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Rethink Robotics Opens Up Baxter Robot For Researchers

Rodney Brooks, founder and CTO of Rethink Robotics, revealed a number of surprising things when Evan and I visited the company last year, just before it unveiled its Baxter industrial robot to the world. There was the robot itself, of course, designed to be safe, versatile, easy to program, and incredibly inexpensive—the opposite of what traditional industrial robots are. Its humanoid features were also a bit unexpected—a factory robot with a friendly face!

But another thing that surprised us was the company's emphasis on software. Rethink doesn't want to be just a robot maker. It wants Baxter to be a platform that anyone can use to improve on existing applications as well as develop completely new ones. To achieve that, Rethink needs to open up its technology, and last week the company announced a major step in that direction: a version of Baxter designed for researchers.

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What Roboticists Can Learn From Art, and What Artists Can Learn From Robots

You walk into the brightly lit space, and a delicate-looking plaster statue catches your eye. She has a peaceful expression, and is dressed in a modest gown with puffy shoulders and a broad skirt. Her arms stay close to her body, but the palms of her hands face gently forward, as if asking for something. As you approach, she suddenly glides forward to meet you. Her name is Diamandini, and she's a robotic statue.

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Meet IXI-Play, the Dancing Robot Bird Kids Will Love

Kids these days! Why, back when I was a kid we had to use, you know, our imaginations when playing with toys. Now, thanks to robotics, toys can spring to life and react intelligently to a child's input. The latest example of that is IXI-Play, an owl-like robot that can dance, make sounds, and interact with children.

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Cheetah-Cub Quadruped Robot Learns to Walk, Trot Using Gait Patterns from Real Animal

The rising interest in quadrupeds over the past few years has led to the development of several exciting new projects based on Cheetahs. One such robot is Cheetah-Cub, a compliant quadruped developed at the Biorobotics lab at the EPFL, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne. To put Cheetah-Cub in motion, the EPFL group teamed up with researchers from the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT), who have recently managed to transfer horse-like locomotion to the robot.

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Video Friday: Angry Romibos, Rockets in Flight, and Real Dogs Dropping Robot Snakes

This time next week, we'll be making our way from touring robotics labs in Switzerland up to Karlsruhe in Germany for ICRA, followed by a weekend in Stuttgart for ROSCon. But that's next week, and it's not next week yet, it's this week. So while we frantically start packing (how many pairs of underwear does one generally need for two weeks in Europe?), help yourself to some Video Friday.

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FIRST and NI Announce New Robot Controller: Smaller, Faster, Super Rugged

FIRST, the popular robotics competition created by Dean Kamen to foster science and engineering, is known to attract thousands of high school students who organize into teams to build robots that can drive around autonomously and shoot balls and discs to score points. Now the teams are getting a new controller that will let them design robots that are even faster, smarter, and stronger.

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Beware the Unstoppable Robot Turtle

What are the odds of us having two articles this week about robotic turtles? As of today, it's 100 percent, thanks to this robotic baby sea turtle, um, thing. It's called Flipperbot, and it's designed to help biologists figure out how animals with flippers move in sand, and to help roboticists figure out how to get robots with flippers to do the same.

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IEEE Spectrum's award-winning robotics blog, featuring news, articles, and videos on robots, humanoids, drones, automation, artificial intelligence, and more.
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