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 […]
July 23, 2022

How Robots Can Help Us Act and Feel Younger

By 2050, the global population aged 65 or more will be nearly double what it is today. The number of people over the age of 80 will triple, approaching half a billion. Supporting an aging population is a worldwide concern, but this demographic shift is especially pronounced in Japan, where more than a third of Japanese will be 65 or older by midcentury. Toyota Research Institute (TRI), which was established by Toyota Motor Corp. in 2015 to explore autonomous cars, […]
July 21, 2022

Rodney Brooks Explains What Robust.AI Is Actually Doing

Robust.AI was founded three years ago to do, well, nobody was quite sure what. Or rather, some people were quite sure what, and those people would be the Robust.AI team, who weren’t saying much. But it was that founding team that made us take notice, since it included highly experienced folks from SRI and Alphabet, as well as some big names in academia: Gary Marcus, Henrik Christensen, and Rodney Brooks. A recent press release answered some questions about what Robust.AI […]
July 14, 2022

Wandering Robots in the Wild

In order to better understand how people will interact with mobile robots in the wild, we need to take them out of the lab and deploy them in the real world. But this isn’t easy to do. Roboticists tend to develop robots under the assumption that they’ll know exactly where their robots are at any given time—clearly that’s an important capability if the robot’s job is to usefully move between specific locations. But that ability to localize generally requires the […]
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 […]