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Clearpath Robotics to Provide PR2 Support Through 2016

Ever since, um, stuff happened at Willow Garage about a year ago, there's been some question as to the fate of the 40 or so PR2s out there and those still in stock (yes, they're still for sale). It's not difficult to imagine that existing PR2 owners and prospective buyers want to be assured that support is available and will remain available for a reasonable period of time. If you're one of those people, good news: Canadian company Clearpath Robotics has been selected to provide PR2 support through 2016.

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New Beam+ Telepresence System Is Designed for Home Users, Launches for $995

At CES last week, we ventured deep inside Suitable Technologies booth to a secret room to meet their latest telepresence robot platform. It's called the Beam+, and while it does just about everything that the original Beam can do, this new Beam isn't designed for offices or conference settings—it was created to be used at home. An advanced robotic system for people's homes that is not a vacuum cleaner is pretty amazing news, but here's another reason to be excited: the first thousand Beam+ units are up for pre-order for the staggeringly low price of just US $995. 

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Parrot Unveils Jumping Robot and Wheeled Quadcopter [New Videos and Details]

A few years back, the French company Parrot decided that it would be sort of cool to start building robots. It's not like they were a robotics company: they mostly made Bluetooth stuff. And speakers. And some kind of fantastic headphones. But out of nowhere, Parrot came up with the AR.Drone, which they debuted at CES 2010. After four years (and two versions) it's still arguably the best, most affordable (and fun!) flying robot we've ever seen. And at CES this week, Parrot expanded its family of robots, with a miniaturized version of the AR.Drone plus a wheeled sumo robot that jumps.

We've always liked how Parrot manages to take some of the latest research-inspired technology and stuff it into its consumer robots. The two new robots sport some capabilities that, until now, we've only spotted in research labs. 

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The Greatest Myth About the Robotics Industry

This is a guest post. The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not represent positions of IEEE Spectrum or the IEEE.

Just over a year ago, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman wrote a much-discussed piece on the discrepancy between corporate profits and labor compensation. The column sparked a huge debate, and on the Times website alone readers left more than 1,300 comments. The part that interested me, however, wasn't the discussion on capital versus labor. What caught my attention was a comment Krugman made about robotics. He referred to it as a capital-intensive technology. It may not sound like a big deal. The problem is, it isn't true.

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CES 2014: Sphero 2B Robot Is Fast, Funky, and Fun

We know and love Orbotix for their magical Sphero robotic balls, which can roll themselves around without any external moving parts. It seems like just a few months ago (barely five months) that we met the second generation of their round robot, so we were more than a little bit surprised that when at CES this week, Orbotix decided to introduce a completely new, and completely different, rolling robotic toy: the Sphero 2B.

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Video Friday: Robot Cube, Drone Fight Club, and the Rest of 2013

Well, as you may have noticed, we took a little bit of a break over the last week or two. Hopefully you can agree (at least a little bit) that we earned it; after all, it takes time to recover from the massive sunburn and millions of mosquito bites that we suffered at the DRC

So now that we're back, and now that it's Friday, we've got a post full of videos to get you all caught up on the end of 2013.

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When Will We Have Robots To Help With Household Chores?

This is a guest post. The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not represent positions of IEEE Spectrum or the IEEE.

Google has recently been in the news for its buying spree of robotics companies. Many people are excited about this and believe that this will greatly accelerate robotics technology development and hopefully make robots ubiquitous in our lives. I hope that's true, and if so, the big question is: When will we be able to buy robots to help us with household chores?

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Video Friday: The Year in Robots

In 2013, we posted 282 articles on robotics. A lot of amazing stuff happened this year, and we did our best to cover absolutely all of it. But one of the downsides of posting as many articles as we do is that we're constantly forced to keep moving on to the latest thing, and it's too easy to forget what happened last month, last week, or even yesterday. With that in mind, we thought it would be nice to close out the year with a look back at some of our (entirely subjective) favorite stories and videos from 2013.

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Automaton

IEEE Spectrum's award-winning robotics blog, featuring news, articles, and videos on robots, humanoids, automation, artificial intelligence, and more.
Contact us:  e.guizzo@ieee.org

Editor
Erico Guizzo
New York, N.Y.
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Evan Ackerman
Berkeley, Calif.
 
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Jason Falconer
Canada
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Angelica Lim
Tokyo, Japan
 

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