Welcome to robot university (only robots need apply)

MIT Technology Review  November 7, 2019 Researchers at UC Berkeley are creating RoboNet, a database similar to the ImageNet created by Princeton University, consisting of annotated video data of robots in action. The trick is to have countless hours of video to learn from. They start by recording the way a robot interacts with, say, a brush to move it across a surface. Then they take countless hours of video to learn from many more videos of its motion and use the data to train a neural network on how best to perform the action. Once a robot has mastered […]

Flexible yet sturdy robot is designed to “grow” like a plant

MIT News  November 7, 2019 In a factory or warehouse the robots have a harder time winding through narrow spaces to carry out tasks such as reaching for a product at the back of a cluttered shelf etc. Engineers at MIT have developed a robot designed to extend a chain-like appendage flexible enough to twist and turn in any necessary configuration, yet rigid enough to support heavy loads or apply torque to assemble parts in tight spaces. When the task is complete, the robot can retract the appendage and extend it again, at a different length and shape, to suit […]

Autonomous quadruped designed to team with Soldiers

EurekAlert  September 24, 2019 In collaboration with universities and industry U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Army Research Laboratory developed the Legged Locomotion and Movement Adaptation (LLAMA), an autonomous quadruped mobility research platform system patterned after a working dog and similar animals. It works in concert with soldiers, lighten physical workloads, and increase mobility, protection and lethality. The all electric system has high torque actuators and algorithms for advanced perception, intelligence and control for autonomy and teaming. It is designed for mobility in structured and unstructured environments. The readiness of the platform is dependent on its mission, a logistics mission […]

Shape-shifting robots built from smarticles could navigate Army operations

EurekAlert  September 18, 2019 Working under a U.S. Army project a team of researchers in the US (Georgia Institute of Technology, Northwestern University) built robots entirely from smaller robots known as smarticles, unlocking the principles of a potentially new locomotion technique. The 3D-printed smarticles can do just one thing: flap their two arms. But when five of these smarticles are confined in a circle, they begin to nudge one another, forming a robophysical system known as a “supersmarticle” that can move by itself. The devices can change their location only when they interact with other devices while enclosed by a […]

Drones will fly for days with new photovoltaic engine

Tech Xplore  July 26, 2019 A team of researchers in the US (Laurence Berkeley National Laboratory, UCBerkeley, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Swarthmore College, University of Colorado, Caltech) used the rear mirror to create thermophotovoltaic systems with unprecedented high thermophotovoltaic efficiency. This mirror reflects low-energy infrared photons back into the heat source, recovering their energy. Therefore, the rear mirror serves a dual function; boosting the voltage and reusing infrared thermal photons. This allows the possibility of a practical >50% efficient thermophotovoltaic system…read more. Open Access TECHNICAL ARTICLE

Autonomous boats can target and latch onto each other

MIT News  June 5, 2019 An international team of researchers (USA – MIT, the Netherlands) is working on Roboat to build a fleet of autonomous robotic boats devised to transport people and goods similar to self-driving cars. The design dynamically links and joins multiple boats into one unit in order to form floating infrastructure such as bridges, markets or concert stages, as well as autonomously self-detach to perform individual tasks. They developed a novel latching system that enables robotic boats to create dynamic united floating infrastructure while overcoming water disturbances. The roboats run on custom computer vision and control techniques […]

Meet the robot submarine that acts as a lionfish predator

MIT Technology Review  June 4, 2019 A non-profit organization has developed a robot submarine called the Guardian LF1 which features eight thrusters, an onboard computer, a camera, and a power source, along with a set of low voltage “stunning panels” and a chamber for storing captured fish. It is controlled from the surface using a tether but includes an autopilot and a computer vision system capable of distinguishing lionfish from other species. The prey, Lionfish, native to the Indo-Pacific Ocean, were introduced to the waters off the US several decades ago and have since spread through the Caribbean and Gulf […]

Engineers create a robot that can ‘imagine’ itself

Science Daily  January 30, 2019 Researchers at Columbia University have created a robot that learns what it is, from scratch, with zero prior knowledge of physics, geometry, or motor dynamics. After a brief period of “babbling,” and within about a day of intensive computing, the robot creates a self-simulation and uses that self-simulator internally to contemplate and adapt to different situations, handling new tasks as well as detecting and repairing damage in its own body. Using a four-degree-of-freedom articulated robotic arm, initially the robot moved randomly and collected approximately one thousand trajectories. Then used deep learning to create a self-model. […]

Shape-shifting robots perceive surroundings, make decisions for first time

Science Daily  November 1, 2018 A team of researchers in the US (Cornell University, University of Pennsylvania) has developed a modular robot system capable of autonomously completing high-level tasks by reactively reconfiguring to meet the needs of a perceived, a priori unknown environment. The system integrates perception, high-level planning, and modular hardware and is validated in three hardware demonstrations. Given a high-level task specification, a modular robot autonomously explores an unknown environment, decides when and how to reconfigure, and manipulates objects to complete its task. The research has begun to lay the groundwork for modular self-reconfigurable robots to address tasks […]

Insect-Inspired Vision System Helps Drones Pass Through Small Gaps

IEEE Spectrum  September 11, 2018 Insects are quite good at not running into things, and just as good at running into things and surviving, but targeted, accurate precision flight is much more difficult for them. Reliable and not taking much to execute is one way to summarize the focus of the next generation of practical robotics. Researchers at the University of Maryland has developed a system that allows a drone to fly through very small and completely unknown gaps using a single camera and onboard processing. The drone has no information about the location or size of the gap in […]