HEALTH and WELLNESS: Robots to help elderly stay independent

As the baby boomers age, there will be a large segment of the population that will be living into their seventies, eighties, or even nineties.  This means sometimes that a person will need some type of extended care in the home.  Here come robots to the rescue.  Robots can help the elderly keep up with medicines, schedules, and even be a companion.

“This is the future of aging,” said Fillia Makedon, a professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Texas at Arlington. “Technology will let people grow old at home.”  Follow the link below to the article.

HEALTH & WELLNESS: Robots to help elderly stay independent
Grand Forks Herald, ND – 1 hour ago
Like smart pets that never require feeding, robots will scoot from room to room to wake the homeowners in the morning, remind them to eat and send for help

HEALTH & WELLNESS: Robots to help elderly stay independent – Grand Forks Herald
Sat, 25 Oct 2008 05:04:19 GMT

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Miniature jumping robot mimics grasshopper

Insects have the solution to a very serious limitation of small robots.  When a small robot has to navigate difficult terrain such as a rock-strewn surface of another planet, it faces a problem.  This difficulty is that to a small robot even a small pebble is a giant boulder.

Researchers have described the problem in the following way: 

"Small robots have big problems when it comes to efficient locomotion in natural and rough terrains. This effect is usually referred to as the 'Size Grain Hypothesis' [1], which is described as an 'increase in environmental rugosity with decreasing body size'. That is the smaller the robot, the bigger the obstacles. To circumvent the inefficiencies of crawling, walking, or running for miniature robots, researchers at EPFL are exploring jumping as a more efficient approach (others have also developed jumping robots.)"

Some insects have utilized this mode of transportation for a long time.  Certainly, this is a very efficient way for insects to get over blockages in their path.  Jumping allows a more direct line of travel in most cases.  Small robots can utilize this same way of getting around in a rough terrain.   In this paper researchers present their research on an original 5cm, 7g jumping robot. It can leap over obstacles "more than 27 times its own size and outperforms existing jumping robots by one order of magnitude with respect to jump height per weight and jump height per size."

The big question is–how does this little bot work? The short description as given by the researchers in the recently published paper  is the following.

"It employs elastic elements in a four bar linkage leg system to allow for very powerful jumps and adjustment of the jumping force, take-off angle and force profile during the acceleration phase."

So now you have to see this little machine in action.  Follow the link to see this little bot in action.  I have found the download to be a little slow so have patience–it is worth the wait.


Miniature jumping robot
Awesom-o (
Wed, 22 Oct 2008 07:27:00 GMT


M. Kaspari and M. D. Weiser, “The size-grain hypothesis and interspecific
scaling in ants,” Functional Ecology, vol. 13, no. 4, pp. 530–538,

Kovac, M. , Fuchs, M. , Guignard, A. , Zufferey, J.-C. and Floreano, D. (2008) A miniature 7g jumping robot . Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA'2008), pp. 373 – 378.

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Koreans Develop Robotic Plant

Chonnam National University /Yonhap

Chonnam National University /Yonhap

The robot research laboratory at Chonnam National University has developed a robotic plant that has humidifying, oxygen-producing, aroma-emitting, and kinetic functions. The robot was developed using characteristics of plants normally grown for ornamental purposes. It is 130 cm tall and 40 cm in diameter and consists of a pot, a stem, and five buds of a flower reminiscent of a rose of Sharon.  See the rest of the story here.

Robotic plants to produce oxygen are an interesting idea.  So if the plant robot could also remove carbon dioxide in the process, then it would mimic a real plant's function in limiting greenhouse gases.  Of course, you would need a lot of robotic plants to accomplish the task of removing excess carbon dioxide from our atmosphere, but it does make you think about it.

This article also makes the point that this type of robot opens a new field (pun intended) for robotics

.  We have seen many types of robots imitating animal and insect functions.  Now it is the turn of the flora of the world to provide the next innovative robots.

Links for this article.

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Immune System For Electronics? = Robot Apocalypse?

For those who don’t know me, let me tell you that I like to be prepared for the impossible. So when I say, I’ve been preparing for the Robot Apocalypse; truth be told, I’ve actually been researching anything that may lead to such end. So when I see Bristol Robotics Lab, which is run by University of Bristol and University of the West of England, doing research on an Immune System for Electonics, i.e. giving robots self-awareness and self-regenerative powers–I begin to fear the end is nigh.

God Save Us All!

NOTE: Comments Expressed by the Author are not in any way affiliated with RobotNext and the other Authors

Immune System For Electronics? Electronics That Can Diagnose And
Science Daily (press release) – 23 hours ago
The part of the project to be carried out in Bristol will be based at Bristol Robotics lab (BRL), which is jointly run by the University of Bristol and UWE.

Immune System For Electronics? Electronics That Can Diagnose And … – Science Daily (press release)
Thu, 02 Oct 2008 14:32:05 GMT

Robotic Self Healing Chair

Robotic Self Healing Chair

Having not entirely picked a specific topic to talk about, I came upon this video which in my opinion was very unique. This Robotic Chair destroys itself than puts itself back together. I believe it autonomously finds the pieces through sensors and- what I thought was a really amazing thing-screws itself into place. It seems like pretty simple ideas but the astonishing part is how its picks itself up back into place. I could see how this could be used, if human functional, as a wonderful prank to pull on somebody. Could you just imagine a friend sitting on this chair and then it breaks spontaneously?


Build a Bot

Ever had the urge to just build a robot? Well, here is your chance. Some of the sites on the net have interesting projects that are fun to build and in many cases you may have most of the parts. Two of my favorite sites are and There are projects that range from modifying a Roomba to building one inch cube bots. So go ahead and start building!

One of my favorite projects is the mouse bot. The introduction from the site gives a brief description.

“Mousebot is a simple bot that uses two “eyes” to sense light and then turns towards the light. A single large “whisker” is mounted on the front of the mouse to detect collisions. A collision with a wall will cause the mouse to reverse and turn then take off in another direction.”

You can visit the instructables site for complete intructions to the build on this little robot. So don’t be shy – try to build a bot and maybe customize it to be your own.

Future of flagship Mars mission up in the air – Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Will NASA's flagship mission to Mars fly next year? The space agency could decide as early as Friday whether to cancel, delay or proceed with plans to launch a nuclear-powered, SUV-size rover to the red planet. NASA has already …

Future of flagship Mars mission up in the air – Associated Press
Sun, 12 Oct 2008 09:14:00 GMT

Update to the entry from yesterday.  This project could be in trouble.  Hopefully, only a delay and not an outright cancellation.

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