March 12, 2014 |
It's the biggest sporting event at Caltech. Six teams competed in the annual robot competition at the Pasadena school on Tuesday. Their homemade creations -- built over 20 weeks for $800 -- rolled, climbed and flew with a goal of getting an empty can onto a 5-foot, pyramid-shaped platform. The Pasadena Star News reports the winner of the "Raiders of the Lost Can" competition, held inside the school's Brown Gymnasium, was a team named ... 40 Pc Chicken McNuggets. This is the mechanical-engineering highlight of the year in a land of brainiacs and gear heads, nerd nirvana for the people who will someday be your boss.
March 5, 2014 |
The new trailer for "Transformers: Age of Extinction" warns that "The rules have changed," but based on the images glimpsed within, there's still plenty of the robotic mayhem, booming explosions and large-scale destruction that Michael Bay and his blockbuster franchise are known for. Written by Ehren Kruger, who penned the previous two "Transformers" movies, and directed by Bay, who has directed each installment but says this fourth one will be...
February 14, 2014 |
Imagine a team of workers that can tirelessly build and rebuild complicated structures even under daunting and dangerous conditions. They already exist - they're called termites. Now, inspired by these mound-building insects, Harvard University scientists have created a mini-swarm of surprisingly simpleminded robots that can work together to construct buildings much larger than themselves. The findings, described in the journal Science, present an important step toward designing robots that may one day be able to build research facilities in the deep ocean, buildings on Mars or even levees at a flood zone during an emergency - jobs that are far too hazardous or expensive for human workers to do. [Updated 11:28 a.m. Feb. 14: "It's a very impressive accomplishment," said Hod Lipson, a roboticist at Cornell University, who was not involved in the study.
January 27, 2014 |
Google has purchased DeepMind, a British artificial intelligence company whose goal reportedly is to make computers think like humans. The Mountain View, Calif., tech giant confirmed the deal with technology blog Recode , formerly known as AllThingsD, which first reported on the deal. The British Independent said Google is paying more than $500 million. The Independent also said Google beat out Facebook for the acquisition of the London startup. PHOTOS: 10 ways to use the sharing economy With the deal, Google appears more interested in talent than anything else.
January 2, 2014 |
Gecko's sticky feet seem to let the little climbing lizards crawl wherever they want. Now researchers have used the gecko feet's trade secrets to let robots use that climbing power in space. The idea, which received backing from the European Space Agency, mimics the pads of the gecko's feet to allow small robots to climb up the hulls of larger spacecraft to maintain and even repair them. Such repair bots could extend the lives of expensive spacecraft, save them from sudden and untimely deaths, and perhaps one day minimize risky spacewalks for future astronauts.
December 30, 2013 |
Among all the challenges of sending robotic explorers to other planets and moons, nailing the landing has to be the most nail-biting part. Now, a team at NASA's Ames Research Center in Mountain View has devised a strange, flexible "super ball bot" concept that could take a rough landing on another world's surface and use the same structure to start rolling like a tumbleweed around the terrain. The super ball bot is unlike any landing gear ever sent to another planet. For example, the 2004 Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity essentially used a giant airbag ball to cushion the spacecraft as it bounced across the surface.