Welcome to RobotConsumer

your one-stop destination for consumer robotics related news and product reviews

September 26, 2018

Are Delivery Drones Commercially Viable? Iceland Is About to Find Out

The Icelandic startup Aha takes on Amazon with basic drones bearing burgers Photo: Aha Air Drop: Aha’s drone delivery service operates until 7 p.m. in Reykjavik on days that are not too windy, too snowy, or too rainy. An Icelandic startup called Aha is using a Chinese-made drone and an Israeli logistics system to deliver hot food, groceries, and electronics to households in Iceland’s capital city of Reykjavik. It’s a world’s first, and one that flouts the standard aviation safety […]
July 9, 2018

Sprawling Wheel Leg Robot Crawls and Climbs

The latest version of this skittery little sprawling robot can climb walls and crawl like a turtle We’re always impressed by the way David Zarrouk (a professor at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev by way of UC Berkeley’s Biomimetic Millisystems Lab) manages to extract a ton of functionality from the absolute minimum of hardware in his robots. In the past, we’ve seen clever designs like a steerable robot that only uses a single motor, and a multi-jointed robot arm that uses […]
June 26, 2018

Teaching Bipedal Robots to Step Across Discrete Terrain

UC Berkeley and CMU researchers demonstrate dynamic walking on stepping stones Photo: UC Berkeley Like humans and most terrestrial animals, legged robots need the ability to move over rugged terrain to be useful in applications such as disaster response and search and rescue. However, designing control algorithms that can handle discrete footholds (like rubble or stepping stones) is challenging, because there are strict constraints on foot placement that can’t be violated and the motion of these systems are governed by […]
June 25, 2018

Two Robot Geeks Discuss Robotics PR, Automation Fears, and Terminators

A casual Q&A with a robotics PR expert and a robotics journalist Image: iStockphoto Evan Ackerman is a journalist who has been covering robotics (and some other stuff) for the last 11 years. Last time he counted, he’d written well over 6,000 articles, which seems like a lot. Tim Smith is the CEO of Element Public Relations, a boutique PR firm in San Francisco specializing in emerging technologies. Element has particular expertise in robotics, given their work with Willow Garage, […]
June 25, 2018

Layoffs at Watson Health Reveal IBM’s Problem with AI

Axed engineers say IBM isn’t always smart about artificial intelligence Illustration: IEEE Spectrum; Images: IBM; iStockphoto IBM, a venerable tech company on a mission to stay relevant, has staked much of its future on IBM Watson. The company has touted Watson, its flagship artificial intelligence, as the premier product for turning our data-rich but disorganized world into a smart and tidy planet. Just last month, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty told a convention audience that we’re at an inflection point in history. Putting […]
June 22, 2018

Experts Bet on First Deepfakes Political Scandal

Researchers wager on a possible Deepfake video scandal during the 2018 U.S. midterm elections Illustration: iStockphoto A quiet wager has taken hold among researchers who study artificial intelligence techniques and the societal impacts of such technologies. They’re betting whether or not someone will create a so-called Deepfake video about a political candidate that receives more than 2 million views before getting debunked by the end of 2018.  The actual stakes in the bet are fairly small: Manhattan cocktails as a reward for the “yes” camp and […]
June 22, 2018

Video Friday: Robot World Cup, New Co-Bots, and 1000 SpotMinis

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos Photo: Tech United Eindhoven 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 2018 – June 26-30, 2018 – Pittsburgh, Pa., USA Ubiquitous Robots 2018 – June 27-30, 2018 – Honolulu, Hawaii MARSS 2018 – July 4-8, 2018 – Nagoya, Japan AIM 2018 – July 9-12, 2018 […]
June 20, 2018

