See MIT's odd new jumping cube robots


MIT researchers developed this "Soft Cube Capable of Controllable Continuous Jumping." From IEEE Spectrum:

Inside of the robot there are two motorized rotors, each connected to one end of four flattened loops of spring steel. Activating the rotors causes the spring steel loops that I’m just going to go ahead and call tongues to get pulled through rectangular openings (mouths) into a round cavity inside the body of the robot, compressing them. As the rotors continue to turn, eventually the compressed tongues get pulled all the way around back to the mouths, at which point they spring out, releasing that elastic energy all at once and causing the robot to jump.

"With some light-weight payloads, such as miniature cameras, the robot can be used for exploration tasks," write the researchers. "Moreover, a wireless sensor network can be automatically deployed and reconfigured for outdoor surveillance by using a group of our jumping robots."

Next, they hope to increase the robots' power so the cubes can jump higher and cover more ground.

"MIT's Cube Robot Uses Springy Metal Tongues to Jump" (IEEE Spectrum)

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Tossable spherical robot transforms into insectoid robot with legs!


Researchers from Japan's Chiba Institute of Technology demonstrated this spherical robot that rolls around until its four legs pop out for scurrying. Like a quadruped robot disguised as a Spheero! From the scientific paper (PDF):

We have proposed and developed a new quadruped walking robot with a spherical shell, called "QRoSS". QRoSS is a transformable robot that can store its legs in the spherical shell. The shell not only absorbs external forces from all directions, but also improves mobile performance because of its round shape. In rescue operations at a disaster site, carrying robots into a site is dangerous for operators because doing so may result in a second accident. If QRoSS is used, instead of carrying robots in, they are thrown in, making the operation safe and easy. We developed QRoSS-I and conducted basic experiments to verify performance which includes landing, rising and walking through a series of movements.

(via IEEE Spectrum)

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New Google robot named Atlas is obviously drunk

Atlas the robot recently walked in the woods for the first time. From the looks of that bot-wobble, it looks like he packed his forest flask.

WATCH: Why Japan already embraces our android future


VPRO backlight looks at the current state of androids in Japan, including an interesting segment on geminoids, or robot twins made in the likeness of a human counterpart: Read the rest

WATCH: crazy cute jerboas and the hopping robot they inspired

Jerboas, tiny desert rodents that move like kangaroos, are notoriously hard to film. BBC Earth was able to film a jerboa's escape from a fox, and its unique shape has now inspired a robot:

Jerboas use their long tails to transfer energy to their legs, allowing them to hop many times their body length. It turns out the hair on the bottoms of their their feet also serves a number of purposes, including insulation, traction, and stealth on the sand.

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Watch: Tiny floating robot can jump from water's surface


Researchers led by Je-Sung Koh created a biomimetic robot that floats using surface tension and can jump from the surface of water like a water strider insect. Read the rest

Americans destroy hitchhiking robot

We stopped the automaton cold.

WATCH: Our robot overlords will excel at ping-pong

This ad from Omron Automation & Safety intends to make advanced automation seem fun, but the execution makes it seem like your future will depend on whether you win your sudden death table tennis match with a robotic version of the Aliens xenomorph. Read the rest

3D printing blends rigid and soft to improve robot performance

Harvard's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences released an interesting demo of blending rigid and soft materials during 3D printing to create hybrid robots with enhanced performance for tasks like jumping and landing. Read the rest

WATCH: Bricklaying robot ushers in semi-automated masonry

Construction Robotics developed this bricklaying robot SAM (Semi-Automated Mason) after addressing two key challenges: mortar application and onsite variables that can hinder precision. Read the rest

WATCH: Adding a cockroach shell improves microbot mobility


The fields of bioinspiration and biomimetics look at animal evolution to improve machine function. Chen Li at UC Berkeley's Poly-PEDAL Lab found that an oval cockroach shell atop a small robot helps it squeeze through tight spaces more easily. Read the rest

Watch Beachbot make large-scale sand drawings


Disney Research teamed with ETH Zürich students to create Beachbot, a robot that creates pre-programmed sand drawing. Read the rest

Watch DARPA unveil untethered ATLAS for 2015 robotic challenge


The 2015 DARPA Robotic Challenge (DRC) is upping the ante, making the ATLAS robot used in competition self-contained and redesigned from the knees up. The robot that best completes a series of difficult physical tasks wins $2 million for the team. Read the rest

Watch robots generate improvisational jazz music and dance


Robotic musicianship doctoral candidate Mason Bretan at Georgia Tech's Center for Music Technology filmed this intriguing robotic jazz performance with three Shimi robots and a larger Shimon robot. It really gets cooking about a minute in and when Shimon gets a marimba solo. Read the rest

WATCH: 'Ex Machina' examines love and exploitation in the age of AI


Next Friday, January 23, Alex Garland's highly-anticipated directorial debut Ex Machina opens in the UK, with a US release scheduled for April. Read the rest

WATCH: Robotic toilet-paper dispenser major malfunction


YouTuber Beckie Lewis filmed the annual unveiling of the toilet paper holder. The Heavy Duty PaperBoy 5000 is voice-activated and was in a generous holiday spirit with its tissue dispensation. Read the rest

VIDEO: You can't hammer a nail over the internet (yet)

Economist Alan Blinder famously quipped, "You can't hammer a nail over the internet." YouTuber TheGoodRobot created this tongue-in-cheek attempt to prove Blinder right. Read the rest

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