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What Robot Behavior Makes People Feel Uncomfortable?

A few years ago, I met one of the previous versions of the REEM robot. REEM was taller and broader than me, and its big, black eyes tracked me as I moved. When I shifted, its stare followed. It watched me with target-locked precision, like a laser into my soul. 

I've been working with robots for over eight years now, and REEM was certainly beautifully designed. But something was bugging me about its behavior, and now researchers know what it is.

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Festo's Newest Robot Is a Hopping Bionic Kangaroo

Every year, Festo comes up with innovative and fantastical new robot designs as part of its "Bionic Learning Network," which seeks to use "principles from nature to provide inspiration for technical applications." In practice, this means developing all kinds of spectacular robotic animals, including this absolutely amazing flying seagull.

For the last few years, Festo has been secretly working in their sprawling German laboratory lair on their most ambitious bioinspired robot yet: an unstoppable (we assume) hopping robotic kangaroo.

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Disney Research Pixelbots Tell the Story of the Universe

Disclaimer: today is April 1. This post is not an April Fool's joke, because we're curmudgeonly old-school journalists who don't go in for those kinds of shenanigans, and robotics news is interesting enough all by itself. Thank you for your attention.

Three years ago at ICRA in Shanghai, Disney Research presented a prototype for an artistic robot swarm. The swarm was made up of lots of little wheeled robots with LEDs, each of which acted as an individual mobile pixel in a dynamic image made entirely of robots. Disney and ETH Zurich have been refining this idea, developing both software and hardware and adding more robots to the mix. At the ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction earlier this month, the latest version of this Display Swarm, now called Pixelbots, reenacted the story of the Universe.

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Robots Bring Couple Together, Engagement Ensues

He is the director of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab and a co-founder of Coursera. She is a surgical roboticist at Johns Hopkins University and is involved in a new robot start-up.

In 2009, the two researchers, Andrew Ng and Carol Reiley, met at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation in Kobe, Japan, and, as Carol puts it, "sparks flew."

Today they've decided to announce their engagement here on IEEE Spectrum, and it only seemed natural to do it with a robot-themed photo shoot. 

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$20 Robot From MIT Wins AFRON Design Challenge

Robots, as anyone who has ever attempted to build or buy or fix a robot knows, tend to be expensive. This presents a problem for people who want to start learning about robotics, because getting a foot in the door with an actual robot to work on generally involves a substantial up-front investment in hardware. And for places where teachers and students don't have huge piles of money to throw at technology, this can mean that robots just don't happen.

The African Robotics Network (AFRON) and IEEE Robotics and Automation Society (RAS) collectively sponsor a biennial design challenge to "collaboratively create an educational robot that is an order of magnitude less expensive than existing products, to inspire young people around the world." For 2013/2014, MIT took home a win with their MIT SEG robot, a 3D-printed, Arduino-based wheeled robot that can be built for $20 in five steps with no training or tools.

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Video Friday: Squishy Quadrupeds, Fotokite Drone, and Robots From the 1990s

This is your final warning: National Robotics Week in the United States is coming up fast, starting next Saturday. Why are we giving you a warning? Ever since the U.S. House of Representatives passed resolution H.Res. 1055, officially designating the second full week in April as National Robotics Week, anyone who doesn't celebrate said week will heretoforethereby be hung, drawn, quartered, burned at the stake, thrown into a pond, fined, jailed, and given a stern talking to reminding them how great robots are and how it's their moral, ethical, and patriotic duty to celebrate robots in all of their glory.

Now that you've been made aware of the consequences, if you live in the U.S., it's time to find your nearest NRW event (there's 200 of them, covering all 50 states) and start rearranging your life so that you can get there and participate. And if planning your life around robotics sounds crazy to you, then, well, you're probably reading the wrong blog, because it's what we do every Thursday night to make sure that you have a tasty stack of videos waiting for you on Friday.

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RoboWow: A Home Robot That Does Everything?

Today is not April 1. I mention this because you should consider the following video in an April 1st context. That is to say, what you are about to see is not real.

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Robotic Clams and Horseshoe Crabs Take on Surf, Sand, and Mud

It's always a little weird when we see a completely novel sort of robot, like a robotic clam, and then in the same week, we see another completely novel sort of robot, like a robotic horseshoe crab, that is somehow closely related: in this case, they're both bioinspired aquatic robots, a very specific category. I mean, that sort of coincidence is weird, right? But it happened. So let's meet these things.

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Cybathalon 2016: A Competition for Augmented Humans

human os iconThe Olympic Games are a competition for the fittest and most talented able-bodied humans on Earth. The Paralympic Games are a competition for the fittest and most talented humans on Earth with physical and intellectual disabilities. To compete, paralympians take advantage of assistive systems, some of which are becoming increasingly cybernetic, combining traditional prosthetics with robotics. ETH Zurich and the Swiss National Competence Center of Research in Robotics have an idea of where we can take this.

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SCHAFT Staying in DARPA Robotics Challenge, More Teams Joining DRC Finals

After the DARPA Robotics Challenge Trials ended last December and Team SCHAFT emerged victorious, there was a rumor going around that Google, which had acquired SCHAFT just months earlier, wasn't going to allow the team to remain in the competition. Some observers speculated that Google was apparently reluctant to accept funding from DARPA and establish ties with the U.S. military (DARPA is an agency of the Department of Defense). Today, DARPA announced that, contrary to the rumor, SCHAFT is staying in the DRC.

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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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