Featured Articles Category for articles to be classified as such automatically

February 24, 2022

From Home Brew to Hasbro

Twenty years ago, just after the dot com meltdown, I was working as a consultant and had lots of free time on my hands. I started indulging in my hobby of building robots, and subsequently met up with other like-minded people at the Silicon Valley Home Brew Robotics Club. One of the first people I met at the club was Bob Allen, an electronics engineer who had a machine shop in his garage and could make amazing mechanical things. Bob […]
February 18, 2022

BattleBots: Coping with Carnage

If you’ve haven’t seen last night’s episode of Discovery’s BattleBots yet, you might want to stop reading this until later because—spoiler alert—we got destroyed. Poor Ghost Raptor faced off against the Robotic Death Company’s Cobalt and was left in dismembered pieces on the floor of the arena. Now that the fight has aired, and the smoke has (literally) cleared, we can tell you about what happens during and after the combat (to find about how BattleBots is set up, and […]
February 10, 2022

Shapeshifting Robots Adapt with Cleverly Designed Bodies, Grippers

Robots have all kinds of ways to change their shapes in the sense that you can use rigid components along with actuators to design a robot that can go from one shape to another. Such a system is inevitably highly complex, though, and typically requires a lot of mass plus a lot of energy to switch to and then maintain the shape that you’d like it to. This week, we saw a couple of papers highlighting different shapeshifting robotic systems […]
February 3, 2022

Competition Spurs Robotics and AI Innovations for Maritime Challenges

This is a sponsored article brought to you by MBZIRC Maritime Grand Challenge. Strategies for driving innovation, whether on the corporate or the sovereign-state level, is wrought with challenges. Abu Dhabi-based ASPIRE has adopted a creative approach to overcoming many of these challenges by creating grand technical challenge competitions to drive the development of innovative technologies. These challenges are essentially opening up to competition the development of solutions to key industrial and societal problems and offering prize money to the […]
January 27, 2022

DARPA’s RACER Program Sends High-Speed, Autonomous Vehicles Off-Road

DARPA has announced the first phase of a shiny new program called RACER, which stands for Robotic Autonomy in Complex Environments with Resiliency. I’m not sure why they couldn’t have just left it at RACE, but that’s government backronyms for you. Anyway, the RACER program is all about high-speed driving in unstructured environments, which is a problem that has not been addressed by the commercial vehicle autonomy industry, because we have, you know, roads. But where DARPA is going there […]
January 27, 2022

BattleBots: Behind The Scenes With Ghost Raptor

As a fashiontech designer, I spend a lot of time making sure my designs are safe, whether it’s a robotic spider dress, or a prosthetic leg with a built-in Tesla coil and spark gaps. So when I got invited to help update a robot designed to kill other robots in a televised death-match arena, I thought: Oki-doki, that sounds like a chance to do something different. And smash things. I was in. Our first match airs tonight at 8 pm […]
January 11, 2022

Labrador Addresses Critical Need With Deceptively Simple Home Robot

It’s not often that we see a home robot that manages to be both relatively affordable and realistically technologically achievable while also solving a clear and widespread need. The iRobot Roomba was arguably the first good example of such a robot, but I’m hard pressed to think of what the second good example would be, which is why this new home robot from Labrador Systems is so exciting—it’s essentially a semi-autonomous mobile table, which is poised to have a huge […]
January 11, 2022

Why Multi-Functional Robots Will Take Over Commercial Robotics

This is a sponsored article brought to you by Avidbots. The days of having single-purpose robots for specific tasks are behind us. A robot must be multi-functional to solve today’s challenges, be cost-effective, and increase the productivity of an organization. Yet, most indoor autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) today are specialized, often addressing a single application, service, or market. These robots are highly effective at completing the task at hand, however, they are limited to addressing a single use case. While […]
December 14, 2021

Children as Social Robot Designers

The robot in the picture above is called YOLO, which stands for “your own living object.” It’s pretty weird looking—not like something you or I would design if someone were to tell us to design a social robot, right? And that’s because YOLO is a robot that was designed by, and for, children. Not adults making the kind of robot that they think kids will want, mind you, but actual children doing the designing from scratch. Getting children to design […]
December 8, 2021

Mars Helicopter Just Keeps On Going

The original mission of the Mars Helicopter (named Ingenuity) was to successfully complete a single 30-second long flight on Mars. That happened back in April. After several more successful flights, Ingenuity’s 30-day mission came to an end, but the helicopter was doing so well that NASA decided to keep it flying. Several months later, JPL promised that Ingenuity would “complete flight operations no later than the end of August,” but as of late November, the little helicopter has completed 17 […]