Swarm construction

Watch these termite-inspired robots in action 

Termites are some of nature’s most magnificent architects that can easily build complex mounds that exceed their own size by several orders of magnitude – occasionally reaching up to nine meters in height. Paradoxically enough, each of these tiny insects does not have even a remote idea of what kind of structure it is building, nor does it receive orders from any termite authority. In fact, the termites’ architectural prowess makes no sense except in the context of swarm intelligence.

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How ready are disaster-response robots?

Sandia Lab's Gemini-Scout Credit: Randy Montoya

Sandia Lab’s Gemini-Scout
Credit: Randy Montoya

The December DARPA trials saw possibly the biggest congregation of state-of-the-art humanoid robots ever. The DARPA Robotics Challenge was launched in 2012, after the Fukushima nuclear meltdown vividly demonstrated how unpractical our most advanced humanoid robots were for disaster response. Since then, things have improved considerably: robots have learned to climb ladders, open doors, turn valves and even drive vehicles. But are they ready to survive a full-scale rescue mission? Continue reading

Robots Vs. Jellyfish

Sea_Nettle_Jelly_1Jellies are on a world-wide rise: we’ve made the mess, now it’s time to clean it up!

They may be found in swarms of marvelous colours, or floating solitary like transparent pieces of blown glass. From waters East to West, and North to South the jellyfish knows Continue reading

Biomimetics: Where’s it at?

Researchers explore the state of the art of Biomimetics

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Does it make sense to study the living to make machines? Or explore the intricate architecture of a shell to design a building? Within this field, scientists look to nature for their best ideas—we’re talking about Biomimicry. It’s a scientific field that blends a flow of ideas from the biological sciences into engineering. Biomimetic research is bringing together scientists from disciplines such as Neuroscience, Cell Biology, Computation, Psychology, and many others to produce new technologies that make sense in today’s ever-changing world.
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It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s Robobee!!!

Harvard University says hello to the tiniest flying robot ever

Pictured next to an American coin, this little machine weighs in at a mere tenth of a gram. The Robobee, developed at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering,  is officially the smallest flying robot ever created and it’s just completed some very successful first flights.
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This Bot Doesn't Bite…

Check out this robot inspired by fleas!

Scientists at Seoul National University (SNU) have recently created a robot inspired by tiny blood-sucking bugs: fleas! Pesky as these little insects may be, they’ve got an incredible physical ability that not even an Olympic high-jumper could compete with — these guys can jump over 200 hundred times their own body length! See for yourself in NewScientist’s video above.
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The 2012 Living Machines Conference

Here’s a taste of what went on over the 3 day event organized by the Convergent Science Network

Electro sensors inspired by fish who navigate their way through murky waters, robots that dance with the honeybees, and artificial muscles and blood vessels making their way into modern medicine. These are just a few of the research topics that were Continue reading

Robots That Smell

Biomimetic Robot from Vicky Vouloutsi on Vimeo.

As humans, we may take our sense of smell for granted but for many of the other members of the animal kingdom, either land-roaming or water-dwelling, a keen sense of smell serves as an invaluable tool! While cetaceans like dolphins have no sense of smell, some species of fish, such as the salmon, use theirs to guide them back to their native streams or to assist them in maintaining social hierarchy. Most of us are well aware that a dog’s nose could out Continue reading

A Bit of Bacteria Goes a Long Way

Electron microscope image of the microbe, Geobacter sulfurreducens

The U.S.’s  Naval Research Laboratory  powers mini robots with microorganisms

All sorts of robots are used to help us explore outer space but bigger isn’t always better when it comes to extraterrestrial explorers. These machines require loads of energy and last time we checked, outer space lacks electrical outlets….
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Robot Companions for Citizens

An introduction to one of the FET Flagships

The video above was presented by the Robot Companion for Citizens Flagship Initiative at a conference in Warsaw at the end of November. Robot Companions for Citizens is currently one of 6 research initiatives in the running to receive 1 billion euros funding from the European Commission over the next 10 years.
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