Swarm robots for airplane engine maintenance

Rolls Royce and Harvard University are exploring how tiny swarm robots could someday crawl through an airplane engine for mechanical check-ups and maintenance.

Each robot measures around 10mm in diameter which would be deposited in the centre of an engine via a ‘snake’ robot and would then perform a visual inspection of hard to reach areas by crawling through the engine. These robots would carry small cameras that provide a live video feed back to the operator allowing them to complete a rapid visual inspection of the engine without having to remove it from the aircraft.

"SWARM Robots" (Rolls Royce via Uncrate)

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Watch Skippa the rock-skipping robot get optimized

Skipping stones takes a little practice and finesse, so Mark Rober enlisted his extended family to help build the perfect rock-skipping robot. Their creation, named Skippa, ended up helping humans learn, too. Read the rest

Roboticist Simone Giertz describes her recovery from brain surgery

Boing Boing fave Simone Giertz (of "Shitty Robots" fame) had brain surgery earlier this year, so it's great to see her back with an update. Read the rest

Sex-robot has "family mode" switch so kids can play with it. Ethicist says it is "profoundly damaging" to children

Aarran Lee Wright, 36, a married man and father of two young children, says his sex-robot can be switched to "family mode," for G-rated playtime with the kids.

From the NY Post:

Wright revealed that his children, aged three and five, play with Samantha and watch TV alongside her. And his wife said: “I am not worried she will replace me. She is just someone there like a family member.”

Now a group of professors have slammed the idea of a family-friendly sex robot as “damaging” for kids.

“Children will imitate machines if brought up by them,” Kathleen Richardson, professor of ethics and culture of robots and AI at De Montfort University, told New Statesmen.

“A daughter is going to grow up and think maybe this happened because Mommy wasn’t beautiful enough – am I?

“They’ll learn that women only have certain uses. Then they start to use that as a template for how they interact intimately with others – this is profoundly damaging.”

NSFW video:

Image: HAVC pipes by F. Javier Ballester/Shutterstock Read the rest

Watch an autonomous race car navigate a course

Autonomous racing company Roborace demonstrated their latest technology for the crowd at the 2018 Festival of Speed. Read the rest

Help save artist Kal Spelletich's robots and the future of tech-art

For 25 years, my friend Kal Spelletich of Seemen and Survival Research Labs has lived and worked in a San Francisco warehouse studio where he's built myriad robots, fire machines, and sculptures, hosted music, art, and political action events, and provided support for more than 100 other artists, activists, and fringe characters. Guess what. Kal's been evicted. This is yet another gut punch for the Bay Area's creative community that inspired so many technologists but is now being eviscerated by today's big money tech bubble. Kal has launched a GoFundMe campaign to help him push through: Save Kal's Robots

Rented way back in 1995, my space is was one of the last remaining raw warehouse art spaces and I made it into a home for experimental, non commercial art. I hosted jaw-dropping, fire spewing, ear shattering robot performances, music, noise and art events with the likes of Chris Johanson, Johanna Jackson, Marie Lornez and her epic boat, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, Matt Heckert.

I did all this without grants or outside support.

No trust funds, patrons or high paying side jobs here. I passed along the cheap rent.

I provided housing and studios for countless artists, freaks, traveling activists and radical journalists like Trevor Paglen, AC Thompson, Heather Dewey-Hagborg, worked on Survival Research Laboratories shows, and countless others.

My life and warehouse were the inspiration for Rudy Rucker’s sci-fi novel Realware. Another book that wouldn't have happened without my warehouse is Streetopia.

I ran my studio as an experimental art/live space that housed and supported over 100 other artists and activists.

