This a robotic snake that SHOOTS A FRIKKIN' LASER OUT OF ITS FACE. What more could you POSSIBLY want on a Friday? Oh, you want lots more robot videos? Okay, we can do that too.

We totally weren't kidding about the Laser Snake. We would never, ever kid about a laser snake, because that just wouldn't be funny. This is a snake-arm robot from OC Robotics that's been outfitted with a 5kW laser BECAUSE IT'S AWESOME:

Actually, it was outfitted with the laser in order to assist with "dismantling and decommissioning complex structures in hazardous and confined nuclear environments." BUT ALSO BECAUSE IT'S AWESOME.

[ OC Robotics ]



Massive congratulations (I think we're allowed to give those out) to Leila Takayama of Willow Garage, who was declared one of Tech Review's top 35 innovators under 35 for her work on "applying the tools of social science to make robots easier to live and work with."

What, so the fact that I always want to run up and hug a PR2 every time I see one is somehow weird? I think it's more of a compliment to the design, myself.

[ TR35 ]



Yes, you can now fly robotic aircraft just by thinking. Thinking with your brain:

Via [ New Scientist ]



StarlETH is a quadruped robot from ETH Zurich. It may look kinda like LittleDog, but it's not exactly little:

Yeah, keep that beast on a leash, please. It doesn't need a leash, though, since it's fully capable of taking itself for walks over obstacles. And on a treadmill:

[ ETH Zurich ]



We don't cover games that much, but this looked kind of neat. It's called Rawbots, and you can build and program your own virtual robot thing and then do, um, stuff with it. Like shoot other robots.

[ Rawbots ]



HugBot is a rather intimidatingly large robotic polar bear that will measure your pulse and breathing rate while attempting to squeeze the life out of you giving you a hug:

[ UrRobot ] via [ Plastic Pals ]



Northrop Grumman has some big scary unmanned systems and they're using this video with big scary music to remind you about all of them:

The thing that's labeled as FireScout, btw, is actually Fire-X.

[ Northrop Grumman Unmanned Systems ]



And lastly this week, a film by PrallPlatte. I'll admit to not always understanding what's going on, but that steam-powered robot-driving mini-Audi is pretty darn cool.

[ PrallPlatte@YouTube ]

The Conversation (0)

How the U.S. Army Is Turning Robots Into Team Players

Engineers battle the limits of deep learning for battlefield bots

11 min read
Robot with threads near a fallen branch

RoMan, the Army Research Laboratory's robotic manipulator, considers the best way to grasp and move a tree branch at the Adelphi Laboratory Center, in Maryland.

Evan Ackerman

“I should probably not be standing this close," I think to myself, as the robot slowly approaches a large tree branch on the floor in front of me. It's not the size of the branch that makes me nervous—it's that the robot is operating autonomously, and that while I know what it's supposed to do, I'm not entirely sure what it will do. If everything works the way the roboticists at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) in Adelphi, Md., expect, the robot will identify the branch, grasp it, and drag it out of the way. These folks know what they're doing, but I've spent enough time around robots that I take a small step backwards anyway.

This article is part of our special report on AI, “The Great AI Reckoning.”

The robot, named RoMan, for Robotic Manipulator, is about the size of a large lawn mower, with a tracked base that helps it handle most kinds of terrain. At the front, it has a squat torso equipped with cameras and depth sensors, as well as a pair of arms that were harvested from a prototype disaster-response robot originally developed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory for a DARPA robotics competition. RoMan's job today is roadway clearing, a multistep task that ARL wants the robot to complete as autonomously as possible. Instead of instructing the robot to grasp specific objects in specific ways and move them to specific places, the operators tell RoMan to "go clear a path." It's then up to the robot to make all the decisions necessary to achieve that objective.

Keep Reading ↓ Show less