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This Robot Wants to Beat You at Air Hockey

When it comes to playing games against robots, the future doesn't look too bright for us humans. Machines will likely beat us, or are already beating us, at soccer, ping pong, chess, Go, baseball, basketball, rock-paper-scissorsiPhone games, and, of course, Jeopardy. Now add air hockey to the list.

Japanese researchers at Chiba University's Namiki Lab have developed an air-hockey robot that is skillful enough to compete against human players. It's not the first air-hockey robot developed, but the team led by Professor Akio Namiki has upped the ante: their robot changes its strategy based on its human opponent's playing style.

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Video: Drones, Quadrupeds, Humanoids, and More Robots From ICRA 2013

We saw lots of robots at 2013 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA). Like, seriously, lots of robots. Seriously. For real. This year's event had the largest exhibition hall (with the most real robots) that we've ever seen, and a lot of the interactive presentations featured real robots as well. We got as much of it on video and in pictures as we could, and smushed everything together in a fabulous montage and gallery, just for you.

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iRobot and Cisco Team Up to Create Ava 500 Telepresence Robot

One of the biggest companies in robotics has teamed up with one of the biggest in telepresence to create a new remote collaboration robot. iRobot and Cisco announced today they are working together to develop a robot called Ava 500 that can autonomously drive around an office and offers crisp HD video experience.

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Robot Scout Finds Fires With 3D Thermal Imaging

We hear about lots of robots that could potentially be used for "search and rescue" or "disaster relief," because that's kind of what you say when you've made a robot that doesn't have a commercial or military application but you still need to come up with some task that it might be useful for. It's much rarer that we see these robots actually performing search and rescue or disaster relief tasks, which is why it's especially nice to see this firefighting robot from UCSD doing something that firefighters would find immediately useful.

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Miniature Quadruped Robot Is Blazingly Fast

Yesterday we took at look at some little legged robots from UC Berkeley. They're very clever, and very quick. This little legged robot from Johns Hopkins (pictured above) is quicker relative to its size. Much quicker. [See update below.] It can travel at over 30 body lengths every second, which works out to over two meters per second, or four and a half miles an hour. If you were travelling at 30 body lengths every second, you'd be going 122 miles an hour. Whoa.

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UC Berkeley's Little Legged Robots Grow Wings and Tails

When researchers at UC Berkeley figured out what kinds of awesome things were possible when you endowed a robot with an actuated tail that it could use for pitch control, it earned them an article in Nature, which is only slightly less prestigious than an article in IEEE Spectrum. Anyway, the Berkeley students have been exploring what else you can do when you give ground robots bio-inspired accessories, and they've got some little legged robots doing cool new stuff thanks to the addition of wings and tails.

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DARPA's Virtual Robotics Challenge: OSRF Gets Simulator Ready

The most anticipated robot event of the year, the DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC), is heating up. In fact, the DRC isn't just a single event. It actually consists of three increasingly difficult competitions, and the first one is the Virtual Robotics Challenge (VRC), in which teams compete through a computer simulation of a robot and the challenge tasks. For the last month, teams from around the world have been submitting entries to the VRC qualification event, in order to earn a place in the VRC itself, and the latest results are in.

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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:

Erico Guizzo
New York City
Senior Writer
Evan Ackerman
Washington, D.C.

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