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Here's That Extra Pair of Robot Arms You've Always Wanted

Supernumerary Robotic Limbs (SRLs) are robotic limbs that, when worn, give you more limbs than you'd normally have. In other words, they're not robotic limbs designed to replace biological limbs that you might be missing, but rather robotic limbs designed to augment the number of limbs that you have already.

MIT researchers have been developing SRLs that can help you do stuff that would be annoying, uncomfortable, or impossible to do on your own. Today at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) in Hong Kong, they presented their latest SRL prototypes, with one model featuring a pair of limbs that spring from your shoulders and another with limbs that extend from your waist.

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Video Friday: Inflatable Robots, Walk Again Project, and Nao at School

Evan is back! Sort of. Let's say he's 40 percent back. As I write this, he's in his pajamas in a Hong Kong hotel, getting ready for an insane week of robotics at ICRA, which officially kicks off on Monday. But being the awesome dude he is, he still helped me put together today's Video Friday post. Here we go!

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Researchers Build Fast Running Robot Inspired by Velociraptor

UPDATE May 30 1:09 pm EST: The KAIST folks tell me Raptor momentarily achieved 48 km/h, but they decided to use 46 km/h as its official top speed because that's the speed the robot can run in a completely stable manner. And there appears to be some conflicting reports on whether Cheetah's top speed is 45.5 km/h or 47 km/h (I contacted Boston Dynamics trying to clarify but haven't heard back). So given the uncertainties involved, we're declaring this a tie. At least until we can have our robot race!

Researchers have long been interested in fast-running robots with powerful, agile legs. In particular, several groups have focused on bio-inspired designs based on cheetahs.

But when a team at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) set out to create a new sprinting robot, they didn't look at big cats; instead, they found inspiration in a completely different kind of creature: a velociraptor.

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Telemba Turns Your Old Roomba and Tablet Into a Telepresence Robot

Meet Telemba, which its creators say is the "world's cheapest telepresence robot."

Like other telepresence robots, Telemba works as your robotic body at a remote location: using a computer, you can drive Telemba around and interact with people remotely. You see what the robot sees, and you can attend meetings or just hang out with friends.

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This Quadrotor Uses Google's Project Tango to Fly Autonomously

Early this year, Google unveiled its Project Tango smartphone, a mobile device equipped with a depth sensor, a motion tracking camera, and two vision processors that let the phone track its position in space and create 3D maps in real time. The device is particularly useful for robots, which have to navigate and locate themselves in the world. Indeed, a video showed how Google and its partners were putting the smartphone on different kinds of robots, including mobile platforms and manipulator arms.

Now researchers at the University of Pennsylvania led by Professor Vijay Kumar are taking things one step further. After getting a Tango device from Google, they put it on one of their quadrotors and let it loose inside their lab.

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Japanese Researchers Building Robots That Sweat and Have Goosebumps

In a recent TED talk, Swiss magician Marco Tempest, who's performed tricks using robots, said that "besides the faces and bodies we give our robots, we cannot read their intentions, and that makes us nervous. When someone hands an object to you, you can read intention in their eyes, their face, their body language. That's not true of the robot."

Now Japanese researchers want to change that. They say that a big problem with today's robots is that we don’t know what’s going on inside their heads. Robots that have facial expressions and are capable of gesticulating can help us feel more at ease interacting with them, but the researchers want to go one step further: They want to build robots with some of the same involuntary physiological reactions that we humans have, such as sweating when we feel anxious or getting goosebumps when we're scared.

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Hobbyist Group Flies Drone Over World's Tallest Building

Team BlackSheep is back with another of its dubiously legal but undoubtedly epic aerial drone videos. This time they have their camera-enabled quadrotor shooting some spectacular footage in the skies of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

The video includes a high altitude view of the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world at 829.8 meters (2,722 feet). And by "high altitude view" we mean, holy sheep, the drone flies above the antenna atop the building. To get an idea of how tall this thing is, consider that you have to stack two Empire State Buildings to get one Burj Khalifa!

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Video Friday: Fast Running Robot, Nao Debates an Ape, and Hall of Fame

Happy belated Video Friday! We're running late today, and this is totally, completely Evan's fault. Evan, if you're reading this, dude, who said you could go on vacation and take time off from the blog? Wait a minute. Er, now I remember, you told me about your vacation like a month ago, and I agreed to keep things going until you return. Alright. Just come back soon. We're scrambling here, man. Please.

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

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

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