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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DeepMind Shows AI Has Trouble Seeing Homer Simpson Actions

DeepMind Shows AI Has Trouble Seeing Homer Simpson Actions
The best artificial intelligence still has trouble visually recognizing many of Homer Simpson’s favorite behaviors such as drinking beer, eating chips, eating doughnuts, yawning, and the occasional face-plant. Those findings from DeepMind, the pioneering London-based AI lab, also suggest the motive behind why DeepMind has created a huge new dataset of YouTube clips to help train AI on identifying human actions in videos that go well beyond “Mmm, doughnuts” or “Doh!” The m…
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The Drone Rules That Never Became Law

The Drone Rules That Never Became Law
The laws governing the use of drones in the United States are changing so fast it can be hard to keep up. But I’d like to explore here some proposed drone rules that never went into effect because the legislation that described them, Senate bill 2658 (the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2016), was never passed. Why care about rules that didn’t become law? It’s my theory that although the legislation died in Congress last year, the people championing…
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A Rocket-Propelled Miniature Robot for Planetary Exploration

A Rocket-Propelled Miniature Robot for Planetary Exploration
In terms of overall bang for your buck, solid-fuel rockets are pretty great: They’re dead simple, very reliable, and offer respectable efficiency in a very small form factor, as long as you’re prepared to handle a lot of thrust all at once and then never again. While some robots have attempted to use rockets to jump from place to place, controllability has always been an issue, since solid-fuel rockets give you a fixed amount of thrust whether you want it or not, and that th…
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Robot Uses Evil Alter Ego to Learn Reliable Grasping

Robot Uses Evil Alter Ego to Learn Reliable Grasping
You know what’s really tedious and boring? Teaching robots to grasp a whole bunch of different kinds of objects. This is why roboticists have started to turn to AI strategies like self-supervised learning instead, where you let a robot gradually figure out on its own how to grasp things by trying slightly different techniques over and over again. Even with a big pile o’ robots, this takes a long time (thousands of robot-hours, at least), and while you can end up with a very …
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Video Friday: Robot Dance Teacher, Transformer Drone, and Pneumatic Reel Actuator

Video Friday: Robot Dance Teacher, Transformer Drone, and Pneumatic Reel Actuator
The week is almost over, and so is the 2017 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) in Singapore. We hope you’ve been enjoying our coverage, which has featured aquatic drones, stone-stacking manipulators, and self-folding soft robots. We’ll have lots more from the conference over the next few weeks, but for you impatient types, we’re cramming Video Friday this week with a special selection of ICRA videos. We tried to include videos from many differen…
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What Intelligent Machines Need to Learn From the Neocortex

What Intelligent Machines Need to Learn From the Neocortex
2. The Mechanics of the Mind Photo: Dan Saelinger Computers have transformed work and play, transportation and medicine, entertainment and sports. Yet for all their power, these machines still cannot perform simple tasks that a child can do, such as navigating an unknown room or using a pencil. The solution is finally coming within reach. It will emerge from the intersection of two major pursuits: the reverse engineering of the brain and the burgeoning field …
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Aquatic Fixed-Wing Drone Could Lake-Hop Across Canada

Aquatic Fixed-Wing Drone Could Lake-Hop Across Canada
Fixed-wing drones are the way to go for efficient flying, but they pose challenges for long term autonomy because of how demanding they are when it comes to takeoffs and landings. You need a nice big flat area, and usually you need infrastructure support. A drone that needs to operate for days or weeks at a time completely on its own can’t rely on either, which means you need to get creative. At ICRA this week, researchers from the University of Sherbrooke in Canada have …
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Why Rat-Brained Robots Are So Good at Navigating Unfamiliar Terrain

Why Rat-Brained Robots Are So Good at Navigating Unfamiliar Terrain
3. Engineering Cognition Photo: Dan Saelinger If you take a common brown rat and drop it into a lab maze or a subway tunnel, it will immediately begin to explore its surroundings, sniffing around the edges, brushing its whiskers against surfaces, peering around corners and obstacles. After a while, it will return to where it started, and from then on, it will treat the explored terrain as familiar. Roboticists have long dreamed of giving their creations simil…
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Draper's Genetically Modified Cyborg DragonflEye Takes Flight

Draper
In January, we wrote about a cybernetic micro air vehicle under development at Draper called DragonflEye. DragonflEye consists of a living, slightly modified dragonfly that carries a small backpack of electronics. The backpack interfaces directly with the dragonfly’s nervous system to control it, and uses tiny solar panels to harvest enough energy to power itself without the need for batteries. Draper showed us a nifty looking mock-up of what the system might look like a f…
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Human-level AI Is Right Around the Corner—or Hundreds of Years Away

Human-level AI Is Right Around the Corner—or Hundreds of Years Away
3. Engineering Cognition Artificial intelligence is progressing rapidly, and its impact on our daily lives will only increase. Today, there are still many things humans can do that computers can’t. But will it always be that way? Should we worry about a future in which the capabilities of machines rival those of humans across the board? For IEEE Spectrum’s June 2017 special issue, we asked a range of technologists and visionaries to weigh in on what the future ho…
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