Robots Use Tricks From Nature to Climb Walls

The latest projects of Amir Shapiro, head of the robotics laboratory in the Department of Engineering, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beersheeba, Israel, are wall-climbers.  In keeping with an on-going theme of RobotNext, this article is about the robot/nature connection.  These robots are using techniques from nature to defy gravity.   One robot is based on the method that snails use in attaching to a vertical surface.  However, instead of mucus, the bots secrete a trail of glue to enable them to stick as they ascend the walls.  Another robot, this one inspired by cats and rodents, has four appendages with fishhook claws to assist  it’s climb up a rough surface.

A third robot uses a not-so-natural method of sticky tape on its wheels to climb vertical, smooth surfaces.  You can see this demonstrated in the video on the PhysOrg website.  The fourth is magnetic and can climb smooth metal surfaces such as a white board

Dr. Shapiro works in the area of research known as biomimetics, which involves using technology to mimic nature.  This field has produced many diverse types of robots such as climbing robots, grasshoppers, and snakes.  Check the links below to see the whole story on these climbing robots.

( — A robotics scientist from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beersheeba, Israel, has developed four different kinds of robots that climb
See all stories on this topic

Robots climb up the wall (w/ Video)
Tue, 19 Jan 2010 13:09:21 GMT

Hexapod Robot Controls Chaos to Make Right Moves

This remarkable looking little robot is using what would be called muscle memory in humans to adapt to travel over rough terrain.  Resembling a scorpion, it is designed to control chaotic movements and essentially make its motions non-chaotic.  What this means is that the hexapod robot can move autonomously over a rugged surface.  You can see video on the Scientific American site and read the rest of the story there too.

Max Planck, robot

Credit:  Poramate Manoonpong and Marc Timme, University of Goettingen and Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization

"Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience researcher Poramate Manoonpong and Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization researcher Marc Timme are leading a project that has created a six-legged robot with one CPG that can switch gaits depending upon the obstacles it encounters."


Recycled Robot Fish Teach Biology

After a holiday hiatus here on RobotNext, the posts return with this one on a robotic fish from recycled materials.  You can see the video at or click on the embedded link below for a small version.  The idea is to teach children about the movements of swimming fish.  I think this also teaches a valuable lesson on recycling materials before they end up in the ocean.  See the link below for the entire story and other videos. 

Recycled Robot Fish Teach Japanese Children About Sealife
Inhabitat (blog)
by MeredithDF, 01/13/10 Floating garbage has found its calling in these incredible sea creature robots hand-crafted by marine scientist and educator

Recycled Robot Fish Teach Japanese Children About Sealife – Inhabitat (blog)
(author unknown)
Wed, 13 Jan 2010 06:14:57 GMT

Snakebot For Your Heart

A snakebot is being prepared to carry-out cardiac surgery by a team of doctors at Cardiorobotics.  Their version of the snakebot is known are ARM or Articulated Robotic Medprobe.  It is a teleoperated robot consisting of a series of links.  In an earlier post on August 10, 2009, I wrote about this snakebot for heart surgery being developed at the Newport, Rhode Island company.  Because of the snakebot’s ability to bend into many shapes, it is being developed to assist in delicate surgeries.  Check out the stories below.  You can see a video of the original version of this snakebot surgeon on You Tube.

Snakebot for Cardiac Surgery


The central element of our technology is a teleoperated probe consisting of a series of links.  The probe is highly flexible and thus either assumes the shape of its surroundings or can be reshaped. 

This teleoperated, highly articulated probe with a non-linear lumen is called an Articulated Robotic MedProbe or ARM™.

