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Robot Roaches With Tiny Magnetic Winch Cooperate to Scale Steps

In a world full of things that are much, much bigger than they are, insects manage to do pretty well with getting around. Some of the most successful insects are the social and cooperative ones, like ants, which can do incredible things such as using their bodies to create structures to get themselves across rivers.

In Ron Fearing’s lab at UC Berkeley, Carlos Casarez was inspired by behaviors like these to modify some VelociRoACHes to help each other climb up and over obstacles with the aid of an adorable little magnetic tether system.

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NASA's Valkyrie Humanoid Upgraded, Delivered to Robotics Labs in U.S. and Europe

It’s always exciting when a new robot arrives in your lab. Usually, the more expensive the robot is, the more exciting it is. With the possible exception of Boston Dynamics’ ATLAS, NASA’s Valkyrie has got to be one of the most expensive humanoid robots ever made, and last year, NASA promised to give away (or, at least, lend) three of them to universities in the hope that Valkyrie will learn some new skills.

Within the last few weeks, the University of Massachusetts Lowell, which teamed up with Northeastern University in Boston, Mass., took delivery of their fancy new robot, as did MIT and the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. We talked to Holly Yanco at UMass Lowell and Taskin Padir at Northeastern, along with Sethu Vijayakumar and Maurice Fallon at Edinburgh,  and Russ Tedrake at MIT, about what it’s like to have a smokin’ hot space robot show up on your doorstep in a bunch of pieces. We also asked them what they’ve told NASA that they’re going to do with it, and what they actually plan to do with it. NASA, you will be happy to hear that these last two things are only slightly different.

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Google's Project Wing Needs More Moonshot

Okay Google, I give up. I honestly have no idea what you’re trying to “moonshot” with Project Wing. A couple of weeks ago, X, the experimental technology lab that is part of Alphabet, Google’s parent company, posted a new video about their delivery drone effort that, if anything, manages to make things look less exciting.

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Video Friday: iCub Does Yoga, Wooden Walking Robot, and Wind Tunnel for Drones

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

International Collaborative Robots Workshop – May 3-4, 2016 – Boston, Mass., USA
ICARSC 2016 – May 4-6, 2016 – Bragança, Portugal
Robotica 2016 – May 4-8, 2016 – Bragança, Portugal
ARMS 2016 – May 9-13, 2016 – Singapore
National Manufacturing Week – May 11-13, 2016 – Sydney, Australia
ICRA 2016 – May 16-21, 2016 – Stockholm, Sweden
NASA Robotic Mining Competition – May 18-20, 2016 – NASA KSC, Fla., USA
Skolkovo Robotics Conference – May 20, 2016 – Skolkovo, Russia
Innorobo 2016 – May 24-26, 2016 – Paris, France
RoboCity16 – May 26-27, 2016 – Madrid, Spain
RoboBusiness Europe – June 1-3, 2016 – Odense, Denmark
Dynamic Walking 2016 – June 4-7, 2016 – Holland, Mich., USA
IEEE RAS MRSSS 2016 – June 6-10, 2016 – Singapore
CR-HRI – June 6-10, 2016 – Orlando, Fla., USA
NASA SRRC Level 1 – June 6-11, 2016 – Worcester, Mass., USA
Field Robot Event – June 14-18, 2016 – Haßfurt, Germany
RSS 2016 – June 18-22, 2016 – Ann Arbor, Mich., USA
European Land Robot Trial – June 20-24, 2016 – Eggendorf, Austria
Automatica 2016 – June 21-25, 2016 – Munich, Germany
ISR 2016 – June 21-22, 2016 – Munich, Germany
UK Robotics Week – June 25-1, 2016 – United Kingdom
Hamlyn Symposium on Medical Robotics – June 25-28, 2016 – London, England


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


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Stanford's Humanoid Diving Robot Takes on Undersea Archaeology and Coral Reefs

If you were in the audience for Oussama Khatib’s IROS keynote in Hamburg last year, you may remember him talking about this crazy thing:

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We, of course, cornered Oussama immediately afterwards, because humanoid robotic submarine what?! It turned out that OceanOne, as it was called, was involved in a top secret (or something) project in collaboration with the French, which has (now that it’s over and wasn’t a disaster) been un-topsecretified so we can finally, finally tell you about it.

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Video Friday: Snakebot Swimming, Robots and Duckies, and Giant Eyeball Blimp

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your venomous 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!):

