• Snake-emulating search-and-rescue robot

    An all-terrain robot for search-and-rescue missions must be flexible enough to move over uneven surfaces, yet not so big that it is restricted from tight spaces; it might also be required to climb slopes of varying inclines; researchers say the solution would be a search-and-rescue robot which emulates the locomotion of a certain type of flexible, efficient animals: snakes

  • Robots to climb and assemble structures, making construction safer

    In the near future, armies of robots could nimbly be crawling up towers and skyscrapers to make repairs, so humans do not have to; the design of the truss pieces, which have ridges and specially designed locks so the robot can manipulate them, is as important as the robot itself, and researchers express the hopes that in the future such robot-friendly building components would be standardized for widespread use

  • Physicists predict when brittle materials fail

    It does not happen often, but structures like bridges, airplanes, and buildings do fail, sometimes catastrophically; what are the odds, and how can it be prevented? Researchers just published new theoretical insights into the probability of structural failures, based on hundreds of thousands of computer simulations

  • Middle school robotics team develops solution to food poisoning

    A group of eight middle school students in California has developed an electrolyzed water vending machine that can cheaply and effectively reduce food contamination

  • Four-legged robot carries troops’ load

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    The increasing weight of military equipment has a negative impact on soldiers’ readiness and effectiveness; reducing the load on dismounted soldiers has thus become a major point of emphasis for defense research and development; the Legged Squad Support System (LS3) robot follows squad members through rugged terrain and interact with them in a natural way, similar to the way a trained animal and its handler interact, while carrying 400 lbs. of squad’s gear

  • Running robots for hard-to-reach places

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    A large fraction of the Earth’s surface remains inaccessible to conventional wheeled or tracked vehicles, while animals and humans traverse such terrain with ease and elegance; scientists are working to develop search-and-rescue robots which emulate animal or human walking, thus making them more capable of saving people in hard-to-reach places

  • Students compete in zero-gravity robotic competition

    Two hundred high school students were on the campus of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on Monday for a competition to program miniature satellites aboard the International Space Station

  • Shrew whiskers inspire robot design

    The Etruscan shrew is nocturnal, relying on its whiskers to find, track, and capture its prey; the efficiency of this tiny creature has inspired scientists to look at ways of replicating the shrew’s whiskers to enable robots to find their way around without the use of vision

  • New robot for search-and-rescue missions

    Scientists say the best way to design a new machine is to emulate the locomotion of a certain type of flexible, efficient animal

  • Improving autonomous navigation in challenging conditions

    Researchers work on developing an advanced sensor fusion system for the Department of Defense that will increase high-speed obstacle detection range; results of this work should open up new possibilities for deploying autonomous vehicles for missions that demand navigating at higher speeds in unstructured environments

  • App-enabled robocopters to bring supplies to Marines

    Marines running low on ammo may one day use an app on their digital handhelds to summon a robotic helicopter to deliver supplies within minutes; the Navy officials in charge of the program are seeking researchers who will develop threat- and obstacle-detection and avoidance systems, as well as autonomous landing capabilities that can operate across different types of aircraft

  • Helping UAVs to land safely in an emergency

    One obstacle to the wider use of UAVs in domestic missions such as law enforcement is the fact that UAV flight plans are set pre-flight, and if something goes wrong and they need to land they have no way to determining where the safest landing spot is; in most cases they just drop; engineers are developing a system which will allow UAVs sense and avoid other traffic and determine appropriate landing spots should the need arise

  • Tails help leaping lizards – and robots – stay in control

    A new study examined how lizards manage to leap successfully even when they slip and stumble; the researchers found that lizards swing their tails upward to prevent them from pitching head-over-heels into a rock; the research pushed the boundaries of control in robotics in an area researchers call inertial assisted robotics

  • Flying robots imitate honey bees in complex maneuvers

    Scientists have developed a novel autopilot that guides aircraft through complex aerobatic maneuvers by watching the horizon as a honey bee does

  • Persistent undersea surveillance by autonomous robots

    The U.S. military plans to deploy squadrons of air, surface, and undersea robotic vehicles later this decade, and wants to make these vehicles more autonomous; researchers develop an algorithm that helps sea gliders decide when to spend more time looking at regions that have changes in activity or environmental factors; without the control algorithm, gliders paid equal attention to all areas and acquired less information