Archives for May 2009

Robots Used to Study Evolution

Robots that imitate cockroaches or lizards.  These have been developed in a university laboratory that is researching evolution.  In previous posts here at RobotNext, I have detailed stories on robots that imitate nature.  Here is just one more example of what is next in robots.  Check out the story at the link below.

Long is among a small group of researchers worldwide studying biology and evolution with the help of robots that can do things like shimmy through water or slither up shores. Long's robots, for instance, test theories on the development
TH Online RSS Feed –

TH – National/World Article
(author unknown)
Sat, 30 May 2009 20:04:17 GMT

ViRob Follow-up

This is a follow-up to a recent post here on RobotNext on the ViRob.  In this medGadget story, more of the details of the microrobot are explained.  The first target for treatment will probably be lung cancer.  This little robot is ideal for reaching tumors in the lung and delivering a direct dose of chemical agent to the cancer cells.  medGadget has the story along with some great photos of the little robot.  Check out the links below.

… to lung tumors as well as take samples from different areas within the body. In addition, a number of these micro robots could simultaneously treat a variety of metastases. Researchers also plan to install additional equipment on the robot, …

ViRob, a Cavities Crawler
Thu, 28 May 2009 17:12:32 GMT

Insect-like Robot

Insectoid Robot

Photo Credit:  Robot Watch

Nature strikes again in the form of a robot that has insects to thank for its shape and form.  Although it is billed in this post from DVICE as insectoid, it has four legs, not six, but it does have two arms, so that does make a total of six appendages.  Read the article below and then see the photos on the Robot Watch website.  Links are below.

Via DVICE and Impress Watch

Japanese construction firm unleashes insectoid robot crane on humanity
If you think the towering fictional robot monstrosities of Terminator 4 are chilling, you probably won't be happy to see the very real ROBOTOPS at your local construction site. The four-legged, two-armed robot is actually a kind of automated mobile

Japanese construction firm unleashes insectoid robot crane on humanity – DVICE
Thu, 28 May 2009 11:00:42 GMT

Robot Pets or Pet Robots

In a previous post here at RobotNext, I explored the idea of a pet for a robot.  Specifically, a robot dog for a robot-acting human.  Now, this article from CNET News explores, among other things, how real pets are adapting to robots in the home.  I do not have a iRobot Roomba or a Scooba in my home, but I can only imagine how my cat would react.  She would most likely be curious about this intruder into her territory, but just as with the non-robotic vacuum cleaner, she would doubtless run and hide when it began its cleaning.

Robots have definitely found a niche in cleaning floors.  However, they have not become a multitasking, one machine does all, robot.  Today’s robots are single function specialists.  Good at vacuuming or washing floors or cleaning pools, but not all three.

For a look at the future of robots and what may be coming next, take a look at the article link below.

Robotics is an industry in which managing simple tasks and goals is paving the way for the grand visions of science fiction. But first, the floors need to be cleaned. In this three-day special report, CNET News takes a look at the growing world of …

CNET News special report: – CNET News
Wed, 27 May 2009 13:21:00 GMT

Antibiotic Bot

(Well, not really, but read on …)

The next thing in robots may not be a big deal at all, in fact, it will be very, very small.  This bot is not actually antibiotic.  It is more like a monoclonal antibody.  If you remember the old science fiction movie Fantastic Voyage, then this story is going to sound familiar.  Okay, so the robot is not shrunk down in a miniaturization machine – it is built that way to start with, but it will be injected into the body and have the ability to travel through the blood stream and treat cancer tumors. 

This is the holy grail of oncology:  targeted treatment of the cancer so that healthy tissue is not harmed.  I can tell you from personal experience that anything that can reduce or eliminate the side effects of cancer treatment would be welcomed by patients dealing with malignancies.  Click on the photo or the link below to read the whole story.


Image: Courtesy of Ruder Finn Israel

The Tiny Robot that Can Crawl Through Your Veins—And Treat Your Tumors
Discover Magazine, NY
Researchers at the Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa have developed a miniature crawling robot, called ViRob, that can crawl through your lungs, find a tumor, and zap it with drugs. The bot, which is one millimeter long and four millimeters from

The Tiny Robot that Can Crawl Through Your Veins—And Treat Your Tumors – Discover Magazine
Tue, 26 May 2009 17:52:03 GMT

Robot’s Best Friend?

