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Bizarre Soft Robots Evolve to Run

This crazy looking thing is a simulated robot, made up of two different kinds of muscles along with bones and soft tissue for structure. This robot wasn't designed, it was evolved over a thousand virtual generations to move as fast, as far, and as functionally as possible.

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Japanese Robot SCHAFT Shows Off Its Strong Limbs

Despite the popular notion, propagated by Hollywood and the media, that humanity should fear its extermination at the hands of evil humanoid robots with superhuman strength, the reality is that the electric motors used to power most robots aren't very powerful at all. Famous examples like Honda's ASIMO are only capable of lifting a few kilograms, and most other adult-size robots could be described as having one-tenth the strength of the average person. So much for Terminator and the rise of the machines!

But now a Japanese startup, SCHAFT Inc., has announced a breakthrough in motor technology that may bypass the limitations of existing systems. The company, a spin-off of the University of Tokyo's Jouhou System Kougaku (JSK) Laboratory, has developed—and patented—a new kind of actuator that may make robotic muscles much stronger. Gulp.

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This Humanoid Robot Gets Pushed Around But Stays on Its Feet

Most humanoid robots developed over the past few decades have had stiff joints, and that's a problem if they're ever going to interact with people. Their unyielding arms and legs could injury a person if they accidentally whack someone, or if they lose balance and fall down. Lately there's been a growing interest in developing robotic joints with variable stiffness, which would improve their safety, but so far few groups have built a complete robot. Now a team from the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT) is approaching that goal with their robot COMAN (COmpliant huMANoid).

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Robot Ants Blaze Trails with Pheromones of Light

Insects are masters of the swarm. Bugs like bees and termites and ants manage to do all sorts of complicated and productive things, despite the fact that on an individual level, each insect is really not that smart. The manifestation of complex behaviors from simple systems is appealing to roboticists who otherwise have to try to figure out all kinds of complicated localization and navigation tricks all by themselves. Researchers from the New Jersey Institute of Technology, in Newark, and at the Research Centre on Animal Cognition, in Toulouse, France, are using swarms of ant-like robots to efficiently navigate networks without any sort of cleverness at all.

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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.
Contact us:  e.guizzo@ieee.org

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Erico Guizzo
 
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Evan Ackerman
 
 
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