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Robotics


Latest significant advancements in robots and robotics. Reporting on the far-reaching impacts of robotics on society and humanity.

TuSimple’s Robot Big Rigs Will Automate Freight Coast to Coast

In 2016, an 18-wheeler jam-packed with cans of Budweiser made a beer run from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs—with no driver at the wheel. It was one small 120-mile jaunt for a robot big rig...

Volvo Will Add Lidar for ‘Eyes-Off-the-Road’ Self-Driving Cars on Highways

It’s 2020. Why can’t we binge Netflix as our cars drive us down the highway? Well, we've made progress, but not at the pace once promised. While some cars offer automated driving modes, you’re...

Robots to the Rescue: How They Can Help During Coronavirus (and Future Pandemics)

As the coronavirus pandemic forces people to keep their distance, could this be robots' time to shine? A group of scientists think so, and they’re calling for robots to do the "dull, dirty, and...

Not Bot, Not Beast: Scientists Create First Ever Living, Programmable Organism

A remarkable combination of artificial intelligence (AI) and biology has produced the world’s first “living robots.” This week, a research team of roboticists and scientists published their recipe for making a new lifeform called xenobots...

What Needs to Happen to Get to the Flying Car Future

At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, one of the world’s largest helicopter manufacturers will showcase what a city might look like with high-volume aerial transit options. Bell is showing off a connected city concept...

Retail Robots Are on the Rise—at Every Level of the Industry

The robots are coming! The robots are coming! On our sidewalks, in our skies, in our every store… Over the next decade, robots will enter the mainstream of retail. As countless robots work behind the...

How Two Robots Learned to Grill and Serve the Perfect Hot Dog

The list of things robots can do seems to be growing by the week. They can play sports, help us explore outer space and the deep sea, take over some of our boring everyday...

Robotic Exoskeletons, Like This One, Are Getting More Practical

When you imagine an exoskeleton, chances are it might look a bit like the Guardian XO from Sarcos Robotics. The XO is literally a robot you wear (or maybe, it wears you). The suit’s...

‘Robotic Blacksmithing’: A Technology That Could Revive US Manufacturing

Although it may not be obvious, there’s a close link between manufacturing technology and innovation. Elon Musk often talks of the “machines that build the machines” as being the real enabler in both his...

Alphabet Is Developing a Robot to Take Over Boring Everyday Tasks

Robots excel at carrying out specialized tasks in controlled environments, but put them in your average office and they’d be lost. Alphabet wants to change that by developing what they call the Everyday Robot,...

This Light-based Nervous System Helps Robots ‘Feel’

Last night, way past midnight, I stumbled onto my porch blindly grasping for my keys after a hellish day of international travel. Lights were low, I was half-asleep, yet my hand grabbed the keychain,...

You’ll Hail Your First Flying Taxi Within a Decade

Not too long ago, the notion of flying cars was most comfortably categorized alongside fusion power—a classic tech vision that seemed forever stuck just over the horizon. Then around five years ago something shifted. Flying...

Harvard’s Smart Exo-Shorts Talk to the Cloud to Help You Walk and Run

Exosuits don’t generally scream “fashionable” or “svelte.” Take the mind-controlled robotic exoskeleton that allowed a paraplegic man to kick off the World Cup back in 2014. Is it cool? Hell yeah. Is it practical?...

Moving Beyond Mind-Controlled Limbs to Prosthetics That Can Actually ‘Feel’

Brain-machine interface enthusiasts often gush about “closing the loop.” It’s for good reason. On the implant level, it means engineering smarter probes that only activate when they detect faulty electrical signals in brain circuits....

Alphabet Releases Its Master Plan for Toronto’s New Smart City

Ever dreamed of living in a giant experiment? If so, Toronto may be the city for you. Sidewalk Labs has released blueprints for its proposed waterfront smart city and, depending who you ask, it’s...

A Closer Look at the Robots Helping Us Explore Space

Buck Rogers had Twiki. Luke Skywalker palled around with C-3PO and R2-D2. And astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) now have their own robotic companions in space—Astrobee. A pair of the cube-shaped robots were...

