boy. The reaction of five sensors that are built, or nodding, He makes a variety of chat depending on the season. To take advantage of robot technology, the elderly, who also receive care, How to care for, and further engaged in the business who care, safe delivery and a smile will help to improve life.  

ROSCon 2012

ROSCon 2012 , the first ROS developer's conference is a weekend conference which will comprise of tech talks and tutorials that will introduce you to new ROS tools and libraries. The event takes place in St. Paul, Minnesota May 19-20, right after the 2012 IEEE international Conference on Robotics and Automation.

Xtion Pro Live

The Xtion Pro Live by ASUS is similar to Microsoft's Kinect hardware. The hardware includes a depth sensor, RGB camera and set of microphones. The device is aimed at development and is powered through the USB 2 connection rather than requiring an addition power connection like the Kinect. Its also slightly smaller than the Kinect.  I Heart Robotics has received one and they have additional information here . Currently its only available for purchase directly from ASUS and is currently on backorder.

Boston Dynamics' Bipedal Robot

PETMAN is an anthropomorphic robot for testing chemical protection clothing. Unlike previous suit testers, which had to be supported mechanically and had a limited repertoire of motion, PETMAN will balance itself and move freely; walking, crawling and doing a variety of suit-stressing calisthenics during exposure to chemical warfare agents.  

Objet260 Connex At WIRED 2011

Objet Ltd. with be demonstrating their newest 3D Printer at Wired Magazine's inaugural conference in London. The Objet260 Connex is able to use 60 different materials and it can simultaneously build 14 different materials into a single model part with a 16-micron print layer accuracy.

World's First Spherical Flying Machine

DigInfo.tv, a Tokyo-based website recently posted a video from a presentation by the Japan’s Ministry of Defense. The flying orb weighs 350 g, is 42 cm in diameter, and is made of commercially available parts costing a total of around US$1,400. The video below is from the public unveiling:

Odos Imaging 2+3D Sensor

Odos imaging's 1.3 mega­pixel 2+3D camera can capture accurate 3D images at 100 frames per second; allowing the system to capture very fast moving objects without degradation even in the brightest sunlight. Combining proprietary technology with conventional 2D image capture, an Odos imaging solution provides unambiguous 3D images at video rates from a single unit. Very short, intense pulses of invisible light are used to illuminate the scene. The high intensity of the pulse minimizes the effect of ambient light and allows for outdoor operation. These pulses are reflected by objects within the scene and are detected by the image sensor. Proprietary algorithms convert the detected pulses into a distance measurement. Simultaneously, a conventional 2D image of the scene is captured. Each pixel on the sensor provides both distance and intensity information. 

How Google's Self-Driving Car Works

IEEE Spectrum has an article explaining how Google's new  autonom ous vehicles project works. The article is based on a recent presentation that  Sebastian Thrun and Chris Urmson gave at keynote speech at the  IEEE In ternational Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems . The article can be found here .

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