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Soft Robot Fingers Collect Delicate Coral

Most deep sea robotic manipulators are constructed from hard materials that are not geared to collect fragile coral. Researchers at the Wyss Institute, Harvard Paulson School, and City University of New York have developed a soft robotic gripper that can safely handle delicate specimens, including biological specimens on deep reefs.

Posted in: News, Machinery & Automation, Robotics

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'Mini Force Fields' Power Microbots

Purdue researchers are using "mini force field technology" to independently control individual microrobots operating within groups.

Posted in: News, Machinery & Automation, Robotics

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Researchers Test Robot's 'Light Touch'

Using an air-fluidized bed trackway filled with poppy seeds or glass spheres, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology systematically varied the stiffness of the ground to mimic a variety of surfaces, from hard-packed sand to powdery snow. By studying how running lizards, geckos, crabs, and a robot moved through the varying conditions, the researchers found ideal parameters for appendage design.

Posted in: News, Machinery & Automation, Robotics

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Robots Provide 3D Map of England's Deepwater Canyons

Using a unique combination of marine robotics and ship-based measurements, the Southampton, UK-based National Oceanography Centre (NOC) produced a three-dimensional picture of submarine canyon habitats. The information captured in the new set of maps ranges in scale from the 200-km canyon down to the size of an individual cold-water coral polyp. The data will be used to inform the management of the only English Marine Conservation Zone in deep water.

Posted in: News, Robotics

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3D Projection Improves Robot-to-Human Communication

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed a way for robots to project their next action into the 3D world and onto any moving object, such as car parts on an assembly line. The achievement will help to improve human and robot safety in manufacturing scenarios.

Posted in: News, Machinery & Automation, Robotics

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NASA Robot Explores Volcanoes

Carolyn Parcheta, a NASA postdoctoral fellow based at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and JPL robotics researcher Aaron Parness are developing robots that can explore volcanic fissures."We don't know exactly how volcanoes erupt. We have models but they are all very, very simplified. This project aims to help make those models more realistic," Parcheta said.Parcheta, Parness, and JPL co-advisor Karl Mitchell first explored this idea last year using a two-wheeled robot they call VolcanoBot 1, with a length of 12 inches (30 centimeters) and 6.7-inch (17-centimeter) wheels.VolcanoBot 2, smaller and lighter than its predecessor, will explore Hawaii's Kilauea volcano in March 2015. Parcheta's research endeavors were recently honored in National Geographic’s Expedition Granted campaign. SourceAlso: Learn about Autonomous Response for Targeting and Monitoring of Volcanic Activity.

Posted in: News, Machinery & Automation, Robotics, Measuring Instruments, Monitoring

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NASA Advances Next-Generation 3D-Imaging Lidar

Building, fixing, and refueling space-based assets or rendezvousing with a comet or asteroid will require a robotic vehicle and a super-precise, high-resolution 3D imaging lidar that will generate real-time images needed to guide the vehicle to a target traveling at thousands of miles per hour. A team at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center is developing a next-generation 3D scanning lidar — dubbed the Goddard Reconfiguable Solid-state Scanning Lidar (GRSSLi) — that could provide the imagery needed to execute these orbital dances. GRSSLi is a small, low-cost, low-weight platform capable of centimeter-level resolution over a range of distances, from meters to kilometers. Equipped with a low-power, eye-safe laser; a MEMS scanner; and a single photodetector, GRSSLi will "paint" a scene with the scanning laser, and its detector will sense the reflected light to create a high-resolution 3D image at kilometer distances. A non-scanning version of GRSSLi would be ideal for close approaches to asteroids. It would employ a flash lidar, which doesn’t paint a scene with a mechanical scanner, but rather illuminates the target with a single pulse of laser light — much like a camera flash. Source:

Posted in: News, Lasers & Laser Systems, Photonics, Machinery & Automation, Robotics

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