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Firefighting Robot is $100k of Cute n' Foamy

We're all familiar with the Triple D's of robotics: Dull, Dirty, and Dangerous. That third D, the dangerous one, is arguably where robots have found their most valuable niche, at least when it comes to protecting humans from things that are, you know, dangerous. Like bombs. And now, fires!

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PR2 Learns How To Be a Robobutler Without Destroying Things

While IEEE Spectrum has not yet seen fit to hire me my own butler (like most bloggers tend to expect), as far as I can tell (and let me just clarify that I have absolutely no idea about this whatsoever) being a butler requires mastery of three things: looking good in a tux, having a butler-y attitude, and not spilling things on trays. PR2 might be able to cover those first two, but we now have video proof that it's nailed the third one: PR2 is officially a traymaster.

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Cowabunga: Swiss Boffins Working on Robot Turtle

Of all the scary and dangerous robot animals, turtles are almost (but not quite) on the very bottom of the list, just above robotic baby harp seals.* But that's fine, because turtles are great at lots of things that aren't scary and dangerous (like swimming around in the vast and heartless ocean), and researchers in a certain landlocked European country that isn't Austria are working to make a new one.

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Homeland Security Wants Drones for Public Safety, Doesn't Want to Tell Public About Them

Good news, everyone! The Department of Homeland Security, in its infinite wisdom, has decided that it would be kinda cool to have drones flying around to, you know, "protect the homeland." The Robotic Aircraft for Public Safety program will provide "Federal and  local officials with state-of-the-art technology" to do all kinds of stuff in domestic airspace right above your head. What kinds of stuff? Sorry, that's all classified, but don't worry, citizens: rest assured that the DHS cares about you and would never do anything that you wouldn't want them to do. Or something.

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Video Friday: Quadrotor Ball Toss, Toyota's Partner Robot, and How to Engineer a Dog

This time next week, we'll be on our way to a swanky five star beach resort in Portugal. Is this the vacation that we deserve after months and months of non-stop robotics news? NO. IT'S NOT. NO VACATIONS. This is IROS, the IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems. Last year it was held in San Francisco, and this year, we're heading to the Algarve, on the southern coast of Portugal just west of Spain and north of Africa. Don't worry, though: we'll be lucky if we manage to set even one single foot on the beach with all the robot stuff we'll have to cover. It's gonna be awesome. 

Meanwhile, since we haven't packed up and headed off to Europe just yet, it's time for VIDEOS!

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SARTRE Project Concludes, Reveals Blissful Future of Car Travel

In the (hopefully not too distant) future, we'll all be driving down the highway like this guy: reading a newspaper with our eyes being covered up. It'll be possible thanks to Volvo and six other European partners, who just concluded the SARTRE (Safe Road Trains for the Environment) project: it's not autonomous cars, not yet, but it's a lot closer to reality.

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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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