Flying Robot Can Be Your Running Coach

If you have ever worried about venturing out on your own for a run, then this robot is what you need. This little flying bot can fly along side of you and keep you company. Or if you want more than that, then it has an advanced mode where it goes in front of you and encourages you to go faster. It works be locking in on a target on your shirt and then staying with you. Not only does this machine provide companionship or coaching, but it could provide a sense of security. Although, I don’t think this was the original intent of the designers, this robot could be of great use to watch over the lone runner out on a long run. It seems to me that the robot could be modified to signal if the runner is motionless for a period of time. If the runner is injured or ill, then help could be on the way. With a little more programming and GPS hardware, maybe the robot could also track location and mileage. To me the potential for this flying exercise monitor is tremendous. It is not yet in production and still needs development work (it only has a battery life of about 20 minutes), but I look forward to seeing where this goes.


Chad Toprak's jogging buddy is an autonomous robot drone helicopter which has has programmed to follow him & pace him while running.

Chad Toprak with his hovering robot. Photo: Craig Sillitoe

The RMIT honors student is part of the team behind the Joggobot, an autonomous whizzing device that levitates in front of joggers and encourages them to get fit.

Read more:

Flying robot set to spur on flying feet
Sat, 02 Jun 2012 21:22:14 GMT

A Robot That Cleans Your Room—Finally!

It’s true that there are robots for almost every thankless task around the house. Although a few of the most hated ones still need that robotic help. For example, a robot that folds clothes, puts away the dishes, or even loads the dishwasher would be nice. I know robots to do all these tasks, and more, are in development, but they are just not there yet. Now, here comes a robot that will pick up the stuff laying around your room or office. Its about time. But, don’t blame the robot or its developers. The room cleaning activity is just not easy for a robot. The robot must know what the objects are, that they are out of place, and where they go. For a robot to accomplish all that is very slick. (Just remember how much you hate this task and you know what’s what in the room!) So, how long will it be before a robot is developed that can do all the tasks that now take a fleet of robots? That is probably several years away at best. We can always hope that we live to see that robot to make our lives even easier than they are now.


There's a robot for just about every thankless household chore — one scoops poop, another folds towels, there's even one that pours beer. Now, thankfully, there's a robot that tidies up a messy room. The room-cleaning task is more difficult than it
See all stories on this topic »

Robot smart enough to clean your room (but not to have excuse to get out of it)
Wed, 23 May 2012 20:31:07 GMT

Robotic Lifeguard to Assist Their Human Counterparts

This robot lifeguard assists the human lifeguards by zipping out to the distressed swimmer and providing a flotation device until other help arrives. The robotic lifeguard goes by the acronym “EMILY”. “EMILY” is named for a 13 year old California girl that died tragically. There are issues with this lifeguard assistant. For one thing, the device may not be useful with children swimming in shallow waters. Also, it may not be able to help swimmers that have already gone under the surface. Finally, there is the expense. These devices cost upwards of $23,000 for two of the “EMILY”s plus training for two lifeguards. With these potential drawbacks many wonder if the robots are worth the cost when they are basically untried.

As with robots in other areas of life, time will be the judge of their usefulness and cost effectiveness. What do you think? Is it always worth it to try new applications for robotics?

CBS Local

Robotic lifeguards making their way to the beach
Meet a state-of-the art robotic lifeguard called "EMILY." Lisa Konicki, the Executive Director of the Westerly-Pawcatuck area Chamber of Commerce, has worked tirelessly to bring this invention to her town. "EMILY" is an acronym for Emergency Integrated
Robotic buoy to be used as lifeguard in Rhode IslandNew Haven Register
Robotic Lifeguards Making Their Way To East Coast ShoreHartford Courant
Lifeguarding goes high tech in WesterlyWRNI
all 15 news articles »

Robotic lifeguards making their way to the beach – WNCT
Tue, 22 May 2012 18:37:41 GMT

Paralyzed Patients Use Thoughts to Direct Robotic Arms

Personal assistance robots may have just become much more user friendly. According to Leigh Hochberg, MD, PhD, of Brown University in Providence, R.I., and colleagues in a recent research project, two patients in a clinical trial were able to directly control robotic arms by using their thoughts.

Dr. Hochberg related in a paper published in the May 17 issue of Nature, “Using an investigational neural interface system — called BrainGate – two quadriplegics in a clinical trial were able to direct robotic arms to touch and grab foam balls.”

