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ROS Kinetic Kame is the tenth distribution release of ROS, the Robot Operating System.

Celebrating 9 Years of ROS, the Robot Operating System

This is a guest post. The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not represent positions of IEEE Spectrum or the IEEE.

Last year we celebrated nine years old of ROS, the Robot Operating System! Through these years ROS has grown into a strong world-wide community. It’s a community with a large variety of interests: from academic researchers to robotic product developers as well as the many robot users. Academic use of ROS continues to grow. Citations of the first ROS paper, “ROS: An Open-Source Robot Operating System,” has grown to 2,871.

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Emys robot head

Video Friday: Expressive Robot, Luke Arm, and Cyborg Moth

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your Automaton bloggers. We’ll also be posting a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next two months; here's what we have so far (send us your events!):

RoboBusiness Europe – April 20-21, 2017 – Delft, Netherlands
NASA SRC Virtual Competition – June 12-16, 2017 – Online

Let us know if you have suggestions for next week, and enjoy today's videos.

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Kuri is friendly home robot developed by Mayfield Robotics

Mayfield Robotics Announces Kuri, a $700 Home Robot

For about two years now, Mayfield Robotics has been working on something. A robot, we’d heard. Something helpful for the home. Not a vacuum. No screen, but a face. Without much in the way of (public) information on this secret robot, what kept us interested was the team: chief technical officer and cofounder Kaijen Hsiao spent almost four years at Willow Garage, and cofounder and chief operating officer Sarah Osentoski led robotics R&D projects at Bosch for four years, including working with Bosch’s beta program PR2. And with funding from Bosch’s Startup Platform, Mayfield has been able to hire an enormous team of people, about 40 of them, in just a couple of years without making any public announcements whatsoever.

Today, Mayfield is introducing Kuri, “an intelligent robot for the home.” Kuri is half a meter tall, weighs just over 6 kilograms, and is “designed with personality, awareness, and mobility, [that] adds a spark of life to any home.”

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A screenshot of a spikey blue trace indicates acoustic signals.

Deep Learning AI Listens to Machines For Signs of Trouble

Driving your car until it breaks down on the road is never anyone’s favorite way to learn the need for routine maintenance. But preventive or scheduled maintenance checks often miss many of the problems that can come up. An Israeli startup has come up with a better idea: Use artificial intelligence to listen for early warning signs that a car might be nearing a breakdown.

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Robot Holidays

Video Friday: Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays from Evan, Erico, and the rest of the team at IEEE Spectrum. We’re out of calendar events for the year, and next week is our once a year week off, so please enjoy the last Video Friday of 2016, full of all kinds of festive robot celebrations. 

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Stanford's Ocean One is a hybrid between a humanoid robot and an underwater remotely operated vehicle.

How Stanford Built a Humanoid Submarine Robot to Explore a 17th-Century Shipwreck

Back in April, Stanford University professor Oussama Khatib led a team of researchers on an underwater archaeological expedition30 kilometers off the southern coast of France, to La Lune, King Louis XIV’s sunken 17th-century flagship. Rather than dive to the site of the wreck 100 meters below the surface, which is a very bad idea for almost everyone, Khatib’s team brought along a custom-made humanoid submarine robot called Ocean One.

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Feathered morphing drone

Artificial Feathers Let Drones Morph Their Wings Like Birds

Birds have been developing winged flight technology ever since they stole it from the dinosaurs back in 160 million years ago. Early on, top bird aeronautical engineers realized that wings have a fundamental problem: They give you both lift (which you want) and drag (which you don’t). Lift is important for take-offs and landings and maneuverability, but once you get off the ground and are going fast enough in a straight line, mostly wings just keep you from going even faster.

The solution that birds came up with was a clever one: Wings that can change their shape. Thanks to overlapping feathers and a joint at the end of the wing, most birds can fold their primary flight feathers back, which significantly reduces the surface area of their wings. This allows them to switch back and forth from long, maneuverable wings that are good at turning and soaring to short, stubby wings that are optimized for speed.

Humans have been a bit slow at catching up with birds on this—the best we’ve been able to do are some mechanically complicated and presumably very expensive wings that ponderously swing back and forth a little bit, but isn’t it about time we catch up to this technology that’s over a hundred million years old? At the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), in Switzerland, Dario Floreano’s lab certainly thinks so, and they’ve been flight testing a small drone with feathered, folding wings that can maneuver like real birds do.

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An unmanned rigid-hull inflatable boat operates autonomously during an Office of Naval Research (ONR)-sponsored demonstration of swarmboat technology held at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story.

U.S. Navy's Drone Boat Swarm Practices Harbor Defense

Drone boats belonging to the U.S. Navy have begun learning to work together like a swarm with a shared hive mind. Two years ago, they would have individually reacted to possible threats by all swarming over like a chaotic group of kids learning to play soccer for the first time. Now the drone boats have showed that they can cooperate intelligently as a team to defend a harbor area against intruders.

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DFKI Mars rover test in Utah

Video Friday: 20-Meter Long Robot Arm, Amazon Drone Delivery, and Mars Rovers in Utah

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your Automaton bloggers. We’ll also be posting a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next two months; here’s what we have so far (send us your events!):

WAFR 2016 – December 18-20, 2016 – San Francisco, Calif., USA

Let us know if you have suggestions for next week, and enjoy today’s videos.

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Russia's Uran-9 is an unmanned tank remotely controlled by human operators.

Why the United Nations Must Move Forward With a Killer Robots Ban

This is a guest post. The views expressed here are solely those of the authors and do not represent positions of IEEE Spectrum or the IEEE.

Killer robots are on the agenda of a major United Nations meeting in Geneva this week.

As part of a U.N. disarmament conference, participating countries are deciding on Friday whether or not to start formal discussions on a ban of lethal autonomous weapons following on from three years of informal discussions.

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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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New York City
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Evan Ackerman
Washington, D.C.

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