Boing Boing 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Weird SPAM-colored soft robot moves like a zombie hot dog

Harvard University released video of this unnerving soft robot that can move untethered through punishing conditions, including snow and fire, yet will remain resilient. It looks a bit like reanimated sliced SPAM in the time-lapse crawling footage, and like SPAM, it retains its shape even when its appendages are run over by a car.

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Octobot: robot inspired by octopus

Researchers at Greece's Institute of Computer Science have demonstrated the Octobot, a shoebox-sized swimming robot propelled by eight webbed arms. Video below.

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Hexapod robot vehicle

Matt Denton of Hampshire, UK, built a huge hexapod walking machine that he operates by joysticks inside the cockpit. It took him four years and cost "hundreds of thousands of pounds" to make. Its top speed is one mph and, as you might expect, isn't particularly efficient. "It's not about miles to the gallon, it's about gallons to the mile," Denton told the BBC News.

Hugging robot

PhotoToday at Institute for the Future's Ten Year Forecast conference, my friend Kal Spelletich's "Huggerer" pneumatic robot is delivering free hugs. Here is a video of Kal demonstrating the machine. It's very satisfying.

Parrot drives robotic bird buggy

University of Florida grad student Andrew Gray built the Bird Buggy for his parrot to drive around the house. "When it's time to put the bird away, Bird Buggy is able to dock itself to a base station utilizing a web camera," Gray says. (Thanks, Sean Ness!)

Meet the random shopper: Amazon gifts bought at a machine's whim

Boston coder Darius Kazemi's interest in chance led him to create a bot that buys stuff on Amazon: a human decision made ineluctably alien by the randomness of a computer's whim.Read the rest

Plush robot bear-pillow fights sleep apnea with face-tickles

Waseda University's Kabe Lab exhibited Jukusui-kun, a robotic bear, at the International Robot Exhibition in Tokyo earlier this month. Jukusui-kun is a medical appliance intended for people who have sleep apnea, a sleep disorder typified by loud snoring, which can have grave health effects on its sufferers. Jukusui-kun is a plush bear that you use as a pillow, which receives blood-oxygen readings from a monitor on the sleeper's hand. When oxygen levels drop (people with apnea stop breathing for long periods -- the snore is a kind of gasp for air), the bear's robot arm reaches around and tickles its user's face, so that the user rolls onto his side, where breathing is less labored.

Dr Kabe’s Jukusuri-Kun works through the person asleep wearing a similarly cute pulse-oxygen meter attached to the hand which sends readings of the amount of oxygen in the blood to a terminal running a program with the persons vital statistics pre-programmed in. To eliminate the intrusion of wires preventing a good sleep the team also developed a cordless technology which uses the human bodies natural conductive properties to communicate with a conductive sheet that lies under the bed sheet. The pillow itself also houses a microphone which analyses the decibel level of the snorer. When the oxygen level decreases in the patient resulting in the snore level increasing it triggers the bear-pillow’s hand to move towards the sleepers face. Gently brushing the face causes the person to then turn from lying on their back to moving onto their side, a more conducive postion for a sound, snoreless nights sleep.

Robotic Bear Helps Quieten Snorers (via Red Ferret)