• Rescue robotsRoboCup 2018: Testing methods used to evaluate rescue robots

    Since 1997, several continents have played host to an international soccer tournament. No, not the World Cup — the RoboCup. Robots of all shapes and sizes test their “metal” in the world’s favorite sport. Engineers and fans from across the globe have gathered to watch hunks of autonomous steel try to nudge a ball into a miniature net.

  • RoboBoatsRoboBoat competition tests students’ engineering skills

    Last week, teams of students from thirteen schools—representing six countries—tested their engineering skills by developing autonomous boats during the 11th annual International RoboBoat Competition. The Navy says that that ingenuity will be needed as the desire for autonomous systems continues to grow—not only for the naval service, but across the commercial sector as companies like Dominos, Amazon and Uber all want to use autonomous vehicles for deliveries.  

  • TransportationDriverless ferries to replace footbridges

    By Unni Skoglund

    As towns grow, the need arises for more river and canal crossings. But bridges are expensive and hinder the flow of boat traffic. An autonomous and self-propelled passenger ferry that can “see” kayakers and boats, and that shows up right when you need it, could be an ingenious substitute for footbridges. Soon the prototype for the world’s first driverless electric passenger ferry will be ready to launch in Trondheim, Norway.

  • CybersecurityDiminutive robot defends factories against cyberthreats

    It’s small enough to fit inside a shoebox, yet this robot on four wheels — called HoneyBot — has a big mission: keeping factories and other large facilities safe from hackers. The diminutive device is designed to lure in digital troublemakers who have set their sights on industrial facilities. HoneyBot will then trick the bad actors into giving up valuable information to cybersecurity professionals.

  • Nuclear safetyPipe-crawling robot to help decommission DOE nuclear facility

    A pair of autonomous robots developed by Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute will soon be driving through miles of pipes at the U.S. Department of Energy’s former uranium enrichment plant in Piketon, Ohio, to identify uranium deposits on pipe walls. The CMU robot has demonstrated it can measure radiation levels more accurately from inside the pipe than is possible with external techniques.

  • Robot-human “collaborative autonomy”Researchers join AI-enabled robots in “collaborative autonomy”

    A team of firefighters clears a building in a blazing inferno, searching rooms for people trapped inside or hotspots that must be extinguished. Except this isn’t your typical crew. Most apparent is the fact that the firefighters are not all human. They are working side-by-side with artificially intelligent (AI) robots who are searching the most dangerous rooms, and making life or death decisions. This scenario is potentially closer than you might think, but while AI-equipped robots might be technologically capable of rendering aid, sensing danger or providing protection for their flesh-and-blood counterparts, the only way they can be valuable to humans is if their operators are not burdened with the task of guiding them.

  • Search & rescueIsraeli walk-and-fly Rooster robot aids disaster relief

    By Brian Blum

    RoboTiCan’s Rooster robot can help reach injured victims of natural disasters where it is not safe to send a human rescue worker. Rooster got its name from the fowl’s preference for walking but being able to fly when necessary, Ofir Bustan, RoboTiCan’s COO, said. “Most of the time it walks, but when it runs into an obstacle, it can hover and fly.” That makes Rooster different from most other search-and-rescue robots, which can either walk or fly but not both – meaning they can get stuck or are too high above the ground to search effectively for survivors.

  • Killer robotsWorld’s tech leaders call on UN to ban killer robots

    An open letter by 116 tech leaders from 26 countries urges the United Nations against opening the Pandora’s box of lethal robot weapons. The open letter is the first time that AI and robotics companies have taken a joint stance on the issue. “Lethal autonomous weapons threaten to become the third revolution in warfare,” the letter states. “Once developed, they will permit armed conflict to be fought at a scale greater than ever, and at timescales faster than humans can comprehend. These can be weapons of terror, weapons that despots and terrorists use against innocent populations, and weapons hacked to behave in undesirable ways. We do not have long to act. Once this Pandora’s box is opened, it will be hard to close.”

  • RobosubsHigh school, college engineering students test their skills in RoboSub competition

    More than 300 high school and college engineering students tested their mechanical, electrical, computer, and systems engineering skills, as well as their presentation skills and teamwork, while competing for cash prizes at the recent 20th International RoboSub Competition.

  • Search & rescueSoft, growing robot for searching people under collapsed buildings

    Imagine rescuers searching for people in the rubble of a collapsed building. Instead of digging through the debris by hand or having dogs sniff for signs of life, they bring out a small, air-tight cylinder. They place the device at the entrance of the debris and flip a switch. From one end of the cylinder, a tendril extends into the mass of stones and dirt, like a fast-climbing vine. A camera at the tip of the tendril gives rescuers a view of the otherwise unreachable places beneath the rubble. This is just one possible application of a new type of robot – a robot that can grow across long distances without moving its whole body.

  • Nuclear sitesNextgen robots for nuclear clean-up

    The cost of cleaning up the U.K.’s existing nuclear facilities has been estimated to be between £95 billion, and £219 billion over the next 120 years or so. The harsh conditions within these facilities means that human access is highly restricted and much of the work will need to be completed by robots. Present robotics technology is simply not capable of completing many of the tasks that will be required. A research a consortium to build the next generation of robots that are more durable and perceptive for use in nuclear sites.

  • CybersecuritySerious security vulnerabilities found in home, business, industrial robots

    Researchers have identified numerous vulnerabilities in multiple home, business, and industrial robots available on the market today. The vulnerabilities identified included many graded as high or critical risk, leaving the robots susceptible to cyberattack. Once a vulnerability has been exploited, a hacker could potentially gain control of the robot for cyber espionage, turn a robot into an insider threat, use a robot to expose private information, or cause a robot to perform unwanted actions when interacting with people, business operations, or other robots. In the most extreme cases, robots could be used to cause serious physical damage and harm to people and property.

  • Border securityRobotic lie detector for border, aviation security

    When you engage in international travel, you may one day find yourself face-to-face with border security that is polite, bilingual and responsive — and robotic. The Automated Virtual Agent for Truth Assessments in Real Time (AVATAR) is currently being tested in conjunction with the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) to help border security agents determine whether travelers coming into Canada may have undisclosed motives for entering the country.

  • Search & rescueRemote-control skillful rescue robot demonstrated

    Researchers have developed a prototype construction robot for disaster relief situations. This prototype has drastically improved operability and mobility compared to conventional construction machines.

  • Infrastructure protectionEnergy-efficient dyke-inspection robots

    There are many dykes in the Netherlands, and their structural health must be continuously monitored. Inspecting the condition of dykes and other sea defense structures is typically a task for robots, working in a team and in a highly autonomous way. But if they move around across the dykes, perform tests, and communicate the results for six hours a day, they use a lot of energy. Introducing charging stations is not a realistic scenario. A Dutch researcher had a better idea: an innovative automatic gearbox or the robots, which uses two metal hemispheres instead of a belt drive.