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Robot Film Festival Highlights

The second annual Robot Film Festival convened this weekend, with fans and even few bots in attendance. Heather Knight, creator of the performing robot Data and Marilyn Monrobot, founded the festival. This year kicked off with a screening of the Sundance Film Festival winner Robot and Frank, which will hit theaters in the United States in August. An afternoon jam packed with short robot films followed, complete with a robot red carpet—featuring International Robotics' Millennia—and the evening’s awards, the Botskers. 

The short films, and a few robot commercials, are all posted on the festival's site. 

NASA Testing Rover to Prospect for Water on the Moon

This prototype lunar rover is carrying a payload called RESOLVE, which (in one of the least-strained NASA acronyms I've ever heard) stands for Regolith and Environment Science and Oxygen and Lunar Volatiles Extraction. RESOLVE is "the next step in lunar exploration." designed to prospect for sources of water that might make a permanent lunar outpost possible.

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Multi-stage Micro Rockets for Robotic Insects

You know you've found something good when you can take a headline straight out of a research paper and slap it right onto a blog article. Multi-stage micro rockets and flying robotic insects! Can it get any more awesome?

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Video Friday: Nao Boogies Down, Snakebots Climb Up, and Skippy Throws Rocks

Snakebot attacks human, film at 11. Or, right now.

Yes, we've made it through yet another week of awesome robot news, and you've made it through yet another week of reading awesome robot news. Congratulations to us both! To celebrate, here are a bunch of videos, since, you know, it's Video Friday and all. W00t!

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UAV Battery Packs Could Allow Electric Planes To Fly Forever

It's hard to beat the energy density of gasoline. You have to go with either compressed hydrogen, something nuclear, or antimatter. This is bad news for everything that runs on electricity, which includes all of our gadgets, electric cars, and (much more recently) electric aircraft. In order to make electric aircraft viable, a creative solution is necessary, and it doesn't get much more creative than autonomous midair recharging from giant flying UAV battery packs.

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Every Kid Needs One of These DIY Robotics Kits

Hummingbird Robot Kit

Robots are intimidating, and starting from scratch with them is hard, no matter what age you are. You usually have to learn both hardware and software at the same time to get a robot to do anything cool, and for people without a background in either of these things, surmounting that initial learning curve can be scary. BirdBrain Technologies, a spinoff from Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Institute, has just released a new DIY kit called Hummingbird that promises to make building a robot as easy (and affordable) as possible.

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Bio-Inspired Robot Legs Walk With Rhythm

No, these robotic legs aren't fooling anyone into thinking they're human, but researchers from the University of Arizona say that the legs are "the first to fully model walking in a biologically accurate manner" based on a bio-inspired combination of  neural architecture, musculoskeletal architecture, and sensory feedback.

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DARPA Wants Robots That Are 20X More Efficient, So Do We


This is the image that DARPA picked to represent this new program. We don't get it either.

We were slightly disappointed but not at all surprised to learn that DARPA's Robot Challenge platform will likely spend most of its time operating while tethered to a utility vehicle for power. Untethered, the best that performance that we could reasonably expect from an onboard power source might be ten or twenty minutes, which is the perfect amount of time to get about halfway through an important task before running out of juice. DARPA would prefer a robot that can operate for something like 200 minutes instead (!), so it's soliciting proposals for the development of some super efficient new actuation systems that can actually hit that number.

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Automaton

IEEE Spectrum's award-winning robotics blog, featuring news, articles, and videos on robots, humanoids, automation, artificial intelligence, and more.
Contact us:  e.guizzo@ieee.org

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Erico Guizzo
New York, N.Y.
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Evan Ackerman
Berkeley, Calif.
 
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Canada
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Tokyo, Japan
 

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