Archive for the ‘Robotics’ Category

Tiny robot leaps around carrying its own battery, electronics

July 10th, 2019
Image of trefoil-shaped electronics.

Enlarge / A Tribot leaps ahead of its peers. (credit: EPFL)

Robots have traditionally been roughly humanoid in form, which has some obvious advantages, in that the robots are better able to integrate into a human-designed environment. But there are lots of environments that aren't human designed, and researchers have been experimenting with robotic forms that look more like insects or fish. Now, a team of Swiss researchers has produced a robot that looks like nothing more than a walking circuit board. Despite its small size, though, the robot is able to move by hopping, leaping, or walking, and it can even work in a group to coordinate activities.

Meet Tribot

The team calls its creation Tribot, for reasons that are obvious from its photo above. Tribot looks like a tiny circuit board because that's what it largely is, but there are some significant additions to the circuitry. One is a small lithium polymer battery, which means all the power for its motions and circuits are carried on board. The motions are powered by what's called a shape-memory alloy, which can be deformed at one temperature but snap back into place once the temperature is changed. Flexible hinges and a polymer core allow these "muscles" to move any of the three legs either gradually or with a sudden snap, all enabled by tiny heaters embedded in the hardware.

Another interesting feature of the robot is its construction. The circuit board and polymer are originally made as a flat, triangular unit. A couple of folds are all that's needed to convert this shape into the Tribot's trefoil design.

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Posted in Computer science, materials science, Robotics, science | Comments (0)

Flying, insect-like robot flits closer to independent flight

June 26th, 2019
Image of a four winged robot.

Enlarge / The RoboBee X­Wing without its power and electronics. (credit: Noah T. Jafferis and E. Farrell Helbling, Harvard Microrobotics Laboratory)

Just over six years ago, when researchers at Harvard announced that they had made tiny flying robots, they immediately began talking about the prospect of their tiny creations operating autonomously in complicated environments. That seemed wildly optimistic, given that the robots flew by trailing a set of copper wires that brought power and control instructions; the robots were guided by a computer that monitored their positions using a camera.

Since then, however, the team has continued working on refining the tiny machines, giving them enhanced landing capabilities, for example. And today, the team is announcing the first demonstration of self-powered flight. The flight is very short and isn't self-controlled, but the tiny craft manages to carry both the power supply circuitry and its own power source.

A matter of miniaturization

There are two approaches to miniaturization, which you can think of as top-down and bottom-up. From the top-down side, companies are shrinking components and cutting weight to allow ever smaller versions of quadcopter drones to fly, with some now available that weigh as little as 10 grams. But this type of hardware faces some hard physical limits that are going to limit how much it could shrink. Batteries, for example, end up with more of their mass going to packaging and support hardware rather than charge storage. And friction begins to play a dominant role in the performance of the standard rotating motors.

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Posted in FLIGHT, insects, Mechanics, Robotics, science | Comments (0)

Researchers make a robotic fish with a battery for blood

June 19th, 2019
Image of a plastic fish

Enlarge (credit: James Pikul)

Lots of experimental robots involve a little bit of cheating. Rather than containing all the necessary electronics and energy sources, they have tethers and wires that provide power and control without weighing the robot down or taking up too much internal space. This is especially true for soft-bodied robots, which typically pump air or fluids to drive their motion. Having to incorporate a power source, pumps, and a reservoir of gas or liquid would significantly increase the weight and complexity of the robot.

A team from Cornell University has now demonstrated a clever twist that cuts down on the weight and density of all of this by figuring out how to get one of the materials to perform two functions. Like other soft robot designs, it pumps a fluid to cause its structure to expand and contract, powering movements. But in this case, the fluid is also the key component of a flow battery that powers the pumps. This allows them to put all the critical components on board their creation.

Going with the flow

So what's a flow battery? Batteries operate by having different reactions that take place at their two electrodes. For something like a lithium-ion battery, the intermediaries of these reactions—electrons and ions—immediately flow from one electrode to another, and the key chemicals spend almost all their time at the electrodes. In flow batteries, the chemical reactions still take place at the electrodes, but the chemicals reside in solution, rather than being confined to electrodes.

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Posted in batteries, fish, materials science, Robotics, science | Comments (0)

Boston Dynamics’ latest robot is a mechanical ostrich that loads pallets

March 29th, 2019

Boston Dynamics has a new YouTube video showing off its newest robot design. This one is a reimagining of the "Handle" robot that the company originally showed off in 2017. Back then the robot could jump four feet in the air and do all kinds of tricks; now its purpose is to load pallets.

Back in 2017 Handle was the company's first public "wheel-legged" robot—that is, the robot is a bipedal design that stands on two legs, but instead of feet at the bottom, the design opts for a set of wheels. Boston Dynamics described the design decision on its website, saying "Wheels are fast and efficient on flat surfaces while legs can go almost anywhere: by combining wheels and legs, Handle has the best of both worlds." Wheel legs allowed the original Handle design to have a roughly human form factor (albeit with backward knees) and a top speed of 9 MPH, just by rolling its wheel feet.

The new Handle is no longer humanoid. While it still has wheel-legs with backward-bending knees, it's now more bird-like than human. The two arms have been replaced with a single arm mounted at the top of the bot, making it look like a long neck. The original Handle's top-heavy design has been changed, and now a lot of the robot's mass lives in a large, wildly swinging rear (butt? tail?) that acts a counterweight as the robot lifts things and moves around.

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Posted in Alphabet, boston dynamics, google, robot overlords, Robotics, robots, Tech | Comments (0)

First-person digger: Stanley Black & Decker’s game controller for excavators

March 21st, 2019
An operator puts an excavator to work with a game-style controller using Stanley's ROC remote operating system.

