You can’t squash this roach-inspired robot

A new insect-sized robot can scurry across the floor at nearly the speed of a darting cockroach — and it’s nearly as hardy as a cockroach, too: Try to squash this robot under your foot, and more than likely, it will just keep going. Small, durable robots like these could be advantageous in search and rescue missions, the creators say. More details

Why did my classifier just mistake a turtle for a rifle?

A few years ago, the idea of tricking a computer vision system by subtly altering pixels in an image or hacking a street sign seemed like more of a hypothetical threat than anything to seriously worry about. After all, a self-driving car in the real world would perceive a manipulated object from multiple viewpoints, cancelling out any misleading information. At least, that’s what one study claimed. “We thought, there’s no way that’s true!” says MIT PhD student Andrew Ilyas, then a sophomore at MIT. He and his friends — Anish Athalye, Logan Engstrom, and Jessy Lin — holed up at the MIT Student Center and came up with an experiment to refute the study. They would print a set of three-dimensional turtles and show that a computer vision classifier could mistake them for rifles. The results of their experiments, published at last year’s International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML), were widely covered in Continue reading Why did my classifier just mistake a turtle for a rifle?

Surprisingly Speedy Soft Robot Survives Being Stepped On

It’s small, it’s quick, and it’s more robust than a cockroach Soft robots are getting more and more popular for some very good reasons. Their relative simplicity is one. Their relative low cost is another. And for their simplicity and low cost, they’re generally able to perform very impressively, leveraging the unique features inherent to their design and construction to move themselves and interact with their environment. The other significant reason why soft robots are so appealing is that they’re durable. Without the constraints of rigid parts, they can withstand the sort of abuse that would make any roboticist cringe.  In the current issue of Science Robotics, a group of researchers from Tsinghua University in China and University of California, Berkeley, present a new kind of soft robot that’s both higher performance and much more robust than just about anything we’ve seen before. The deceptively simple robot looks like a Continue reading Surprisingly Speedy Soft Robot Survives Being Stepped On