Archives for December 2009

Tiny Swimming Robots Could Be Modeled After Spiral-shaped Bacteria

Spiroplasma is a type of spiral-shaped bacteria that travels in a corkscrew type motion.  It accomplishes this motion by sending kinks down the spiral of its cell structure.  And, it turns out this method of propulsion is very efficient.  Essentially, it is using its entire body as a propulsion unit.  This may prove to be a great method for nano-sized robots to get around in a fluid. 

Applications for this tiny machine come mainly in the field of medicine.  Small robots could deliver medicine directly to a targeted cell or perform very precise surgeries.  Some micro-robots have already been developed for this purpose, but these little bots could be much smaller.  Read more about this possible development in the article below.  Also, check out the full-sized animation on the site by clicking on the thumbnail below.


        Credit:  University of Connecticut

… design. The kinky motion of a primitive spiral-shaped bacterium in fluid could help design efficient swimming micro-robots of the future, according to a study by a team of UConn researchers. Professors Greg Huber and Charles Wolgemuth of the Richard …

Swimming Bacteria Could Become Model for Micromachines
(author unknown)
Mon, 21 Dec 2009 13:48:52 GMT

Robotic Bees Could Save Crops

In September, I posted a Weekly Newswrap with a story about robo-bees.  Now comes this story about robot bees that could help save agriculture from the coming disaster caused by the mysterious bee plague.  This is the disease that has wiped out over one-third of the bee population in the United States.  Some estimates of bee deaths are much higher.  If a cure cannot be found for this Colony Collapse Disorder, perhaps these mechanical bees can help save crops that require pollination.  These robotic bees would be developed from a robotic fly developed by Rob Wood at Harvard University.  Read more about these “beebots” in this article by Corey Binns from the Popular Science website.


Illustration Credit:  Graham Murdoch

That strategy led Gu-Yeon Wei to suggest that Rob Wood morph an almond-size robotic fly he had developed into a fleet of autonomous bees, each capable of carrying out specialized tasks. Perhaps, they speculated, the “RoboBees” could supplement the pollinating duties of bees stricken by a mysterious affliction that’s killed 36 percent of America’s 2.4 million hives. If you build the bee body, Wei told Wood, I can make the brain.

In the future, an autonomous robot could haul the hive from field to field. STEP 2: Survey the Landscape Scout RoboBees leave the hive first and use their ultraviolet sensors to locate the same UV patterns on flower petals that real bees look for.

Robotic Insects Could Pollinate Flowers and Find Disaster Victims – Popular Science
(author unknown)
Thu, 17 Dec 2009 15:09:00 GMT

Delhi Police Consider Armed Robot for Anti-Terror Role

Military units have used armed robots for many years in their operations, but now a civilian police force in Delhi, India is considering the purchase of one or more of these bots.  No final decisions have been made on this, but the ramifications of this could radically alter future police anti-terror tactics.  This could also change how police forces handle any special tactical situation.  An armed subject with a hostage might find that he or she is face to face with a heavily armed “robocop” and not a negotiator.  What, if any, ethical considerations must be made when civilian police have these weaponized robots at their disposal?  Already, robots are used in bomb disposal situations.  Some robots are used to scout hostage situations. Others provide a negotiations platform in some cases.  It is not a stretch to see these armed robots as a part of Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT) units.  In fact, if you look at the Foster-Miller website, as I did in researching this post, you can see that there is already a SWAT model for sale to police departments. published an article on this topic earlier this year about armed robots being marketed to police forces.  And there are stories about TASER-armed robots being developed for law enforcement officers.

I am not necessarily against this idea.  These robots have the potential of saving police officers’ lives by keeping them out of dangerous situations.  I think the larger question is how much autonomy will the robots have in these situations?  Right now these robots are teleoperated and have limited autonomous abilities.  But, if robots go into buildings and have to depend on radio links for control, there will be places where the machines will not have a communications link.  In those times the robots will have to be able to work on their own.  How do you make sure the robots know what to do when that happens? 

Read the article at the link below and decide what you think about this.

robocop2 (1) 

Credit:  Pics/MiD DAY

The robot carries a machine gun, a camera and a bomb-diffusing chemical; demo held for Delhi cops This may change the face of counter-insurgency operations in urban landscape, forever.

Delhi police may get sci-fi anti-terror tool
(author unknown)
Wed, 16 Dec 2009 08:33:55 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



Festo Shows RoboKites

This post came across my robotics feed today from Adam Flaherty at MAKE Magazine and I thought it was worth a look.  In the video on BotJunkie, you can see the Festo kite in action.  And yes, the applications of this might not seem obvious at first, but the concept could be used for wind power production.  As the cable moves back and forth, it would make the generation of electricity possible.  Also, the process could be used for a high tech sail to pull ships across the ocean as shown in this link from BotJunkie.  (Although, in this link, I do not believe this is a Festo kite.)

Festo has produced many elegant robotic applications over the years and this is just more of those elegant projects with futuristic applications that could work now.  Check out the links below for more on this story. 

Via BotJunkie

Windmill of the future? The latest advancement in kite fighting? Kitesurfing robots? The Festo CyberKite deftly controls the graceful movements of a rather large kite with relative ease. [via BotJunkie]

Read more 

Festo CyberKite
Adam Flaherty
Tue, 08 Dec 2009 12:00:00 GMT


Photo Credit:  Festo

Why? Because robot penguin, that’s why!

But seriously, I have no idea, besides that it’s an interesting project to tackle… Although come to think of it, I suppose it could have some commercial applications, too.

Festo CyberKite

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

Verified by MonsterInsights