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Beep Boop: Teaching Robots to Communicate Like R2-D2

It's easy to argue that R2-D2 from Star Wars has more personality than many robots twice its size, but without a face or limbs to speak of, where does it all come from? The answer, of course, is sound. Now U.K. researchers are trying to do the same with real robots, teaching them to communicate information and emotions to humans using beeps, boops, and squeaks.

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NASA's Project Morpheus Still Shooting for the Moon

nasa project morpheus moon lander

Project Morpheus used to be called Project M, and it was an ambitious plan to send a Robonaut to the moon in under 1,000 days by embracing efficiency and cooperation while avoiding bureaucracy as much as possible. We've been huge, huge fans of the project ever since its manager, Matt Ondler, defended the idea to a seemingly uninterested NASA in an impassioned blog post that ended with "we will continue to push back the darkness until they chain the doors and take away our hacksaws."

We were completely sold, of course.

That was back in July of 2010, and since then Robonaut has ended up on the International Space Station, and Project M has (for better or worse) morphed into Project Morpheus, a vehicle designed to transport a robot (or anything else) to the lunar surface. Just two days ago, Morpheus underwent a test firing of its brand new engine.

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Paleontologists Building Robot Dinos with 3D Printed Bones

Robots and dinosaurs have not, historically, had the greatest of relationships, but that doesn't mean we don't all secretly (or not so secretly) want our own robot dinos to cuddle, ride around on, and provide security. Paleontologists have decided that they're going to try to build themselves anatomically correct and fully functional robot dinosaurs to investigate how the animals moved, and definitely not to enact any sort of evil world domination scheme. They promise.

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Aldebaran Robotics Introduces Romeo, Finally

We've been wondering wherefore art thou Romeo ever since Aldebaran Robotics promised us a March 2011 unveil of their adult-size bipedal humanoid. Now, not quite a year behind schedule, we've got the first video look at what's in store.

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Real Fish Get Schooled By Robots

Fish, I guess, are not the smartest fish in the... Well, they're not that smart, let's go with that. Stefano Marras of the Institute for the Marine and Coastal Environment-National Research Council, in Torregrande, Italy, and Maurizio Porfiri of the Polytechnic Institute of New York University have convinced some golden shiners to follow a robotic fish in a schooling pattern.

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Sebastian Thrun Will Teach You How to Build Your Own Self-Driving Car, For Free

Last August, Sebastian Thrun, the brains behind Google's self-driving cars and one of the world's top AI experts, offered an online version of Stanford's Introduction to Artificial Intelligence course to absolutely anyone who wanted to take it, for free. It turned out to be just a little bit popular (over 150,000 students enrolled), and now Thrun is offering a new, totally free, seven-week online course called Programming a Robotic Car. I know, it sounds a little bit ambitious, but this is straight from the class FAQ:

Can I really learn how to build a self-driving car in 7 weeks?

Yes! In seven weeks, you will learn the basics of all the primary systems involved in programming a robotic car.


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Truss-Climbing Robot Can Build Structures, Take Them Apart

Next time you need a new house, Cornell's Creative Machines Lab is betting that robots might have a hand (or lack of hands) in helping you build it. Like other climbing bots we've seen before, their "autonomous truss-structure modifying robot" is capable of clambering around three-dimensional structures, but with a twist: The robot can add and remove bits and pieces as it goes.

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