Robots, and autonomous systems in general, can cause anxiety and uncertainty, particularly as their use in everyday tasks becomes a more immediate possibility. In order to lessen at least some of that anxiety, we should shift our focus from the decisions robots could make on our behalf to how they actually make them in the first place. In some ways, they may be more trustworthy than a human.
NASA has successfully concluded a remotely controlled test of new technologies that would empower future space robots to transfer hazardous oxidizer - a type of propellant - into the tanks of satellites in space today.
Two companies receiving support from the Business Incubator in Universidad Carlos III in Madrid's Science Park are innovating the field of fashion by using technology based in robotics. Samsamia is launching a mobile application - Dresscovery - that identifies a bag just by taking a photo of it, while beMee is creating a system, called Proximus, that locates people visiting a shopping mall in order to better serve them.
Inspired by termites' resilience and collective intelligence, a team of computer scientists and engineers has created an autonomous robotic construction crew. The system needs no supervisor, no eye in the sky, and no communication: just simple robots - any number of robots - that cooperate by modifying their environment.
A project to design a biologically inspired, swimming jellyfish robot has led scientists to the surprising discovery of common bending rules for the tips of wings, fins, flukes, mollusk feet, and other propulsors across a broad range of animal species.
The weakly electric black ghost knifefish of the Amazon basin has inspired Northwestern University's Malcolm MacIver to develop agile fish robots that could lead to a vast improvement in underwater vehicles used to study fragile coral reefs or repair damaged deep sea oil rigs.
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.