In the near future we may have household robots to handle cooking, cleaning and other menial tasks. They will be teachable: Show the robot how to operate your coffee machine, and it will take over from there.
Engineers have taken a leaf out of nature's book by equipping an artificial hand with muscles made from shape-memory wire. The new technology enables the fabrication of flexible and lightweight robot hands for industrial applications and novel prosthetic devices.
Hard-wiring beetles for radio-controlled flight turns out to be a fitting way to learn more about their biology. Cyborg insect research is enabling new revelations about a muscle used by beetles for finely graded turns.
Biorobotics researchers have developed the first aerial robot able to fly over uneven terrain that is stabilized visually without an accelerometer. Called BeeRotor, it adjusts its speed and avoids obstacles thanks to optic flow sensors inspired by insect vision.
Who is the teacher: the student or the machine? By showing a robot how to write letters, children improve their writing skills and gain self-confidence. This system, called CoWriter, was developed by EPFL researchers.
Scientists have developed a new experimental nursing care robot, ROBEAR, which is capable of performing tasks such as lifting a patient from a bed into a wheelchair or providing assistance to a patient who is able to stand up but requires help to do so.
Grasping an object involves a complex network of brain functions. First, visual cues are processed in specialized areas of the brain. Then, other areas of the brain use these signals to control the hands to reach for and manipulate the desired object. New findings suggest that the cerebellum, a region of the brain that has changed very little over time, may play a critical role. Findings could lead to advancements in assistive technologies benefiting the disabled.
Scientists in Italy are working on creating robots that mimic the properties of plant roots, including the capacity for growth. They believe the potential future applications are not just the stuff of science-fiction.