Tag Archives: Robotics/Robot_Sensors_&_Actuators

Stretchy Wearable Patch Allows Two-Way Communication With Robots

Post Syndicated from Samuel K. Moore original https://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/robotics-hardware/stretchy-wearable-patch-allows-twoway-communication-with-robots

Multifunctional metal-oxide semiconductor used to build flexible RRAM, transistors, and sensors

Engineers at the University of Houston are trying to make the melding of humans and machines a little easier on the humans. They’ve developed an easy-to-manufacture flexible electronics patch that, when attached to a human, translates the person’s motion and other commands to a robot and receives temperature feedback from the robot.

Led by University of Houston assistant professor Cunjiang Yu, the team developed transistors, RRAM memory cells, strain sensors, UV-light detectors, temperature sensors, and heaters all using the same set of materials in a low-temperature manufacturing process. They integrated the different devices into a 4-micrometer-thick adhesive plastic patch.

A paper describing the Houston researchers’ work appears this week in Science Advances.

With the patch on the back of a volunteer’s hand, the researchers were able to control a robot hand—causing it to close or open according to what the human’s hand motion did to the patch’s strain sensors. What’s more, they were able to close the human-robot control loop by providing temperature feedback from the robotic hand to the human one using the patch’s integrated heater circuits.

Video Friday: Kiki Is a New Social Robot Created by Two Ex-Googlers

Post Syndicated from Evan Ackerman, Erico Guizzo and Fan Shi original https://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/robotics-hardware/video-friday-kiki-social-robot

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your Automaton bloggers. We’ll also be posting a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months; here’s what we have so far (send us your events!):

DARPA SubT Tunnel Circuit – August 15-22, 2019 – Pittsburgh, Pa., USA
IEEE Africon 2019 – September 25-27, 2019 – Accra, Ghana
ISRR 2019 – October 6-10, 2019 – Hanoi, Vietnam
Ro-Man 2019 – October 14-18, 2019 – New Delhi, India
Humanoids 2019 – October 15-17, 2019 – Toronto, Canada
ARSO 2019 – October 31-1, 2019 – Beijing, China
ROSCon 2019 – October 31-1, 2019 – Macau

Let us know if you have suggestions for next week, and enjoy today’s videos.


Surprisingly Speedy Soft Robot Survives Being Stepped On

Post Syndicated from Evan Ackerman original https://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/robotics-hardware/surprisingly-speedy-soft-robot-survives-being-stepped-on

It’s small, it’s quick, and it’s more robust than a cockroach

Soft robots are getting more and more popular for some very good reasons. Their relative simplicity is one. Their relative low cost is another. And for their simplicity and low cost, they’re generally able to perform very impressively, leveraging the unique features inherent to their design and construction to move themselves and interact with their environment. The other significant reason why soft robots are so appealing is that they’re durable. Without the constraints of rigid parts, they can withstand the sort of abuse that would make any roboticist cringe. 

In the current issue of Science Robotics, a group of researchers from Tsinghua University in China and University of California, Berkeley, present a new kind of soft robot that’s both higher performance and much more robust than just about anything we’ve seen before. The deceptively simple robot looks like a bent strip of paper, but it’s able to move at 20 body lengths per second and survive being stomped on by a human wearing tennis shoes. Take that, cockroaches.

Video Friday: A Two-Armed Robot That Balances on a Ball

Post Syndicated from Evan Ackerman, Erico Guizzo and Fan Shi original https://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/robotics-hardware/video-friday-cmu-two-armed-ballbot

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your Automaton bloggers. We’ll also be posting a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months; here’s what we have so far (send us your events!):

ICRES 2019 – July 29-30, 2019 – London, U.K.
DARPA SubT Tunnel Circuit – August 15-22, 2019 – Pittsburgh, Pa., USA
IEEE Africon 2019 – September 25-27, 2019 – Accra, Ghana
ISRR 2019 – October 6-10, 2019 – Hanoi, Vietnam
Ro-Man 2019 – October 14-18, 2019 – New Delhi, India
Humanoids 2019 – October 15-17, 2019 – Toronto, Canada

Let us know if you have suggestions for next week, and enjoy today’s videos.


Video Friday: This 3D-Printed Micro-Robot Could One Day Walk Inside Your Body

Post Syndicated from Evan Ackerman, Erico Guizzo and Fan Shi original https://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/robotics-hardware/video-friday-georgia-tech-3d-printed-micro-bristle-bot

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your Automaton bloggers. We’ll also be posting a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months; here’s what we have so far (send us your events!):

ICRES 2019 – July 29-30, 2019 – London, U.K.
DARPA SubT Tunnel Circuit – August 15-22, 2019 – Pittsburgh, Pa., USA
IEEE Africon 2019 – September 25-27, 2019 – Accra, Ghana
ISRR 2019 – October 6-10, 2019 – Hanoi, Vietnam
Ro-Man 2019 – October 14-18, 2019 – New Delhi, India
Humanoids 2019 – October 15-17, 2019 – Toronto, Canada

Let us know if you have suggestions for next week, and enjoy today’s videos.


