Struggling to keep on top of all the news about robotics? These essential blogs covering news about robotics make it easy.

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The 1961 Mobot Mark II Had All the Moves

The 1961 Mobot Mark II Had All the Moves
Photo: J. R. Eyerman/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images In the late 1950s, Sandia Laboratory was looking for a way to handle radioactive materials without putting humans in danger. The answer was the Mobot—short for either “remote robot” or “mobile robot”—a remotely operated system designed by Hughes Aircraft Co. in 1959 that offered a unique and effective combination of strength and dexterity. A Sandia press release announcing the robot called it a “Replacement fo…
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Video Friday: DJI Spark Drone, Google Tango, and 18-DOF Hexapod Robot

Video Friday: DJI Spark Drone, Google Tango, and 18-DOF Hexapod Robot
Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your Automaton bloggers. We’ll also be posting a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next two months; here’s what we have so far (send us your events!): IEEE ICRA – May 29-3, 2017 – Singapore University Rover Challenge – June 1-13, 2017 – Hanksville, Utah, USA IEEE World Haptics – June 6-9, 2017 – Munich, Germany NASA SRC Virtual Competition – June 12-16, 2017…
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Can We Quantify Machine Consciousness?

Can We Quantify Machine Consciousness?
Illustration: Chad Hagen Imagine that at some time in the not-too-distant future, you’ve bought a smartphone that comes bundled with a personal digital assistant (PDA) living in the cloud. You assign a sexy female voice to the PDA and give it access to all of your emails, social media accounts, calendar, photo album, contacts, and other bits and flotsam of your digital life. She—for that’s how you quickly think of her—knows you better than your mother, your soon-to-be ex-w…
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3D-Printed Pneumatic Quadruped Robot Adapts to Rough Terrain

3D-Printed Pneumatic Quadruped Robot Adapts to Rough Terrain
At IROS in Chicago a few years back, then Harvard grad student Michael Tolley introduced us to a robot that used explosions to jump. It was soft, it was pink, it had three wiggly legs that it used to position itself, and it was kinda freaky looking. As it turns out, Tolley now has his own robotics lab at UC San Diego, and they’ve been working on ways of efficiently fabricating useful soft robots. Their latest paper, which will be presented at ICRA in Singapore next week, t…
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Parasitic Robot Steers Live Turtle With Tasty Snacks

Parasitic Robot Steers Live Turtle With Tasty Snacks
It’s going to be a long, long time before we have amphibious robots that are anywhere near as capable as the mighty and majestic turtle. While many roboticists are working diligently on TurtleBots of all kinds, researchers at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) have taken things much more literally with the development of a robot-turtle hybrid: a “parasitic robot,” as they call it, that lives on the back of a real turtle, guiding the animal f…
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A Neuromorphic Chip that Makes Music

A Neuromorphic Chip that Makes Music
A chip made by researchers at IMEC in Belgium uses brain-inspired circuits to compose melodies. The prototype neuromorphic chip learns the rules of musical composition by detecting patterns in the songs it’s exposed to. It then creates its own song in the same style. It’s an early demo from a  project to develop low-power, general purpose learning accelerators that could help tailor medical sensors to their wearers and enable personal electronics to learn their users’ …
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Court Ruling: The FAA Can't Make You Register Your Drone

Court Ruling: The FAA Can
Since December of 2015, Americans have been required to register any drone that weighs more than two sticks of butter with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). It’s a minor hassle and costs a little bit of money and seems like a reasonable idea considering how many people are flying sizeable drones nowadays. However, there was one particular group that really didn't appreciate the new ruling: model aircraft enthusiasts. One of them sued the FAA in February of 2016, a…
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Video Friday: Animatronic King Kong, Robot Pilot, and Giant Eyeball Drone

Video Friday: Animatronic King Kong, Robot Pilot, and Giant Eyeball Drone
Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your Automaton bloggers. We’ll also be posting a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next two months; here’s what we have so far (send us your events!): NASA Robotic Mining Competition – May 22-26, 2017 – NASA KSC, Fla., USA ROS-I Asia Pacific Workshop – May 25-26, 2017 – Singapore IEEE ICRA – May 29-3, 2017 – Singapore University Rover Challenge – June 1-13, …
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ETH Zurich's Omnicopter Plays Fetch

ETH Zurich
Most aircraft are designed to be very good at going upwards, and also not bad at going forwards, with some relatively small amount of thought given to turning left and right. Thanks to gravity, downwards is usually taken care of. Even aircraft designed to hover, like helicopters and quadrotors, have preferential directions of orientation and travel where their particular arrangement of motors and control surfaces makes them most effective.  ETH Zurich’s Omnicopter goes abou…
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New Report Highlights Dangers of Hacked Factory Robots

New Report Highlights Dangers of Hacked Factory Robots
Earlier this month, computer-security firm Trend Micro, in collaboration with researchers at Polytechnic University of Milan, released a report titled, “Rogue Robots.” No, they weren’t writing about the threat of runaway artificial intelligence or Terminator-like “killer robots.” Rather, they were exploring how malevolent hackers might compromise various kinds of industrial robots, whose number is expected to reach 2.6 million units worldwide by 2019. The dang…
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