Researchers are developing tests to take full measure of robotic grasping - specifically, the motion and effort that gripping and manipulating entail. Their immediate goal: To provide useful performance-benchmarking tools to support research and innovation leading to ever-more handy capable robot appendages.
There are many unspoken rules of human interaction, whether that's whether or not to look them in the eyes, the firmness of the handshake, smiling or words of greeting. Little things like this can lead to big judgements about trustworthiness or social acceptability. What if we can use this type of behaviour to help humans and robots interact?
To make cars as safe as possible, we crash them into walls to pinpoint weaknesses and better protect the people who use them. That's the idea behind a series of experiments by an engineering team who hacked a next generation teleoperated surgical robot to test how easily a malicious attack could hijack remotely-controlled operations in the future and to make those systems more secure.
A new programming approach gives robots more 'cognitive' capabilities, enabling humans to specify high-level goals, while a robot performs high-level decision-making to figure out how to achieve these goals.
Mass production and packaging in factories is already highly automated these days, but the same cannot be said for logistics. Movements of raw materials and finished products still depend heavily on manual labour. However, EU-funded research on Automatic Guided Vehicles means this is about to change over the next decade.
A new virtual reality robotization gaming system called Jointonation, has taken gaming to a new level by allowing the player to discover what it feels like to become a robot. The robotic simulation uses a combination of visual, auditory and tactile sensations to 'transform' the player's arms and legs into metallic limbs.
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.