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iRobot Introduces New Looj, Updated Roombas

Just in time for the gutter cleaning season (that's a season, right?), iRobot has come out with an updated version of their gutter cleaning robot, the Looj. The Looj 3 is designed to keep you from having to do dull and dirty work, and in best iRobot fashion, it's also designed to take over something dangerous, making it less likely that you'll fall off a ladder and kill yourself.

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Double Robotics Taking on Telepresence with Mobile iPad Base

Doing robotic telepresence is tricky. It's one of those things that sounds good on paper (you can virtually be anywhere, whee!), but when it comes to getting people to plunk down a pile of cash for the hardware, going commercial with the concept has proven to be more or less impossible outside of some very specific circumstances. Double Robotics, a startup out of Y Combinator, is taking a shot at the telepresence space with a slick new iPad-based platform called Double.

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Video Friday: Scary UAVs, Friendly Exoskeletons, and Cheetah Gets a Tail

Curiosity self-portrait. Larger version here.

It's been a huge week for robots. Hopefully, you were able to follow along with us at JPL while we watched Curiosity land, and the landing, while arguably the most exciting part, is just the beginning of the awesomeness that we're expecting to come from the robot as it starts exploring Mars. We'll keep bringing you updates (albeit at a slightly less frantic pace) as Curiosity starts to drive around, and we're already planning a trip back to JPL to learn more about her autonomous capabilities.

Meanwhile, we've been neglecting some other robots a little bit since we've been covering Mars 24/7, so let's get caught up on everything else that's been going on with today's Video Friday.

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Curiosity Lifts Up Its Head

And it's up! Curiosity has lifted up the mast containing its main navigational cameras and has snapped this view of the rim of Gale Crater (Curiosity's landing site) using the rover's right Navcam.

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'Crime Scene' Photo Shows Curiosity Landing Site

curiosity rover crime scene landing site

Yesterday we saw one of the most spectacular space photographs ever taken: A view of Curiosity and its supersonic parachute descending through the Martian atmosphere. That's right: NASA not only put a robot on Mars but also took a picture of the thing as it was landing.

The photo was taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) and unveiled by Sarah Milkovich, investigation scientist with MRO's High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera. Today Milkovich unveiled another fascinating HiRISE photo, showing what she called the "crime scene" of the landing site.

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First Color Image from Curiosity in Descent Phase [UPDATE 2: VIDEO]

We've been expecting to see an image from the Mars Descent Imager (MARDI) sometime today (that would be, Sol 1 for Curiosity on Mars), and here it is, more amazing than we could ever have imagined. You're seeing one single low resolution thumbnail from a video looking straight down that MARDI recorded between the time that the heat shield detached and the time that Curiosity touched down, showing the shield dropping away from Curiosity as she heads for the surface. And there's more.

[UPDATE: NOW WITH VIDEO!]

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Curiosity Hazcam Images May Show Crater Rim, Slopes of Mt. Sharp [UPDATED]

 The green diamond in this image represents JPL's current best guess as to Curiosity's landing spot on Mars, with the landing ellipse in blue. The green shaded areas (estimated by IEEE Spectrum) represent the field of view of Curiosity's Hazcams.

Last night, there was some speculation about just what exactly was visible on the horizon in the first Hazcam pics from Curiosity. After some additional late-night (or rather, early morning) analysis, the MSL team has some guesses about what we're looking at, along with an estimate of Curiosity's position on the surface. In other words: we now know approximately where the rover is, as well as which way she's facing, which makes what we're seeing in the Hazcam images [UPDATE: check out a brand new front Hazcam image below!] that much more amazing.

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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:  e.guizzo@ieee.org

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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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