• DARPA looking for a game interface to end all interfaces

    A soldier in the field has his or her hands and voice fully taken up managing their weapons, sensors, and communications; DARPA wants to help: the Pentagon’s push-the-envelope research unit asks for idea on how to develop an interface which would allow soldiers to run, leap, or otherwise navigate about virtually without needing to do so physically

  • Increasing counter-IED role for robots

    U.S. and coalition military operating in Afghanistan have experienced about 10,500 roadside bomb incidents so far this year, up from 8,994 in 2009 and 2,677 in 2007; robots continue to play ever-more important combat roles in the air and on the ground in Afghanistan and Iraq, and their responsibilities will only continue to grow

  • Robotic attachment uses balloon, coffee to grasp objects

    DARPA-funded research yields a new robotic gripping attachment which relies on ground coffee and a party balloon; The manipulator presses a soft balloon full of loose coffee grounds down on the object to be gripped; the air is sucked out of the balloon, causing the coffee granules to press together and lock into a rigid shape — causing the object to be securely grasped by the manipulator; the object can be released as desired by ending the suction on the granule-filled bulb

  • Robots compete in self-destruction

    One Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics states that a robot must protect its own existence; a competition was held last weekend which aimed to subvert that law: participants were challenged to build a robot that attempts a simple, menial task but fumbles it or fails, before destroying itself

  • USAF develops UAVs that fly themselves

    A U.S. Air Force project will allow UAVs to fly themselves — in multiple-aircraft formations — without colliding; the USAF is working to develop systems that unmanned aircraft can use to sense the presence of other aircraft and take action to prevent collisions that are safe enough so that UAVs can perform any Air Force mission

  • Multi-touch control search-and-rescue robot swarms

    The new Dream controller for Microsoft Surface could help speed up search-and-rescue operations; . when disaster strikes, search-and-rescue teams must quickly gather and assimilate the data needed to find survivors; a team of robots can help scout out for persons stuck in rubble or create new maps of the landscape; first responders, though, need ways to control those robots, and process incoming information quickly

  • Insect-size air vehicles to explore, monitor hazardous environments

    High-performance micro air vehicles (MAVs) are on track to evolve into robotic, insect-scale devices for monitoring and exploration of hazardous environments, such as collapsed structures, caves and chemical spills

  • Self-learning robots to be used in earthquake, disaster rescue missions

    Rescue robots capable of understanding the changing and unpredictable environment of disaster scenarios may one day be deployed to search for survivors in the aftermath of earthquakes; a robot equipped with a newly developed software, for example, would be able to recognize how something such as a stick could be used as a tool to push an object through an area too small for the robot to go into

  • Carnegie Mellon launches robotics start-up

    Carnegie Robotics LLC will partner with Carnegie Mellon to manufacture robotic components and systems; startup to create products based on technology from CMU’s National Robotics Engineering Center

  • Police robot seeks out the bad guys

    Police units in California use DHS grants to buy a robot to go into dangerous places to look for bad guys; the $12,000, 25-pound robot is waterproof, equipped with a 360-degree camera and tracks for movement; it climbs stairs, runs on grass and gravel, and can right itself if it flips over

  • Flying robotic arm can pick up bombs, packages

    A helicopter equipped with a robotic hand picks up small objects; the robotic arm could be used in spots that are difficult for ground robots to get to, such as high or roughly terrained places; it could also be used to pick up bombs or packages

  • Unmanned copter to deliver supplies to troops in forward positions

    The U.S. military will award Lockheed Martin a contract to build an unmanned helicopter which will deliver supplies to forward-positioned troops; in trials earlier this year, a prototype has shown that it can shift 3,000lb of cargo across 150 nautical miles in two flights within six hours — all without any input from ground operators other than specifying the destination and route

  • Unmanned helicopter enters restricted airspace after losing communication

    An MQ-8 Fire Scout lost communication with its operators and flew into restricted airspace around Washington, D.C.; typically during a lost communications event, an autonomous vehicle is preprogrammed based on its last waypoint to conduct certain activities, take a holding pattern, and wait for operators to reconnect; the Pentagon says: “We found a software anomaly that allowed aircraft not to follow its preprogrammed flight procedures”

  • Preventing robots from colliding with each other

    With more ands more autonomous vehicles — or robots — on land, sea, and in the air are being employed in more and more military, law enforcement, and first response mission, there is a growing need to make sure that, when on a mission, they do not collide with each other as they go about their business

  • Japanese rescue robot can sniff out, and help, buried disaster survivors

    Japanese emergency services are testing a search-and-rescue robot that can search rubble for survivors and deliver water, food, or cellphones in disaster zones; the device has a robotic arm that can be remote-controlled to turn doorknobs, maneuver through rubble and carry crucial survival items after an earthquake or other disaster