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November 24, 2022

These Haptic Microfingers Tickle Pill Bugs’ Toes

All things considered, we humans are kind of big, which is very limiting to how we can comfortably interact with the world. The practical effect of this is that we tend to prioritize things that we can see and touch and otherwise directly experience, even if those things are only a small part of the world in which we live. A recent study conservatively estimates that there are 2.5 million ants for every one human on Earth. And that’s just […]
November 22, 2022

Robot Gift Guide 2022

It’s been a couple of years, but the IEEE Spectrum Robot Gift Guide is back for 2022! We’ve got all kinds of new robots, and right now is an excellent time to buy one (or a dozen), since many of them are on sale this week. We’ve tried to focus on consumer robots that are actually available (or that you can at least order), but depending on when you’re reading this guide, the prices we have here may not be […]
November 10, 2022

Luxonis’ New Fun-size Bot

Luxonis, a sensor company best known for their OAK line of stereo depth cameras, has decided to take a crack at something a little more complicated and a lot more RGB. They’ve just launched a Kickstarter for Rae, a pint-sized open source mobile robot with an integrated depth camera that combines accessible apps with ROS 2 and is somehow also kind of affordable. “Rae,” which is technically “rae” but I can’t bring myself to not capitalize it, stands for “robotics […]
November 10, 2022

Building a Zero Trust Security Model for Autonomous Systems

This sponsored article is brought to you by Technology Innovation Institute. Autonomous systems sit at the intersection of AI, IoT, cloud architectures, and agile software development practices. Various streams of these systems are becoming prominent, such as unmanned drones, self-driving cars, automated warehouses, and managing capabilities in smart cities. The drone industry alone was estimated at US $100 billion in 2020, and autonomous systems are already driving significantly more value across other domains. 1 But surprisingly little attention has been […]
October 5, 2022

IHMC’s Nadia is a Versatile Humanoid Teammate

The Florida Institute for Human & Machine Cognition (IHMC) is well known in bipedal robotics circles for teaching very complex humanoid robots to walk. Since 2015, IHMC has been home to a Boston Dynamics Atlas (the DRC version) as well as a NASA Valkyrie, and significant progress has been made on advancing these platforms toward reliable mobility and manipulation. But fundamentally, we’re talking about some very old hardware here. And there just aren’t a lot of good replacement options (available […]
October 4, 2022

What Robotics Experts Think of Tesla’s Optimus Robot

Last Friday, 30 September, Tesla introduced several prototypes of its new humanoid robot, Optimus. After a year of speculation based on little more than a person in a robot suit combined with some optimistic assertions made by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, many roboticists tuned in to the event livestream (or attended in person) to see what Tesla’s approach to humanoid robotics would turn out to be. Reactions across the robotics community were diverse. Because robotics requires expertise in many different […]
October 1, 2022

For Better or Worse, Tesla Bot Is Exactly What We Expected

At the end of Tesla’s 2021 AI Day last August, Elon Musk introduced a concept for “Tesla Bot,” an electromechanically-actuated, autonomous bipedal “general purpose” humanoid robot. Musk suggested that a prototype of Tesla Bot (also called “Optimus”) would be complete within the next year. After a lot of hype, a prototype of Tesla Bot was indeed unveiled last night at Tesla’s 2022 AI Day. And as it turns out, the hype was just that—hype. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with […]
September 27, 2022

iRobot Crams Mop and Vacuum Into Newest Roomba

Robots tend to do best when you optimize them for one single, specific task. This is especially true for home robots, which need to be low cost(ish) as well as robust enough to be effective in whatever home they find themselves in. iRobot has had this formula pretty well nailed down with its family of vacuuming robots for nearly two decades, but they’ve also had another family of floor care robots that have been somewhat neglected recently: mopping robots. Today, […]
September 21, 2022

Circle of Circuits

The Big Picture features technology through the lens of photographers. Every month, IEEE Spectrum selects the most stunning technology images recently captured by photographers around the world. We choose images that reflect an important advance, or a trend, or that are just mesmerizing to look at. We feature all images on our site, and one also appears on our monthly print edition. Enjoy the latest images, and if you have suggestions, leave a comment below. RoboCup Class Picture Have you […]
August 21, 2022

The Bionic-Hand Arms Race

In Jules Verne’s 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon, members of the fictitious Baltimore Gun Club, all disabled Civil War veterans, restlessly search for a new enemy to conquer. They had spent the war innovating new, deadlier weaponry. By the war’s end, with “not quite one arm between four persons, and exactly two legs between six,” these self-taught amputee-weaponsmiths decide to repurpose their skills toward a new projectile: a rocket ship. The story of the Baltimore Gun Club […]