Swiss Robot Maker Set to Launch SCORP

January 26, 2012

An item on sparked my interest today. As it turns out, Lausanne, Switzerland-based Novatiq is set to release a micro-unmanned ground vehicle, or MUGV, called SCORP. Classified as a “throwable” robot, the device is specially designed for front-line personnel engaged in antiterrorism, police, bomb squad and military activities.

Novatiq describes the 2.5 kg (5.5 lb.) SCORP as an “…advanced small, lightweight portable reconnaissance robot… that can be deployed and operated by a single person.”

Two Teams Emerge Victorious in SPHERES Challenge

January 25, 2012

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology played host to over 200 high-school students competing in the third annual NASA-sponsored  Zero Robotics SPHERES Challenge.

Two teams of students — one US-based and one European team — earned bragging rights as the winners of the SPHERES Challenge, which tasked them with programming a group of miniature satellites that are currently in orbit aboard the International Space Station. Alliance Rocket from the United States and Alliance CyberAvo from Europe were named the winners. Both winning efforts were in turn made up of three individual teams:

  • Alliance Rocket comprised Team Rocket, River Hill High School, Clarksville, MD; Storming Robots, Branchburg, NJ; and SPHEREZ of Influence, Rockledge High School/Brevard County, FL.

Chrysler Foundation Offers Grants to Support Youth Robotics

January 19, 2012

The Chrysler Foundation has been a supporter of youth robotics programs for the past 16 years, and today the company announced a series of grants totaling over $130,000. The grants, which range from $500 to $6,625, were awarded to teams of students participating in FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) and FLL (FIRST Lego League) competitions.

The Foundation, which is committed to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, will award the grants to 22 teams from Arizona, Indiana, Michigan and Virginia. The funds will be used to offset costs associated with items such as registration fees, parts and materials and team apparel.

Lockheed Martin Acquires Avionics Specialist

January 18, 2012

Lockheed Martin has announced the acquisition of privately held Procerus Technologies, an Orem, Utah-based company specializing in avionics for micro unmanned aerial systems (UAS). Procerus was founded in 2004.

According to a press release hailing the acquisition, Procerus provides autopilot, targeting and payload technologies for micro UAS to domestic and international governments, as well as industry and academic institutions.

One example is the company’s Kestrel autopilot system (pictured), which is designed as a small and light, yet fully-featured micro autopilot system for surveillance and reconnaissance applications.

Students to Compete in Robotics Challenge

January 18, 2012

A group of high school students will compete in the third annual Zero Robotics SPHERES Challenge on Monday January 23rd. They will be operating under the aegis of some high-flying sponsors, namely NASA, DARPA, and MIT. (That’s the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for the acronym challenged.)

NASA will upload software developed by 27 teams of high school students onto Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites (SPHERES), which are bowling ball-sized spherical satellites aboard the International Space Station.

Defense Department Gets a Good Look at Argus One

January 17, 2012

 World Surveillance Group Inc., developer of the lighter-than-air Argus One UAV, announced the completion of initial demonstrations for the U.S. Department of Defense. The demonstration took place at the U.S. Department of Energy Nevada Test Site.

CyberKnife Robotic Surgery System Deployed in Mexican Hospital

January 17, 2012

Robotic and robotic-assisted surgery continues to make inroads into new and emerging markets. CHRISTUS MUGUERZA Hospital Alta Especialidad, located in Monterrey, Mexico, recently deployed the CyberKnife Robotic Radiosurgery System, and has been treating patients since October 2011. In fact, the hospital has treated eight patients with malignant tumors or non-cancerous lesions in the brain, head, neck, and kidneys using the CyberKnife System.

According to Sunnyvale, CA-based Accuray - the creators of the CyberKnife Robotic Radiosurgery System - the solution offers cancer patients a non-invasive alternative to surgery for the treatment of both cancerous and non-cancerous tumors anywhere in the body.

TOSY Dancing Robot Can Cut A Rug

January 12, 2012

 Yes, this is the one. THIS is the robot Justin Bieber has been promoting in the Las Vegas desert.

If you pay attention to robots, or gadgets, or Canadian teen heartthrobs dating Selena Gomez, you know what I’m talking about.

TOSY Robotics, a Vietnamese high-tech toys manufacturer, used CES 2012 as the venue to announce its latest and greatest — a portable speaker that doubles as… wait for it… a dancing robot.

Mexico City to Host Robotic Soccer Championship

January 12, 2012

Ok, so it’s not exactly Lionel Messi cutting through the middle of a defense, or Cristiano Ronaldo showing off his ball control skills en route to scoring a goal, but the robotics community continues to make strides in Robo-Soccer. The RoboCup Federation and the Mexican Robotics Federation are well underway with plans for the upcoming RoboCup 2012 which will be held in Mexico City June 18-24 of this year.

