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.
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.