Welcome to RobotConsumer

your one-stop destination for consumer robotics related news and product reviews

June 4, 2018

Firefighting Robot Snake Flies on Jets of Water

Using steerable jets of water like rockets, this robot snake can fly into burning buildings to extinguish fires Image: Tohoku University/National Institute of Technology Fires have an unfortunate habit of happening in places that aren’t necessarily easy to reach. Whether the source of the fire is somewhere deep within a building, or up more than a floor or two, or both, firefighters have few good options for tackling them. They can either pour water into windows (which doesn’t always work […]
June 4, 2018

Medical Imaging AI Software Is Vulnerable to Covert Attacks

An attacker could manipulate medical software to rig a clinical trial or justify unnecessary procedures Illustration: iStockphoto Artificial intelligence systems meant to analyze medical images are vulnerable to attacks designed to fool them in ways that are imperceptible to humans, a new study warns. There may be enormous incentives to carry out such attacks for healthcare fraud and other nefarious ends, the researchers say. “The most striking thing to me as a researcher crafting these attacks was probably how easy […]
June 1, 2018

Video Friday: Skydio's Car Follow, Telexistence, and Tick-Killing Robot

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos Photo: TelexistenceTokyo-based robotics startup Telexistence unveils its Model H robot and control system. Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your Automaton bloggers. We’ll also be posting a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months; here’s what we have so far (send us your events!): RoboCup 2018 – June 18-22, 2018 – Montreal, Canada RSS 2018 – June 26-30, 2018 – Pittsburgh, Pa., USA Ubiquitous Robots 2018 – June […]
May 31, 2018

Simple Robots Perform Complex Tasks With Environmental Modifications

Robots learn to modify their environment to make the impossible possible Photo: University of Pennsylvania/ModLab There’s an expectation in robotics that in order to be useful, robots have to be able to adapt to unstructured environments. Unstructured environments generally refer to places outside of a robotics lab or other controlled or semi-controlled situation, and could include anything from your living room to a tropical rainforest. An enormous amount of effort and creativity goes into designing robots that can reliably operate […]
May 31, 2018

Drone Delivery Becomes a Reality in Remote Pacific Islands

In Vanuatu, delivery drones will fly vaccines to isolated villages beginning in September Photo: UNICEFCurrently, health workers in Vanuatu often hike over mountains to deliver vaccines–but drones can fly over them. This September, delivery drones will begin to fly the friendly skies of Vanuatu. And this isn’t a one-shot demonstration, like many of the stunts we’ve seen from the likes of Amazon and Google. This is an attempt to make drones part of the medical infrastructure.   The South Pacific island […]
May 30, 2018

Tiny Robots in Disguise Combat Bacteria in the Blood

Miniature robots cloaked in platelets and red blood cells can clear bacterial infections in the blood Image: Esteban-Fernández de Ávila/ Science RoboticsMRSA bacteria (spheres) attached to the biohybrid nanorobots. Researchers have come up with all sorts of ways to propel tiny robots deep into the human body to perform tasks, such as delivering drugs and taking biopsies. Now, there’s a nanorobot that can clean up infections in blood.  Directed by ultrasound, the tiny robots, made of gold nanowires with a biological coating, dart around blood,  attach to bacteria, and […]
May 24, 2018

Quadrotor Safety System Stops Propellers Before You Lose a Finger

With spinning hoops to detect obstacles combined with electromagnetic braking, this quadrotor safety system is both effective and cheap Photo: Evan Ackerman/IEEE Spectrum Quadrotors have a reputation for being both fun and expensive, but it’s not usually obvious how dangerous they can be. While it’s pretty clear from the get-go that it’s in everyone’s best interest to avoid the spinny bits whenever possible, quadrotor safety primarily involves doing little more than trying your level best not to run into people. […]
May 24, 2018

