Robo-Cheetah sets robot land speed record
With funding from DARPA, the Massachusetts company Boston Dynamics has made a robot that can run faster than any other robot. Robo-Cheetah (because what else would you call it?) can run up to 18 miles per hour and it doesn’t have a head because it doesn’t need one. It’s just a headless robot cheetah running around. It’s still a far cry from the 75 miles per hour that an actual cheetah can achieve so any cheetah reading this memo will be relieved to know that it is not being replaced by a robot any time soon. Though any cheetah has to feel a bit insulted that its head is seen as extraneous.
As for what you can actually DO with a headless robotic cheetah, perhaps on a battle field (DARPA is a military agency after all), no one seems to know. But then again: super fast headless cheetah robot!
Robot Roundup: Very useful robot edition
Robots are finding things you've lost. EMIEW2 from Japan is about 3.5 feet tall, has a face like Hello Kitty, and can scan a room for lost objects, like a watch or TV remote. However, you can't buy EMIEW2 yet so you're stuck on channel 4.
Robots are also helping fish. Turns out fish are kind of stupid and easily tricked into following a robot fish like the one being developed at NYU. The idea is to eventually use it to lead schools away from oil spills and other dangers.
And, because why not, robots are performing the theme to James Bond. You're hearing it now. It's a swarm of quadrotors, like helicopters but more blades, and they're autonomous, programmed not controlled. They fly over strings, keyboards, and drums. OK, it's not great, but among robots, these guys are Jimi Hendrix.
Robonaut 2: It shakes hands in outer space
Mett a humanoid space robot who shook hands with a real astronaut.
A NASA robot built to ease the daily lives of astronauts in space greeted its human commander with a hearty handshake Wednesday (Feb. 15), along with a silent message: "Hello, World."
The historic handshake between man and machine — a first in space — was shared between NASA's humanoid robot, named Robonaut 2, and American astronaut Daniel Burbank on the International Space Station.
Jennifer: She plays hockey
Meet a robot who can score goals in hockey (she's in Canada, naturally)
From the Toronto Star:
For Canadians, first you crawl, then you walk, then you skate. For scientists, getting robots to walk is really tricky.
So computer science student Chris Iverach-Brereton figured he’d push the envelope even further by programming his robot -- named Jennifer -- to not only skate, but to actually play hockey.
She isn't able to run like a real hockey player, but can glide on her skates. The bot was named after hockey player Jennifer Botterill, an Olympic gold medallist from Manitoba. Watch the video from the Winnipeg Free Press to see Jennifer in action.
Micro-robots: The army's new spies
A contract worth $13.9 million will supply the U.S. Army with 1,100 Recon Scout XT micro-robot kits. The 1.2 pound robot is equipped with a camera that can do indoor and outdoor surveillance for soldiers in combat.
And these bots can take a beating.
Ernest Langdon, director of military programs for ReconRobotics, said the bots are designed to take 1600Gs of impact. They can be thrown 120 feet and take repeated 30 foot drops onto concrete. And those are just the specs — Langdon said he’s seen the bots survive even more abuse.
Mashable has a video of the bots -- check it out here.
Robot Roundup: Animal edition
We check in on three types of robots that imitate critters in order to serve people. The wonderfully named Scalybot 2 was built to resemble a snake in order to perform search and rescue operations. Georgia Tech researchers studied snakes to build it. No word on the presumably grim fate of Scalybot 1. Snakes are able to slither into all kinds of tight spaces while expending very little energy. Check out the video in the left sidebar.
Meanwhile, a fleet of hummingbird-like helicopter robots from the University of Pennsylvania can fly in perfect formation (check out the video below). You have GOT to watch it -- tiny quadcopter robots flying in perfect formation. Especially at 1:22 when they do the figure 8. Bananas.
And researchers in Singapore have developed an itty-bitty crab-like robot that crawls into your stomach and rips out cancer cells with its hook and pincer. You know, just like real crabs. We have no video of that, but at least now you don't have to throw up all over the place from having seen it.
MyRobots: A social network for bots
Seems like everyone is using social media these days, even robots. Meet a social network that let's robots chat.
A new social network, MyRobots, hopes to be the “Facebook for robots.” The network allows users to connect their robotic devices, which can then post status updates like, “The cat is in my way” or “my bin is full.” Users can monitor their devices remotely and add to the capabilities of their robotics by connecting them to the site.
Here's the site's acutal Facebook page.
Qbo robots: They flirt
Meet robots that are self-aware, can ID each other, and flirt.
You might say the ability to recognize itself in a mirror is a robot's first step toward self-awareness. Qbo has not only achieved that goal, it can also distinguish itself from other identical machines and carry on a simple conversation using speech synthesis (Festival) and recognition (Julius) programs. The researchers at TheCorpora simulated self-awareness through simplified mimicry of the way humans recognize themselves: we learn what we look like and verify by checking to see if our actions are mirrored.
ARTAS: It can harvest hair folicles
Meet a robot that can help you get a new head of hair.
Modern surgical hair transplant techniques used to treat male pattern baldness, as opposed to using Rogaine and its ilk, physically replaces lost hair with a patient's own fuzz from donor areas on the back and/or sides of the scalp.
The ARTAS robotic harvester utilizes a computer-assisted image guidance system to increase the number and quality of usable hair follicles gathered from donor sites. Instead of plucking tufts of follicles out like conventional FUE techniques, the ARTAS can pull individual follicles. It's more precise and less invasive than what even sure-handed surgeons can accomplish.
Autom: A robot who's a personal weight loss coach
From the website:
Autom™ is a personal weight loss coach who learns about and adapts to you over time. No two conversations are alike and the more she learns about you, the more she customizes her feedback advice to keep you motivated on your diet. These features and the relationship she builds with you make her more effective than any other weight loss program you've tried. Not only will she help you lose weight, she'll make sure you keep it off.