One of the patients was even able to grab a bottle of coffee and drink through a straw by controlling a heavy-duty arm, the researchers reported . The patient had not been able to do that by herself in nearly 15 years.

It seems to me that this may open the whole field of robotics to the idea of controlling machines with thoughts. Think of a robotic vacuum cleaner that you could direct to a spot that it missed during its cleaning runs. Even better a robotic exoskeleton that a paralyzed patient could direct to allow them to walk around and carry out fundamental tasks. This is merely the logical extension of the outcome of this research.

Imagine the freedom that mobility-impaired people would gain with the full development of this technology. Truly amazing stuff!

Robotic Arms Allow Paralyzed Patients to Grasp Objects
By Elizabeth Lopatto on May 16, 2012

Two people paralyzed by strokes were able to control robotic arms by using their thoughts, a medical advance that may lead to more-sophisticated prosthetic limbs. One patient, a 58-year-old woman, used a robot arm
Stroke Victims Control Robotic Arm With Thoughts Wall Street Journal
Paralyzed woman gets robotic arm she controls with her mind
Paralysis victims use brain signals to control robotic arm USA TODAY
Science NewsTechnology ReviewPopular Science
all 21 news articles »

Robotic Arms Allow Paralyzed Patients to Grasp Objects – BusinessWeek
Wed, 16 May 2012 17:26:18 GMT

Space Robots May Service Satellites

weather-satellite_w553_h725Two companies are building robots to service dying satellites and keep them functioning in orbit. The question with the idea is whether or not this process would save money over the current practice of abandoning and/or replacing the dead satellites. At this time, it just does not seem financially feasible to have robots repair or refuel satellites even though the technology certainly is at the level needed to carryout these operations.


Photo Credit: NASA

Robotic droids prepared to extend lives of satellites
Orbiting our planet is a vast multitude of satellites, some long dead and some still carrying out their mission. Once a satellite breaks down it's nearly impossible to fix it due to the massive costs of sending a specialized crew of astronauts to get
and more »

Robotic droids prepared to extend lives of satellites –
Tue, 15 May 2012 16:17:55 GMT

Robots Make a Difference in Science and Technology Education


Photo Credit: Nic McPhee

The question of how to help American students succeed in high tech subjects continues to be on the forefront of public discussion nationwide. One of the answers is occurring on a regular basis in communities across the country. Robotics intrigues students in a way that only a few topics can. In a recent era, space exploration held this fascination for young people and inspired a generation to take on science and engineering. Now, it appears robotics is at center stage for many students. The photo above is from a robotics competition held at the University of North Dakota. In this contest, the robots are programmed to act as sumo wrestlers. The robots push each other until one is shoved out of the ring.

Robotics classes are becoming more common in schools and robotics competitions are sweeping the nation. There are many types of competitions with acronyms such as FIRST or BEST. Take the following article in the San Antonio Express News about the local BEST competition. Students spent six weeks building robots to undertake a complex task centered around the theme of Bugs! Forrest Mims III, an amateur scientist who writes a column in the San Antonio Express News, states that robotics may be the key to improving education, especially in science and technology. You can read the full article at the link below.

The educational performance of US students has fallen dramatically in recent decades. Parents and educators can help reverse the tide by involving their students in robotics and science fairs. See for details about BEST.

Robots help teens learn about science
San Antonio Express
Sat, 29 Oct 2011 00:29:04 GMT

Next-Generation Robot Inspector for Nuclear Power Plants

A fast, reliable robot is needed to minimize downtime when nuclear reactors are inspected. Energid is developing this robot just for that purpose. Also, this robot could be used for disaster work in damaged reactors such as the ones disabled in the earthquake/tsunami in Japan. Energid has experience in developing robots for NASA and so has a great deal of experience in robotics. Read the complete story at the link below.


