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Every Kid Needs One of These DIY Robotics Kits

Hummingbird Robot Kit

Robots are intimidating, and starting from scratch with them is hard, no matter what age you are. You usually have to learn both hardware and software at the same time to get a robot to do anything cool, and for people without a background in either of these things, surmounting that initial learning curve can be scary. BirdBrain Technologies, a spinoff from Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Institute, has just released a new DIY kit called Hummingbird that promises to make building a robot as easy (and affordable) as possible.

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Bio-Inspired Robot Legs Walk With Rhythm

No, these robotic legs aren't fooling anyone into thinking they're human, but researchers from the University of Arizona say that the legs are "the first to fully model walking in a biologically accurate manner" based on a bio-inspired combination of  neural architecture, musculoskeletal architecture, and sensory feedback.

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DARPA Wants Robots That Are 20X More Efficient, So Do We

This is the image that DARPA picked to represent this new program. We don't get it either.

We were slightly disappointed but not at all surprised to learn that DARPA's Robot Challenge platform will likely spend most of its time operating while tethered to a utility vehicle for power. Untethered, the best that performance that we could reasonably expect from an onboard power source might be ten or twenty minutes, which is the perfect amount of time to get about halfway through an important task before running out of juice. DARPA would prefer a robot that can operate for something like 200 minutes instead (!), so it's soliciting proposals for the development of some super efficient new actuation systems that can actually hit that number.

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Robots and Fireworks

Today is July fourth, when we here in the States celebrate the day that George Washington surrendered Fort Necessity to the French. Hrm, maybe that's not right... Are we celebrating the day that the French gave us the Statue of Liberty? No? Maybe it's celebrating the day that we bought the Louisiana territory from the French. Well, in any case, July fourth may or may not involve the French, but it definitely involves things exploding, so today we're going to check out a bunch of robots and fireworks.To start, that top pic is one of the orbs of Orb Swarm that someone decided to stick some fireworks in while it was rolling around at Burning Man.

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CMU's AndyVision Robot Is In Your Store, Doing Your Inventory

Underneath that color-coordinated hoodie is AndyVision, Carnegie Mellon's inventory assistance robot. It's programmed to take over the utter drudgery* of daily retail inventory, helping stores figure out what customers want and customers figure out how to get it.

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Sneak Peek: iRobot's Hall of Awesomeness

We know, we kind of bailed on you a little bit last week. We're sorry! But, it's only because we've been hard at work doing some old fashioned on-site reportin' on the ground in Boston, where we checked out iRobot, Boston Dynamics, and several robotics labs at MIT. So, look for some great stuff over the next couple weeks, but for now, you'll just have to make due with a few teaser pics from iRobot's Hall of Awesomeness.

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Shimi Musical Robot Unveiled at Google I/O

TovBot Shimi musical robot

We know Google loves robots. And we're not talking about Android. We mean real robots such as self-driving cars, cloud-based robots, and others that presumably remain under wraps. So it's not a surprise that Google invited a bunch of robots to its developers conference this week. One of them is Shimi, a smartphone-enabled musical robot developed at Georgia Tech and unveiled today at Google I/O.

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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:

Erico Guizzo
New York, N.Y.
Senior Writer
Evan Ackerman
Berkeley, Calif.
Jason Falconer
Angelica Lim
Tokyo, Japan

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