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Next Generation Canadarm to Focus on Satellite Servicing

As much as we love Canada, our northern neighbors don't exactly have a huge space program going on up there, probably because you can't launch rockets on maple syrup.

I kid, of course. You can totally do that.

Anyway, the Canadian Space Agency is probably best known for two things: Chris Hadfield, and the Canadarm and Canadarm2. These giant robotic space-arms have been flying on the space shuttle since 1981, and the latest currently serves as Dextre's lower body on the ISS. As always, we're wondering what the next generation of Canadarm is going to be like, so we were excited to see this video from the CSA showcasing their next generation Canadarm project: the "Next-Generation Canadarm Project." Mind = blown. 

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Honda's ASIMO Gets New Job at Museum

Honda's famed humanoid robot ASIMO has many skills, including running, serving drinks, hopping on one foot, and kicking a soccer ball. And it absolutely loves to dance. But despite its capabilities, the reality is that most of ASIMO's actions are pre-programmed, and the humanoid relies heavily on hidden operators monitoring the robot's every move and triggering its responses, like the man behind the curtain in The Wizard of Oz. Now Honda wants to change that and it has recently started testing new autonomous behaviors for ASIMO at a Tokyo museum. The new gig, however, seems to have had a rough start.

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Video Wednesday: Robot Film Fest, Hexacopter Rescue, and RoboCup 2013

What is this? Video Wednesday?! Shocking, I know. Apparently, there's some U.S. holiday on Thursday celebrating explosives or something, and I have been told that both Thursday and Friday are therefore "days off" at IEEE Spectrum (and most of the rest of the U.S.). I'm not entirely sure what a "day off" is, but because two of them are happening anyway, we're going to stuff all of this week's robot videos into Wednesday instead.

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DARPA Robotics Challenge Follow-Up: Competition Videos, Bloopers

When DARPA's Virtual Robotics Challenge (VRC) wrapped last Thursday, we got all the results, but not much more. What we wanted was to see some of the actual competition runs themselves, especially the ones that went either very right or very wrong. DARPA released some videos over the weekend giving us a taste of how things went, and we were also treated to an extensive public Q&A session with DARPA program manager Gill Pratt and Nate Koenig of the OSRF.

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Video Friday: Japan's Space Humanoid, Robot Golfer, and Most Destructive Bot Ever

Space. The Final Frontier. These are (or will be) the voyages of a star-shipped robot. Its mission of some unspecified duration: to chat up the astronauts:

"Russia was the first to go outer space, the U.S. was the first to go to the moon, we want Japan to be the first to send a robot-astronaut to space that can communicate with humans."

Quick! Somebody give Robonaut a working mouth! 

Japan's Kirobo spacebot performs on video, and piles more robots performing on video: welcome to Video Friday, humans.

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What Else Can We Do With Autonomous Military Vehicles?

Do you have a robot car yet? Me neither. The military, on the other hand, has a bunch of them. These UGVs (Unmanned Ground Vehicles) are mostly used for hauling gear, sort of like mules used to, back in the day. Lockheed Martin even had one called MULE. It was a nice idea, getting robots to do this, but it's not simple and it's not cheap, and the military has been cutting back. So, the companies involved have been trying to figure out what else they can do with their UGVs.

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Self-Burying Robot Could Be Hiding in Your Backyard Right Now

Bio-inspired robotics has been all over the place. We've got robots that walk, run, climb, fly, crawl, and swim. We've been kind of missing out on a big domain, though, and that's animals that dig. You know, like moles. Unlike just about any other sort of robot (or animal), you could have a whole family of moles chillin' within just a few feet of you (assuming you're close to the ground, of course) and you'd probably have no idea. And that's appealing for certain robotic applications:

"One use case is for this robot to drive or be air-dropped to a location close to a target, bury itself to be hidden, perform video surveillance, and send that video back to an operator."

Yeah, that's pretty sweet.

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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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