Synthetic Bacteria Drive New Ingestible Gut Sensor

An ingestible capsule pairs bacteria with electronics to monitor blood in the GI tract Photo: Lillie Paquette/MIT School of Engineering In the latest edition of “What would you be willing to swallow?”, researchers at MIT today unveiled an ingestible sensor that combines engineered bacteria with ultra-low-power microelectronics to sense changes in the gut. The sensor, roughly the size of a large pen cap, needs to undergo miniaturization and further study before it can be used in humans, but the team […]
May 24, 2018

Coding for Catastrophe: Contest Seeks Apps to Mitigate Effects of Natural Disasters

Got a great idea for an app to help people deal with a natural disaster? Call for Code wants to hear from you Illustrations: iStockphoto and Shutterstock The United Nations’ Human Rights Office, the American Red Cross, the David Clark Cause, and IBM today announced Call for Code, a contest seeking applications that address natural disasters—aiding either prevention, response, or recovery.  The disasters of 2017—fires, floods, earthquakes, and storms—stretched the capacity of traditional response methods, and sparked the United Nations […]
May 22, 2018

Stickman Explores the Physics of Flying Through the Air

Disney Research is teaching this skinny robot how to perform a variety of somersaulting stunts Image: Disney Research This is a guest post. The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not represent positions of IEEE Spectrum or the IEEE. Olympic gymnast Simone Biles has a signature move that is named after her because she is the only woman on earth capable of performing it. The move starts as a layout double flip, but more than […]
May 19, 2018

Video Friday: Andy Rubin on Robotics, Dynamic Exoskeleton, and Two Robot Heads

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos Image: Flash Robotics via YouTube Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your Automaton bloggers. We’ll also be posting a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months; here’s what we have so far (send us your events!): ICRA 2018 – May 21-25, 2018 – Brisbane, Australia Dynamic Walking Conference – May 21-24, 2018 – Pensacola, Fla., USA RoboCup 2018 – June 18-22, 2018 – Montreal, Canada RSS 2018 – June 26-30, […]
May 16, 2018

Feel What This Robot Feels Through Tactile Expressions

Inflatable spikes and goosebumps help this robot communicate Photo: Cornell We humans think we’re pretty clever with all of the different ways that we have of communicating with each other. We vocalize, we have expressive faces, we gesture. It seems like plenty of modes of communication, but we’re missing out on a few that are routine for animals, including texture: Animals can express emotional states through skin changes, like when cats cause their hair to stand up, or when a […]
May 16, 2018

Crossbar Pushes Resistive RAM into Embedded AI

Deal with Microsemi and foundries means its nonvolatile embedded memory can be integrated into the most advanced chips Photo: Crossbar Resistive RAM technology developer Crossbar says it has inked a deal with aerospace chip maker Microsemi allowing the latter to embed Crossbar’s nonvolatile memory on future chips. The move follows selection of Crossbar’s technology by a leading foundry for advanced manufacturing nodes. Crossbar is counting on resistive RAM (ReRAM) to enable artificial intelligence systems whose neural networks are housed within […]
May 15, 2018

Hiding Information in Plain Text

Subtle changes to letter shapes can embed messages Image: Columbia University Computer scientists have now invented a way to hide secret messages in ordinary text by imperceptibly changing the shapes of letters. The new technique, named FontCode , works with common font families such as Times Roman and Helvetica. It is compatible with most word-processing software, including Microsoft Word, as well as image-editing and drawing programs, such as Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. Although there are obvious applications for espionage […]
May 15, 2018

Laser-Powered Robot Insect Achieves Lift Off

Everything is better with lasers, especially tiny robot insects Photo: University of Washington For robots of all sizes, power is a fundamental problem. Any robot that moves is constrained in one way or another by power supply, whether it’s relying on carrying around heavy batteries, combustion engines, fuel cells, or anything else. It’s particularly tricky to manage power as your robot gets smaller, since it’s much more straightforward to scale these things up rather than down—and for really tiny robots […]