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March 20, 2020

Coronavirus Pandemic: A Call to Action for the Robotics Community

aside.inlay.CoronaVirusCoverage.xlrg { font-family: “Helvetica”, sans-serif; text-transform: uppercase; text-align: center; border-width: 4px 0; border-top: 2px solid #666; border-bottom: 2px solid #666; padding: 10px 0; font-size: 18px; font-weight: bold; } span.LinkHereRed { color: #cc0000; text-transform: uppercase; font-family: “Theinhardt-Medium”, sans-serif; } When I reached Professor Guang-Zhong Yang on the phone last week, he was cooped up in a hotel room in Shanghai, where he had self-isolated after returning from a trip abroad. I wanted to hear from Yang, a widely respected figure in the robotics […]
March 9, 2020

Flight of the GermFalcon: How a Potential Coronavirus-Killing Airplane Sterilizer Was Born

Dr. Arthur Kreitenberg and his son Elliot got some strange looks when they began the design work for the GermFalcon, a new machine that uses ultraviolet light to wipe out coronavirus and other germs inside an airplane. The father-son founders of Dimer UVC took tape measures with them on flights to unobtrusively record the distances that would form the key design constraints for their system. “We definitely got lots of looks from passengers and lots of inquiries from flight attendants,” Dr. […]
March 2, 2020

Late Nights, Cool Hacks, and More Stories from the DARPA SubT Urban Circuit

For the past two weeks, teams of robots (and their humans) have been exploring an unfinished nuclear power plant in Washington state as part of DARPA’s Subterranean Challenge. The Urban Circuit portion of the challenge ended last Thursday, with Team CoSTAR (a collaboration between NASA JPL, MIT, Caltech, KAIST, LTU, and industry partners including Clearpath Robotics and Boston Dynamics) taking first place. Second place went to Carnegie Mellon’s Team Explorer, which took first at the previous SubT Tunnel Circuit six […]
February 28, 2020

Meet the Roomba’s Ancestor: The Cybernetic Tortoise

Photo: Science and Society Picture Library/Getty Images Neurophysiologist W. Grey Walter built his cybernetic tortoises to elucidate the functions of the brain. In the robotics family tree, Roomba’s ancestors were probably Elmer and Elsie, a pair of cybernetic tortoises invented in the 1940s by neurophysiologist W. Grey Walter. The robots could “see” by means of a rotating photocell that steered them toward a light source. If the light was too bright, they would retreat and continue their exploration in a […]
February 25, 2020

Build a Rover, Send It to the Moon, Sell the Movie Rights: 30 Years of iRobot

This article was originally published on LinkedIn. The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not represent positions of IEEE Spectrum or the IEEE. Build a rover, send it to the Moon, sell the movie rights. That was our first business model at iRobot. Way back in 1990. We thought it would be how we’d first change the world. It’s ironic, of course, that through that model, changing the world meant sending a robot to another one. Sadly, that […]
February 23, 2020

New Ideas for the Automation of Tomorrow

  Secure your ticket today! Being the only event worldwide that brings together all visionary key technologies in one place, automatica is the leading exhibition for smart automation and robotics. Benefit from know-how transfer with leading experts and expand your network with people who can show you the to Industry 4.0. automatica will open its doors June 16-19, 2020 to 890 international exhibitors and over 45,584 visitors from all over the world in Munich, Germany. Save time and money now and conveniently purchase your ticket in advance online! Tickets Patrick […]
February 20, 2020

Autonomous Vehicles Should Start Small, Go Slow

Illustration: Chris Philpot Many young urbanites don’t want to own a car, and unlike earlier generations, they don’t have to rely on mass transit. Instead they treat mobility as a service: When they need to travel significant distances, say, more than 5 miles (8 kilometers), they use their phones to summon an Uber (or a car from a similar ride-sharing company). If they have less than a mile or so to go, they either walk or use various “micromobility” services, such as […]
February 12, 2020

Meet Haru, the Unassuming Big-Eyed Robot Helping Researchers Study Social Robotics

This is a guest post. The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not represent positions of IEEE Spectrum or the IEEE. Honda Research Institute’s (HRI) experimental social robot Haru was first introduced at the ACM/IEEE Human Robot Interaction conference in 20181. The robot is designed as a platform to investigate social presence and emotional and empathetic engagement for long-term human interaction. Envisioned as a multimodal communicative agent, Haru interacts through nonverbal sounds (paralanguage), eye, face, and body […]
February 11, 2020

How to Program Sony's Robot Dog Aibo

The Sony Aibo has been the most sophisticated home robot that you can buy for an astonishing 20 years. The first Aibo went on sale in 1999, and even though there was a dozen year-long gap between 2005’s ERS-7 and the latest ERS-1000, there was really no successful consumer robot over that intervening time that seriously challenged the Aibo. Part of what made Aibo special was how open Sony was user customization and programmability. Aibo served as the RoboCup Standard […]
January 28, 2020

Japan Is Building a Giant Gundam Robot That Can Walk

Japan has had a robust robot culture for decades, thanks (at least in part) to the success of the Gundam series, which are bipedal humanoid robots controlled by a human who rides inside of them. I would tell you how many different TV series and video games and manga there are about Gundam, but I’m certain I can’t count that high—there’s like seriously a lot of Gundam stuff out there. One of the most visible bits of Gundam stuff is […]