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Video Friday: Tofu Squishing, UAV Tricks, and Robots with Too Many Legs

There is most definitely such a thing as too many legs. I get two. I understand four. Even six makes sense. But let's not get crazy, you know? Because however capable a whole bunch of legs might make a robot, its creepiness factor just goes up exponentially. I mean, forget that whole human-like Uncanny Valley thing, let's just go easy on the legs, okay?

Or, you can pull a Harvard, and just totally ignore that with all of your scuttling little insect robots that are probably crawling up your leg right now. Make sure and thoroughly squish all of them, and then wash your hands and come back for the rest of Video Friday.

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Robots Hallucinate Humans to Aid in Object Recognition

Almost exactly a year ago, we posted about how Ashutosh Saxena's lab at Cornell was teaching robots to use their "imaginations" to try to picture how a human would want a room organized. The research was successful, with algorithms that used hallucinated humans (which are the best sort of humans) to influence the placement of objects performing significantly better than other methods. Cool stuff indeed, and now comes the next step: labeling 3D point-clouds obtained from RGB-D sensors by leveraging contextual hallucinated people.

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CMU's Zoe Robot Resumes Search for Life on Earth

Earth. Is there any life here? Nobody knows for sure, although Carl Sagan used the Galileo spacecraft to make an educated guess of "yes" back in 1993. Finding life on planets is a tricky business, as evidenced by the fact that we've so far completely struck out everywhere except our own backyard. It's going to take some practice to figure out where and how to look, which is why a robot named Zoë is heading back to the Atacama Desert in Chile.

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Disposable Drones Will Collect Data by Surfing Along with Hurricanes

Hurricanes are generally things that robots, humans, and everything else try to avoid. It's hard to study something, though, if you're constantly getting out of its way. There are some aircraft that are specifically designed for hurricane study, but they're big and expensive, and since they're stuffed full of humans, they can't do anything particularly risky. Such dangerous tasks are best left to robots, like this chubby little guy from the University of Florida.

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Is Anki the Hottest Robotics Company You've Never Heard Of?

Watching the live stream of Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) on Monday, I nearly fell off my chair when Apple CEO Tim Cook called on stage a company that, he said, is using the iOS platform "to bring artificial intelligence and robotics into our daily lives." What?! Did I just hear the word robotics come out of Tim Cook's mouth? And what company could this be?

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This Robot Wants to Beat You at Air Hockey

When it comes to playing games against robots, the future doesn't look too bright for us humans. Machines will likely beat us, or are already beating us, at soccer, ping pong, chess, Go, baseball, basketball, rock-paper-scissorsiPhone games, and, of course, Jeopardy. Now add air hockey to the list.

Japanese researchers at Chiba University's Namiki Lab have developed an air-hockey robot that is skillful enough to compete against human players. It's not the first air-hockey robot developed, but the team led by Professor Akio Namiki has upped the ante: their robot changes its strategy based on its human opponent's playing style.

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Video: Drones, Quadrupeds, Humanoids, and More Robots From ICRA 2013

We saw lots of robots at 2013 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA). Like, seriously, lots of robots. Seriously. For real. This year's event had the largest exhibition hall (with the most real robots) that we've ever seen, and a lot of the interactive presentations featured real robots as well. We got as much of it on video and in pictures as we could, and smushed everything together in a fabulous montage and gallery, just for you.

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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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