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Opportunity Rover Fires Up Engines, Starts Another Year Exploring Mars

This picture shows the spot that the Opportunity Mars rover has been sitting on for the last 19 weeks doing its level best to try not to starve to death from lack of solar power. Or I guess, unlevel best, since she was stuck on that little outcropping (called Greely Haven) to keep her solar panels oriented more directly at the sun. But now, the sun is high enough in the sky for Oppy to get her roll on, and she snapped this pic looking backwards after a 3-meter drive into unexplored terrain.

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Open Source Robotics Foundation Officially Announced

Last month, we broke the news that DARPA had decided to award the contract to produce a standard simulation environment for its Humanoid Challenge to the Open Source Robotics Foundation, which nobody had really ever heard of. Notably, we're just getting a press release today that the OSRF has been officially formed or launched or spun off or what have you, and we now have details on the board of directors (which includes some very big names) as well as a bit more information about how everything is going to work.

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Redwood Robotics Brings Big Names to Next Gen Robot Arms

Last Thursday, tech website Xconomy hosted a forum on "The Future of Robotics in Silicon Valley and Beyond." We were there, of course, and so were a lot of other famous robotics people, including Aaron Edsinger of Meka Robotics, who had an announcement to make: an entirely new company called Redwood Robotics, a joint venture between Meka Robotics, Willow Garage, and SRI International.

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Video Friday: Robot Termites, Dust Puppies, and Serious Social Issues

Phew, we made it to another Video Friday! That "phew" is because it's been a busy few weeks in the world of robots, and we've still got ICRA to look forward to in Minnesota starting in just 10 days followed directly by both ROSCon and Maker Faire.

If there have been just too many robotics events for you to keep up with, we feel your pain, and we've started up a Google Calendar to try and keep track of everything. We've literally just started it, but you can subscribe to it (the link is in the column over on the right) and as we add events, they'll show up. Shoot us an email if you've got an event you'd like us to stick on there, too.

Meanwhile, on with the videos! Huzzah!

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sFly Quadrotors Navigate Outdoors All By Themselves

Quadrotors are famous for being able to pull all sorts of crazy stunts, but inevitably, somewhere in the background of the amazing video footage of said crazy stunts you'll notice the baleful red glow of a Vicon motion tracking system. Now, we don't want to call this cheating or anything, but we're certainly looking forward to the day when quadrotors can do this outside of a lab, and the sFly project is helping to make this happen.

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Herb Learns to Microwave Frozen Dinners, Robot Research Can Stop Now

Herb, the Home Exploring Robot Butler, has been hard at work at Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Institute learning how to be, well, a home exploring robot butler. Siddhartha Srinivasa's group has effectively ended robotics research as we know it by teaching Herb to microwave frozen food. Yep, that's it, no more funding, no more papers, no more conferences: robots can now do everything we could ever want.

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African Project Aims To Innovate in Educational Robotics

AFRON African Robotics Network
A student programs a LEGO Mindstorms robot during a class at Ashesi University in Ghana.

Abibiman mma a wɔn anigye robot ho, yɛnkambom!

That's how you say, "African robot enthusiasts unite!" in Twi, one the main native languages in Ghana, a vibrant nation of 25 million people in West Africa.

Roboticists there and in the United States are launching today an initiative to enhance robotics education, research, and industry in Africa. The African Robotics Network (AFRON) wants to mobilize a community of institutions and individuals working on robotics-related areas, strengthening communication and collaboration among them.

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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

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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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