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Poll Shows Concern About Drones and Domestic Surveillance

With a few arguably strange exceptions, nobody likes being spied on, and when you hear the phrase "domestic surveillance," for better or worse being surveiled upon comes to mind. It's unfortunate that the recent accessibility of unmanned aircraft has gotten drones wrapped up in all of this paranoia legitimate concern, and a new poll from Monmouth University shows that people are definitely worried about law enforcement using camera-equipped drones.

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Video Friday: Knife-Edge Maneuvering, Adopt a Husky Robot, and the X-37B Is Back

Next week, Automaton will be heading to Boston, New York, and Washington D.C. to check out some robots and not take any vacation time at all. We'll be posting as normal (or trying to), but if you've got any red hot East Coast robot tips, definitely let us know

Meanwhile, the highlight of this week's Video Friday comes from MIT, where they're teaching UAVs to slalom through obstacles like birds can. It's all about navigation in cluttered environments, and you'll have to see it to believe it.

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Cornell Teaching Robots to Use Their Imaginations When Organizing Your Stuff

Robots are already capable of using known relationships to organize objects in a home or office, but those relationships are between objects themselves, not objects and humans. This is a problem, since most of the stuff that needs to be organized in homes and offices is designed to be structured in such a way that humans can interact with it. Ashutosh Saxena's lab at Cornell is teaching robots to use their imaginations a little bit, to try and picture how we'd want them to organize our lives.

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Heartland Robotics Now Rethink Robotics, Still Developing Mystery Industrial Robot

We still don't know a heck of a lot about what Heartland Robotics is up to out there in its stealthy Boston lair, but we do know a bunch more today than we did yesterday. For starters, Heartland has changed its name to "Rethink Robotics," in order to "better represent the breadth and impact of [its] vision," and the new website and press release helps to refine with that vision actually is.


Far be it from us to just quote giant pieces from a press release, but, well, we're just gonna quote giant pieces from the press release because this is more or less as much info as we've got on what Heartland Rethink is planning:

Rethink Robotics is developing a new generation of robots to improve productivity in manufacturing environments. The robots will be intuitive to use, capable of autonomously sensing and adapting to their environment, versatile, and flexible. They’ll be easy to buy, train, and deploy and will be much less expensive than traditional industrial robots.
Rethink Robotics products will reflect the company’s new vision of a much more broadly adopted automation approach that will do for manufacturing workers what the PC did for office workers—increase their productivity by giving them direct access to technological tools.
“Just as businesses had to completely rethink ways to use computers when the PC was first introduced, they will want to take advantage of opportunities created by this new class of robot,” said Rod Brooks, chairman, founder, and CTO of Rethink Robotics. “With our robots, businesses will have the opportunity to rethink manufacturing, rethink automation, and rethink outsourcing.”
Rethink Robotics today announced that it had secured $30 million in Series C financing [bringing its total funding to $57 million]. The funds will be used to launch the company’s new robot product, begin development of new product lines, and expand sales, marketing, and services operations.

We also learned from the press release that the robot will be announced later this year. We're not sure exactly when, but it's definitely going to be before 2013. Stay tuned!

[ Rethink Robotics ] via [ ]


EPFL Developing Connectors for Modular Floating Robots

This is an artistic rendering of a project that's being developed at EPFL (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne). The Laboratory of Intelligent Systems (LIS) is working on a robot (yes, that's totally a robot) made up of soft, floating modules that connect to each other through electroadhesion.

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Video Friday: UAVs Delivering Packages, More Sushi Than You Can Possibly Eat, and RoboCup Outtakes

THIS WEEK: Will robots help a human graffiti the side of a building? Will Northrop Grumman make one of the most overblown UAV promo videos ever? Will a Darwin-OP headbutt a robot that may or may not be Italian in a RoboCup blooper reel? The answer to all of these questions is "why would we be asking if we didn't have all of this stuff queued up and ready to show you," so check out Video Friday after the break.

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Grishin Robotics Has $25 Million to Invest in Robot Startups

Robotics today is like the Internet in the 1990s: Fuel it with the right combination of technology, people, and money, and it will explode into a formidable new industry that will profoundly reshape people’s lives.

That’s the view of Dmitry Grishin [pictured above], a Russian Internet entrepreneur who made his fortune as a co-founder of Mail.Ru Group, one of Russia’s largest tech companies. Now he has his sights set on robots. Grishin is launching today a New York City-based investment company that has $25 million to inject into robotics startups. His goal is to take robotics beyond factories and labs and bring robots to the masses.

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AirBurr MAV Can Now Self-Right, Is Utterly Unstoppable

In October of 2009, we wrote about the very first version of EPFL's AirBurr micro air vehicle, called HoverMouse. It was an innovative design: a roll cage protected the MAV's engine and flight surfaces, enabling it to crash into walls and floors without damage and then take off again, provided it had enough room to get airborne. Seven iterations later, the AirBurr V8 Samurai includes an active self-righting mechanism that allows it to crash and take off again even in rugged and cluttered environments.

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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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