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Researchers, Hobbyists Developing Flying Grasping Robots

Last week, we brought you a bunch of different videos of aerial grasping robots, including robots from DARPA, UPenn, and Yale. Perhaps in response (or just because it's really freakin' cool), we've had a couple people write in with flying grasping robots of their own, including researchers from University of Twente in the Netherlands, and a scruffy-looking hobbyist from Trossen Robotics.

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DARPA LS3 Robot Mule Learns New Tricks, Loves a Mud Bath

We heard back in September that the LS3 quadruped robot had gotten some nifty upgrades and was undergoing field trials with the military, and we've just gotten an update about how that's all been going. Short answer: quite well, but for a longer answer, we talked to DARPA. After the jump, we've got lots of good info for you as well as some some brand new video from the testing program, which includes LS3 doing an accidental barrel roll down a hill into a mud puddle.

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Reminder: One Reason Why Robotics Is Very, Very Important

We've been posting a lot recently about military robotics, and having discussions about whether or not we should be scared of robots with weapons. One of the points that I made was that whatever we think of the military's pronounced interest in robots, it does end up paying for all kinds of things, and here is one amazing example that's funded by DARPA (among others): a 7 DoF brain-controlled robotic arm and hand that has allowed this woman take a bite of chocolate unassisted for the first time in a decade.

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2012 Robot Gift Guide

'Holiday Robots' by Aimee Wilder; buy her fantastic artwork here.

Whatever holiday you celebrate, this season is all about family gettin' stuff from other people. Unfortunately, we don't usually get to decide what stuff that is. So if you want a robot, you have two options: option one is to send this gift guide to everyone you know with your top three choices highlighted and dire threats upon receipt of anything else. Option two is to use the guide yourself, buy whatever robot(s) you want for the least appropriate member of your immediate family, and then offer to "help" them with it.

In either case, we've put together this list of twelve robots that any serious (or not so) roboticist would love to add to their collection. Enjoy!

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Video Friday: Hubo and Valves, UAVs and Lasers, and One Very Lucky Parrot

Yes. It's Friday again. You've made it to the end of yet another week, and that's earned you a Video Friday that's all about robots. We know, if it wasn't for Video Friday, you'd just give up on your job and your friends and your family and move to Mongolia, where you'd spend your time designing robots out of twigs and grass that can operate on nothing more than the pungent power of fermented yak's milk. As much as we love Mongolia (and we really do love Mongolia), we wouldn't want that to happen to you, which is why we provide Video Friday as a service to your sanity and well-being. No need to thank us, it's just part of our job.

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Man Puts (Paintball) Gun on Quadrotor, But Don't Panic

Well, it's barely been a week, but here's another video about armed drones for you. This one just happens to be about an inexpensive and accessible DIY drone with a paintball gun on it, as presented by some dude in an utterly ridiculous costume and an almost painful excess of drama who's doing his level best to convince you that you should be terrified.

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Google Grant to Help WWF Monitor Endangered Species with Drones

Photo: Helge Denker/WWF

Google has announced that it is awarding a US $5 million grant to the World Wildlife Fund to help the organization buy, among other things, drones. The drones will be used to keep track and protect tigers, rhinos, and elephants in Africa and Asia.

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Good Ideas: DARPA Program Adds Giant Robot Arm to UAV

Hey, you know what would be cool? Mounting a giant frikkin' robot arm on a giant frikkin' UAV. And since overall coolness seems to be the #1 criteria that DARPA uses to decide whether or not to pay someone a bunch of money to get a robot to do something (we heartily approve of this), we now have a giant frikkin' robot arm on a giant frikkin' UAV. Thanks, DARPA, and you're welcome, universe.

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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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