Automaton iconAutomaton

A crappy (and edible) robot from Hebocon Valencia.

Hebocon: The Best Worst Robot Competition

Most of the robot competitions we cover are serious business. Roboticists spend months (or years) and thousands (or millions) of dollars building and programming their robots to navigate through simulated disaster areas, solve complicated tasks that most people don’t really understand, or just beat the stuffing out of each other.

Building the best robot you can is difficult and stressful. You know what isn’t difficult or stressful? Building the worst robot you can, and then seeing if it can manage to be even more terrible than a bunch of other robots trying to do the same thing. This is Hebocon, and we love it.

Read More
DragonflEye Cyborg Drone

DragonflEye Project Wants to Turn Insects Into Cyborg Drones

As hard as we’re trying, it’s going to be a very long time before we’re able to build a robotic insect that’s anywhere near as capable or versatile as a real one. So for now, we rely on a cybernetics approach to get real insects to do our bidding instead. Over the past several years researchers have managed to steer large insects using electrical implants, a sort of brute-force method with limited real-world usefulness.

Now engineers at the R&D company Draper, based in Cambridge, Mass., are hoping to overcome those limitations by creating a cybernetic dragonfly that combines “miniaturized navigation, synthetic biology, and neurotechnology.” To steer the dragonflies, the Draper engineers are developing a way of genetically modifying the nervous system of the insects so they can respond to pulses of light. Once they get it to work, this approach, known as optogenetic stimulation, could enable dragonflies to carry payloads or conduct surveillance, or even help honey bees become better pollinators.

Read More
Bots_Alive autonomous interactive critter.

Bots_Alive Brings Sophisticated Brains to Cheap Robots

How do you make a robot toy that’s both interesting and affordable? It’s a hard problem: Making an interesting robot means giving it intelligence and creative autonomy, and giving a robot intelligence and creative autonomy is generally not compatible with it also being cheap. At CES a few weeks ago, we were introduced to Bots_Alive, a small company of roboticists who have managed to develop a robotic critter with a carefully thought-out animal-like personality. And by hacking an existing robot toy and using your phone as a brain, they’re ready to sell it to you for 35 bucks.

Read More
Boston Dynamics' SpotMini robots

Video Friday: Boston Dynamics Robots in VR, NASA Rovers, and Valkyrie Package Delivery

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your Automaton bloggers. We’ll also be posting a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next two months; here’s what we have so far (send us your events!):

RoboBusiness Europe – April 20-21, 2017 – Delft, Netherlands
NASA SRC Virtual Competition – June 12-16, 2017 – Online

Let us know if you have suggestions for next week, and enjoy today’s videos.


Read More
Neurala's AI system can identify pedestrians, cars, cyclists, and trucks in real time.

Deep Learning AI for NASA Powers Earth Robots

Massimiliano “Max” Versace traces the birth date of his startup to when NASA came knocking in 2010. The U.S. space agency had caught wind of his military-funded Boston University research on making software for a brain-inspired microprocessor through an IEEE Spectrum article, and wanted to see if Versace and his colleagues could help develop a software controller for robotic rovers that could autonomously explore Mars.

Read More
Drone aerodynamics study by NASA Ames Research Center

Video Friday: Drone Aerodynamics, Spy Monkey, and Brain-Controlled Robot

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your Automaton bloggers. We’ll also be posting a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next two months; here’s what we have so far (send us your events!):

RoboBusiness Europe – April 20-21, 2017 – Delft, Netherlands
NASA SRC Virtual Competition – June 12-16, 2017 – Online

Let us know if you have suggestions for next week, and enjoy today’s videos.


Read More
Mykie, Bosch's Little Robotic Elf for Your Kitchen

Mykie: Bosch's Little Robotic Elf for Your Kitchen

At CES last week, one of the major themes was connectivity. Absolutely everything was covered in sensors and connected to the Internet with some sort of app, even if it wasn’t obvious why you’d ever need it to be.

Kitchen appliances were no exception, and Bosch announced both a connected fridge and a connected oven. While an oven that you can control remotely and a fridge that knows what’s inside it are handy enough by themselves, the whole point of a kitchen is to use the food you have in combination with the necessary appliances to create tasty and nutritious meals. Mykie is a little countertop robot that Bosch developed in order to help tie your kitchen hardware together to recipes to make cooking easy and fun.

Read More
Falling poker chips

Meet the New AI Challenging Human Poker Pros

In 2015, several of the world’s top poker players faced down a supercomputer-powered artificial intelligence named Claudico during a grueling 80,000 hands of no-limit Texas Hold’em. Beginning tomorrow, a rematch of humans versus AI will test whether humanity can hold its own against an even more capable challenger.

Read More
ROS Kinetic Kame is the tenth distribution release of ROS, the Robot Operating System.

Celebrating 9 Years of ROS, the Robot Operating System

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.

Last year we celebrated nine years old of ROS, the Robot Operating System! Through these years ROS has grown into a strong world-wide community. It’s a community with a large variety of interests: from academic researchers to robotic product developers as well as the many robot users. Academic use of ROS continues to grow. Citations of the first ROS paper, “ROS: An Open-Source Robot Operating System,” has grown to 2,871.

Read More
Emys robot head

Video Friday: Expressive Robot, Luke Arm, and Cyborg Moth

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your Automaton bloggers. We’ll also be posting a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next two months; here's what we have so far (send us your events!):

RoboBusiness Europe – April 20-21, 2017 – Delft, Netherlands
NASA SRC Virtual Competition – June 12-16, 2017 – Online

Let us know if you have suggestions for next week, and enjoy today's videos.


Read More
Advertisement

Automaton

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

Editor
Erico Guizzo
Senior Writer
Evan Ackerman
 

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up for the Automaton newsletter and get biweekly updates about robotics, automation, and AI, all delivered directly to your inbox.

Load More