Before long, robots will be giving us helpful advice, but we don't want them to be snippy about it. Research at Cornell and Carnegie Mellon universities suggests that if they sound a little less sure of themselves and throw in a few of the meaningless words humans are fond of, listeners will have a more positive response.
Robotic floats armed with revolutionary new sensors will be launched in the Indian Ocean, as part of a new India-Australia research partnership to find out what makes the world's third largest ocean tick - and how both nations can benefit from it.
An odd concept for anyone raised on the idea of robots as clunky metal machines or toys designed to make life easier or more fun, but a new EU-funded research project introduces the idea of robots as platforms to deliver smart, user-friendly robotic applications.
Researchers recently sent hundreds of ants to the orbiting International Space Station. By studying how the ants adjust their behavior to cope with near-zero gravity conditions, scientists could improve the algorithms autonomous robots follow to search disaster scenes for survivors.
Now it's not just people - robots are also connected by internet thanks to RoboEarth. Last week, after four years of research, scientists at Eindhoven University of Technology, Philips and four other European universities presented this online platform through which robots can learn new skills from each other worldwide - a kind of 'Wikipedia for robots'.
January is a time when many of us seek to better ourselves. We want to learn a new skill or improve an existing one. A network designed especially for robots, RoboEarth, is being tested in the Netherlands this week to help them with their own attempts at self-improvement. Soon our mechanical friends will be able to swap tips on how to best care for us and learn about their worlds.
Using arm sensors that can 'read' a person's muscle movements, Georgia Institute of Technology researchers have created a control system that makes robots more intelligent. The sensors send information to the robot, allowing it to anticipate a human's movements and correct its own. The system is intended to improve time, safety and efficiency in manufacturing plants.
Medical implants, complex interfaces between brain and machine or remotely controlled insects: Recent developments combining machines and organisms have great potentials, but also give rise to major ethical concerns. A new review entitled 'The Chemistry of Cyborgs - Interfacing Technical Devices with Organisms' discusses the state of the art of research, opportunities, and risks.
What if, in a few years from now, human surgeons were only needed for the most delicate operations, leaving more common tasks to robots? This not-so-fictional future is the dream of Dr Paolo Fiorini, who coordinated the EUROSURGE project, which ultimately targets the commercialisation of newly developed technologies in this sector.