Enlarge / An operator puts an excavator to work with a game-style controller using Stanley's ROC remote operating system. (credit: Stanley Black & Decker)

In a parking lot at an industrial and office park just outside Baltimore, I took a mid-sized excavator for a spin. I pushed around some cinder blocks with a leveling blade, nosed them around with the excavator's shovel, and maneuvered the heavy metal beast around to make room for an incoming tractor-trailer. And I did all of this with a wireless controller that was almost identical to the one I used to play Forza the night before.

The excavator was configured with a prototype of the Remote Operated Control (ROC) System from Stanley Black & Decker's Infrastructure Innovation unit—a bolt-on remote control system that allows heavy machinery from major manufacturers to be operated either from in the cab as usual or with a wireless game-style controller.

Stanley is currently recruiting contracting companies to act as beta testers for the technology, which is currently being targeted at Bobcat, CAT, Kubota, and John Deere excavators under 10 tons. The remote control kit can be installed in existing excavators in about 5 hours by someone with little to no mechanical experience. And the control system has a physical switch that allows an operator to quickly switch back and forth between local and remote control.

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Posted in Biz & IT, industrial controls, remotely operated vehicles, Robotics, unmanned ground vehicles | Comments (0)

Welcome to the cyber world: The real-world tech behind Alita: Battle Angel

February 16th, 2019
The futuristic cyborg world depicted in <em>Alita: Battle Angel</em> has some promising real-world analogues.

Enlarge / The futuristic cyborg world depicted in Alita: Battle Angel has some promising real-world analogues. (credit: 20th Century Fox)

The CGI-heavy cinematic world of Alita: Battle Angel, is chock-full of the kinds of cyberpunk toys most of us only dream about. But while much of the technology in Alita is futuristic, it's deliberately grounded in the real-world technology of today, per producer James Cameron's vision.

(Mildest of spoilers for Alita: Battle Angel below. You can read Sam Machkovech's largely spoiler-free review here.)

Set some 600 years in the future, the cyberpunk world of Alita: Battle Angel is a dystopian society where people in Iron City scavenge for anything useful—especially technology—in the Scrapyard, which holds everything dumped from the floating city of Zalem, where the "elite" reside. There's a series of tubes where products are sent from the Iron City to Zalem (in exchange for the latter's refuse), but otherwise the two worlds never really mix. The Scrapyard is where a kind doctor finds cyborg Alita's head, holding her carefully preserved human brain. He knows immediately he's looking at highly advanced technology from three centuries earlier, lost in time, and rehabilitates her. The plot follows her journey from amnesiac innocent to fierce warrior.

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Posted in alita battle angel, Entertainment, exoskeletons, Gaming & Culture, Robotics, science, Technology | Comments (0)

Researchers Release Tool That Finds Vulnerable Robots on the Internet

January 28th, 2019
A team at a robot cybersecurity startup has released a free, open-source tool for information security professionals to help them easily 'footprint' and detect unprotected robots, not only connected to the Internet, but also to the industrial environments where they operate. Dubbed "Aztarna," the framework has been developed by Alias Robotics, a Spanish cybersecurity firm focused on robots and

Posted in Aztarna, cyber security, cyber security tools, hacking robots, hacking tools, iot devices, network security, port scanning tools, Robot hacking, Robotics | Comments (0)

Robot Problems: Research Reveals Cybersecurity Woes

March 1st, 2017

In-brief: a report by the firm IOActive warns that industrial and home robots may be vulnerable to remote, software based attacks.  The term “robot” comes from the Czech word robota, meaning “forced labor.” And, while we might like to think of them as aspirational creations – marvels of engineering and maybe even…

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Posted in hardware, IOActive, Reports, robot, Robotics, software, surgical robot, Top Stories, trends, vulnerabilities | Comments (0)

Robotic race car series will support Formula E next year

November 27th, 2015

Autonomous cars are not entirely strangers to the race track. Earlier this year we brought you news of Robby, the autonomous Audi RS7 that has learned the racing line at Sonoma Raceway in California. Robby is apparently as fast as an experienced human racing driver when it comes to lap times, but there’s more to racing than just being fast—you need competition. Next year we’ll finally get to see what happens when you put 20 autonomous cars on track and race them, thanks to the newly announced support series for Formula E.

Called Roborace, the new series is a partnership between Formula E and Kinetik, an investment fund that’s been putting a lot of money into electric vehicle development. It will follow the Formula E schedule in 2016-2017 with hour-long races between 10 teams, each of which has two cars. The cars will be mechanically identical; the competition will be in coding the AI. According to the release from Formula E, one of the teams will be organized as a crowd-sourced community team, something we plan to look into with greater detail as it develops.

Kinetik founder Denis Sverdlov said that Roborace “is a celebration of revolutionary technology and innovation that humanity has achieved in that area so far. It’s a global platform to show that robotic technologies and AI can co-exist with us in real life. Thus, anyone who is at the edge of this transformation now has a platform to show the advantages of their driverless solutions and this shall push the development of the technology.”

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Posted in auto racing, Cars Technica, Formula E, robot car, Robotic vehicles, Robotics | Comments (0)

Scientists Unleash Creepy-Crawlies Cockroach Like Robot

June 24th, 2015

By Waqas

When we think robots, we generally think of metal machines

This is a post from HackRead.com Read the original post: Scientists Unleash Creepy-Crawlies Cockroach Like Robot

Posted in Robotics, robots, science, Tech, Technology News | Comments (0)