Archives for July 2009

Robot Grazes for Power

This robot can find its own power by chomping on grass or other vegetation that it finds along its way.  As a potential military application, this robot is currently in a testing stage.  You can see more information in a story posted at  RobotNext had an earlier post on a robot that can eat bugs to produce its own power, so this concept of living off the land could extend to insects and vegetation.  Make sure and check out the links to other stories on this interesting robot.

EATR(TM) concept drawing courtesy of Robotic Technology Inc. from

Cyclone Power Technologies Inc. announced that it has completed the first stage of its project with Robotic Technology Inc. (RTI), of Potomac, MD, to develop a beta-test biomass engine system which will be used to power RTI’s Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot (EATR™). This is part of a project sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Defense Sciences Office.

What more could one want in a robot? Hey! I think that thing is eating my lawn! Paul Fox is an Examiner from Portland. You can see Paul's articles on Paul's

See all stories on this topic

There's a robot eating my lawn – USA
Wed, 08 Jul 2009 07:27:57 GMT

Robobats Could Be The Next Generation Of Remote Control Flyers

Nature strikes again with the next model for robots. These small robot flyers imitate bats which are nature’s small flyers.  The potential uses for these little bots are surveillance and search and rescue.  Using the potential for maneuverability and performance that a bat-like robot could provide, these bots have a potential for both military and civilian applications.  Check out the story below for the complete details.

Image Credit:  Science Daily

ScienceDaily (July 7, 2009) — Tiny flying machines can be used for everything from indoor surveillance to exploring collapsed buildings, but simply making smaller versions of planes and helicopters doesn't work very well. Instead, researchers at North Carolina State University are mimicking nature's small flyers – and developing robotic bats that offer increased maneuverability and performance.

Adapted from materials provided by North Carolina State University.

Robo-bats With Metal Muscles May Be Next Generation Of Remote Control Flyers
Tue, 07 Jul 2009 17:21:00 GMT

Robotic Grasshopper May Help Explore Mars Surface

This robot can jump like a grasshopper and roll like a tumbleweed.  It is called Jollbot and it may be headed to Mars someday.  Or it may help here on Earth in areas of rough terrain with jobs like surveying.  Going back to an article posted in December, 2008 at, the researchers believe this is the first robot that can both jump and roll.  This behavior can solve a problem that robotic explorers on other planets routinely face:  objects that are too large to roll over.  Nature again provides a model to solve a problem and create a new design in robotics.

rolling grasshopper robot

Image Credit:  Nic Delves-Broughton, University of Bath

The Jollbot was masterminded by Rhodri Armour, who spent a year building the robot with colleagues at the University of Bath. The robot, which can jump and roll, enjoys an edge over other machines due to its ability to launch itself over obstacles …

Robotic grasshopper to help explore Mars' rocky geography – New Kerala
Mon, 06 Jul 2009 08:44:00 GMT

RobotNext Weekly Newswrap

This week’s newswrap features stories that deal with exploration.  Everything from underwater to climate in the arctic and beyond the Earth.  One story from earlier in the week deals with robot navigation in different situations.  Still, this story does cover an aspect of robotics that is important in exploration.  I hope you enjoy looking over the articles linked to below.  Let me know which ones you liked best.

Underwater robots to rapidly identify potential threats in murky … – Newstrack India

Washington, July 5 (ANI): A team of scientists is developing novel underwater laser networking and imaging technologies that will be used onboard a group of small, co-operating robots, which will be able to rapidly identify and communicate potential …

Underwater robots to rapidly identify potential threats in murky … – Newstrack India
Sun, 05 Jul 2009 06:15:00 GMT


NASA Suggests Nano Robots To Explore Mars (Slashdot)

"'We're going to have to do extensive robotic exploration,' says the director of NASA's Ames Research Center, suggesting nanotechnology to build self-replicating robots on Mars. Genetically engineering extraction and construction microbes could 'grow' electrical components, and eventually convert carbon dioxide on Mars into oxygen. 'If we really want to settle Mars, and we …

NASA Suggests Nano Robots To Explore Mars (Slashdot)
Thu, 02 Jul 2009 13:36:25 GMT

Robots Monitor the Melting Arctic

Earlier this year NOAA warned that increased global warming was combining with natural variability in the Arctic and could result in an ice-free Arctic in as little as 30 years, rather than the end of the century as predict by earlier models. This has created a sense of urgency among organizations studying the changes. NOAA and NASA have combined forces with Northrop Grumman to create a specially modified Global Hawk UAV that will make 6 long duration mission over the Arctic and the Pacific ocean to collect data in troposphere and lower stratosphere. .

Meanwhile, Seaglider robots have been deployed off Greenland to make more accurate measurements of Arctic sea currents. Scientist believe the Arctic runoff is already altering the density of sea water in the Labrador Sea, driving critical ocean circulation that affect the global climate.  Canada is also deploying two AUVs to scan the seabed to further their claims in the coming UN Convention that will determine which nations get sovereign rights to the new ocean areas forming as the Arctic melts.

