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Herb Learns to Microwave Frozen Dinners, Robot Research Can Stop Now

Herb, the Home Exploring Robot Butler, has been hard at work at Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Institute learning how to be, well, a home exploring robot butler. Siddhartha Srinivasa's group has effectively ended robotics research as we know it by teaching Herb to microwave frozen food. Yep, that's it, no more funding, no more papers, no more conferences: robots can now do everything we could ever want.

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African Project Aims To Innovate in Educational Robotics

AFRON African Robotics Network
A student programs a LEGO Mindstorms robot during a class at Ashesi University in Ghana.

Abibiman mma a wɔn anigye robot ho, yɛnkambom!

That's how you say, "African robot enthusiasts unite!" in Twi, one the main native languages in Ghana, a vibrant nation of 25 million people in West Africa.

Roboticists there and in the United States are launching today an initiative to enhance robotics education, research, and industry in Africa. The African Robotics Network (AFRON) wants to mobilize a community of institutions and individuals working on robotics-related areas, strengthening communication and collaboration among them.

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Do Kids Care If Their Robot Friend Gets Stuffed Into a Closet?

"Please don't put me in the closet," cries the robot.

Last week, we wrote about a study that looked at whether humans attribute moral accountability and emotions to robots. This week, we've got a study from the same group, the Human Interaction With Nature and Technological Systems Lab (HINTS) at the University of Washington, that takes a look at what kind of relationships children are likely to form with social robot platforms, and it involves forcing their new robot friend into a dark, lonely closet.

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Video Friday: Festo's ExoHand, Russian Robonaut, and Hugvie the Huggable Robot

Festo ExoHand

It's Friday, and as we do most Fridays, it's time to deliver a horse doctor's dose of robot videos straight into your skull. Not that your brain didn't get a healthy amount of robotic juice this week: On Wednesday we had clips showing a robot purposefully cheating and deceiving humans (all in the name of science), and yesterday you saw robots shooting plastic pellets and mini rockets at each other (all in the name of fun). But we're not done, and today we bring you robot videos featuring hands, humanoids, and hugs.

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Study Shows That Humans Attribute Moral Accountability to Robots

"I'm sorry, but I never make mistakes like that," says the robot, informing you that you've lost the game and won't get the prize. How would you react if you knew the robot was actually wrong?

The Human Interaction With Nature and Technological Systems (HINTS) Lab at the University of Washington, in Seattle, recently published two large studies exploring whether humans view robots as moral entities, conceptualizing them as possessing things like emotional and social attributes to them as opposed to thinking of them simply as sophisticated tools. Here's what they've found.

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RoboGames 2012: Mech Warfare Post-Game Preview

We spent all of last weekend at RoboGames, and have emerged battered, bruised, and sporting several shiny new robot-related minor injuries. I spent most of yesterday going through robot withdrawal, not so much from an excess of weekend robotitude (although there definitely was that), but mostly due to the accidental inhalation of copious amounts of whatever is that comes out of burning battery packs and fried speed controllers. But, being a professional journalist and all that (!), I'm managed to pull myself together enough for this little teaser gallery of the 2012 Mech Warfare competition, featuring a brand new arena that many of you helped make possible.

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RoboGames Starts Today!


Today is officially the first day of RoboGames, and if you're reading this blog and are anywhere near San Francisco, there's really no excuse not to go. Robots will be competing in approximately five million different events, ranging from heavyweight combat to micromouse maze solving to autonomous firefighting to hardcore Mech Warfare. Oh, and there will be a symposium, too, and you really shouldn't miss that, especially if you like watching certain robot bloggers act all nervous and awkward-like while attempting to give a talk. Ahem.

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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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