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3D printed origami robots that crawl and grab when activated by magnets

A team at MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering have created a set of foldable, 3D printed robots that are doped with magnetic particles that are precisely aligned during printing; when triggered by a control-magnet they engage in precise movements: grabbing, jumping, rolling, squeezing, etc. Read the rest

New San Francisco restaurant has factory-style "burger bot" making all its hamburgers

Tech Crunch visits Creator, a San Francisco fast food joint that uses a factory-style "burger bot" to assemble its $6 hamburgers. Owner Alex Vardakostas says his burger-making machine, which he built himself, makes a better burger than any human could do. But doesn't a mini burger factory displace jobs? Nah, not according to Vardakostas. He says he's got a decent size staff, who make $16/hour, and they each receive "5% time" on the clock during which they can read a book or do anything else enjoyable while the robot keeps up its nonstop pace. (My calculations determine that 5% time on the clock is only 3 minutes per hour. I assume that's on top of standard breaks and a lunch break!)

According to Bloomberg, Creator will open its doors on June 27th. Read the rest

CoachBot malfunctions during basketball match

Boston Dynamics finally took a step too far with its new model, "Jalen Rose."

(Note: video contains NSFW language. Note: Rose is in fact neither a robot nor a coach) [via Reddit] Read the rest

These 3D-printed shapeshifting bots can crawl, jump, and catch things under magnetic control

MIT researchers designed and 3D-printed an array of soft, mechanical critters that are controlled by waving a magnet over them. The shapeshifters that fold up, crawl, grab things, and snap together into intricate formations may someday lead to new kinds of biomedical devices. For example, one of the devices "can even be directed to wrap itself around a small pill and carry it across a table." From MIT News:

“We think in biomedicine this technique will find promising applications,” says (MIT mechanical engineer Xuanhe Zhao.) “For example, we could put a structure around a blood vessel to control the pumping of blood, or use a magnet to guide a device through the GI tract to take images, extract tissue samples, clear a blockage, or deliver certain drugs to a specific location. You can design, simulate, and then just print to achieve various functions.”

In addition to a rippling ring, a self-squeezing tube, and a spider-like grabber, the team printed other complex structures, such as a set of “auxetic” structures that rapidly shrink or expand along two directions. Zhao and his colleagues also printed a ring embedded with electrical circuits and red and green LED lights. Depending on the orientation of an external magnetic field, the ring deforms to light up either red or green, in a programmed manner.

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Robot that uses living muscle tissue

This "biohybrid" robotic finger melds a robotic skeleton with living rat muscle. The device is inside a container of water to keep the muscles from withering. The research is on the cover of this week's issue of the journal Science Robotics. Video below. From National Geographic:

“If we can combine more of these muscles into a single device, we should be able to reproduce the complex muscular interplay that allows hands, arms, and other parts of the body to function,” says study author Shoji Takeuchi, a mechanical engineer at the University of Tokyo. “Although this is just a preliminary result, our approach might be a great step toward the construction of a more complex biohybrid system.”

The research group began looking at living muscle tissue because plastic and metal provided a limited range of movement and flexibility. To grow their robot's muscles, they layered hydrogel sheets filled with myoblasts—rat muscle cells—on a robotic skeleton. The grown muscle is then stimulated with an electric current that forces it to contract.

"Biohybrid robot powered by an antagonistic pair of skeletal muscle tissues" (Science Robotics)

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Buddhist funeral service for robot dogs

When Sony announced in 2014 that support was ending for Aibo, their pioneering line of robotic dogs, former Sony employee Nobuyuki Norimatsu launched A-Fun, a repair service in Japan, to take care of any ailing Aibos. Things progressed from there. Video below. From National Geographic:

Norimatsu came to regard the broken AIBOs his company received as “organ donors.” Out of respect for the owners’ emotional connection to the “deceased” devices, Norimatsu and his colleagues decided to hold funerals.

A-Fun approached Bungen Oi, head priest of Kōfuku-ji, a Buddhist temple in Chiba Prefecture's city of Isumi. Oi agreed to take on the duty of honoring the sacrifice of donor AIBOs before their disassembly. In 2015, the centuries-old temple held its first robot funeral for 17 decommissioned AIBOs. Just as with the repairs, demand for funeral ceremonies quickly grew...

