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Robotics


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

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...

How Swarm Intelligence Is Making Simple Tech Much Smarter

As a group, simple creatures following simple rules can display a surprising amount of complexity, efficiency, and even creativity. Known as swarm intelligence, this trait is found throughout nature, but researchers have recently begun...

The 10 Grand Challenges Facing Robotics in the Next Decade

Robotics research has been making great strides in recent years, but there are still many hurdles to the machines becoming a ubiquitous presence in our lives. The journal Science Robotics has now identified 10...

This ‘Cosmic GPS’ Tech Will Help Us Explore the Furthest Reaches of Space

Anyone who has tried their hand at sailing, or even read about the exploits of maritime explorers, understands the importance of the lighthouse. Indeed, the solitary beam of light emanating from a lighthouse’s crest...

Smart Homes Won’t Just Automate Your Life—They’ll Track Your Health Too

It’s been more than a half-century since we first glimpsed the future of the smart home in a quaint cartoon series called “The Jetsons.” The Roomba is no Rosie the Robot Maid, but today’s...

This Awesome Robot Is the Size of a Penny and Precise Enough to Aid Eye Surgery

They say size isn’t everything, but when it comes to delta robots it seems like it’s pretty important. The speed and precision of these machines sees them employed in delicate pick-and-place tasks in all kinds...

Low-Cost Soft Robot Muscles Can Lift 200 Times Their Weight and Self-Heal

Jerky mechanical robots are staples of science fiction, but to seamlessly integrate into everyday life they’ll need the precise yet powerful motor control of humans. Now scientists have created a new class of artificial...

Why the World Is Still Getting Better—and That’s Likely to Continue

If you read or watch the news, you’ll likely think the world is falling to pieces. Trends like terrorism, climate change, and a growing population straining the planet’s finite resources can easily lead you...

Want Self-Healing Robots and Tires? Elastomers May Hold the Key

We all have scars, and each one tells a story. Tales of tomfoolery, tales of haphazardness, or in my case, tales of stupidity. Whether the cause of your scar was a push-bike accident, a lack...

Why Humanoid Robots Are Still So Hard to Make Useful

Picture a robot. In all likelihood, you just pictured a sleek metallic or chrome-white humanoid. Yet the vast majority of robots in the world around us are nothing like this; instead, they’re specialized for...

Robotic Materials Will Distribute Intelligence All Over a Robot’s Body

The classical view of a robot as a mechanical body with a central “brain” that controls its behavior could soon be on its way out. The authors of a recent article in Science Robotics...
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9 Robot Animals Built From Nature’s Best-Kept Secrets

Millions of years of evolution have allowed animals to develop some elegant and highly efficient solutions to problems like locomotion, flight, and dexterity. As Boston Dynamics unveils its latest mechanical animals, here’s a rundown...

The Farms of the Future Will Be Automated From Seed to Harvest

Swarms of drones buzz overhead, while robotic vehicles crawl across the landscape. Orbiting satellites snap high-resolution images of the scene far below. Not one human being can be seen in the pre-dawn glow spreading...

Amazon Is Quietly Building the Robots of Sci-Fi—Piece by Practical Piece

Science fiction is the siren song of hard science. How many innocent young students have been lured into complex, abstract science, technology, engineering, or mathematics because of a reckless and irresponsible exposure to Arthur...

How Technology Is Driving Us Toward Peak Globalization

At some point in the future—and in some ways we are already seeing this—the amount of physical stuff moving around the world will peak and begin to decline. By “stuff,” I am referring to...

Better Than Smart Speakers? Japan Is Making Robot and Hologram Companions

While American internet giants are developing speakers, Japanese companies are working on robots and holograms. They all share a common goal: to create the future platform for the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart...
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This Year’s Awesome Robot Stories From Around the Web (Through Sept 9)

Each week we scour the web for great articles and fascinating advances across our core topics, from AI to biotech and the brain. But robots have a special place in our hearts. This week,...
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Watch These 1,069 Robots Dance Their Way to a New World Record

There are so many things robots can do nowadays. They can shuttle products around a warehouse, make burgers and pizza, and teach each other new things. Most of the capabilities we’ve given robots are useful—but...

Robots and AI Will Take Over These 3 Medical Niches First

We're no stranger to robotics in the medical field. Robot-assisted surgery is becoming more and more common. Many training programs are starting to include robotic and virtual reality scenarios to provide hands-on training for...

Finish Him! MegaBots’ Giant Robot Duel Is Finally Going Down

It began two years ago when MegaBots co-founders Matt Oehrlein and Gui Cavalcanti donned American flags as capes and challenged Suidobashi Heavy Industries to a giant robot duel in a YouTube video that immediately...

Japan’s SoftBank Is Investing Billions in the Technological Future

Remember the 1980s movie Brewster’s Millions, in which a minor league baseball pitcher (played by Richard Pryor) must spend $30 million in 30 days to inherit $300 million? Pryor goes on an epic spending...

This Inspiring Teenager Wants to Save Lives With His Flying Robots

It’s not every day you meet a high school student who’s been building functional robots since age 10. Then again, Mihir Garimella is definitely not your average teenager. When I sat down to interview him...
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3 Exponentials to Watch | Future of Everything With Jason Silva (Part 3)

In the third of Singularity University's Future of Everything YouTube series with Jason Silva, Silva discusses "The Big Three" exponential technologies, which he defines as GNR: genetics, nanotechnology, and robotics. "If I were to be talking...

To Design the Perfect Drone, Follow Nature’s Lead

Nature has found some elegant solutions to complicated problems and engineers have long been inspired by its designs. But Adrian Thomas thinks translating the best of nature’s discoveries into man-made devices requires the ability...

These Pizza Robots Assemble Perfect Pies in Minutes

Oh pizza, how I love thee. Let me count the ways. Your golden, flaky crust. Your salty-sweet tomato sauce. Your gooey, stretchy cheese. Your predictive algorithms and efficiently automated production line… Wait, what? Sounds like a...

How Robots Are Getting Better at Making Sense of the World

The multiverse of science fiction is populated by robots that are indistinguishable from humans. They are usually smarter, faster, and stronger than us. They seem capable of doing any job imaginable, from piloting a...

What These Lifelike Androids Can Teach Us About Being Human

For Dr. Hiroshi Ishiguro, one of the most interesting things about androids is the changing questions they pose us, their creators, as they evolve. Does it, for example, do something to the concept of...

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