Robotics, Automation & Control

Vacuum System Powers Modular Soft Robot

Researchers at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland have created the first functional robot powered entirely by vacuum. It is made up of soft building blocks that move by having air sucked out of them. The robot can be reconfigured to perform different tasks, like climbing vertical walls and grabbing objects.

Posted in: INSIDER, Robotics
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Multi-Legged Robot Reconfigures in Real Time

Scientists at Disney Research, Pittsburgh, PA have developed a modular, reconfigurable legged robot named Snapbot that can move forward, interact with its environment, and perform other tasks based on a number of possible configurations. This system identifies its current configuration using only internal sensors and utilizes a corresponding motion strategy to complete its task. The motion strategy changes as it is physically reconfigured in real-time.

Posted in: INSIDER, Robotics
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Self-Folding Electronics Could Enable Advanced Robotics

MIT researchers have developed a way to print flat electronics that can fold themselves into a desired shape. The researchers say the development could have applications in robotics and human-machine interfaces.

Posted in: INSIDER, Electronics, Motion Control, Robotics
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Robotic Gripper Cleans Up Space Debris

Currently there are about 500,000 pieces of human-made debris in space, orbiting our planet at speeds up to 17,500 miles per hour. This debris poses a threat to satellites, space vehicles, and astronauts aboard those vehicles. However, cleaning up the debris is problematic. For example, suction cups don’t work in a vacuum, and traditional sticky substances like tape are largely useless because the chemicals they rely on can’t withstand extreme temperature swings.

Posted in: INSIDER, Motion Control, Robotics
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Wireless Magnetic Field Powers Folding Robots

A team of researchers at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering and the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) at Harvard University has created battery-free folding robots that are capable of complex, repeatable movements powered and controlled through a wireless magnetic field. The system requires only basic, passive electronic components on the robot to deliver an electric current, and the structure of the robot itself takes care of the rest.

Posted in: INSIDER, Motion Control, Robotics
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Soft “Vinebot” Excels at Search and Rescue

Inspired by natural organisms like vines that cover distance by growing, researchers at Stanford University have created a soft, tubular robot that lengthens to explore hard-to-reach areas. The vine-like robot can grow across long distances without moving its whole body, which could prove useful in search-and-rescue operations and medical applications.

Posted in: INSIDER, Motion Control, Robotics
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Self-Learning Robot Hands Adapt to Grasp Objects

A new grasp system with robotic hands works without previously knowing the characteristics of objects. The system, which learns by trial and error, was developed by researchers at Bielefeld University in Bielefeld, Germany. It features two hands that are based on human hands in terms of both shape and mobility. The robot brain for the hands must learn how everyday objects like pieces of fruit or tools can be distinguished based on their color or shape, as well as what matters when attempting to grasp the object; for example, a banana can be held, and a button can be pressed. The system learns to recognize such possibilities as characteristics, and constructs a model for interacting with and re-identifying the object.

Posted in: INSIDER, Motion Control, Positioning Equipment, Automation, Robotics
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Crawling Robot is Powered by Moisture

Using an off-the-shelf camera flash, researchers at Jilin University, China, turned an ordinary sheet of graphene oxide into a material that bends when exposed to moisture. They then used this material to make a spider-like crawler and claw robot that move in response to changing humidity, without the need for any external power.

Posted in: INSIDER, Materials, Motion Control, Robotics
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Modular Climbing Robot Splits into Multiple Explorer Bots

Researchers from the Robotics Research Centre at the International Institute of Technology – Hyderabad (IIIT-H), have developed a stair and obstacle climbing robot that can disassemble itself into smaller robots, and then reassemble back into one device. As a composite system, the Detachable Compliant Modular Robot (DCMR) can climb steep obstacles and staircases, and explore uneven terrain. When it detaches into multiple robots, it can explore cramped spaces, traverse flat terrain, and behave as a Multi Agent System (MAS).

Posted in: INSIDER, Motion Control, Robotics
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Interface Simplifies Remote Robot Operation

The traditional interface for remotely operating robots employs a computer screen and mouse to independently control six degrees of freedom, turning three virtual rings and adjusting arrows to get the robot into position to grab items or perform a specific task. But for someone who isn’t an expert, the ring-and-arrow system is cumbersome and error-prone. It’s not ideal, for example, for older people trying to control assistive robots at home.

Posted in: INSIDER, Motion Control, Robotics, Software
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