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MorpHex: From Sphere to Hexapod and Back

Posted 14 Dec 2011 at 21:15 UTC by steve

Robot builder Kåre Halvorsen (aka Zenta) has released a new video of his MorpHex robot. This is a hexapod robot with a spherical shell. The sphere is divided into an upper and lower hemisphere, each of which are broken into six smaller segments. The lower six shell pieces act as legs when the robot is moving. All twelve segments can be retracted to form a sphere. In addition to the video, check out the Zenta Robotic Creation blog for lots of photos during the construction.

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Aldebaran introduces new Nao

Posted 11 Dec 2011 at 05:00 UTC (updated 11 Dec 2011 at 05:24 UTC) by John_RobotsPodcast

A new version of the Nao is ready, and eager to make your acquaintance.

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Review: Apocalyptic AI by Robert M. Geraci

Posted 8 Dec 2011 at 22:24 UTC by steve

Get ready for the four robots of the apocalypse as we review a book that should be close to the hearts of robots.net readers - because you actually helped research it: Robert M. Geraci's "Apocalyptic AI: Visions of Heaven in Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, and Virtual Reality". Geraci, a professor of religion and researcher of all things eschatological, notes that,

"excepting rapture theologians of fundamentalist Christianity, popular science authors in robotics and artificial intelligence have become the most influential spokespeople for apocalyptic theology in the Western World."

You heard that right, roboticists and AI researchers have risen to second place when it comes to who we think of when the topic is apocalyptic theology. And with fundamentalists blowing two more apocalyptic predictions since the book was published, who knows, we may be number 1 now. But how can robots and AI be theology? Read on for a full review of Geraci's book.

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Commercial Robotics

Giant Robot Arm Becomes Motion Simulator

Posted 7 Dec 2011 at 16:57 UTC by steve

Kyle Nelson, of the Centre for Intelligent Systems Research at Deakin University in Australia, wrote to tell us about a motion simulator they're developing that's based on a giant robot arm.

"The CISR haptically-enabled Universal Motion Simulator (UMS) is a state-of-the-art platform for dynamic training and performance analysis. The platform is built on integrated COTS technologies, including a customised anthropomorphic industrial robot, 3D visualisation immersive displays (HMD) and a motion capture and tracking system. A 6 DOF serial kinematic robot permits two axes of continuous rotation, realistic g-force acceleration, same size turning radius independent of motion direction and reduced motion sickness. The UMS overcomes the limitations of current motion technology, by introducing a flexible, modular, high-fidelity motion system that can be used for a variety of dynamic, immersive training applications."

Read on for more video and details about the system.

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The Sound of Robot Hands Clapping

Posted 5 Dec 2011 at 19:28 UTC by steve

The Swirling Brain noticed an io9 post from a while back with some cool (or creepy perhaps) disembodied humanoid robot arms. They are known as the Ondz clapping robots and were created by Masato Takahashi of Keio University. His goal was to make "multipurpose hand-clapping machines" that would sound like authentic human applause, though other purposes ranging from telepresence clapping to spanking machines have been suggested. Read on to see more video of the clapping robots in action.

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Henrik Christensen on the U.S. Robotics Roadmap

Posted 4 Dec 2011 at 18:33 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

Henrik Christensen with KUKA industrial robot

In episode #92, Robots Podcast interviews Henrik Christensen, the KUKA Chair of Robotics at the College of Computing, Georgia Institute of Technology, and director of the Center for Robotics and Intelligent Machines. Professor Christensen has played a leading role in the initiative to create a roadmap for robotics research in the United States, and to keep that roadmap up to date. That roadmap is the primary subject of this interview.
Read On or Tune In

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Random Robot Roundup

Posted 2 Dec 2011 at 22:22 UTC by steve

Dan from Future-Bot writes to let us know about his ATOM-7xp humanoid project, "next to the PETMAN it's the only full size humanoid going on in the USA". IEEE Spectrum published a nice retrospective on John McCarthy, the man who created LISP and was credited with coining the phrase "artificial intelligence". Our friends over at IEET have published an amusing poll showing the level of support for the Occupy movement among AI and singularity people. The Brain Mysteries blog notes a new study showing the high correlation of functional areas in the human brain with mice and other mammal brains, indicating a common conservation mechanism in evolution. And, speaking of brains, the Conscious Entities blog suggests a new way of looking at consciousness - maybe consciousness the output of a brain, not part of the processing. Know any other robot news, gossip, or amazing facts we should report? Send 'em our way please. And don't forget to follow us on twitter.

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Squid-Like Soft Body Pneumatic Prototype Robot

Posted 30 Nov 2011 at 17:35 UTC by The Swirling Brain

Harvard University funded by the Pentagon has a new Soft Body Pneumatic Prototype Robot that can squeeze through tight spaces. The robot is about 5 inches long and moves when air is pumped in and out of bladders on the legs and body. As the bladders are methodically inflated and deflated various walking, crawling and slithering gaits can be achieved. Although the device does not appear to be autonomous yet, it has a notable spineless Elastic Polymers soft body form factor which may someday be useful for squirming and slithering through tight spaces for search and rescue.
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UAVs to Build 6 Meter Tower from Blocks

Posted 29 Nov 2011 at 19:40 UTC by steve

A fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles will build a six meter high tower from 1,500 polystyrene foam blocks. The flying autonomous robots will perform this feat at the FRAC Centre in Orléans, France as part of an exhibition by Swiss architect Gramazio & Kohler with Italian roboticist Raffaello D'Andrea. Their goal is to encourage "radical new ways of thinking and materializing architecture as a physical process of dynamic formation". If you want to see the actual assembly, you'll want to be there during the first few days:

Following an initial phase lasting several days and dedicated to the assembly by flying machines of a model standing 6m high and 3.5m in diameter – made up of 1500 prefabricated polystyrene foam modules, the exhibition will feature a “megastructure” in its completed form, along with a film documenting the airborne assembly and all aspects of the exhibition.

The exhibit opens with the assembly performance on Friday December 2nd through Sunday December 4th. There will also be a lecture on the evening of December 2nd. Read on to see some of the aerial skills of the robots that will be building the tower in a video where they show off their ability to quickly transition between different 3D formations.

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Space Robotics

MSL Curiosity Rover

Posted 26 Nov 2011 at 16:21 UTC (updated 26 Nov 2011 at 18:08 UTC) by IKE_RobotsPodcast

One of the biggest steps in space exploration, the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) named Curiosity was launched today with an Atlas V 541 vehicle and it is now on its way to Mars. The Curiosity rover is similar in size and weight to a small car and it will be the largest spacecraft to ever land on Mars. A very elaborate landing procedure not only enables it to reach safely the Martian surface but also to land in a relatively tight spot whith great geological interest. The mission cost approximately 2.5 billion dollars and it was scheduled for launch in 2009 but various delays forced NASA to abort that goal. The optimum launch window when Mars and Earth are in the relative position that makes the trip as short as possible occurs every two years so two years after 2009 it is now the time for launch. The primary mission will last one Martian year (98 earth weeks) and if the rover is operational it could be further extended for much more. Landing sequence is scheduled for August 2012. Read below for more details.

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