Crash testing drones and self-driving cars with an open-source sim

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February 17, 2017

To let developers crash drones and self-driving cars, Microsoft has released open-source software. Called Aerial Informatics and Robotics Platform, or AirSim for short, the code creates a realistic training environment in which it’s possible to simulate mistakes without real-world consequences. Let’s say you want to teach an aerial robot to tell the difference between a wall and a shadow,” Microsoft says in a blog post. “Chances are, you’d like to…

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Bandages light up when in contact with certain chemicals

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February 17, 2017

A new ‘living material’—a tough, stretchy, biocompatible sheet of hydrogel injected with live cells that are genetically programmed to light up in the presence of certain chemicals has been designed by a team of engineers and biologists at MIT. In a paper published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers demonstrate the new material’s potential for sensing chemicals, both in the environment and in…

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Robot mission aborted inside Fukushima reactor

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February 17, 2017

Tokyo Electric Power company has said that a ‘scorpion’ robot sent into a Japanese nuclear reactor to learn about the damage suffered in a tsunami-induced meltdown had its mission aborted after the probe ran into trouble. TEPCO, the operator of the Fukushima nuclear plant, sent the remote-controlled device into the No. 2 reactor where radiation levels have recently hit record highs. The ‘scorpion’ robot, so-called because it can lift up its…

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Individuals controlled in robot swarm through magnetics

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February 17, 2017

A way to magnetically control individual members of a robot swarm has been developed by a trio of researchers with Philips Innovative Technologies in Germany. In their paper published in the journal Science Robotics, Jürgen Rahmer, Christian Stehning and Bernhard Gleich describe their approach and the ways they believe it could be used in practical applications. Scientists have demonstrated that it is possible to control a swarm of tiny robots (or…

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Drones count small birds in ornithological surveys

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February 16, 2017

A new study from The Auk: Ornithological Advances tests a new approach to wildlife monitoring, using drones, and concludes that despite some drawbacks, the method has the potential to become an important tool for ecologists and land managers. Bird surveys provide crucial data for environmental management, but they have limitations–some areas are difficult to access, and surveyors vary in their skills at identifying birds. Using audio recordings made by unmanned aerial…

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Dubai plans for autonomous passenger drones

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February 16, 2017

Commuters in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, may soon climb aboard automated flying taxis, soaring over busy streets and past the desert city’s gleaming skyscrapers, all — quite literally — at the push of a button. Passenger drones, capable of carrying a single rider and a small suitcase, will begin buzzing above the emirate as early as July, according to the director of the city’s transportation authority, part of…

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Revolutionizing robot mobility

February 14, 2017

A company has taken a focus on legged locomotion which could revolutionize robot mobility and enable robots to go anywhere people can go. The business is one of the first from the rapidly expanding robotics program in the College of Engineering at Oregon State University. The firm, Agility Robotics, is based in Albany, Oregon, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; already has several of its first customers; will license some technologies first developed…

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Who needs friends when you have a robot arm at your desk?

February 10, 2017

At work, a typical desktop consists of a dual monitor- if you’re luck a wireless keyboard and mouse – maybe a good sound system, the odd telephone maybe? Standard really. But do you know what can take your desk from 0-10 – a programmable robot arm that can pass you drinks and high-five you every morning to get you in the mood for work. The arm in question is the…

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The good, the bad and the robots

February 8, 2017

The original concept of a robot, being mechanical beings has been around for centuries and given shape to so many weird and wonderful interpretations of the world. However, now, chances are if you are met by a robot it will have huge inviting eyes, perform a dance for you and be white, made of plastic. As service robots which are designed to help humans with everyday tasks, slowly make their…

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Eric, the UK’s first robot, gets an upgrade

ericimageee
February 7, 2017

Roboticist and artist Giles Walker has created a replica of Captain William Richards and Alan Herbet Reffell’s robot, which first debuted in the 1920s and helped to form early impressions of robots. Like his predecessor, the robot is able to stand, from an initial seated position; turn his head in the direction of onlookers; raise his arms, and talk. Eric’s public unveiling in 1928 saw the metal man rising from…

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