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Human Reflexes Help MIT’s HERMES Rescue Robot Keep Its Footing

MIT’s Hermes is a bipedal robot that uses full-body teleoperation to move with greater agility

11 min read
MIT’s João Ramos wears a teleoperation suit that connects his body to that of HERMES, a bipedal robot designed for disaster response.
Dynamic Duo: MIT’s João Ramos wears a teleoperation suit that connects his body to that of HERMES, a bipedal robot designed for disaster response. Ramos’s reflexes help HERMES keep its footing.
Photo: Bob O’Connor

A sudden, tragic wake-up call: That’s how many roboticists view the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, caused by the massive earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in 2011. Reports following the accident described how high levels of radiation foiled workers’ attempts to carry out urgent measures, such as operating pressure valves. It was the perfect mission for a robot, but none in Japan or elsewhere had the capabilities to pull it off. Fukushima forced many of us in the robotics community to realize that we needed to get our technology out of the lab and into the world.

Disaster-response robots have made significant progress since Fukushima. Research groups around the world have demonstrated unmanned ground vehicles that can drive over rubble, robotic snakes that can squeeze through narrow gaps, and drones that can map a site from above. Researchers are also building humanoid robots that can survey the damage and perform critical tasks such as accessing instrumentation panels or transporting first-aid equipment.

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Video Friday: Humanoid Soccer

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

4 min read
Humans and human-size humanoid robots stand together on an indoor soccer field at the beginning of a game

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your friends at IEEE Spectrum robotics. We also post a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months. Please send us your events for inclusion.

CoRL 2022: 14–18 December 2022, AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND
ICRA 2023: 29 May–2 June 2023, LONDON

Enjoy today’s videos!

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Computing With Chemicals Makes Faster, Leaner AI

Battery-inspired artificial synapses are gaining ground

5 min read
Array of devices on a chip

This analog electrochemical memory (ECRAM) array provides a prototype for artificial synapses in AI training.

IBM research

How far away could an artificial brain be? Perhaps a very long way off still, but a working analogue to the essential element of the brain’s networks, the synapse, appears closer at hand now.

That’s because a device that draws inspiration from batteries now appears surprisingly well suited to run artificial neural networks. Called electrochemical RAM (ECRAM), it is giving traditional transistor-based AI an unexpected run for its money—and is quickly moving toward the head of the pack in the race to develop the perfect artificial synapse. Researchers recently reported a string of advances at this week’s IEEE International Electron Device Meeting (IEDM 2022) and elsewhere, including ECRAM devices that use less energy, hold memory longer, and take up less space.

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Industrial Functional Safety Training from UL Solutions

Build knowledge and skills to better navigate today's functional safety landscape

3 min read

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UL Solutions

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