While it may be a bit premature to issue such a warning, care should be taken not confuse it with another soccer competition taking place at around the same time — the UEFA Euro2012 Final.

Although the ultimate dream of the RoboCup organization is to have its humanoid robots (like the Aldebarran Nao 25, pictured, right) compete against and emerge victorious against a reigning human World Cup winning team, the group admits that such a result might be considered a “dream” which they hope to achieve by the middle of the 21st century at the earliest. Nevertheless, they believe that today’s RoboCup competitions will serve as a vehicle to further promote robotics and artificial intelligence, or AI, research.

NASA GRAIL Spacecraft Achieve Lunar Orbit

January 6, 2012

NASA announced that a pair of Lockheed Martin-developed robotic spacecraft had successfully achieved a lunar orbit earlier this week.

The so-called GRAIL mission spacecraft (for Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory) were designed with the goal of studying the gravitational forces of the Earth’s closest celestial neighbor.

Information on the project’s Web site explains the mission thusly:

As the two spacecraft fly over areas of greater and lesser gravity, caused both by visible features such as mountains and craters and by masses hidden beneath the lunar surface, they will move slightly toward and away from each other.

Arizona Researchers to Develop Autonomous Robots

October 19, 2011

A team of researchers at the University of Arizona is working under a five-year, $3 million grant to develop a self-learning robot that does not rely on extensive programming.

Essentially, the goal of this research is to develop robots that are not only autonomous but also cognitively aware.

Paul Cohen and Ian Fasel of the University of Arizona School of Information: Science, Technology, and Arts, or SISTA, have secured a five-year, $3 million grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop a robot that can learn simple language and be instructed to perform tasks in that language. The project is called, “Robotoddler: Grounded Language Learning for Shared Human-robot Tasks.”

Hansen Medical to Trial Robotic Catheter System

October 19, 2011

Hansen Medical, Inc., announced plans to commence a clinical trial to evaluate its flexible catheter Sensei X Robotic System in patients with ventricular tachycardia. Ventricular tachycardia, or VT, is an abnormal rapid heartbeat, which can be life-threatening because it may lead to ventricular fibrillation, asystole, and sudden cardiac death.

The Sensei X Robotic System features a flexible catheter with remotely steerable distal tips designed make it easier for medical practitioners to navigate a catheter for therapeutic intervention.

The clinical trial, which is called Early Robotic Ablation by Substrate Elimination of Ventricular Tachycardia (ERASE-VT), is designed to enroll 200 patients with implantable defibrillators at up to eight sites in Europe. The study is being sponsored by Imperial College of Science Technology and Medicine out of the Cardiology Department at St. Mary's Hospital.

iRobot Unveils New Seaglider Unmanned Underwater Vehicle

September 21, 2011

Massachusetts-based iRobot Corp. announced a newly configured Seaglider UUV at the Oceans ’11 conference.

The redesigned Seaglider UUV (unmanned underwater vehicle) now features significantly increased volume and mass payload capabilities. By doubling the payload mass to four kilograms and increasing the payload volume by 650 percent to over 21,000 cubic centimeters, researchers can integrate both larger sensors and a greater number of sensors with iRobot’s new UUV.

According to David Heinz, vice president of Maritime Systems at iRobot, “Researchers have expressed a need for more sensing capabilities on Seaglider, so that it can be used in a wider range of missions.

Liquid Robotics Challenges Global Scientific Community

September 21, 2011

Liquid Robotics announced its Pacific Crossing (PacX) Challenge is now open to scientists around the world. During the PacX Challenge, four of the company’s Wave Gliders marine robots will launch off the coast of Northern California and attempt to travel the longest distance at sea by an unmanned marine vehicle.

According to Liquid Robotics, the robots will travel together to Hawaii and then take separate routes across the Pacific, one pair arriving in Japan and the other in Australia.

The robotic gliders will traverse areas that have not previously been remotely surveyed, and they will transmit data regarding environmental conditions such as salinity, temperature, wave activity, fluorescence, and more.

LiveData, Titan Medical Ink Six-Year Pact

September 15, 2011

Toronto, Ontario-based Titan Medical Inc. has signed a six-year development and licensing agreement with Cambridge, MA-based LiveData, Inc.

Live Data is a developer of real-time data integration and display technology. Under the terms of the agreement, Titan Medical will have an exclusive, worldwide license for LiveData RTI Server as an integration technology for the company's Amadeus Composer robotic surgical platform.

Amadeus Composer is designed to enable surgeons to receive multiple information sources for treatment or training, and to provide the ability to easily switch between the two.