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Stanford-Berkeley Robotics Symposium 2013

At the end of last week, we got up way too early and made the trek up to the University of California, Berkeley for the first annual Stanford-Berkeley Robotics Symposium. If you've spent much time in the San Francisco Bay Area, you know that there's an occasionally good-natured rivalry between Berkeley and Stanford, but this symposium was meant to transcend all of that and create a new era of Bay-spanning cooperation, friendship, and hugs. Besides the hugs (I didn't see any hugs), they may have pulled it off, and we've got a rundown of some of the presentations plus videos of the entire event.

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Study Reveals Chimpanzees' Curiosity about Robots

The interactions between animals and robots is always fascinating, and generally, the more intelligent the animal, the more interesting the interaction. Researchers at the University of Portsmouth tried giving chimpanzees a robotic doll to see how they'd react, and the result was strikingly similar to humans.

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Robo Raven Flies on Solar Power

In theory, solar power is a great way to keep robots running indefinitely. And it's absolutely possible to do it, provided your robot doesn't need to do anything urgently, you have a ludicrously powerful light source, or your robot is very efficient and spends a lot of time in the sun. That last category has potential for solar powered micro air vehicles, including the University of Maryland's Robo Raven, which has just gotten kitted out with solar panel wings.

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SenseFly and Drone Adventures Toss UAVs Off the Summit of Matterhorn

Earlier this year, senseFly took to the Alps to demonstrate how their eBee drones could be deployed from the middle of a ski slope (or just about anywhere else) to autonomously create high resolution 2D and 3D maps while you sit around sipping hot chocolate. I guess maybe they figured that it looked just a little bit too easy, because senseFly has teamed up with Drone Adventures to autonomously map the entire Matterhorn mountain on the border between Switzerland and Italy (an area of 28 square kilometers) using a handful of eBees in less than a day.

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Video Friday: Return of the Robot Ape, Anki Drive Battle Mode, and Why We Love Robots

Enjoy these lighthearted and fun robotics videos while you can, because we're slowly but surely creeping up on IROS and IREX. As of November third, it's going to be all serious business, as we embrace insanity by attempting to bring you one of the world's largest research robotics conferences and the world's largest robot exhibition at the same time. We have just three more Fridays to psych ourselves up for this task, but it's not quite time to panic just yet, so let's start things off with today with a nice, friendly robot ape.

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Russian Robonaut to Travel to Space Station Within Two Years

At a space industry conference last week, Russian officials announced that their version of Robonaut, the SAR-400, is currently undergoing testing at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre Research Institute, and will be making its way to the International Space Station (ISS) within just a few years.

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ExoMars Rover Starts Autonomous Fields Trials in Chile

Robots are pros at exploring space, because they're well-suited for all of the things that make space travel bad for humans: it's dull, it's dirty (in terms of radiation, anyway), and it's very, very dangerous. And, you know, the whole absence of air and water and food and warmth and all that stuff, too. NASA has had some incredible success sending robots to Mars in particular, and the European Space Agency (ESA) is preparing to send its own rover to the red planet in 2018. Before it gets there, however, it has to learn how to drive itself around, which is why it's first going to spend some time in Chile.

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UAV Concept: Mother Hen and Friendly Chicks

One of the more interesting concepts we saw at the AUVSI show this year (and possibly just ran across while we were sorting through our piles of conference swag) was this UAV, from Canadian company Eqquera. Called the SQ-EQQ, it consists of a "mother hen" autonomous delta-wing jet-thing that can deploy "friendly chick" sub-UAVs to conduct missions all by themselves.

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MIT Deploys Swarm of Self-Assembling Robot Cubes

We started to get just a little bit nervous last spring, when Daniela Rus and Kyle Gilpin from MIT introduced something called "smart sand." Smart sand was a pile of tiny little robotic cubes endowed with the capability of autonomously replicating any 2D shape that you poured them over. The only reason we're not all robots right now (we're pretty sure we're not, anyway) is that smart sand couldn't move by itself: you had to shake it around a bunch to get it to do anything. For some reason, MIT has decided to remove that safety feature by developing a version of smart sand THAT CAN MOVE ALL BY ITSELF.

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Video Friday: Boston Dynamics Updates, DASH Can Turn, and Inflatable Beer Bot

One of the (many, many, many) highlights of Video Friday this week are a trio of new videos from Boston Dynamics. The best one features WildCat, a brand new and totally awesome untethered quadruped that runs at 25 km/h (16 mph) outdoors.

In fact, it was so awesome, that we gave it its own article. So if you're one of those people who only stops by to read Video Friday (you know who you are), you'd better click here to check it out. And if you're one of those much smarter and better looking people who loyally read the entire site multiple times every day while telling everyone you meet how great it is, then congrats, you've already seen WildCat, and we can get on with the rest of the videos. Hooray!

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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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