Cerebral palsy has left California resident Danny Cope in a powered wheelchair. There is a trail running out back behind his house. Due to the limitations of his wheelchair, he never had the opportunity to take that trail. Thanks to the work of a group of students, he can now get off the pavement and onto more rugged terrain.
The students are part of LASA Robotics, the robotics team at the Liberal Arts and Science Academy, a high school in Austin, Texas.
The group worked on the wheelchair for two years. Many local businesses donated supplies, while FedEx donated the shipping for the large package from Austin to California.… Read more
Slime mold is a very curious substance. Lab experiments have found that some types of the organisms exhibit signs of "intelligence" -- in the form of being able to learn and remember -- even though they're "no more than a bag of amoebae encased in a thin slime sheath," as slime mold expert John Tyler Bonner put it.
Ella Gale, who researches memristors and brain-like computers at the University of the West of England, has translated some of a particular slime mold's more interesting behaviors into human emotion -- as expressed by a robot face.
Physarum polycephalum can navigate a maze, find food with uncommon swiftness, and retreat from light. Placing the mold on a bed of 64 microelectrodes, along with some oat flakes, Gale shone light onto the fungus. As it moved toward the food or shied away from the light, it produced electrical signals, which Gale then converted into sound frequencies. … Read more
Blood clots in the brain are a growing health problem with devastating effects. These clots have a 40 percent mortality rate, and survivors can suffer from brain damage. Treatment is extremely challenging, but researchers at Vanderbilt University hope a new robot will be able to help. The bot uses a steerable needle to clear out clots.
Doctors often avoid operating on brain blood clots due to their tricky location and the risk of causing collateral damage. The robot, however, needs only a small opening to do its work. It can be guided by ultrasound or CT imaging to the targeted spot in the brain where it sucks out the clot. The needle extends like a telescope and is curved to navigate bends.… Read more
How close would you want to get to a lion with your camera for that perfect shot? It turns out that one way to capture the terrifying beasts -- and produce spectacular images -- is with a mini roving robot.
National Geographic lensman Michael "Nick" Nichols and videographer Nathan Williamson used a remote-controlled camera robot and a MikroKopter mini UAV to photograph a pride of lions in Serengeti National Park in Tanzania.
After they got used to the machines, the cats generally ignored them while Nichols and Williamson shot 242,000 images and 200 hours of video, mostly from a modified Land Rover. … Read more
Anyone who's shopped at IKEA knows that the worst part of the process is looking at a wordless instruction manual and bemoaning the loss of a Saturday afternoon. That's why the IKEA Bot is the best thing to happen to cheap, modern home furnishing. It also happens to display the bright future for robotic teamwork being used to complete complex assembly procedures.
Demonstrated by Daniela Rus, the director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, during the White House "We The Geeks" Google+ Hangout on Friday, the IKEA Bot was … Read more
You only need to experience another blackout for a reminder of the importance of power grid maintenance. Robots that crawl along and inspect power lines could save utilities a bundle in preventive checks.
We've seen a few designs for machines that can take on this dangerous and tricky job, such as Hydro-Quebec's LineScout, but they can still cost tens of thousands of dollars.
Engineers at the University of California at San Diego have developed a cheap and fast wire-crawling inspection robot called the SkySweeper. Made of off-the-shelf electronics and 3D-printed parts , the basic bot can be produced for less than $1,000. … Read more
Calling all sci-fi enthusiasts with cash stowed under the sofa. A gigantic 1950s robot called "Cygan" is to be sold at auction next month, and could fetch upwards of $18,000.
The half-ton bot was built in Italy in 1957, the BBC reports, and was shown off in London the following year, delighting adults and children alike by dancing clumsily with a lady, and not murdering anyone.
Cygan, sometimes called Gygan, has the power to crush a can in his robotic claw, and is equipped with a camera so that his operator can monitor his movements. … Read more
Move over, BigDog. DARPA's canine-like quadruped has a new animal kingdom automaton to contend with: the Crabster, a six-legged underwater robot that's sure to cause at least a few nightmares. So if you happen to suffer from kabourophobia -- yes, there's a fear of crabs -- turn back now.
Designed at the Korean Institute of Ocean Science and Technology (KIOST) with help from five South Korean universities, the Crabster CR200 as its officially known was aimed at overcoming the challenges posed by strong tidal currents in shallow waters. Propellor-equipped ROVs and automatous underwater vehicles are adept at swift movements and deep diving, but the technology doesn't bode well in rough conditions. Current tidal strengths of 1.5 meters per second are enough to rip the scuba mask off a human explorer, explains Jason Falconer for IEEE Spectrum. … Read more
The first of its kind, Veebot is a prototype robotic phlebotomist, designed to get all Dracula on your arm. It's supposed to be as good as a human at finding a vein and drawing your blood.Feel any better about getting your blood drawn? Yah, me neither.
I love it when robots do new things, but I have to admit I get more than a shadow of terror at the prospect of needle-wielding robots. Blame it on the "Star Wars" torture droid. … Read more