According to Head Priest Oi, honoring inanimate objects is consistent with Buddhist thought. Nippon.com quotes the priest: “Even though AIBO is a machine and doesn’t have feelings, it acts as a mirror for human emotions.”

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Check out Disney's robot acrobat

This is "Stickman," a robot acrobat that Disney Research scientists presented at this week's IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation. From the abstract of their technical paper:

Human performers have developed impressive acrobatic techniques over thousands of years of practicing the gymnastic arts. At the same time, robots have started to become more mobile and autonomous and can begin to imitate these stunts in dramatic and informative ways. We present a simple two degree of freedom robot that uses a gravity-driven pendulum launch and produces a variety of somersaulting stunts. The robot uses an IMU and a laser range-finder to estimate its state mid-flight and actuates to change its motion both on and off the pendulum.

"Stickman: Towards a Human Scale Acrobatic Robot" Read the rest

A robot found the "holy grail of shipwrecks" containing billions of dollars in cargo

In 1708, British ships sunk a Spanish galleon called the San José that contained a cargo of gold, silver, and emeralds believed to be now valued at billions of dollars. Now it's been revealed that in 2015, a robot found this "holy grail of shipwrecks" off the coast of Cartagena, Colombia. The efforts were led by Maritime Archaeology Consultants with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution scientists using an autonomous underwater vehicle named REMUS 6000.

REMUS 6000 had previously located the wreckage of Air France 447 off the northeastern coast of Brazil and in 2010 mapped and captured images of the Titanic wreckage. The Colombian government will build a museum to display and protect the wreckage and its cargo. From the Boston Globe:

Because of a legal battle between the Colombian government and an American salvage company over the treasure, the institution was not authorized to reveal its involvement in the discovery until Monday.

The institution released pictures taken by REMUS, including one of jumbled cannons and another of scores of teacups scattered on the ocean floor...

REMUS, a 13-foot-long and 26-inch-wide torpedo-like vehicle, was able to snap photos of a few distinguishing features of the ship, including its unique bronze cannons and dolphin engravings, the (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution) statement said.

“The San José discovery carries considerable cultural and historical significance for the Colombian government and people because of the ship’s treasure of cultural and historical artifacts and the clues they may provide about Europe’s economic, social, and political climate in the early 18th century,” the institution said.

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In the future, demolition robots like this will destroy everything

Husqvarna's remote-controlled demolition robots remind me of the machine art performances that Survival Research Laboratories has staged since 1977.

Husqvarna bills its machines as "remote workmates ready to tackle your heaviest, most challenging jobs."

Compare that to what Survival Research Laboratories founder Mark Pauline told me in a 1993 interview:

"The real message of machines isn't that they're helpful workmates," Pauline said. "Like any extension of the human psyche, machines are scary things," he says. When you take the scary human psyche and magnify it hundreds or thousands of times with technology, it's really nightmarish."

(via Uncrate) Read the rest

The Boston Dynamics bipedal robot can run now

You can run, but it doesn't matter, because so can your pursuer.

Atlas is the latest in a line of advanced humanoid robots we are developing. Atlas' control system coordinates motions of the arms, torso and legs to achieve whole-body mobile manipulation, greatly expanding its reach and workspace. Atlas' ability to balance while performing tasks allows it to work in a large volume while occupying only a small footprint. The Atlas hardware takes advantage of 3D printing to save weight and space, resulting in a remarkable compact robot with high strength-to-weight ratio and a dramatically large workspace. Stereo vision, range sensing and other sensors give Atlas the ability to manipulate objects in its environment and to travel on rough terrain. Atlas keeps its balance when jostled or pushed and can get up if it tips over.

Almost time to get working on those mimetic polyalloys. Read the rest

This LEGO robot cooks eggs and bacon

From The Brick Wall:

"My father cooks breakfast every Saturday and Sunday- it is 104 times a year! He deserved this present."

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