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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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Tiny Clever Quadrotors Now on Kickstarter

Back when I started writing about robots (get off my lawn, by the way), helicopters were big and complicated and dangerous and crashy. It's kind of amazing that now (or at least, soon, hopefully) you can get a tiny little quadrotor that can stabilize itself in flight for just under $100. Or, to put it another way, for just under $10,000, you could get a hundred of 'em.

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Stutter Jumping Robot Requires Less Power

We love jumping robots, and not just because they're so much fun to watch. Jumping is also a great way to get around: it's far more efficient than flying, and much more versatile than driving or walking or crawling. Jumping robots do still need a big burst of power to get off the ground, but after 20,000 jumps worth of analysis, researchers at Georgia Tech have found a secret that makes robotic hops ten times more efficient.

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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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