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We're at IROS 2013 in Tokyo!

IROS 2013 started over the weekend here in Tokyo. We've set up camp at Tokyo Big Sight, an appropriately futuristic building out in Tokyo Bay. We checked out some workshops on Sunday, and today are the start of the technical sessions. Thirteen tracks take place at the same time, with back-to-back 15 minute presentations. Technical sessions run through Wednesday, with more workshops on Thursday, and iREX (the International Robot Exhibition) starts on Wednesday.

It's probably safe to say that there is more robot stuff going on in Tokyo right now than has ever taken place anywhere else, ever.

What we're going to do is bring you all of the most interesting new research that we possibly can, along with as much of iREX as we can cram into our cameras. It's not going to be physically possible to write and publish it all this week, so expect to see IROS and iREX news continuing for at least a week or two after we get back.

And with that, we're off!

[ IROS 2013 ]

Video Friday: Unstoppable Drones, Rock-Paper-Scissors Robot, and Nao Is a Chatterbox

This is it, folks. Tomorrow we head to Japan, and into the loving embrace of IROS (IEEE International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems) and iREX (International Robot Exhibition), from whence few ever return.

Well, I guess we should say that pretty much everybody does actually return, but that doesn't make it any less death-defying for your intrepid team of bloggers. We've got 153 sessions on our schedule for IROS alone, and iREX (which only happens every other year) is a big exciting unknown. Over the next week, we'll probably be on a weird schedule (whatever time zone you're in, Tokyo is probably the opposite of it), but keep checking back because we'll be putting up as much robotic amazingness as we possibly can without killing ourselves. Or maybe a little bit beyond that.

So yeah, definitely stick with us, because you won't want to miss anything that happens next week. And if you missed anything that happened this week, we'll get you all caught up courtesy of Video Friday.

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Humanoid Robot Demonstrates Sign Language

How do you say "robot" in sign language?

With the DARPA Robotics Challenge looming large on the horizon, it's easy to overlook robots that aren't taking part. One of them was Nino, a humanoid unveiled earlier this year by the National Taiwan University's Robotics Laboratory. Unlike the DARPA robots, Nino may not find itself performing tasks in dangerous situations any time soon. But this robot has some special skills: It is likely the first full-sized humanoid to demonstrate sign language.

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RoboBusiness 2013: A Robot to Carry Your Stuff

Sometimes all it takes to make something successful is a simple solution to a simple problem. At RoboBusiness 2013, Five Elements Robotics demonstrated prototypes of a little robot called Budgee that can follow you around while carrying your stuff for you. That's all it does, but that's all it needs to do to be pretty darn useful.

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Video Friday: Robokind on Kickstarter, Atlas Breaks an Ankle, and FirstLook Gets Armed

Please accept our profound apologies for not posting for the last few days: we've been working very very hard (we promise!) at RoboBusiness 2013, and next week we'll have some good stuff for you from the show. If you pay close attention, you may even see a few videos sneak in today, too. After next week comes the IEEE International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), when our posting schedule will probably get thrown out the window (in a good way!), as we bring you the latest robotics research live from Tokyo. But we're not there yet: first, we have to make it through two more Video Fridays.

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This Robot Mops and Vacuums Your Floors at the Same Time

Robots are all about taking things that humans don't like to do, and doing them faster and smarter and better. Or in reality, doing them slower and dumber and generally not quite as well, but doing them, so that we can spend our time on more important things like watching really really bad TV. What tends to be rare for robots is the capability to do something like a household task more efficiently than a human can, but Moneual seems to have pulled it off with a new robot that can vacuum and mop at the same time.

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Interview: Unbounded Robotics on Why UBR-1 Will Change Everything

Earlier today, Unbounded Robotics announced UBR-1, a $35,000 mobile manipulator. We spoke with the Unbounded Robotics team, including CEO Melonee Wise, CTO Michael Ferguson, lead systems engineer Derek King, and lead mechanical engineer Eric Diehr, about why their robot is so cheap, why it isn't, how it's going to make the world a better place, and why it only comes in orange.

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UBR-1 Robot From Unbounded Robotics Revolutionizes Affordable Mobile Manipulation

We've been following Unbounded Robotics, the final spin-off from Willow Garage, since we first learned of the company's existence back in April. Unbounded has been working in stealth mode for the past year, but our best guess was that they were developing a low-cost mobile manipulator for research and education: something like a PR2, except (we were hoping) significantly cheaper. Today, Unbounded is unveiling UBR-1, a shiny new human-scale one-armed robot designed to completely revolutionize the market for research and education robotics and beyond, for just a tiny fraction of the cost of similar platforms.

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Video Friday: Drone Delivery, Amphibious Quadrupeds, and Boyfriend Prank

Just to warn you, next week is going to be pretty crazy around here: it's RoboBusiness 2013, taking place in Santa Clara, Calif. We can promise you at least one major world debut at the show, and there are all kinds of other things going on, too: an expo, keynotes from industry and academia, and even some workshops and panels, including one being moderated by yours truly. If you happen to be at the show, make sure and stop by and randomly burst into cheers and applause. If you're not at the show, shame on you, and why haven't you moved to Silicon Valley already? Or turned yourself into a robot? And whether you're at the show or not, it's time to pre-game by pounding some Video Friday.

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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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