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July 5, 2022

Today’s Robotic Surgery Turns Surgical Trainees Into Spectators

Before the robots arrived, surgical training was done the same way for nearly a century. During routine surgeries, trainees worked with nurses, anesthesiologists, and scrub technicians to position and sedate the patient, while also preparing the surgical field with instruments and lights. In many cases, the trainee then made the incision, cauterized blood vessels to prevent blood loss, and positioned clamps to expose the organ or area of interest. That’s often when the surgeon arrived, scrubbed in, and took charge. […]
June 25, 2022

AI-Guided Robots Are Ready to Sort Your Recyclables

It’s Tuesday night. In front of your house sits a large blue bin, full of newspaper, cardboard, bottles, cans, foil take-out trays, and empty yogurt containers. You may feel virtuous, thinking you’re doing your part to reduce waste. But after you rinse out that yogurt container and toss it into the bin, you probably don’t think much about it ever again. The truth about recycling in many parts of the United States and much of Europe is sobering. Tomorrow morning, […]
June 23, 2022

Megatruck Runs on the Lightest Gas

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. Megatruck Runs on the Lightest […]
June 17, 2022

4,000 Robots Roam the Oceans, Climate in Their Crosshairs

In the puzzle of climate change, the Earth’s oceans are an immense and crucial piece. The oceans act as an enormous reservoir of both heat and carbon dioxide, the most abundant greenhouse gas. But gathering accurate and sufficient data about the oceans to feed climate and weather models has been a huge technical challenge. Over the years, though, a basic picture of ocean heating patterns has emerged. The sun’s infrared, visible-light, and ultraviolet radiation warms the oceans, with the heat […]
June 11, 2022

Flea-Sized Robots Walk a Coin-Edge-Sized Path

Microrobotics engineers often turn to nature to inspire their builds. A group of researchers at Northwestern University have picked the peekytoe crab to build a remote-controlled microbot that is tiny enough to walk comfortably on the edge of a coin. According to John A. Rogers, the lead investigator of the study, their work complements that of other scientists who are working on millimeter-scale robots, for example, worm-like structures that can move through liquid media with flagella. But to the best […]
May 24, 2022

A Dragon Comes Home

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. Figure From Fiction For centuries, […]
May 13, 2022

Maple Seeds Inspire Efficient Spinning Microdrone

The relatively simple and now quite pervasive quadrotor design for drones emphasizes performance and manufacturability, which is fine, but there are some tradeoffs—namely, endurance. Four motors with rapidly spinning tiny blades suck down battery power, and while consumer drones have mitigated this somewhat by hauling around ever-larger batteries, the fundamental problem is one of efficiency in flight. In a paper published this week in Science Robotics, researchers from the City University of Hong Kong have come up with a drone […]
May 4, 2022

Automating Road Maintenance With LiDAR Technology

This is a sponsored article brought to you by SICK Inc.. From advanced manufacturing to automated vehicles, engineers are using LiDAR to change the world as we know it. For the second year, students from across the country submitted projects to SICK’s annual TiM$10K Challenge. The first place team during the 2020 TiM$10K Challenge hails from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Worcester, Mass. The team comprised of undergraduate seniors, Daniel Pelaez and Noah Budris, and undergraduate junior, Noah Parker. With […]
May 4, 2022

Clearpath Announces TurtleBot 4

Today, Clearpath Robotics is opening pre-orders for the newest, fanciest TurtleBot: the TurtleBot 4. Built on top of iRobot’s Create 3 in close partnership with Open Robotics, the TurtleBot 4 is “the next-generation of the world’s most popular open-source robotics platform for education and research, offering superior computing power, more payload capacity, improved sensors, and a world class user experience at an affordable price.” Couldn’t have said it better myself, no matter how many times I’ve tried. TurtleBot 4’s big […]
April 27, 2022

UCSB and Disney Find Out How High a Robot Can Possibly Jump

Over the last decade or so, we’ve seen an enormous variety of jumping robots. With a few exceptions, these robots look to biology to inspire their design and functionality. This makes sense, because the natural world is full of jumping animals that are absolutely incredible, and matching their capabilities with robots seems like a reasonable thing to aspire to—with creatures such as ants, frogs, birds, and galagos, robots have tried (and occasionally succeeded in some specific ways) to mimic their […]