FIRST Robotics Championship – April 27-30, 2016 – St. Louis, Missouri
International Collaborative Robots Workshop – May 3-4, 2016 – Boston, Mass., USA
ICARSC 2016 – May 4-6, 2016 – Bragança, Portugal
Robotica 2016 – May 4-8, 2016 – Bragança, Portugal
ARMS 2016 – May 9-13, 2016 – Singapore
ICRA 2016 – May 16-21, 2016 – Stockholm, Sweden
NASA Robotic Mining Competition – May 18-20, 2016 – NASA KSC, Fla., USA
Skolkovo Robotics Conference – May 20, 2016 – Skolkovo, Russia
Innorobo 2016 – May 24-26, 2016 – Paris, France
RoboCity16 – May 26-27, 2016 – Madrid, Spain
RoboBusiness Europe – June 1-3, 2016 – Odense, Denmark
IEEE RAS MRSSS 2016 – June 6-10, 2016 – Singapore
CR-HRI – June 6-10, 2016 – Orlando, Fla., USA
NASA SRRC Level 1 – June 6-11, 2016 – Worcester, Mass., USA
Field Robot Event – June 14-18, 2016 – Haßfurt, Germany
RSS 2016 – June 18-22, 2016 – Ann Arbor, Mich., USA
European Land Robot Trial – June 20-24, 2016 – Eggendorf, Austria
Automatica 2016 – June 21-25, 2016 – Munich, Germany
ISR 2016 – June 21-22, 2016 – Munich, Germany
UK National Robotics Week – June 25-1, 2016 – United Kingdom
TAROS 2016 – June 28-30, 2016 – Sheffield, United Kingdom
RoboCup 2016 – June 30-4, 2016 – Leipzig, Germany
Amazon Picking Challenge – June 30-4, 2016 – Leipzig, Germany
IEEE AIM 2016 – July 12-15, 2016 – Banff, Canada
DLMC 2016 – July 13-15, 2016 – Zurich, Switzerland
MARSS 2016 – July 18-22, 2016 – Paris, France


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


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Dmitry Grishin Doubles Down on Robotics With New $100 Million Fund

Nearly four years ago, Dmitry Grishin launched a US $25 million fund to invest exclusively in consumer robots. Grishin, the co-founder, chairman, and CEO of Mail.ru, the Russian Internet giant, believed that robotics was going to be one of the next big technology revolutions, and he was willing to put his money where his mouth was.

Now the Russian investor is ready to double down on his vision. Or actually double double down. Grishin Robotics has recently announced a second fund four times as large as the original one. The new $100 million fund will seek Series A and B deals and expand its focus to include startups in markets like connected devices, collaborative and material-handling robots, AI and data analytics, and industrial Internet of Things.

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Robot Arm Helps You 3D Print By "Guided Hand"

As cool as those handheld 3D printing pens are, you have to have some amount of talent (or at least practice) in order to make anything that’s much more recognizable than a mangled three-dimensional squiggle. A proper 3D printer is basically one of those 3D printing pens stapled to a robot that can move it in three axes and do a much better job making things that look nice and function well, but it doesn’t allow for much artistic participation from you. For some people, that’s the point, but if you’d like to be more directly involved, Yeliz Karadayi’s thesis project, called “Guided Hand,” is a 3D printing pen with a haptic interface that helps keep you from screwing things up too badly.

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Video Friday: MIT Mini Cheetah, Jibo Sound Localization, and BB-8 Meets Mars Rover

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your low-cost 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!):

NASA Swarmathon – April 18-22, 2016 – NASA KSC, Fla., USA
LEO Robotics Congress – April 21, 2016 – Eindhoven, Netherlands
FIRST Robotics Championship – April 27-30, 2016 – St. Louis, Missouri
International Collaborative Robots Workshop – May 3-4, 2016 – Boston, Mass., USA
ICARSC 2016 – May 4-6, 2016 – Bragança, Portugal
Robotica 2016 – May 4-8, 2016 – Bragança, Portugal
ARMS 2016 – May 9-13, 2016 – Singapore
ICRA 2016 – May 16-21, 2016 – Stockholm, Sweden
NASA Robotic Mining Competition – May 18-20, 2016 – NASA KSC, Fla., USA
Skolkovo Robotics Conference – May 20, 2016 – Skolkovo, Russia
Innorobo 2016 – May 24-26, 2016 – Paris, France
RoboCity16 – May 26-27, 2016 – Madrid, Spain
RoboBusiness Europe – June 1-3, 2016 – Odense, Denmark
IEEE RAS MRSSS 2016 – June 6-10, 2016 – Singapore
CR-HRI – June 6-10, 2016 – Orlando, Fla., USA
NASA SRRC Level 1 – June 6-11, 2016 – Worcester, Mass., USA
Field Robot Event – June 14-18, 2016 – Haßfurt, Germany
RSS 2016 – June 18-22, 2016 – Ann Arbor, Mich., USA
European Land Robot Trial – June 20-24, 2016 – Eggendorf, Austria
Automatica 2016 – June 21-25, 2016 – Munich, Germany
ISR 2016 – June 21-22, 2016 – Munich, Germany
UK National Robotics Week – June 25-1, 2016 – United Kingdom
TAROS 2016 – June 28-30, 2016 – Sheffield, United Kingdom
RoboCup 2016 – June 30-4, 2016 – Leipzig, Germany
Amazon Picking Challenge – June 30-4, 2016 – Leipzig, Germany
IEEE AIM 2016 – July 12-15, 2016 – Banff, Canada
DLMC 2016 – July 13-15, 2016 – Zurich, Switzerland


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


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Autonomous Weapons "Could Be Developed for Use Within Years," Says Arms-Control Group

A United Nations meeting this week in Geneva is debating the future of autonomous weapons—the controversial weapons systems capable of selecting and engaging targets without human intervention. Delegates from about 90 countries are discussing the far-reaching technical, legal, and ethical questions that these robotic weapons raise, and at the end of the week-long meeting they hope to agree on what to do next.

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IEEE Spectrum's award-winning robotics blog, featuring news, articles, and videos on robots, humanoids, drones, automation, artificial intelligence, and more.
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