Swarm Robots Mimic Ant Jaws to Flip and Jump

Post Syndicated from Evan Ackerman original https://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/robotics-hardware/swarm-robots-mimic-ant-jaws-to-flip-and-jump

Trap-jaw ants inspired these small, autonomous swarm robots

Small robots are appealing because they’re simple, cheap, and it’s easy to make a lot of them. Unfortunately, being simple and cheap means that each robot individually can’t do a whole lot. To make up for this, you can do what insects do—leverage that simplicity and low-cost to just make a huge swarm of simple robots, and together, they can cooperate to carry out relatively complex tasks.

Using insects as an example does set a bit of an unfair expectation for the poor robots, since insects are (let’s be honest) generally smarter and much more versatile than a robot on their scale could ever hope to be. Most robots with insect-like capabilities (like DASH and its family) are really too big and complex to be turned into swarms, because to make a vast amount of small robots, things like motors aren’t going to work because they’re too expensive.

The question, then, is to how to make a swarm of inexpensive small robots with insect-like mobility that don’t need motors to get around, and Jamie Paik’s Reconfigurable Robotics Lab at EPFL has an answer, inspired by trap-jaw ants.

Watch World Champion Soccer Robots Take on Humans at RoboCup

Post Syndicated from Evan Ackerman original https://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/robotics-hardware/watch-world-champion-soccer-robots-take-on-humans-at-robocup

Humans may not be doomed at soccer quite yet

RoboCup 2019 took place earlier this month down in Sydney, Australia. While there are many different events including [email protected], RoboCup Rescue, and a bunch of different soccer leagues, one of the most compelling events is middle-size league (MSL), where mobile robots each about the size of a fire hydrant play soccer using a regular size FIFA soccer ball. The robots are fully autonomous, making their own decisions in real time about when to dribble, pass, and shoot.

The long-term goal of RoboCup is this:

By the middle of the 21st century, a team of fully autonomous humanoid robot soccer players shall win a soccer game, complying with the official rules of FIFA, against the winner of the most recent World Cup.

While the robots are certainly not there yet, they’re definitely getting closer.

Video Friday: This NASA Robot Uses “Fishhook Grippers” to Climb Rock Walls

Post Syndicated from Evan Ackerman, Erico Guizzo and Fan Shi original https://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/robotics-hardware/video-friday-nasa-lemur-robot

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your Automaton bloggers. We’ll also be posting a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months; here’s what we have so far (send us your events!):

ICRES 2019 – July 29-30, 2019 – London, U.K.
DARPA SubT Tunnel Circuit – August 15-22, 2019 – Pittsburgh, Pa., USA
IEEE Africon 2019 – September 25-27, 2019 – Accra, Ghana
ISRR 2019 – October 6-10, 2019 – Hanoi, Vietnam

Let us know if you have suggestions for next week, and enjoy today’s videos.


How High Fives Help Us Get in Touch With Robots

Post Syndicated from Naomi Fitter original https://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/robotics-hardware/how-high-fives-help-us-get-in-touch-with-robots

Social touch is a cornerstone of human interaction, and robots are learning how to do it too

The human sense of touch is so naturally ingrained in our everyday lives that we often don’t notice its presence. Even so, touch is a crucial sensing ability that helps people to understand the world and connect with others. As the market for robots grows, and as robots become more ingrained into our environments, people will expect robots to participate in a wide variety of social touch interactions. At Oregon State University’s Collaborative Robotics and Intelligent Systems (CoRIS) Institute, I research how to equip everyday robots with better social-physical interaction skills—from playful high-fives to challenging physical therapy routines.  

Robots Have a Hard Time Grasping These “Adversarial Objects”

Post Syndicated from Evan Ackerman original https://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/robotics-hardware/uc-berkeley-adversarial-objects-for-robots

To make robot grasping more robust, researchers are designing objects that are as difficult as possible for robots to manipulate

There’s been a bunch of research recently into adversarial images, which are images of things that have been modified to be particularly difficult for computer vision algorithms to accurately identify. The idea is that these kinds of images can be used to help design more robust computer vision algorithms, because their “adversarial” nature is sort of a deliberate worst-case scenario—if your algorithm can handle adversarial images, then it can probably handle most other things.

Researchers at UC Berkeley have been extending this concept to robot grasping, with physical adversarial objects carefully designed to be tricky for conventional robot grippers to pick up. All it takes is a slight tweak to straightforward three-dimensional shapes, and a standard two-finger will have all kinds of trouble finding a solid grasp.