These $10 Sensor-Packed Gloves Could Give Robots a Sense of Touch

Machines are mastering vision and language, but one sense they're lagging behind on is touch. Now researchers have created a sensor-laden glove for just $10 and recorded the most comprehensive tactile dataset to date,...

Are These Robots Better Than You at Sports?

Robot technology is evolving at breakneck speed. SoftBank’s Pepper is found in companies across the globe and is rapidly improving its conversation skills. Telepresence robots open up new opportunities for remote working, while Boston...

Inflatable Robot Astronauts and How to Control Them

The typical cultural image of a robot—as a steel, chrome, humanoid bucket of bolts—is often far from the reality of cutting-edge robotics research. There are difficulties, both social and technological, in realizing the image...

AI and Robotics Are Transforming Disaster Relief

During the past 50 years, the frequency of recorded natural disasters has surged nearly five-fold. In this blog, I’ll be exploring how converging exponential technologies (AI, robotics, drones, sensors, networks) are transforming the future of...

Watch These Robots Do Tasks You Thought Were Simple (But for Them Are Pretty Hard)

Robots have been masters of manufacturing at speed and precision for decades, but give them a seemingly simple task like stacking shelves, and they quickly get stuck. That's changing, though, as engineers build systems...

Sensors and Machine Learning Are Giving Robots a Sixth Sense

According to some scientists, humans really do have a sixth sense. There’s nothing supernatural about it: the sense of proprioception tells you about the relative positions of your limbs and the rest of your...

From Parkour to Surgery, Here Are the Top 10 Recent Advancements in Robotics

The robot revolution may not be here quite yet, but our mechanical cousins have made some serious strides. And now some of the leading experts in the field have provided a rundown of what...

How Microrobots Will Fix Our Roads and Save Us Billions

Swarms of microrobots will scuttle along beneath our roads and pavements, finding and fixing leaky pipes and faulty cables. Thanks to their efforts, we can avoid costly road work that costs billions of dollars...

These Smart Seafaring Robots Have a Whole New Set of Skills

Drones. Self-driving cars. Flying robo taxis. If the headlines of the last few years are to be believed, terrestrial transportation in the future will someday be filled with robotic conveyances and contraptions that will...

The Next Great Leap Forward? Combining Robots With the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things is a popular vision of objects with internet connections sending information back and forth to make our lives easier and more comfortable. It’s emerging in our homes, through everything from...

The Promise—and Complications—of Domestic Robots

Every year, for just a few days in a major city, a small team of roboticists get to live the dream: ordering around their own personal robot butlers. In carefully-constructed replicas of a restaurant...

This Robotic Warehouse Fills Orders in Five Minutes, and Fits in City Centers

Shopping is becoming less and less of a consumer experience—or, for many, less of a chore—as the list of things that can be bought online and delivered to our homes grows to include, well,...

This Robotic Skin Makes Inanimate Objects Move

In Goethe’s poem “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” made world-famous by its adaptation in Disney’s Fantasia, a lazy apprentice, left to fetch water, uses magic to bewitch a broom into performing his chores for him. Now,...

MIT’s New Robot Taught Itself to Pick Things Up the Way People Do

Back in 2016, somewhere in a Google-owned warehouse, more than a dozen robotic arms sat for hours quietly grasping objects of various shapes and sizes. For hours on end, they taught themselves how to...

What We Have to Gain From Making Machines More Human

The borders between the real world and the digital world keep crumbling, and the latter’s importance in both our personal and professional lives keeps growing. Some describe the melding of virtual and real worlds...

Are Exoskeletons About to Go Mainstream?

Ever since the appearance of the power loader in the sci-fi classic Aliens, the idea that powered exoskeletons could let workers carry superhuman weights has enticed executives in heavy industry. Recent developments suggest the...

The Future of Cars Is Electric, Autonomous, and Shared—Here’s How We’ll Get There

This week, Lyft announced they’d hit the milestone of their 5,000th self-driving commercial ride. The company has a fleet of autonomous cars in Las Vegas that mostly shuttle riders between different hotels on the...

This Mind-Controlled Robotic Limb Lets You Multitask With Three Arms

If you’ve ever juggled a situation where two arms aren’t enough, you’re in luck! Thanks to a new study published in Science Robotics, humans have the ability to mind-control a robotic arm on a...

