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Toshiba Unveils Robot for Disaster Response

Toshiba Quadruped Robot for Disaster Response

Robots played a key role in assessing damage and radiation levels at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, crippled by the massive earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan more than a year ago. But so far all the robots relied on tracks to navigate inside the reactors, in addition to aerial vehicles used to observe the site from above. None of the robots had legs. Now Toshiba is about to change that. The company announced yesterday that it plans to send a quadruped robot to the disaster site. Is this Japan's answer to BigDog?

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HEARBO Robot Has Superhearing

We live in a world of sounds, full of beautiful music, birds chirping, and the voices of our friends. It's a rich cacophony, with blaring beeps, accented alarms, and knock-knock jokes. The sound of a door opening can alert us to a friend's arrival, and a door slamming can alert us to an impending argument.

HEARBO (HEAR-ing roBOt) is a robot developed at Honda Research Institute–Japan (HRI-JP), and its job is to understand this world of sound, in a field called Computational Auditory Scene Analysis.

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Robot Mirrors Our Emotions To Be More Social



We all have that friend: The one who understandingly pats us on the back when we feel down, or shares our excitement when we're brimming with joy. They share our frowns when we've been wronged, and say "I've been there" when we confess our worries. Psychologists have long known that this kind of empathy is an important social construct for building relationships, and now researchers are testing whether it can bring us closer to robots, too.

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Where Are the Elder Care Robots?

Robot & Frank
A scene from the movie "Robot & Frank."

In this guest post, Frank Tobe, a robotics analyst and publisher of The Robot Report, describes the technologies that are beginning to come to market to help the elderly live in their homes as long as possible.

In 2003, BusinessWeek interviewed Joseph Engelberger, the robotics pioneer who helped invent the first industrial robot. The article was entitled "How Robots Lost Their Way." Included in the story was a plea for money to build an eldercare robot that Engelberger thought could be built with then-current technologies, rented for $600 per month, operated at a cost of $1.25 per hour (compared to healthcare homeworkers who cost around $15 per hour) and developed at a cost of less than $700,000.

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Somehow, an Incredible Robotic Dragonfly is Now on Indiegogo

Well, if you didn't already spend all of your pocket money on one of those NanoQ quadrotors, here's something that you'll want to blow the rest of it on: a robotic dragonfly that manages to be nearly as impressive as just about every other bio-inspired micro flying robot that we've ever seen, except somehow, this one is up for pre-order on Indiegogo for just a couple hundred bucks.

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Algorithms Allow MAVs to Avoid Obstacles with Single Camera and Neuromorphic Hardware

Yesterday, we posted about some dirt cheap micro air vehicles on Kickstarter. Cheap hardware is great, but to make it do cool stuff, you usually need expensive (or at least, very clever) software. Researchers at Cornell have come up with a way to enable robotic aircraft to navigate around outdoor obstacles using just a single camera and hardware that mimics neuron architecture.

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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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