Robots Made Out of Branches Use Deep Learning to Walk

Post Syndicated from Evan Ackerman original https://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/robotics-hardware/robots-tree-branches-deep-learning-walk

Researchers used deep reinforcement learning to teach these strange robots how to move

Designing robots is a finicky process, requiring an exhaustive amount of thought and care. It’s usually necessary to have a very clear idea of what you want your robot to do and how you want it to do it, and then you build a prototype, discover everything that’s wrong with it, build something different and better, and repeat until you run out of time and/or money.

But robots don’t necessarily have to be this complicated, as long as your expectations for what they should be able to do are correspondingly low. In a paper presented at a NeurIPS workshop last December, a group of researchers from the University of Tokyo and Preferred Networks experimented with building mobile robots out of a couple of generic servos plus stuff you can find on the ground, like tree branches. 

Video Friday: NASA Is Sending This Flying Robot to Saturn’s Moon Titan

Post Syndicated from Evan Ackerman, Erico Guizzo and Fan Shi original https://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/robotics-hardware/video-friday-nasa-flying-robot-saturn-moon-titan

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your Automaton bloggers. We’ll also be posting a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months; here’s what we have so far (send us your events!):

MARSS 2019 – July 1-5, 2019 – Helsinki, Finland
ICRES 2019 – July 29-30, 2019 – London, UK
DARPA SubT Tunnel Circuit – August 15-22, 2019 – Pittsburgh, PA, USA

Let us know if you have suggestions for next week, and enjoy today’s videos.


Robot Squid and Robot Scallop Showcase Bio-inspired Underwater Propulsion

Post Syndicated from Evan Ackerman original https://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/robotics-hardware/robot-squid-and-robot-scallop-showcase-bioinspired-underwater-propulsion

Animals have lots of creative ways of moving through the water, and robots are stealing them

Most underwater robots use one of two ways of getting around. Way one is with propellers, and way two is with fins. But animals have shown us that there are many more kinds of underwater locomotion, potentially offering unique benefits to robots. We’ll take a look at two papers from ICRA this year that showed bioinspired underwater robots moving in creative new ways: A jet-powered squid robot that can leap out of the water, plus a robotic scallop that moves just like the real thing.

Solar-Powered RoboBee X-Wing Flies Untethered

Post Syndicated from Evan Ackerman original https://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/robotics-hardware/solar-powered-robobee-xwing-flies-untethered

Just this week, in this very galaxy, X-Wing achieves liftoff

The first generation of robotic bees were designed to be very bee-like, featuring two flapping wings at bee scale. After all, bees can do a lot with two wings, so why can’t robots? Turns out there are a lot of reasons why little winged robots can’t do what bees do, at least for now—things like yaw control has proved to be somewhat tricky, which is one reason why less explicitly bee-like designs that use four wings instead of two are appealing

We saw some impressive research at ICRA this year showing that yaw control with two wings is possible, but four wings have additional advantages— namely, more wings means more power for lifting more stuff. And with more lifting power, it’s possible to have a completely self-contained robot insect, even if it’s slightly weird looking.

In Nature this week, researchers from Harvard’s Microrobotics Lab, led by Professor Robert J. Wood, are presenting a four-winged version of their RoboBee platform. They are calling this version RoboBee X-Wing, and it’s capable of untethered flight thanks to solar cells and a light source that would put high noon(s) on Tatooine to shame.

Boing Goes the Trampoline Robot

Post Syndicated from Evan Ackerman original https://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/robotics-hardware/quadruped-robot-on-a-trampoline

If you can’t afford a fancy quadruped with springy legs, just use a springy floor instead

There are a handful of quadrupedal robots out there that are highly dynamic, with the ability to run and jump, but those robots tend to be rather expensive and complicated, requiring powerful actuators and legs with elasticity. Boxing Wang, a Ph.D. student in the College of Control Science and Engineering at Zhejiang University in China, contacted us to share a project he’s been working to investigate quadruped jumping with simple, affordable hardware.

“The motivation for this project is quite simple,” Boxing says. “I wanted to study quadrupedal jumping control, but I didn’t have custom-made powerful actuators, and I didn’t want to have to design elastic legs. So I decided to use a trampoline to make a normal servo-driven quadruped robot to jump.”

