Automaton iconAutomaton

Explain the Uncanny Valley in Less Than 1 Minute. Go!

The Uncanny Valley is a topic of much fascination not only in robotics, where it originated, but also in other scientific circles as well as in popular culture. Roboticists often allude to it, and so do computer scientists, psychologists, artists, and media theorists. In 2008, it was mentioned in the TV series "30 Rock." More recently, the Uncanny Valley was used to explain why several animation movies failed, and an Atlantic article referred to it to describe Mitt Romney. The term has also been used to name everything from a literary magazine to a painting of a baboon embracing Nicolas Cage. Some even suggest that the Uncanny Valley has become a meme. But just what is the Uncanny Valley?

Read More

IROS 2013: Robots That Pay Attention To You

Having a robot obey your commands is hard. Having a group of robots obey your commands is really, really hard. The good news is roboticists are making good progress in solving this problem. Research presented at IROS early this month shows how we may be getting to the point where teams of robots can pay attention to what we’re saying, where we’re looking, and what we’re doing, leading to a much more natural way to control them.

Read More

Robo-Stox: Investing in the Robotics Revolution

In this guest post, Frank Tobe, a robotics analyst and publisher of The Robot Report, describes the launch of Robo-Stox, a stock index of robotics and automation companies. The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not represent positions of IEEE Spectrum or the IEEE.

On Tuesday, a sleek robotic arm rang the closing bell of the Nasdaq stock exchange. It was the first time a robot performed the task.

Read More

NEC Shows Off New Papero Petit Robot

NEC's cute communication robot, Papero, is getting a new lease on life. Japanese electronics giant NEC has announced an initiative called the Papero Partner Program, calling for research and business partners to help develop apps and distribute the robot to end users. Along with this announcement, NEC debuted the Papero Petit, the newest model of the robot.

Read More

IROS 2013: Should Quadrotors All Look Like This?

Quadrotors are everywhere nowadays. Researchers have them, hobbyists have them, law enforcement has them, and they're being used commercially to do lots of stuff, from shooting movies to gathering aerial imagery to performing in shows and commercials. You'd think that by now, we'd have settled on a more or less optimized design, but at IROS 2013 last week, researchers from the University of Queensland, Australia, presented a paper suggesting that maybe we've been doing it wrong.

Read More

iRobot's New Roomba 800 Series Has Better Vacuuming With Less Maintenance

The Roomba’s Achilles heel has always been the horrible mess it gets itself into with hair. Your hair, my hair, cat hair, dog hair, long hair, short hair: if you go check right now, all of these and more will be wrapped around your Roomba’s bristle brush. Seven generations (or more?) of Roombas have had this problem, but with the newly redesigned Roomba 800 series, iRobot is finally untangling this mess.

Read More

Video Friday: IROS 2013, Swarming Quadrotors, and Baxter Tries Not to Stab You

IROS and iREX have been spectacular, but we've barely had time to sit down, much less write articles. And there's still more to see: IROS wrapped up on Thursday, but we're heading back for the last full day of iREX tomorrow. So, expect to see a lot more IROS news from us next week, but for now, we'll get you caught up on (non-IROS) robot news from this week, and we'll throw in some new IROS videos for good measure.

Read More


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.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up for the Automaton newsletter and get biweekly updates about robotics, automation, and AI, all delivered directly to your inbox.

Load More