If robot’s are to truly become more human-like in their behaviors, then maybe they need pets.  So the next thing is the Robo Dog.  The mechanical beast is a project of an electrical engineering student and a university lecturer at the University of Bradford in the UK.

How interesting would it be to see if the human-acting robots mentioned in yesterday’s post could give the robo dog commands of sit or fetch.  This is something I would like to see.

See the university media release for the whole story.  Below is the story from The Telegraph and Argus newspaper article.

A Robo Dog capable of appearing happy, hungry or even bored was showcased at a university open day to give employers the chance to see work from this year’s engineering students.

Walkies? Robo Dog can get bored of that
Mon, 25 May 2009 10:42:02 GMT

Making Robots More Like Humans

Researchers are working to develop robots that are capable of more human-like behavior.  In this report by Dan Simmons of the BBC, he explores what scientists are doing to give robots more human-like abilities.  This is a follow-up to the post from yesterday on robots that show human emotions.

Some robots have been developed from models in nature.  Some of those robots actually perform functions in a way that are superior to what humans can do.  For example, robots can accomplish repetitive tasks with precision and without tiring.  Robots can go places that humans cannot easily go or maybe not reach at all.

Now the challenge is to make robots that can interact with humans in a way that puts the humans at ease and allows a more personal interaction.  See the article below for the report on how this is being done right now.

Simple tasks such as walking and picking up objects are part of everyday life for people, but such mundane tasks still present major challenges for today's robots.

Researchers are using sensors, cameras and recognition to teach the machines to interact in a way that people will be comfortable with.

Man machine (BBC News)
Sun, 24 May 2009 16:27:49 GMT

This Robot Shows Emotions With Body Language

So, we have robots that imitate snakes, beavers, cockroaches, and ants.  Why not humans too?  This robot can simulate human emotions with movements and poses.  See the example below and click to see the picture from the Robot Watch website.  There are other photos of this robot doing its thing on the site. 




Credit:  Robot Watch

Robots that can show emotions would be more likely to have successful interactions with humans and this is a step towards a more personal service robot.  One thing about this robot:  It does look like it got into its mother’s cosmetics drawer.  Those red lips look like my two-year old niece’s after she did her make-up for the first time.

Check out the article below at Topix and also look at the video posted on

Robots have been made capable of doing almost anything humans can do except expressing emotions.

Humanoid robot overcomes emotional hurdle
Sat, 23 May 2009 20:02:20 GMT

Flying Insect-sized Robots Get Eyes

So I guess this fits with the theme of recent posts on RobotNext.  Only this one combines the themes of military robots and nature inspired machines.  This article on spying roboflies is about tiny cameras that can be integrated with flying robots that are no larger than an insect.  Of course, there are many other possible applications for this miniature camera.  One of the uses could be for robotic spacecraft where size and weight are critical.  Another area where these devices could make an impact is in small observatories for use in border security.  It is thought that the robots or machines with these cameras would be cheap enough to be dropped by aircraft over a large area.  See the complete article by clicking on the title below.

It is light enough to be carried by these tiny surveillance drones and also uses very little power.

Spying roboflies to get minicam eyes
Fri, 22 May 2009 20:59:44 GMT

Band of Brothers and Bots?

Military personnel become so attached to their fighting robots that they actually give them names and mourn their loss.  This phenomenon is documented in the article at  I have written several posts about military robots in RobotNext that may have a dark side, but there is no doubt that they save lives and that the soldiers that fight along side them develop close ties with the machines. In one case, even an inspired father sought to develop a robot in honor of his son.

Real soldiers love their robot brethren
Thousands of robots now fight with humans on modern battlefields that resemble scenes from science fiction movies such as "Terminator Salvation ." But the real world poses a more complex situation than humans versus robots, and has added new twists to
Welcome The Robot Apocalypse With Our 'Terminator: Salvation
Real Soldiers Love Their Robot Brethren
6 real robots that are Terminators in the making DVICE
Houston Press
all 5 news articles

Real soldiers love their robot brethren –
Thu, 21 May 2009 16:25:40 GMT

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