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You Can Now Buy Spot the Robot Dog—If You’ve Got $74,500

Spot, Boston Dynamics’ famous robot dog, dutifully follows my every command. The machine traipses forward, then automatically scrambles over a raised bed of rocks. I make it side-step. I command it up a flight of stairs, which it tackles with ease. It meets its match when I steer it at a medicine ball, though; it […]

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This Robot Can Guess How You’re Feeling by the Way You Walk

In order to understand how a gait looks, though, the robot needs objective data, not subjective judgements. So the researchers used algorithms that analyzed videos of the people walking, with each person’s image overlaid by a skeleton with 16 joints, including at the neck, shoulders, and knees. Then, they used deep learning algorithms to get […]

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Moxie Is the Robot Pal You Dreamed of as a Kid

Robots are well-suited for the kinds of repetitive skill-building activities that would quickly wear down a human teacher. They can’t totally replace human interaction (yet), but they may be able to augment it. “There’s evidence to support the idea that social robots can help with skill development in children,” says Kate Darling, a research specialist […]

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If Robots Steal So Many Jobs, Why Aren’t They Saving Us Now?

Modern capitalism has never seen anything quite like the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. In a matter of months, the deadly contagious bug has spread around the world, hobbling any economy in its path. In the United States, where consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of economic activity, commerce has come to a standstill as people […]

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This Clever Robotic Finger Feels With Light

“Extracting information out of those 1,000 signals in an analytical way—it’s very, very hard to do,” says Ciocarlie, who developed the system. “I would venture to say that it’s impossible without modern machine learning.” Courtesy of Columbia University Machine learning comes into play when they’re calibrating the system. They can stick the finger on a […]

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Spot the Robot Dog Trots Into the Big, Bad World

This autumn, after years of dropping view-amassing videos of Spot the robot dog fending off stick-wielding humans and opening doors for its pals, Boston Dynamics finally announced that the machine was hitting the market—for a select few early adopters, at least. BD’s people would be the first to tell you that they don’t fully know […]

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Meet Xenobot, an Eerie New Kind of Programmable Organism

Under the watchful eye of a microscope, busy little blobs scoot around in a field of liquid—moving forward, turning around, sometimes spinning in circles. Drop cellular debris onto the plain and the blobs will herd them into piles. Flick any blob onto its back and it’ll lie there like a flipped-over turtle. Their behavior is […]

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AI Researcher Anca Dragan on Helping Robots Understand Humans 

When humans and robots cross paths, the results aren’t just frustrating—the autonomous car, say, that’s too shy to turn left—they can also be fatal. Consider last year’s Uber crash, in which the self-driving algorithms weren’t coded to yield to an unexpected human jaywalker. At the WIRED25 conference Friday, Anca Dragan, a professor who studies human-robot […]

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