Fun Activity Sheets Introduce Kids to the World of Robots

Robots! Robots! Robots! This collection of fun activity sheets for kids is a perfect introduction to the amazing world of robots. The activities are meant to be intuitive and clear, with little direction needed so that it’s easy for most kids to do the work independently. We think these activities can be enjoyed by kids age 6 to 12, though older kids (and adults!) may want to explore some of them, too. The sheets can be printed out or done on a computer or tablet. Some activities require that kids use IEEE Spectrum’s Robots Guide to learn more about some of the robots; other activities, however, don’t require access to the site. ⇒ Get the activity sheets here! This material was created by Spectrum and is free. If you’d like to support this project, please consider making a donation through the IEEE Foundation. We’re regularly updating the Robots Guide, and hope to keep improving the activity Continue reading Fun Activity Sheets Introduce Kids to the World of Robots

Video Friday: This Terrifying Robot Will Cut Your Hair With Scissors

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your Automaton bloggers. We’ll also be posting a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months; here’s what we have so far (send us your events!): CLAWAR 2020 – August 24-26, 2020 – [Virtual Conference] ICUAS 2020 – September 1-4, 2020 – Athens, Greece ICRES 2020 – September 28-29, 2020 – Taipei, Taiwan IROS 2020 – October 25-29, 2020 – Las Vegas, Nevada ICSR 2020 – November 14-16, 2020 – Golden, Colorado Let us know if you have suggestions for next week, and enjoy today’s videos.

A Bug-Sized Camera for Bug-Sized Robots and Bug-Sized Bugs

As if it’s not hard enough to make very small robots that can , once you’ve gotten the power and autonomy all figured out (good luck with that), your robot isn’t going to be all that useful unless it can carry some payload. And the payload that everybody wants robots to carry is a camera, which is of course a relatively big, heavy, power hungry payload. Great, just great. This whole thing is frustrating because tiny, lightweight, power efficient vision systems are all around us. Literally, all around us right this second, stuffed into the heads of insects. We can’t make anything quite that brilliant (yet), but roboticists from the University of Washington, in Seattle, have gotten us a bit closer, with the smallest wireless, steerable video camera we’ve ever seen—small enough to fit on the back of a microbot, or even a live bug.

Ex-Googler’s Startup Comes Out of Stealth With Beautifully Simple, Clever Robot Design

Over the last 10 years, the PR2 has helped roboticists make an enormous amount of progress in mobile manipulation over a relatively short time. I mean, it’s been a decade already, but still—robots are hard, and giving a bunch of smart people access to a capable platform where they didn’t have to worry about hardware and could instead focus on doing interesting and useful things helped to establish a precedent for robotics research going forward. Unfortunately, not everyone can afford an enormous US $400,000 robot, and even if they could, PR2s are getting very close to the end of their lives. There are other mobile manipulators out there taking the place of the PR2, but so far, size and cost have largely restricted them to research labs. Lots of good research is being done, but it’s getting to the point where folks want to take the next step: making mobile Continue reading Ex-Googler’s Startup Comes Out of Stealth With Beautifully Simple, Clever Robot Design

Video Friday: Robotic Glove Features Telescopic Extra Thumb

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your Automaton bloggers. We’ll also be posting a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months; here’s what we have so far (send us your events!): RSS 2020 – July 12-16, 2020 – [Virtual Conference] CLAWAR 2020 – August 24-26, 2020 – [Virtual Conference] ICUAS 2020 – September 1-4, 2020 – Athens, Greece ICRES 2020 – September 28-29, 2020 – Taipei, Taiwan IROS 2020 – October 25-29, 2020 – Las Vegas, Nevada ICSR 2020 – November 14-16, 2020 – Golden, Colorado Let us know if you have suggestions for next week, and enjoy today’s videos.

Malleable Structure Makes Robot Arm More Versatile

The majority of robot arms are built out of some combination of long straight tubes and actuated joints. This isn’t surprising, since our limbs are built the same way, which was a clever and efficient bit of design. By adding more tubes and joints (or degrees of freedom), you can increase the versatility of your robot arm, but the tradeoff is that complexity, weight, and cost will increase, too. At ICRA, researchers from Imperial College London’s REDS Lab, headed by Nicolas Rojas, introduced a design for a robot that’s built around a malleable structure rather than a rigid one, allowing you to improve how versatile the arm is without having to add extra degrees of freedom. The idea is that you’re no longer constrained to static tubes and joints but can instead reconfigure your robot to set it up exactly the way you want and easily change it whenever you feel Continue reading Malleable Structure Makes Robot Arm More Versatile

Video Friday: Quadruped Robot HyQ Learning the Ninja Walk

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your Automaton bloggers. We’ll also be posting a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months; here’s what we have so far (send us your events!): RSS 2020 – July 12-16, 2020 – [Virtual Conference] CLAWAR 2020 – August 24-26, 2020 – [Virtual Conference] ICUAS 2020 – September 1-4, 2020 – Athens, Greece ICRES 2020 – September 28-29, 2020 – Taipei, Taiwan IROS 2020 – October 25-29, 2020 – Las Vegas, Nevada ICSR 2020 – November 14-16, 2020 – Golden, Colorado Let us know if you have suggestions for next week, and enjoy today’s videos.

Festo’s New Bio-Inspired Robots Include a Feathery Bionic Bird

I’ve completely lost track of time over the past couple of months (it’s been months, right?), but somehow, the folks over at Festo have held it together well enough to continue working on their Bionic Learning Network robots. Every year or two, Festo shows off some really quite spectacular bio-inspired creations, including robotic ants and butterflies, hopping kangaroos, rolling spiderbots, flying penguins and flying jellyfish, and much more. This year, Festo is demonstrating two new robots: BionicMobileAssistant (a “mobile robot system with pneumatic gripping hand”), and BionicSwift, a swarm of beautiful aerial birds.

Why We Need Robot Sloths

An inherent characteristic of a robot (I would argue) is embodied motion. We tend to focus on motion rather a lot with robots, and the most dynamic robots get the most attention. This isn’t to say that highly dynamic robots don’t deserve our attention, but there are other robotic philosophies that, while perhaps less visually exciting, are equally valuable under the right circumstances. Magnus Egerstedt, a robotics professor at Georgia Tech, was inspired by some sloths he met in Costa Rica to explore the idea of “slowness as a design paradigm” through an arboreal robot called SlothBot.

Cuddling Robot Baby Seal Paro Proven to Make Life Less Painful

Everybody loves Paro. Seriously, what’s not to love about Paro, the robotic baby harp seal designed as a therapeutic tool for use in hospitals and nursing homes? It’s cute, it’s cuddly, it wiggles and makes pleasing noises, and it’s been carefully designed to be the least uncanny valley robot you’ve ever met, because none of us are lucky enough to have real live baby harp seal experience to compare it to. Over the years, a bunch of studies have shown that Paro (which was designed from the beginning to be a medical device) is able to reduce stress and anxiety and improve mood, particularly in older adults with dementia. What hasn’t been explored is Paro’s effect on physical pain—if something hurts, can Paro help you feel better? Nirit Geva, Florina Uzefovsky, and Shelly Levy-Tzedek at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, in Israel, have just published a new study in Scientific Reports Continue reading Cuddling Robot Baby Seal Paro Proven to Make Life Less Painful