Flying Dragon Robot Transforms Itself to Squeeze Through Gaps

DRAGON can change its shape to move through complex environments and even manipulate objects Photo: JSK Lab/University of TokyoDRAGON is able to autonomously decide how to transform when given the constraints of the space it needs to pass through. There’s been a lot of recent focus on applications for aerial robots, and one of the areas with the most potential is indoors. The thing about indoors is that by definition you have to go through doors to get there, and […]
June 15, 2018

Video Friday: Kuka's Home Robot, Nao Upgrade, and Bionic Cuttlefish

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos Photo: Festo 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!): RoboCup 2018 – June 18-22, 2018 – Montreal, Canada RSS 2018 – June 26-30, 2018 – Pittsburgh, Pa., USA Ubiquitous Robots 2018 – June 27-30, 2018 – Honolulu, Hawaii MARSS 2018 – July 4-8, 2018 – Nagoya, Japan […]
June 14, 2018

Alphabet's DeepMind Makes a Key Advance in Computer Vision

Alphabet’s DeepMind neural networks can grasp a three-dimensional scene from just a handful of two-dimensional snapshots Image: DeepMind Researchers at Alphabet’s DeepMind today described a method that they say can construct a three-dimensional layout from just a handful of two-dimensional snapshots. So far the method, based on deep neural networks, has been confined to virtual environments, they write in Science magazine. Natural environments are still too hard for current algorithms and hardware to handle. The article doesn’t speculate on commercial applications, and the authors weren’t available for interview. That gives me […]
June 14, 2018

AI Drone Learns to Detect Brawls

A drone surveillance system trains to watch out for humans stabbing or punching each other Images: University of Cambridge/National Institute of Technology/Indian Institute of Science/IEEE Drones armed with computer vision software could enable new forms of automated skyborne surveillance to watch for violence below. One glimpse of that future comes from UK and Indian researchers who demonstrated a drone surveillance system that can automatically detect small groups of people fighting each other. The seed idea for researchers to develop such a drone […]
June 14, 2018

Stealthy Startup Aims to Reinvent AI for Manufacturing

Some 400 engineers are working under the radar at AutoLab AI with former Autodesk CEOs leading the pack Illustration: iStockphoto What exactly is the “future of autonomous manufacturing?” According to venture capitalist and AutoLab AI cofounder Lior Susan, stealth startup AutoLab AI is building it, but isn’t defining it yet, at least not publicly. That kind of cryptic chatter doesn’t usually get Silicon Valley talking—more likely yawning, or at most mumbling about vaporware. But AutoLab AI, according to Axios, already […]
June 11, 2018

Verity Studios Raises $18M for Safe Swarming Drone Displays

Safe and reliable swarming drone tech could be making its way into consumer drones Photo: Cirque du Soleil/Richard TermineIn 2016 Verity Studios worked with Cirque du Soleil to bring flying lampshade drones to its show Paramour. Verity Studios, which took precision drone swarm technology from ETH Zurich and turned it into a spectacular live event display system, has announced a round of Series A funding totaling US $18 million from Fontinalis Partners, Airbus Ventures, Sony Innovation Fund, and Kitty Hawk. This […]
June 8, 2018

Video Friday: Curiosity Rover, Giant Crab Robot, and Drone Umbrella

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos Image: NASA 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!): RoboCup 2018 – June 18-22, 2018 – Montreal, Canada RSS 2018 – June 26-30, 2018 – Pittsburgh, Pa., USA Ubiquitous Robots 2018 – June 27-30, 2018 – Honolulu, Hawaii MARSS 2018 – July 4-8, 2018 – Nagoya, Japan […]
June 7, 2018

Can a Robot Be Divine?

Researchers explore whether robots can become useful sacred objects in a religious context Photo: Gabriele Trovato/Waseda UniversityA robot with the appearance of a Christian Catholic saint can pray together with users and cite parts of the Bible and stories of the life of saints. Robots appear to be in the middle of a gradual but persistent transition from automated tools that perform specific tasks to artificially intelligent entities that we interact with socially and emotionally. It’s not at all clear […]