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Even Brainless Robots Can Show Swarm Behavior

Bristlebots are robots without sensors or brains that do things that robots without sensors or brains do. As it turns out, this is a lot more than you might expect, since researchers at Harvard have shown that if you stick enough of them in a small space, they self-organize into swarms.

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CMU's CHIMP Humanoid Robot Moves Like a Tank

It has only been a few months since DARPA announced the teams competing in its upcoming Robotics Challenge, but already some of the robots are beginning to shape up. Take, for example, the exotic looking CHIMP robot built by a team at Carnegie Mellon University's National Robotics Engineering Center. CHIMP (CMU Highly Intelligent Mobile Platform) features tank-like treads on its arms and legs for tackling the bumpy terrain it will encounter as part of the challenge. The idea is to take advantage of both legged and wheeled locomotion, allowing the robot to scoot around low to the ground but stand up when necessary.

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Cloud Robotics Engine Goes Live with Rapyuta Service

The team behind RoboEarth yesterday announced the launch of Rapyuta, a cloud computing platform for robots. Rapyuta is designed to be a combination of a remote processor powerhouse and a giant database storing all robotic knowledge: robots will be able to offload complex tasks to Rapyuta, and they'll also be able to ask Rapyuta for help if they get stuck trying to recognize an object or complete a task (above, a simplified overview of the Rapyuta framework). Here's how it'll eventually all come together:

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HERB Learns to Separate Oreos, Probably Thinks Humans are Crazy

There's a reason why Oreos exist in their present form: they're a carefully formulated combination of exactly the right amount of cookie with exactly the right amount of creme. But that's just not good enough for humans, because humans are crazy, and rather than just buying some chocolate cookies or some frosting, we instead insist on disemboweling our Oreos to separate the creme from the cookie the hard way. We're willing to go to absurdly awesome lengths to do it, most recently including CMU's HERB robotic butler.

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Kinect + Brain Scan = Augmented Reality for Neurosurgeons

With a little duct tape, a touch screen tablet, and their new Kinect API, the Microsoft Research Cambridge team built an augmented reality system to help brain surgeons visualize 3D brain scans. Kinect Fusion supplies 3D modeling of anything, which could fuel some seriously neat medical innovations. (The Cambridge team also built KinEtre, which lets you posses anything.) At the 13th annual Microsoft TechFest, Ben Glocker demoed a prototype system that would allow neurosurgeons to prepare for surgery by looking inside a patient's brain before they cut it open. Doctors could see the skeleton, brain, blood vessels, and the targeted tumor on a tablet—which they can move around the patient's head—helping them to plot the best brain surgery path.

The Fusion API will be released in the next Kinect for Windows SDK, which researchers say will be out very soon.

Robot Yeti Tells You Where Not to Go in Antarctica

Antarctica looks all nice and smooth, but lurking beneath the snow are the gaping maws of crevasses of doom. Doom, I say! And it's not just me saying it: the threat of crevasses means that moving anything from one place to another on the ground is a slow, potentially deadly process. That's why some researchers from Dartmouth came up with Yeti, a GPS-guided robot that can drag a ground-penetrating radar around to detect impending doom. This robot has been around for several years now, but its masters have just published a paper in the current issue of the Journal of Field Robotics, showing that Yeti can make a huge difference in polar logistics.

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Automaton

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

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

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