This is a tissue-engineered soft robotic ray and a little skate, Leucoraja erinacea. Karaghen Hudson Biology New Technologies 

Robotic Ray with Rodent Cells

Yes, researchers have created one of the things we have all been waiting for: A robotic ray. It represents the latest in tissue-engineering. By Kate Stone This isn’t a rubber stingray that works like a radio-controlled car or a programmable rover. This robotic stingray is powered and guided by light-sensitive rat-heart cells. Yes, you read that correctly. The project demonstrated a new method for building bio-inspired robots by means of tissue engineering. Batoid fish, such as stingrays, are recognizable by their flat bodies and long, wide, winglike fins. These fins…

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New software developed by Carnegie Mellon University helps mobile robots deal efficiently with clutter, whether it is in the back of a refrigerator or on the surface of the moon. New Technologies 

The Human-Robot Virtuous Circle of Creativity

By Norman Rusin @normanrusin Artificial intelligence (AI) has been applied to many tasks, from fighting poaching to preventing illegal logging to separating an Oreo cookie. Although seemingly more mundane, this last task is leading AI researchers to a key path toward creating robots that can help humans in their environment and daily lives, exploring a characteristic of highly developed animals: creativity. And new Carnegie Mellon University software is helping robots get creative. Why Do We (and Robots) Need Creativity? Tina Seelig, who teaches creativity and innovation at the Hasso Plattner…

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This figure shows how a gorilla and a human to grip and move an object. The dots indicate positions in which the object can be gripped. (Yale University) Biology Engineering 

Better Understanding the Human Grip

The human hand is an evolutionary wonder: 26 percent of the bones in our bodies are in our hands. Now, scientists are coming to better understand the grip and special grasping ability of humans and other primates. In a new study, a research team found that even the oldest known human ancestors may have had precision gripping skills comparable to modern humans. This includes Australopithecus afarensis, a creature that predates the first known stone tools by about a million years. Manual dexterity is traditionally viewed as a key adaptation that…

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Mind-controlled robot arm (Journal of Neural Engineering:IOP Publishing) Engineering Health New Technologies 

Mind-controlled Robotic Arm

A new prototype mind-controlled robotic arm is the latest example of brain-computer interface technology being developed with the ultimate aim of improving the quality of life of people unable to use their own arms. We recently reported on robotic prosthetic arms for amputees. Those prosthetic limbs can be controlled by the users and also deliver a sense of touch. Now, a woman with quadriplegia has been able to remotely move a robot arm with signals from her brain. She has even been able to use the mind-controlled robotic arm to pick up…

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With elastic joints and six legs that function like those of a stick insect, Hector is the only walking robot of its kind. (Bielefeld University) Engineering New Technologies 

World’s First Walking Robot Stick Insect

By Kate Stone A research team at Bielefeld University in Germany has taught the only robot of its kind in the world how to walk. Designed to be stick insect-like, the walking robot is called Hector has elastic joints and an ultralight exoskeleton. Hector is the result of an interdisciplinary project at the Center of Excellence Cognitive Interaction Technology (CITEC) involving researchers from the fields of computer science, biology, physics, and engineering. The walking robot is equipped with plenty of sensors, enabling it to learn to walk much like a…

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Micro-robots (NSF) Engineering New Technologies 

Micro-robots for Search and Rescue Missions

Imagine an army of tiny robots no bigger than a penny scrambling through the rubble of a disaster site to search for victims and to assess the damage. That is the vision of engineer Sarah Bergbreiter and her research team at the University of Maryland, who are building micro-robots with support from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The researchers are currently testing a variety of different materials and designs on bigger robots before scaling them down to the final size. But even the larger prototypes of these robots are so…

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The Willow Garage PR2 is a sophisticated research robot designed to work with people. (Claudia Perez D'Arpino, MIT) Engineering New Technologies 

Your Household Robot Is on the Way

A household robot to help with the daily chores is surely every busy person’s dream. But who would want a clumsy robot that’s always getting under your feet? That is the challenge being addressed by researchers at MIT. They have built a sophisticated robot and are teaching it to work together with people. In a recent article, we reported on the robots being put to work at the retail giant Amazon to serve our holiday shopping needs.  But the future may very well have interactive and collaborative robots in our…

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Kiva robots and an Amazon employee (Business Wire) New Technologies 

Robots Fulfilling Your Amazon Orders

Robots are hard at work this holiday season in the warehouses and fulfillment centers of, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN). In time for the holiday shopping frenzy, the company unveiled its eighth generation fulfillment centers (where customer orders are processed) which now use a variety of gadgets including Kiva robots, vision systems, and a whole host of other software and mechanical innovations that would make Santa and his elves weep. Amazon is currently operating 10 of these new centers in the United States. Amazon gets a staggering number of orders throughout…

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The forces at work when a turkey hops over an obstacle (Oregon State University) Engineering New Technologies Zoology 

Running Robots May Be Inspired by Birds

In preparation for building better running robots, researchers have made useful discoveries about some of nature’s most energy efficient bipeds – running turkeys. Running birds have an impressive ability to run while minimizing energy cost, avoiding falls or injuries, and maintaining speed and direction. Researchers at Oregon State University have been trying to discover exactly how the birds do it. “Birds appear to be the best of bipedal terrestrial runners, with a speed and agility that may trace back 230 million years to their dinosaur ancestors,” says Jonathan Hurst, an…

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