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This Robot Can Somehow Jump on Water

The crazier parts of the scientific community have long declared anything that can walk on water to be possessed by black magic, lizards and bugs included. But black magic or no, roboticists at the Harbin Institute of Technology in China have managed to make it work on a robotic insect that, in addition to walking on water, can also jump.

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XRL Hexapod Robot Gets a Tail, Learns to Use It

In January, we wrote about some spectacular research from UC Berkeley exploring what happens when you give a little wheeled robot a controllable tail, like a lizard. As it turns out, robots with tails can fly through the air while maintaining their orientation, and now other robotic platforms are testing out this technique, thanks to a collaboration between UC Berkeley and the University of Pennsylvania.

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Video Friday: The CIA's Declassified Robotic Spy Critters

Yeah, we've got other videos for you this week too, but how often do you get to see footage of ex-super-secret robotic fish and bugs that we'd be impressed by if we saw them today even though they were invented decades ago? Never, that's how often, except for today.

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Robot-Installed Solar Panels Cut Costs by 50%

Solar panels are obeying the will of Moore's Law by getting ever cheaper and more efficient. What's not getting cheaper or more efficient is the human labor required to install them. This keeps the cost of going solar higher than us duck-squeezing envirinmintl types would like, but robots are busy coming to our rescue by setting up solar power plants much cheaper and much, much faster.

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Roboray Uses Bioengineering to Conquer the Deep

Bioroboticists at the University of Virginia have built themselves a robotic cow-nosed ray. Why? Because they can. Also, because rays are great at what they do, and if we can copy all their tricks to make better underwater robots, we absolutely should.

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iRobot and InTouch Health Announce RP-VITA Telemedicine Robot

Ever since iRobot announced its Healthcare Robotics division in 2009, we've been speculating about what the company would come up with. Our first guess was a telepresence platform (based on the ConnectR), but when we met Ava in January of 2011, that healthcare-telepresence idea got super-sized. A year ago this week, iRobot partnered with InTouch Health to "revolutionize how people communicate and deliver information through remote presence," and now it's looking like our prediction was pretty darn close, as iRobot and InTouch are today officially unveiling the RP-VITA, an Ava-based telemedicine platform for hospitals. We spoke with InTouch chairman and CEO Yulun Wang along with iRobot senior VP Glen Weinstein to get you all the details.

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Custom Japanese Hobby Robot Somersaults with Servo Tentacles

Straight from Japan comes this robot called "Metallic Vaio 2012," which has a style of locomotion that we've never seen before. Instead of using arms or legs, it's got a sort of combination of both: two long tentacles made out of chains of servos that it uses to crawl around and rapidly somersault from place to place.

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Video Friday: Pretending to Learn Things at Stanford, Emys Likes Colors, and a Girlfriend for Robonaut

Robonaut would be a pretty desirable dude to date. Good looks, steady job, big muscles, what more could a lady robot want? To make this love story happen, we just need to send a lady robot into space, and AILA could be the one. Look for the feature film (Cooperative Microgravitic Manipulation: a Romance) to premiere on Video Friday just as soon as we can make it happen, but for this week, you'll just have to suffer through what amounts to a teaser trailer instead. But don't worry, it's not all disappointment... That's the beauty of Video Friday: it's a simultaneous microcosm of everything that is right and wrong with the universe. And while you're thinking that one through, enjoy this week's vids.

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Video Tour: All of iRobot's Coolest Stuff

A week or two ago we promised you some incredible video from deep inside iRobot's super secret volcano lair, and today, we're delivering. We've got 25 awesome minutes of Nancy Dussault Smith, vice president of marketing communications at iRobot, giving us a personal tour of the company's museum, with artifacts ranging from Colin Angle's first robot all the way to experimental projects that never made it into production.

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Robot Eyes Track Ping Pong Balls

ishikawa super fast camera robot

Professor Masatoshi Ishikawa from the University of Tokyo writes in to point us to their latest video. It shows their 1,000-frames-per-second camera using a pan-tilt system to track a ping pong ball. The device is so fast it can always keep the ball in the center of the frame. 

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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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