See Little Robots Get Swole in This Virtual ‘Gym’

If I asked you to design the perfect robot for throwing a block, you’d probably think of something humanoid, with legs for stability and hands for grasping. And who could blame you? If humans are good at anything, it’s throwing stuff. Video: MIT CSAIL There’s a zero percent chance you instead thought of the thing […]

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This Drone Uses Piercing Talons to Perch—or Snatch Things

Quadcopters these days are so precious. They take off and hover, taking pictures or whatever, and then land, recharge—and blah. If these drones were birds, they’d be prey. But the Stereotyped Nature-Inspired Aerial Grasper, or SNAG, would be their apex predator. This new quadcopter has legs, each loaded with four 3D-printed talons that lock around […]

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This Intrepid Robot Is the WALL-E of the Deep Sea

Yet just how much carbon gets trapped can vary from ocean to ocean and from season to season. In general, researchers just don’t have a good handle on the biological and chemical processes going on down there. “The rover helps us understand how much of that carbon might actually make its way into the sediments […]

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This Tiny Robot Mimics the Mantis Shrimp’s Mighty Punch

The mantis shrimp boasts one of the most powerful and ultrafast punches in nature—it’s on par with the force generated by a .22-caliber bullet. This makes the creature an attractive object of study for scientists eager to learn more about the relevant biomechanics. Among other uses, it could lead to small robots capable of equally […]

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Is the Robot-Filled Future of Farming a Nightmare or Utopia?

Picture this: Colossal, gas-powered autonomous robots bulldoze across acres of homogeneous farmland under a blackened sky that reeks of pollution. The trees have all been chopped down and there are no animals in sight. Pesticides are sprayed in excess because humans no longer tend to the fields. The machines do their jobs—producing massive amounts of […]

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Why Scientists Love Making Robots Build Ikea Furniture

The frustration and anguish of trying and failing to piece together Ikea furniture may seem like an exercise in humiliation for you, but know this: The particleboard nightmare may one day lead to robots that aren’t so stupid. In recent years, roboticists have been finding that building Ikea furniture is actually a great way to […]

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This Robot Spies on Creatures in the Ocean’s ‘Twilight Zone’

Using stereo cameras and detection algorithms, Mesobot parses its subjects’ movements and follows them. Yoerger and his colleagues demonstrated the robot’s capabilities in Monterey Bay at 650 feet deep, as it detected and then pursued a hunting jellyfish. Even more impressive, for a half hour it surreptitiously followed a fragile animal called a larvacean, which […]

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How Do You Make a Robot Walk on Mars? It’s a Steep Challenge

From the Sojourner rover, which landed on Mars in 1997, to Perseverance, which touched down in February, the robots of the Red Planet share a defining feature: wheels. Rolling is far more stable and energy efficient than walking, which even robots on Earth still struggle to master. After all, NASA would hate for its very […]

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Watch Drones Fly Through a Fake Forest Without Crashing

Soria’s team tested the new approach against a state-of-the-art reactive model on a simulation with five drones and eight obstacles, and confirmed their hunch. In one scenario, reactive swarms finished their mission in 34.1 seconds—the predictive one finished in 21.5. Next came the real demonstration. Soria’s team gathered small Crazyflie quadcopters used by researchers. Each […]

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Peanut the Waiter Robot Is Proof That Your Job Is Safe

Robots also lack the kind of intelligence, manual dexterity, and people skills that any good cook, host, or server relies on to keep their diners happy. Can Peanut talk down a customer who’s irate because their eggs were fried instead of scrambled? Can it deftly plate a tuna tartare and avocado tower, and do a […]

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Watch a Snake Robot Go for a Swim

When sea snakes swim, they wind their way through the water by flicking their flattened tails, which is super graceful but requires a whole lot of coordination. So when roboticists at Carnegie Mellon University decided that it was time for their landlubbing robot snake to take to the water, they took a shortcut. They approximated […]

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Want to Get Along With Robots? Pretend They’re Animals

WIRED: I wanted to talk about navigating relationships with home or companion robots, especially when it comes to empathy and actually developing pretty complex relationships. What can we learn from what we’ve been doing for thousands of years with pets? KD: One of the things that we’ve learned by looking at the history of pets […]

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This Robot Could Help Fulfill Your Online Shopping Sprees

Imagine for a moment that you have suction cups for fingertips—unless you’re currently on hallucinogens, in which case you should not imagine that. Each sucker is a different size and flexibility, making one fingertip ideal for sticking onto a flat surface like cardboard, another more suited to a round thing like a ball, another better […]

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Boston Dynamics’ Newest Robot Doesn’t Dance—It Works

It can’t do back flips like Atlas the humanoid robot, nor can it dance or open doors for its friends, like Spot the robotic dog can. Instead, Boston Dynamics’ new robot, named Stretch, is going straight to work in a warehouse. Rolling around on a wheeled base, it’s basically a large robotic arm that grabs […]

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Watch a Shape-Shifting Robot Prowl the Big, Bad World

Sure, evolution invented mammals that soar 200 feet through the air on giant flaps of skin and 3-foot-wide crabs that climb trees, but has it ever invented a four-legged animal with telescoping limbs? No, it has not. Biology can’t really work that way. But robots certainly can. Meet the Dynamic Robot for Embodied Testing, aka […]

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Researchers Are Studying These Worm Blobs to Build Robots

While bees, birds, and ants swarm together to mate or protect themselves against predators, these worms are able to braid themselves together to accomplish tasks that unconnected individuals can’t handle. They live at the bottom of freshwater ponds, feeding on bacteria and other microorganisms. During periods of sustained drought, when the water in the ponds […]

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These Adorable Fish Robots Form Schools Like the Real Thing

In the GIF below, we see Bluebots trying another task: a search mission. This behavior is a bit more complex, guided by a few separate directives in the algorithm. The first step is known as dispersion; the algorithm directs the robots to keep away from one another. This spreads them out in search of their […]

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The Plan to Build a Global Network of Floating Power Stations

The SL1 is meant to be attached to submersible sensor-laden research robots known as profiling floats. These devices collect data during short trips as far as a mile beneath the surface. When they emerge from the depths, they beam that information to a satellite. Today, there are thousands of profiling floats drifting through Earth’s oceans […]

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Watch a Robot Dog Learn How to Deftly Fend Off a Human

Study hard enough, kids, and maybe one day you’ll grow up to be a professional robot fighter. A few years ago, Boston Dynamics set the standard for the field by having people wielding hockey sticks try to keep Spot the quadrupedal robot from opening a door. Previously, in 2015, the far-out federal research agency Darpa […]

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