Fish on Wheels lets its fish tank occupant steer the tank in whatever direction it feels like going. The prototype tank was built using a standard webcam, battery-powered Beagleboard, and an Arduino controller and uses the contrast of the fish with the bottom of the fish tank to determine the fish’s position in the tank. When the fish moves to the right of the tank, the tank steers in that direction and when it moves left – well, you get the picture.
We got news for you - this is what will be chasing us during the apocalypse. WildCat is a four-legged robot being developed to run fast on all types of terrain. So far WildCat has run at about 16 mph on flat terrain using bounding and galloping gaits. The video shows WildCat's best performance so far.
Meet Compressorhead, the heaviest heavy metal band on the planet. At a combined weight of nearly six tons and hailing all they way from Germany, members Stickboy, Fingers, and Bones crank out some the gnarliest hard rock music on Earth - and their unique anatomy is key to their phenomenal musical abilities. Stickboy, the band's drummer, has four arms and two legs and plays a Pearl 14 piece kit. Fingers, the head-banging guitarist, has 78 fingers – enough to play the entire fret board and pluck at the same time. The bassist, Bones, is the youngest member of the band and believed to be the highest precision bass player in known existence. If you haven't guessed yet, Compressorhead is composed of three special-purpose robotic musicians. And they can rip a song to shreds
Meet the Mantis, a two-ton all-terrain hexapod built by Matt Denton of Micromagic Systems. Looking like something out of a Sci-Fi horror movie, the robotic machine is powered by a Perkins 2.2L Turbo Diesel engine and can be operated with onboard controls or via a remote Wi-Fi controller. It’s onboard controller is a Linux-based PC running HexEngine. Undoubtedly it’s a bumpy ride but imagine the screaming, fleeing women and children as you cruised down the street in it!
Widely used in Europe and beginning to catch on in the United States, these robotic milking machines require very little human labor allowing a dairy farmer to operate a 350-cow dairy with only two human employees. The robotic milkers are revolutionizing the dairy industry. When the cow gets uncomfortable and decides it needs to be milked, they enter a milking booth where the robotic milker cleans the udder and user laser guides to couple to each teat. RFID chips in the cow’s ear are read by the machine which calculates and records the time between milkings. When the milking process is over, the couplers detach, the milk is analyzed, separated, and pumped into a tank, and the gate opens allowing the cow to move along on its merry way.
The LS3 AlphaDog military robot, created by DARPA, is quickly closing in on its goal to become a mule for soldiers. Designed to carry soldier's military gear weighing 400 pounds or more, AlphaDog can cover 20 miles in less than 24 hours. Its latest upgrade was demonstrated by DARPA and showed AlphaDog responding to voice commands (e.g. “follow”, “stop”). In addition, it can now navigate between GPS waypoints in zero light, respond to direction commands (e.g. head east for 5 miles), detect trees and other vegetation, and has a lowered noise level (it’s now at 70 decibels or about as loud as a vacuum cleaner). Check out the video of AlphaDog in action.
The most advanced brain-computer interface for operating a robotic arm has given a woman paralyzed from the waist down a new lease on life. Researchers implanted two chips into the woman’s motor cortex, the part of the brain responsible for body movements. Each chip is connected to 96 electrodes that are wired through the woman’s skull to a robotic arm. The complexity and number of electrode connections is about twice as many as the researchers have attempted in the past, and the sophistication of the circuitry gives the woman a more “natural and realistic movement of the arm and hand”. The woman can now move cubes and other objects around a table and can pick up a two-pound rock. She has also demonstrated the ability to pick up food and feed herself.
The Kenshiro robot, an ongoing project at the University of Tokyo, aims to simulate a person right down the muscles and bones and so far, they seem to be getting pretty close. The robot intends to imitate the human body’s musculature using over 160 cables and motors. There are 76 in the torso, 22 in the neck, 25 in each leg, and 12 in each shoulder. The many muscles and tendons governing the face, hands, and feet are left out or grossly simplified, being at present too complex to include. The robot is being built to the specs of a 120 pound human male.
MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms has created a tiny reconfigurable, shape-shifting robot, named Milli-Motein, that can fold itself into a number of different shapes. They call it the “Swiss Army knife of the robotics world”. Once it has changed its shape, the power can be shut off and a newly designed locking motor will ensure it retains its last shape. Inspired by the natural design of proteins (hence its name), the robot is about the size of a caterpillar and is constructed from metal rings and strips. MIT believes that with stronger materials, the Milli-Motein has the potential for greatness.
The kings of animatronics have moved into the next realm. Robotics experts at Disney’s lab in Pittsburgh have created a humanoid robot that can play a game of catch with a human. The robot finds the thrown ball in mid air, tracks its, and then catches it before lobbing it back (gently) to the thrower. The robot uses a Kinect to sense and track the trajectory of the ball and to track the the person it is playing catch with (if the person moves around, the robot turns to follow him). If it misses, it runs through a range of animations including shrugging its shoulders, shaking its head in dismay, or looking behind itself to find the missed ball.
Get ready to rumble! According to Entertainment Weekly, the Syfy channel has greenlit and shot the first season of a new show where eight-foot tall, 1,000 pound state-of-the-art humanoid robots will battle each other in a boxing cage until one of the robots is defeated. The new series, called Robot Combat League will feature huge robots pounding away at each other “in a satisfying shower of sparks and gushing hydraulic fluid”. The robots will be controlled by human “shadow boxers” whose movement are translated via software and mimicked by the battling robots.
Toshiba revealed an early version of their new four-legged rescue and recovery robot yesterday. The “tetrapod” robot will carry out investigative and recovery work in locations that are too risky for people to enter such as Tokyo Electric Power Plant Fukushima No.1 Nuclear power plant. The multiple joints of its legs are controlled by a dedicated movement algorithm that enables the robot to walk on uneven surfaces, avoid obstacles and climb stairs, securing access into areas that are too challenging to be reached by wheeled robots or crawlers. It can even birth a second robot, a smaller wheeled bot carrying a remote camera, for tight spaces that the larger “mother” tetrabot would find too small to pass through.
Researchers at the CNRS-AIST Joint Robotics Laboratory (a collaboration between France's Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology) are developing software that allows a person to control a robot with their thoughts alone. The operator wears a electroencephalography (EEG) cap outfitted with electrodes that read the electrical activity in the operator's brain. The electrical activity is then interpreted by a signal processor. The operator focuses his attention on a symbol on a computer screen in order to control the robots actions.
Rumors are spreading that NASA intends to deploy a robotic payload in 2017 for the purpose of finding water sources on the Moon. The payload would be mounted on a robotic rover that moved about the moon searching for water sources and other useful materials, saving NASA the expense of transporting these heavy materials from Earth. In addition, rumors further hint that NASA may have secured funding to place a permanent manned outpost floating above the far side of the moon.
VBSS (Visit, Board, Search, and Seizure) teams are required to board pirate ships, ships suspected of smuggling or piracy. The 8-man team approaches the ship in a small boat. If the ship refuses to allow entry, the US Navy must use grappling hooks and rope ladders to enter the vessel – an extremely dangerous moment in the mission. To counter the danger, the US Navy has developed a new robot called “Stingray”, that they can send aboard the hostile vessel before the sailors enter the boat.