MIT robot combines vision and touch to learn the game of Jenga

In the basement of MIT’s Building 3, a robot is carefully contemplating its next move. It gently pokes at a tower of blocks, looking for the best block to extract without toppling the tower, in a solitary, slow-moving, yet surprisingly agile game of Jenga. The robot, developed by MIT engineers, is equipped with a soft-pronged gripper, a force-sensing wrist cuff, and an external camera, all of which it uses to see and feel the tower and its individual blocks. As the robot carefully pushes against a block, a computer takes in visual and tactile feedback from its camera and cuff, and compares these measurements to moves that the robot previously made. It also considers the outcomes of those moves — specifically, whether a block, in a certain configuration and pushed with a certain amount of force, was successfully extracted or not. In real-time, the robot then “learns” whether to keep Continue reading MIT robot combines vision and touch to learn the game of Jenga

iRobot Finally Announces Awesome New Terra Robotic Lawnmower

More than 10 years in the making, Terra wants to do for your lawn what Roomba has done for your floors Since the first Roomba came out in 2002, it has seemed inevitable that one day iRobot would develop a robotic lawnmower. After all, a robot mower is basically just a Roomba that works outside, right? Of course, it’s not nearly that simple, as iRobot has spent the last decade or so discovering, but they’ve finally managed to pull it off. Today, iRobot is previewing its Terra robotic mower. It’s rugged, fully autonomous, and literally wireless, using radio beacons to localize rather than relying on a buried edge wire to keep it from mulching your begonias. We don’t have all the details yet—including price and availability—since iRobot is being a little bit coy, but we do have pictures, a video, and a chat with iRobot CEO Colin Angle about why developing Terra took them so long.