Japanese company DOUBLE Research and Development has developed a three-fingered robotic hand using a single pressure sensor and a single actuator. The linkage through which the fingers are attached to their mount automatically equalizes the pressure applied by each.
Researchers at the Exertion Games Lab at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia have created a robot to support you while exercising. Joggobot is a modified version of the popular AR Drone quadrocopter platform developed by French company Parrot. The robot will track a marker pattern printed on your t-shirt and fly ahead of you when you go out for a run. The researchers describe Joggobot as an "exertion game". They believe that jogging is play - we are not jogging to get from A to B, but for the experience of jogging - and point out that jogging with a physical device that reacts to its environment and, similar to a human jogger, has a limited amount of energy for exercise creates a very different interaction experience than pure audio-visual stimuli such as aerobic videos. They hope that the robot can improve the jogging experience and enhance our understanding of why we jog (and hence why we do not jog enough).
A CSH Lab news release says neuroscientists at the Brain Architecture Project have reached an important milestone. They've released the first installment of the 500 terabytes of data from the whole-brain wiring diagram of a mouse brain. The data is in the form of gigapixel whole-brain slice images. It's possible browse through the brain to the desired 20 micron-thick slice, then view the image, zooming it the level of individual neurons. Most importantly, the image data is being released in an open science initiative, freely available for anyone to view and use in their research. The technical approach used was developed by Partha P. Mitra.
"The pragmatic approach Mitra advocated and which is realized in this first data release, is to image whole mouse brains in a semi-automated, quality-controlled process using light microscopy and injected neural tracers (both viruses and classically used tracer substances). While the basic methodology has been available for some time, systematically applying it to a grid of locations spanning the entire brain, and digitizing and re-assembling the resulting collection of brains, is a new approach made feasible by the rapidly falling costs of computer storage."
There's a cool Robotics Trends article on robotics researchers studying how mosquitoes survive flying through rain when every raindrop is 50 times the mass of the mosquito. The idea is to make micro air vehicles that sturdy. The Swirling Brain tells us robot lifeguards are on the way. Nootrix did a post recently in which they speculate about using ROS with the new LEAP gesture sensor. IEEE Spectrum published an interesting piece about educational robotics in Africa. And Slate posted an essay by Dale Dougherty on how we could improve education in the US by replacing standardized testing with a program of teaching kids to do real things, like building robots and rockets. NASA, well known for building robots and rockets, let us know they're ready with their new autonomous robot competition in which teams have built planetery rover style sample return robots. 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.
The above video was posted one day prior to a major, much-publicized experiment, tracing water movement in California's Sacramento-San Joaquin river delta, which is prone to reversals in the direction of flow. A more polished video produced on the occasion of the launch of 100 floating sensors into that river system appears after the break. The Floating Sensor Network is a project of the University of California at Berkeley, involving the Lagrangian Sensor Systems Laboratory (LSSL), the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories (LBNL), and the California Department of Water Resources.
In early March, Boston Dynamics posted a video (embedded after the break) showing the Cheetah robot they are developing for DARPA running at 18 miles per hour (a new record for a robot running on legs), without any stabilization straps attached. More recently the MIT Biomimetic Robotics Lab has posted videos of their version of the Cheetah, first walking (embedded after the break), then trotting, with some stabilization (embedded both above and after the break). The MIT version appears to be more complex than the Boston Dynamics version, particularly in the way the legs are jointed, but also in the way the rear legs connect to the rest of the body, although it's impossible to tell whether what appear to be vertebrae, in the MIT version, are actually functional as such, from the video alone.
Also presented recently at ICRA, Takahiro Kizaki and Akio Namiki from the Graduate School of Engineering at Chiba University in Japan demonstrated a system comprised of a fast vision system (500 fps) coupled with a fast robotic arm and three-fingered hand, capable of juggling two balls by tracking them in the air and adjusting accordingly. Automaton has more detail.