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 […]
April 24, 2022

Q&A: Inside DARPA’s Subterranean Challenge

Deep below the Louisville, Ky., zoo lies a network of enormous caverns carved out of limestone. The caverns are dark. They’re dusty. They’re humid. And during one week in September 2021, they were full of the most sophisticated robots in the world. The robots (along with their human teammates) were there to tackle a massive underground course designed by DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, as the culmination of its three-year Subterranean Challenge. The SubT was first announced in […]
April 7, 2022

Meet the Lunar Gateway’s Robot Caretakers

An integral part of NASA’s plan to return astronauts to the Moon this decade is the Lunar Gateway, a space station that will be humanity’s first permanent outpost outside of low Earth orbit. Gateway, a partnership between NASA, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), is intended to support operations on the lunar surface while also serving as a staging point for exploration to Mars. Gateway will be significantly smaller […]
April 5, 2022

iRobot Launches Create 3, with ROS 2 Built In

Happy National Robotics Week! It’s a very special NRW this year, because iRobot has seen fit to announce a brand new robot that is guaranteed to leave your floors 0 percent cleaner. And there was much rejoicing, because this is not a mop or a vacuum, but instead a new and updated version of iRobot Create: the Create 3. Not only is the Create 3 based on a much more modern Roomba platform, it’s also compatible with ROS 2, the […]
March 31, 2022

The 11 Commandments of Hugging Robots

If we’ve learned anything over the past few years, it’s how important it is not to take physical contact for granted. Unfortunately, physical contact with humans is something that robots find especially difficult and occasionally dangerous, such that we cannot (yet) safely use them as a proxy for nuanced physical contact with another person. It’s not just that robots are strong and humans are squishy (although both of those things are true), it’s that there are a lot of complex […]
March 19, 2022

iCub Is Growing Up

It’s a little weird to think that iCub, the first version of which was released in 2008, is now a full-on teenager—after all, the robot was originally designed after a three year old child, and it hasn’t grown all that much. But as it turns out, iCub has grown, at least a little bit, with the brand new iCub3, a bigger, heavier, stronger upgrade that can also be used as a sophisticated immersive telepresence platform. The larger iCub3, on left, […]
March 8, 2022

Geographic Hints Help a Simple Robot Navigate for Kilometers

The way most robots navigate is very different from the way most humans navigate. Robots are happiest when they have total environmental understanding, with some sort of full geometric reconstruction of everything around them plus exact knowledge of their own position and orientation. Lidars, pre-existing maps, powerful computers, and even a motion capture system if you can afford it; the demands of autonomous robots never end. Obviously, this stuff doesn’t scale all that well. With that in mind, Dhruv Shah […]