Video Friday: This Robot Is Like a Roomba for Your Garden

Post Syndicated from Evan Ackerman, Erico Guizzo and Fan Shi original https://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/robotics-hardware/video-friday-tertill-weeding-robot

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your Automaton bloggers. We’ll also be posting a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months; here’s what we have so far (send us your events!):

RSS 2019 – June 22-26, 2019 – Freiburg, Germany
Hamlyn Symposium on Medical Robotics – June 23-26, 2019 – London, U.K.
ETH Robotics Summer School – June 27-1, 2019 – Zurich, Switzerland
MARSS 2019 – July 1-5, 2019 – Helsinki, Finland
ICRES 2019 – July 29-30, 2019 – London, U.K.
DARPA SubT Tunnel Circuit – August 15-22, 2019 – Pittsburgh, Pa., USA

Let us know if you have suggestions for next week, and enjoy today’s videos.


iRobot Acquires Root Robotics to Boost STEM Education for Kids

Post Syndicated from Evan Ackerman original https://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/robotics-hardware/irobot-acquires-root-robotics-to-boost-stem-education-for-kids

Root promises to teach coding skills to children, starting as young as 4 years old

In 2016, Harvard’s Wyss Institute introduced Root, a robot designed as a practical tool for teaching kids how to code. Root had been under development at Harvard for a solid three years at that point, and after a massive $400,000 Kickstarter showed that they really had something, Root Robotics was spun out in 2017 to take the little coding robot commercial.

Today, iRobot is announcing the acquisition of Root Robotics, in order to “support iRobot’s plans to diversify its educational robot product offerings, further demonstrating its commitment to make robotic technology more accessible to educators, students and parents.” This makes a lot of sense for iRobot, which has historically been a big supporter of STEM education—National Robotics Week was pretty much their idea, after all. But iRobot itself only really had the iRobot Create and Create 2 to advance STEM education directly, and those robots are really not for beginners.

As of right now, iRobot is selling Root for $200, along with a companion app and integrated K-12 curriculum. We’ll take a quick look at everything this robot can do, and hear a bit from both iRobot CEO Colin Angle and Root Robotics co-founder Zee Dubrovsky on exactly what this new partnership means. 

Robot Fish Powered by Synthetic Blood Just Keeps Swimming

Post Syndicated from Evan Ackerman original https://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/robotics-hardware/robot-fish-synthetic-blood

A liquid battery that doubles as hydraulic fluid helps this robot swim for up to 36 hours

Living things are stupendously complicated, and when we make robots (even bio-inspired robots), we mostly just try and do the best we can to match the functionality of animals, rather than the details of their structure. One exception to this is hydraulic robots, which operate on the same principle as spiders do, by pumping pressurized fluid around to move limbs. This is more of a side effect than actual bio-inspiration, though, as spiders still beat robots in that they use their blood as both a hydraulic fluid and to do everything else that blood does, like transporting nutrients and oxygen where it’s needed.

In a paper published in Nature this week, researchers from Cornell and the University of Pennsylvania are presenting a robotic fish that uses synthetic blood pumped through an artificial circulatory system to provide both hydraulic power for muscles and a distributed source of electrical power. The system they came up with “combines the functions of hydraulic force transmission, actuation and energy storage into a single integrated design that geometrically increases the energy density of the robot to enable operation for long durations,” which sounds bloody amazing, doesn’t it?

Video Friday: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos Tries Dexterous Robot Hands

Post Syndicated from Evan Ackerman, Erico Guizzo and Fan Shi original https://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/robotics-hardware/video-friday-amazon-ceo-jeff-bezos-dexterous-robot-hands

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your Automaton bloggers. We’ll also be posting a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months; here’s what we have so far (send us your events):

RSS 2019 – June 22-26, 2019 – Freiburg, Germany
Hamlyn Symposium on Medical Robotics – June 23-26, 2019 – London, U.K.
ETH Robotics Summer School – June 27-1, 2019 – Zurich, Switzerland
MARSS 2019 – July 1-5, 2019 – Helsinki, Finland
ICRES 2019 – July 29-30, 2019 – London, U.K.

Let us know if you have suggestions for next week, and enjoy today’s videos.


T-RHex Is a Hexapod Robot With Microspines on Its Feet

Post Syndicated from Evan Ackerman original https://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/robotics-hardware/trhex-hexapod-robot-microspines

Tiny spikes allow this robot to climb its way up steep slopes and grip onto rough surfaces

In Aaron Johnson’s “Robot Design & Experimentation” class at CMU, teams of students have a semester to design and build an experimental robotic system based on a theme. For spring 2019, that theme was “Bioinspired Robotics,” which is definitely one of our favorite kinds of robotics—animals can do all kinds of crazy things, and it’s always a lot of fun watching robots try to match them. They almost never succeed, of course, but even basic imitation can lead to robots with some unique capabilities.

One of the projects from this year’s course, from Team ScienceParrot, is a new version of RHex called T-RHex (pronounced T-Rex, like the dinosaur). T-RHex comes with a tail, but more importantly, it has tiny tapered toes, which help it grip onto rough surfaces like bricks, wood, and concrete. It’s able to climb its way up very steep slopes, and hang from them, relying on its toes to keep itself from falling off.