Cardiorobotics Closes $11.6M Series A Financing to Advance Clinical Development of Snake Robot for Surgery

Tue, 15 Dec 2009 11:38:00 GMT

The Next Robots Will Go for the SLAM

In a future mission to a planet, a robot may need to find its way around without the benefit of prior knowledge of the surface.  Robots in these situations will need to use a process called SLAM or Simultaneous Localisation and Mapping.  For the last three decades perfecting the process of SLAM has become the gold standard of robotics research.  This article from explains how this process is being studied for applications to future robots.  In the article, Matteo Matteucci, a roboticist at the Politecnico di Milano University in Italy, states “SLAM is an essential building block of autonomous robots because robots, such as planetary rovers and undersea research craft, cannot be provided with an accurate map beforehand. In such situations, the only solution is for them to create a representation of the environment as they go and determine their location in it by themselves.”

Check out the story in the links below.  Also, take a look at The Rawseeds Project for additional background on this topic.

Slam dunk for future smart robots
Work by European researchers will help future robot generations provide smarter answers. The process by which robots use vision, laser and/or sonar sensors

Slam dunk for future smart robots –
(author unknown)
Mon, 14 Dec 2009 21:50:18 GMT

Weekly Newswrap for Friday, December 11, 2009

The Newswrap is back and it is moving to Fridays. 

For the past several weeks, there has been no newswrap since my weekends have been busy with various robotics events.  Because this situation may continue for the next few months, I decided that the logical thing to do was to move this feature to Fridays.  As before, stories from the week past will be featured. 

This week the stories form a medicine-related theme.  Articles ranging from robotic surgery to robotic massage can be found for the last five days.  Certainly, today’s news about a robotic technology able to operate on a beating heart is the one that gets my vote for the best of the week.  It certainly fits the mission statement of this blog:  The next thing in robots.  This advancement might mean no more need for a heart-lung machine in heart surgery.  Many complications could be prevented with a such a surgical procedure.

What is your favorite?  Look over the stories at the links below.  Let me know by leaving a comment.

French team develops robotic technology to operate on a beating heart – News-Medical.Net

If you've been waiting for the day to arrive when computers actually start performing surgery, that moment might soon be upon us. A French team has developed a computerized 3D model that allows surgeons to use robotics to operate on a beating heart … 

(author unknown)
Fri, 11 Dec 2009 08:50:00 GMT

Robots massaging your pain away – News 8 Austin

News 8 Austin

News 8's Todd Boatwright explains how a new robot is assisting physical therapists in healing patients. The National Library of Medicine also suggests
and more »

Thu, 10 Dec 2009 17:52:14 GMT

Cyberhand Controlled via Electrodes Directly Implanted into Arm Nerves

European researchers have successfully implanted tiny electrodes directly into motor and sensory nerves of an amputee's arm stump, allowing him to move and feel sensations from a robotic hand.

Thu, 10 Dec 2009 05:52:57 GMT

Robotics in Action: Dr. Samadi Demonstrates a Robotic Prostatectomy on … – Investors Business Daily

Alvarez, also the managing editor of Health News at, touted Dr. Samadi as "the king of robotic surgery." Samadi, who has performed over 2,100 successful robotic prostatectomies in his practice, began working with the da Vinci robot in …

Wed, 09 Dec 2009 17:56:00 GMT

McKesson Unveils Pharmacy Automation System – InformationWeek 

pharmaceutical distribution centers and hospital automation solutions," McKesson said. McKesson also introduced the CytoCare Robot for improving safety,

More: continued here

Post from: Tony Dyson Robotworld The most exciting robot community on line, sponsored by EVO2 The Unlimited Robot Promoter

Tue, 08 Dec 2009 14:12:49 GMT

Da Vinci Surgery Robot On Display At Augusta Mall Over The Weekend – WJBF-TV


Surgeons say the Da Vinci robot, that's already being used at Doctor's Hospital here, in Augusta, is invaluable. Dr. Rafael E. Jordan: “Through the robot we
and more »

Mon, 07 Dec 2009 16:38:35 GMT

Robot Uses Artificial Intelligence to Water Plants

Here’s a robot that can water your plants and not your furniture.  By using creativity, the students programmed their robots to perform tasks using artificial intelligence (AI).  So, the robot can tell what is a plant and what is not.  The robot can also find its way around the house to get to the plants.  In addition to the plant-tending robot, the students in this university class developed other robots that could demonstrate AI.  Check the story below for more details on the other projects developed in the class.

