Stretchy Wearable Patch Allows Two-Way Communication With Robots

Multifunctional metal-oxide semiconductor used to build flexible RRAM, transistors, and sensors Engineers at the University of Houston are trying to make the melding of humans and machines a little easier on the humans. They’ve developed an easy-to-manufacture flexible electronics patch that, when attached to a human, translates the person’s motion and other commands to a robot and receives temperature feedback from the robot. Led by University of Houston assistant professor Cunjiang Yu, the team developed transistors, RRAM memory cells, strain sensors, UV-light detectors, temperature sensors, and heaters all using the same set of materials in a low-temperature manufacturing process. They integrated the different devices into a 4-micrometer-thick adhesive plastic patch. A paper describing the Houston researchers’ work appears this week in Science Advances. With the patch on the back of a volunteer’s hand, the researchers were able to control a robot hand—causing it to close or open according to what the human’s hand motion Continue reading Stretchy Wearable Patch Allows Two-Way Communication With Robots

Video Friday: Kiki Is a New Social Robot Created by Two Ex-Googlers

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos 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!): DARPA SubT Tunnel Circuit – August 15-22, 2019 – Pittsburgh, Pa., USA IEEE Africon 2019 – September 25-27, 2019 – Accra, Ghana ISRR 2019 – October 6-10, 2019 – Hanoi, Vietnam Ro-Man 2019 – October 14-18, 2019 – New Delhi, India Humanoids 2019 – October 15-17, 2019 – Toronto, Canada ARSO 2019 – October 31-1, 2019 – Beijing, China ROSCon 2019 – October 31-1, 2019 – Macau Let us know if you have suggestions for next week, and enjoy today’s videos.

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

Video Friday: A Two-Armed Robot That Balances on a Ball

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos 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!): ICRES 2019 – July 29-30, 2019 – London, U.K. DARPA SubT Tunnel Circuit – August 15-22, 2019 – Pittsburgh, Pa., USA IEEE Africon 2019 – September 25-27, 2019 – Accra, Ghana ISRR 2019 – October 6-10, 2019 – Hanoi, Vietnam Ro-Man 2019 – October 14-18, 2019 – New Delhi, India Humanoids 2019 – October 15-17, 2019 – Toronto, Canada Let us know if you have suggestions for next week, and enjoy today’s videos.

Video Friday: This 3D-Printed Micro-Robot Could One Day Walk Inside Your Body

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos 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!): ICRES 2019 – July 29-30, 2019 – London, U.K. DARPA SubT Tunnel Circuit – August 15-22, 2019 – Pittsburgh, Pa., USA IEEE Africon 2019 – September 25-27, 2019 – Accra, Ghana ISRR 2019 – October 6-10, 2019 – Hanoi, Vietnam Ro-Man 2019 – October 14-18, 2019 – New Delhi, India Humanoids 2019 – October 15-17, 2019 – Toronto, Canada Let us know if you have suggestions for next week, and enjoy today’s videos.

Swarm Robots Mimic Ant Jaws to Flip and Jump

Trap-jaw ants inspired these small, autonomous swarm robots Small robots are appealing because they’re simple, cheap, and it’s easy to make a lot of them. Unfortunately, being simple and cheap means that each robot individually can’t do a whole lot. To make up for this, you can do what insects do—leverage that simplicity and low-cost to just make a huge swarm of simple robots, and together, they can cooperate to carry out relatively complex tasks. Using insects as an example does set a bit of an unfair expectation for the poor robots, since insects are (let’s be honest) generally smarter and much more versatile than a robot on their scale could ever hope to be. Most robots with insect-like capabilities (like DASH and its family) are really too big and complex to be turned into swarms, because to make a vast amount of small robots, things like motors aren’t going to work Continue reading Swarm Robots Mimic Ant Jaws to Flip and Jump

Watch World Champion Soccer Robots Take on Humans at RoboCup

Humans may not be doomed at soccer quite yet RoboCup 2019 took place earlier this month down in Sydney, Australia. While there are many different events including RoboCup@Home, RoboCup Rescue, and a bunch of different soccer leagues, one of the most compelling events is middle-size league (MSL), where mobile robots each about the size of a fire hydrant play soccer using a regular size FIFA soccer ball. The robots are fully autonomous, making their own decisions in real time about when to dribble, pass, and shoot. The long-term goal of RoboCup is this: By the middle of the 21st century, a team of fully autonomous humanoid robot soccer players shall win a soccer game, complying with the official rules of FIFA, against the winner of the most recent World Cup. While the robots are certainly not there yet, they’re definitely getting closer.

Video Friday: This NASA Robot Uses “Fishhook Grippers” to Climb Rock Walls

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos 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!): ICRES 2019 – July 29-30, 2019 – London, U.K. DARPA SubT Tunnel Circuit – August 15-22, 2019 – Pittsburgh, Pa., USA IEEE Africon 2019 – September 25-27, 2019 – Accra, Ghana ISRR 2019 – October 6-10, 2019 – Hanoi, Vietnam Let us know if you have suggestions for next week, and enjoy today’s videos.

How High Fives Help Us Get in Touch With Robots

Social touch is a cornerstone of human interaction, and robots are learning how to do it too The human sense of touch is so naturally ingrained in our everyday lives that we often don’t notice its presence. Even so, touch is a crucial sensing ability that helps people to understand the world and connect with others. As the market for robots grows, and as robots become more ingrained into our environments, people will expect robots to participate in a wide variety of social touch interactions. At Oregon State University’s Collaborative Robotics and Intelligent Systems (CoRIS) Institute, I research how to equip everyday robots with better social-physical interaction skills—from playful high-fives to challenging physical therapy routines.  

Robots Have a Hard Time Grasping These “Adversarial Objects”

To make robot grasping more robust, researchers are designing objects that are as difficult as possible for robots to manipulate There’s been a bunch of research recently into adversarial images, which are images of things that have been modified to be particularly difficult for computer vision algorithms to accurately identify. The idea is that these kinds of images can be used to help design more robust computer vision algorithms, because their “adversarial” nature is sort of a deliberate worst-case scenario—if your algorithm can handle adversarial images, then it can probably handle most other things. Researchers at UC Berkeley have been extending this concept to robot grasping, with physical adversarial objects carefully designed to be tricky for conventional robot grippers to pick up. All it takes is a slight tweak to straightforward three-dimensional shapes, and a standard two-finger will have all kinds of trouble finding a solid grasp.