Photo Credit: Babbage/Saneef

Energid Technologies Corp. of Cambridge said it has developed a next-generation robot prototype to inspect nuclear power plants as part of an agreement with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. of Japan. While the robots could be used in disaster situations …

Energid develops robot for inspecting nuclear power plants – Boston Globe
Fri, 15 Jul 2011 20:06:55 GMT

Robots That Can Be Controlled From Orbit

Photo Credit:  NASA

Robots have long been the pathfinders for the exploration of space.  Surveyor landers went to the surface of the Moon to test out the surface before men walked on it.  Mars has been host to a number of robotic explorers paving the way for future human landings there.  Even when people finally get to orbit the Red Planet, they will probably want to send out robotic probes to test out the expected landing sites first.  This technology might even find its way to planets or moons outside our solar system.  To do this, the astronauts will need to control the robots from orbit.  This is the purpose of a new rover being developed by the European Space Agency.  Read the article at the link below for more details.

Experts with the European Space Agency (ESA) announce the creation of a new rover, which is meant to act as a testbed for a new remote-control technology. Astronauts in low-Earth orbit (LEO) will control the machine through specialized, exoskeleton-like …

Controlling Robots on Exoplanets from Orbit – Softpedia
Wed, 06 Jul 2011 18:33:31 GMT

Robots Taking Over Typical Human Roles in the Job Market


Photo Credit:  The U.S. Army's photostream

Two stories this week caught my attention. Both are among examples of robots moving into jobs that were once the sole province of humans. As the photo above suggests, sometimes we are being dragged into this future where robots replace humans in routine work.  Robotic bellhops are now replacing their human counterparts for at least some functions.  In the case of this new hotel, the robot is there to check luggage for early arrivals when the rooms are not ready.  Meanwhile, in Australia, robot miners are due to start work in some mines.  In this situation, the typical miner may find that their job does not end. Instead the miner may move to an office where they control their robotic counterparts down in the shafts.  The robot miners are being brought in to address a labor shortage and to increase productivity of the mines in the face of increase demand.

Still, humans are facing a situation in which robots will be taking over many work functions where the tasks are routine, monotonous, dangerous, or require precise repetition.  That is certainly the case in these two stories.

So, what does this mean?  Will women and men face unemployment because of robots?  This does not have to be the case.  One key here is that humans will always be needed to do what only humans can do.  The other key is education.  This means learning to operate, maintain, design, and build the robotic workers.  People will have to upgrade their skills though high tech learning.  One must also remember that humans have the creativity and intelligence that robots do not have at the current time.  For me, it is an open question as to whether or not robots will ever equal the creativity and flexibility of a human brain, even if machines become “intelligent”.

Follow the links in the story links below to find out more about these robots.  And be sure to let me know what you think about this issue of robots replacing human jobs.


Trendy, New NYC Hotel with a Robotic Bellhop

Meet the luggage robot. It's the first of several high-tech, sleek amenities guests encounter at the Yotel, a new hotel that aims to provide a trendy stay at an affordable price. Purple lighting, throbbing music in the elevators and
Examiner AP

At new NYC hotel, a robot handles the luggage | The Associated
The Associated Press
Wed, 22 Jun 2011 20:15:24 GMT

Robots for Australia Mines Could Replace Humans

PERTH (Reuters) – Some Australian mine workers may soon find themselves trading in their steel-toed boots for a headset and computer mouse, as mining companies automate to help plug labour shortages and ramp up output to feed Asia's voracious demand for …

More robots for Australia mines may plug labour crunch – Reuters UK
Wed, 22 Jun 2011 19:19:37 GMT

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Robots Powered by Waves on Missions to Help Humans Understand Oceans

Here is a story about a unique robot able to harvest energy from the environment.  Using a patented system of cables and fins, the robot is able to use waves in the ocean to propel itself through the water.  There is a diagram explaining the system at the Liquid Robotics website.  Wave Glider has so many possible applications that it is difficult to list them all, but a few of the missions this bot can carry out are environmental sensing, monitoring whales, and collecting ocean surface data.  Read the article below for more on this amazing robot. Could a land-based robot do the same sort of thing and draw its power from the environment?  Let me know what you think.

Photo Credit: Treehugger

Liquid Robotics: Wave-powered robots serving diverse missions
SYS-CON Media (press release) (blog)
Liquid Robotics produces a wave-powered robot called the Wave Glider. This unmanned maritime vehicle (UMV) holds great promise in enhancing human understanding of the oceans, which will enable us to be better stewards of the essential resources it

Other article sources
Shark Attacks Liquid Robotics' Wave-Powered Robot Treehugger
all 3 news articles »

Liquid Robotics: Wave-powered robots serving diverse missions – SYS-CON Media (press release) (blog)
Fri, 17 Jun 2011 07:02:21 GMT