MIT Study Shows Off Chemical-Detecting Machines the Size of a Human Egg Cell

Robots are excellent tools for gathering information from areas humans can't reach. And now new speck-sized machines from MIT could extend that capability to carrying out diagnostics inside the human body, wafting through the...

How Robots That Swap Out Their Own Parts Will Adapt to the World on the Fly

The science fiction multiverse is well populated by all manner of robots. Pick your favorite: Dr. Who fans may favor K9, the Time Lord’s mechanical mutt. Maybe the Transformers represent the coolest robots in...

Flexible ‘Dragon’ Drone Autonomously Shapeshifts to Fly Through Tight Spaces

A group of roboticists at the University of Tokyo have created a flexible, flying "drone-robot" that could see a multitude of uses. The Dual-rotor embedded multilink Robot with the Ability of multi-deGree-of-freedom aerial transformatiON, is...

Why We Need to Fine-Tune Our Definition of Artificial Intelligence

Sophia's uncanny-valley face, made of Hanson Robotics’ patented Frubber, is rapidly becoming an iconic image in the field of artificial intelligence. She has been interviewed on shows like 60 Minutes, made a Saudi citizen,...

Robots Will Be Able to Feel Touch With This Artificial Nerve

When the disembodied cockroach leg twitched, Yeongin Kim knew he had finally made it. A graduate student at Stanford, Kim had been working with an international team of neuroengineers on a crazy project: an artificial...

MIT’s Leading the Pack With This Cool New Autonomous Drone Tech

Any Star Wars fan knows that the chances of successfully navigating an asteroid field are approximately 3,720 to 1. The odds are probably significantly higher against today’s autonomous drones, which fly quite a bit...

Chinese Port Goes Full Robot With Autonomous Trucks and Cranes

By the end of 2018, something will be very different about the harbor area in the northern Chinese city of Caofeidian. If you were to visit, the whirring cranes and tractors driving containers to...

Stuff 3.0: The Era of Programmable Matter

It’s the end of a long day in your apartment in the early 2040s. You decide your work is done for the day, stand up from your desk, and yawn. “Time for a film!”...

How Fukushima Changed Japanese Robotics and Woke Up the Industry

In March 2011, Japan was hit by a catastrophic earthquake that triggered a terrible tsunami. Thousands were killed and billions of dollars of damage was done in one of the worst disasters of modern...

Robots Can Swim, Fetch, Lift, and Dance. But Can They Assemble an Ikea Chair?

Robotics has come a long way in the past few years. Robots can now fetch items from specific spots in massive warehouses, swim through the ocean to study marine life, and lift 200 times...

Your Next Pilot Could Be Drone Software

Would you get on a plane that didn’t have a human pilot in the cockpit? Half of air travelers surveyed in 2017 said they would not, even if the ticket was cheaper. Modern pilots...

Robot Cities: Three Urban Prototypes for Future Living

Before I started working on real-world robots, I wrote about their fictional and historical ancestors. This isn’t so far removed from what I do now. In factories, labs, and of course science fiction, imaginary...

Watch This Lifelike Robot Fish Swim Through the Ocean

Earth’s oceans are having a rough go of it these days. On top of being the repository for millions of tons of plastic waste, global warming is affecting the oceans and upsetting marine ecosystems...

$10 million XPRIZE Aims for Robot Avatars That Let You See, Hear, and Feel by 2021

Ever wished you could be in two places at the same time? The XPRIZE Foundation wants to make that a reality with a $10 million competition to build robot avatars that can be controlled...

What Roboticists Are Learning From Early Generations of Lifelike Humanoid Robots

You might not have heard of Hanson Robotics, but if you’re reading this, you’ve probably seen their work. They were the company behind Sophia, the lifelike humanoid avatar that’s made dozens of high-profile media...

Why the Rise of Self-Driving Vehicles Will Actually Increase Car Ownership

It’s been a long time coming. For years Waymo (formerly known as Google Chauffeur) has been diligently developing, driving, testing and refining its fleets of various models of self-driving cars. Now Waymo is going...

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