Watering Robot

Photo Credit:  Miranda Pederson/Daily News

Go ahead and call your neighbors. They won’t need to water your plants anymore. That’s because at say, 5 p.m., a robot built by a duo of Western Kentucky University students will know it’s time to hydrate the hydrangeas and will independently …

Like a scene from “The Jetsons,” the robot rolled forward, made a 90-degree turn and located the garbage can “plant” with the sensors just above its wheels and belly area. 

“Watering plants,” the robot said in a mechanical voice, as a stream of water began flowing into the small black can. 

As the device continued cornering turns and watering the rest of the imaginary domain’s daisies, Cox said the team also programmed the robot to ensure it waters only plants using a sonar sound reflective system similar to what is used by submarines to identify items in its path.

Creating artificial intelligence – Bowling Green Daily News
(author unknown)
Thu, 10 Dec 2009 17:27:00 GMT

Robot Takes a New Step Forward

PETMAN is one of a new kind of walking robot described in this story from Jesse Emspak, correspondent for The Christian Science Monitor. This bot, designed by Boston Dynamics in Waltham, Massachusetts, is a bipedal robot that can stroll in a very human way as you can see by watching the video.  The mechanical automaton has no torso, just steel and plastic legs tethered to a system of power cables. In its independent walking motion, this machine uses the same heel-to-toe motion as humans. Most amazing is its ability to recover when pushed.  PETMAN sidesteps to recover its balance. And New BalanceTM get ready, this robot even wears shoes!

However, before this humanoid machine runs marathons, it may find a job with the military testing designs for humans.  It could also be a stand-in for humans on Mars.  Make sure and check out the full story at the links below.

 Walking robot

Photo Credit:  Carmen K. Sisson/Special to The Christian Science Monitor

"For the past 30 years, scientists and technicians have grappled with making robots walk on two legs. Humans do it effortlessly, but the simple act has a lot of hidden complexity. And until recently, computers were very bad at it.

Now, several teams across the country are refining the first generation of robots that are close to walking like people. That includes the ability to recover from stumbles, resist shoves, and navigate rough terrain."

Source:   Jesse Emspak,  Correspondent for The Christian Science Monitor/ December 8, 2009 edition



iRobot Shows Off Educational Program

iRobot is demonstrating it is serious about its education outreach program.  SPARK or Starter Programs for the Advancement of Robotics Knowledge, as the program is known, is out to show students and teachers how robots work.  Previously, this effort was detailed in a post from September 8, 2009 here on RobotNext.  It would be nice to see iRobot use its iCreate platform to greater effect.  Read the article at the link below.

iRobot launches educational program
Boston Globe
The object of the initiative is to help educators, parents and students use "the wonder and genius of robots" to inspire students in K-12 schools.
iRobot Launches New Initiative to 'SPARK' STEM Education in the Classroom Business Wire (press release)
all 12 news articles »

iRobot launches educational program – Boston Globe
(author unknown)
Mon, 07 Dec 2009 15:56:09 GMT

Trying to Dig Out, Mars Robot Digs Into a Discovery

Sometimes the biggest discoveries come through by accident.  Spirit, the Mars robotic rover stuck in a patch of loose Martian soil, has churned–up something interesting.  Bright, fluffy material covered by a dark crust.  To see what this might mean, check out the article from


Credit: JPL/NASA via PhysOrg

Spirit surveys its own predicament. The bright soil pictured left is loose, fluffy material churned by the rover's left-front wheel as Spirit, driving backwards, broke through a darker, crusty surface. At right is the least-embedded of the rover's …

Sandtrapped Rover Makes a Big Discovery – PhysOrg
(author unknown)
Thu, 03 Dec 2009 21:45:00 GMT