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Bat Wing Robot Helping Us Figure Out Why Bats Are Awesome

Bats are awesome. At least, roboticists think so, and for good reason: bats are spectacular fliers, and we've got a lot to learn from them. Problem is, bats are bats, and bats, being bats, are more interested in catching and eating a bellyfull of bugs than sitting still while biologists fiddle with high speed cameras and X-ray machines and whatnot. The solution, as always, is a robot.

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Meet Pneupard, Osaka University's Air-Powered Cheetah Robot

Roboticists around the world are in the process of reverse engineering the anatomical construction of cheetahs and other cats in an attempt to develop faster and more agile legged robots. The latest project, dubbed the Pneupard, hails from Osaka University. Although still early in development, the new biomimetic platform stands out from some of the others through its use of pneumatic artificial muscles as its primary means of locomotion.

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Watch This 'Sprawl-Tuned' Insect Bot Skitter All Over The Place

This little guy just showed up on UC Berkeley's Biomimetic Millisystems Lab YouTube channel. It's called STAR, for Sprawl-Tuned Autonomous Robot, a six legged skittery thing just 12 cm in size that can adapt its limbs and its gait to zip over and under obstacles.

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Here Are The (Rumored) Specs for the Next Generation Kinect Sensor

PrimeSense may be busy making its next-gen sensor smaller and not more powerful, but Microsoft isn't looking to stuff Kinect into mobile devices. The next generation Kinect is going to be an integral part of Microsoft's next gaming console, (widely expected to be released at E3 in June), and there's a rumor that it will come with some beefed-up specs, which we've got for you in a nice handy table. Will it make your robot better, smarter, and faster? Well, maybe.

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DFKI's Space Rovers and Hexapods Will Team Up on Other Planets

Why send just one robot into space when you could send two robots into space instead? We did it with Spirit and Opportunity, and that worked out great is mostly still working out great. It would have been working out even better, though, if we'd let Spirit and Oppy get each other's backs and team up to do some extra exploring. That's the idea that DFKI Bremen has been testing with its pair of space robots: a four wheeled rover named SHERPA and a hexapod named CREX.

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UK Unveils 'Affordable' Self-Driving RobotCar

At this point, seeing robot cars pop up at places like CES is getting less and less surprising and more and more frustrating as we think about just how many hurdles these vehicles have to drive over before we'll actually get to start using them. Don't get me wrong, there's been substantial progress, but when researchers say things like "hey we can make a car autonomous for $150"—as U.K. researchers said about their recently unveiled RobotCar project —it's time to get excited (and frustrated) all over again.

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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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