Robots Monitor the Melting Arctic
Wed, 01 Jul 2009 16:41:32 GMT

Human-like Vision Lets Robots Navigate Naturally

ScienceDaily (June 30, 2009) — A robotic vision system that mimics key visual functions of the human brain promises to let robots maneuver quickly and
See all stories on this topic

Human-like Vision Lets Robots Navigate Naturally
Science Daily (press release) – USA
Tue, 30 Jun 2009 15:48:20 GMT

Intelligent Robot Probes to Explore Beyond Mars

Caltech scientists are working on intelligent exploratory craft which could investigate alien worlds without human instruction. While missions to MARS can be remotely controlled, as we set our sights further afield the light speed
The Daily Galaxy: Great Discoveries… –

Intelligent Robot Probes to Explore Beyond Mars
Casey Kazan Daily Galaxy Editorial Staff
Tue, 30 Jun 2009 22:11:52 GMT

Hummingbird-Like Robot

From rats to hummingbirds, the biological models just keep on coming.  This is another in a long line of nature-modeled robots.  It flaps its wings in the manner of a hummingbird and is built to use a spy for the military.  Its purpose would be to loiter in an area, either indoors or outdoors, and send video of its target.  It would be so small as to be almost undetectable.  Plus, if it looks and acts like a hummingbird, it might be mistaken for the real thing even if it is discovered.  Also, check out the video on YouTube.  And finally, a note to readers, there will be no post for tomorrow, July 4, Independence Day here in the USA.  Please return on Sunday for the Weekend Newswrap.

hummingbird robot 

Image Credit:

AeroVironment, maker of several important military UAVs like the Wasp, Raven, and Dragon Eye , has received a Phase II SBIR grant from DARPA to continue work on it’s hummingbird-like nano UAV (NAV), which propels itself with flapping wings. In the video, the vehicles stability control is shown, including take-offs from a standstill.

“The goals of the NAV program — namely to develop an approximately 10 gram aircraft that can hover for extended periods, can fly at forward speeds up to 10 meters per second, can withstand 2.5 meter per second wind gusts, can operate inside buildings, and have up to a kilometer command and control range — will stretch our understanding of flight at these small sizes and require novel technology development.”

The Phase II contract is worth $2.1 million USD and will continue through the summer of 2010.

[Via Slashdot]

Hummingbird-Like Nano UAV from AeroVironment
William Cox
Thu, 02 Jul 2009 12:18:57 GMT

This May Be The World’s Smallest Wheeled Robot With A Gripper.

When I saw the article from Instructables about this tiny robot, I knew that it was worth a post on RobotNext.  At .40"x.50"x.46", the Magbot R-20 is slightly less than 1/20 of a cubic inch.  The robot is magnetically controlled. This builder found out that to make the smallest robots possible, the motors, batteries, and even the Picaxe microcontroller had to be external to the robot.  Even so, this little bot is a marvel.  You have to see the video of this little machine picking up an IC that looks bigger than it is.  This is not the first small robot built by this inventor.  See his 1 inch cube bots to see a tiny machine with everything on-board.  What is even more incredible is the fact that this is not the smallest robot he has constructed.  Look at this link to see a robot that has a volume of only 1/100 cubic inch!

Build a 1/20 cubic inch robot with a gripper that can pick up and move small objects. It is controlled by a Picaxe microcontroller. At this point in time, I believe this may be the world's smallest wheeled robot with a gripper. That will no doubt change, tomorrow or next week, when someone builds so…
By: mikey77

Build a Very Small Robot: Make The World's Smallest Wheeled Robot With A Gripper.
Thu, 02 Jul 2009 23:23:18 GMT

Whiskered Robot Rat For Search and Rescue

The SCRATCHbot robot will be demonstrated at an international conference during the week of July 1, 2009. SCRATCH (Spatial Cognition and Representation through Active TouCh) is lauded as the next step in robot intelligence. This is yet another robot based on a biological model.  In this case, the model is a rat. RobotNext has reported on robot rats before in a post on June 7, 2009.  That ratbot was designed to explore how robots could develop a form of intelligent behavior by moving about a room and learning to avoid objects.  It has a vision system, sound sensors, and whiskers.  SCRATCHbot would be able to search out objects using only its whiskers. It was developed by Bristol Robotics Lab.  Read the story in two articles linked to below.


Photo: SWNS

ScienceDaily (June 30, 2009) — A team of scientists have developed an innovative robot rat which can seek out and identify objects using its whiskers.

Researchers Unveil Whiskered Robot Rat
Science Daily (press release) – USA
Tue, 30 Jun 2009 23:29:03 GMT

Dr Tony Pipe, deputy director of the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, believes 'Scratchbot' could revolutionise the way use robotics in search and rescue missions…

Robotic rat can search for disaster survivors using whiskers
Wed, 01 Jul 2009 21:42:32 GMT