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The Department of Outstanding Origami is dying to get its hands on one of these tiny origami robots. A team of MIT scientists just unveiled their awesome Untethered Miniature Origami Robot at the 2015 International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) in Seattle.

The itty-bitty robot is made of a sheet of heat-sensitive material and a tiny cubic neodymium magnet. When placed on a heating element it’s able to self-assemble, walk on different surfaces, climb, swim, burrow, and carry objects up to twice its own weight.

From the MIT research paper:

“The robot is controlled using an external magnetic field exerted by embedded coils underneath the robot. Equipped with just one permanent magnet, the robot features a lightweight body yet can perform many tasks reliably despite its simplicity. The minimal body materials enable the robot to completely dissolve in a liquid environment, a difficult challenge to accomplish if the robot had a more complex architecture. This study is the first to demonstrate that a functional robotic device can be created and operated from the material level, promising versatile applications including use in vivo.”

A miniature robot that can self-assemble, move about, and dissolve itself has great potential for medical applications inside the human body. Imagine an even tinier version with additional sensors that could be used to seek out and clean clogged arteries or treat cancer cells. Science is awesome.

To learn more about this amazing project visit IEEE or read the MIT research paper.

You can read more about it over at IEEE and in this research paper.

[via Colossal, Nerdist, and Twisted Sifter]

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Galactic Dimension

Maker installation project by royrobotiks is a huge pinball machine made with familiar everyday objects:

Galactic Dimension is a supersized pinball machine which I’ve built for Phæno – an amazing science center in the German city of Wolfsburg. The pinball was built on a steep ramp in the exhibition hall and has a gigantic playfield, which measures 3×6 meters in total.
Styled with UFO’s and other cosmic references, the pinball fits perfectly into the futuristic building designed by the star architect Zaha Hadid.

As a science center should stimulate creativity and inventiveness, I repurposed everyday items like hair dryers and office fans for the playfield elements, giving the visitors the idea that they could also build such a contraption at home.
The result is a fully playable machine, operated via a control desk where the score is displayed on a jumbo calculator. Needless to say – hunting the high score is galactic fun! Watch the video above to see the machine in action!

More about how the project was put together can be found here

Sparki is an affordable, easy to use, and fun intro to programming, electronics, and robotics. It is geared towards kids elementary-age and above, educators looking for an easy intro to robotics, parents eager to find something affordable but educational and fun, DIY enthusiasts, and more. It is simple enough for beginners, while being feature-packed enough to be a must-have for pro-users.

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Miniature Origami Robot Self-folds, Walks, Swims, and Degrades

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Disney is researching bipedal robots that will walk like cartoon characters.  

As detailed on Geek.com

There’s a lot of work going on with bipedal robots right now. Some are being pressed into military service, while others, like Disney’s, merely want to learn to walk like cartoon characters.

The process is more complicated than it might seem. Computer software first examines a rough 3D sketch of the character and then analyzes the expected movement path. If the robot is capable of walking that path without one of its 3D-printed feet or legs breaking out of the computer-generated polygons, it’s good to go. Otherwise, the path is reworked to keep the moving parts hidden.

The fact that the video demo appears to be a mecha Winnie the Pooh is setting off a ton of red lights…

The Path to Fully Autonomous Robots

Last week we were honored to have hosted Dr. Peter Stone of The University of Texas at Austin for an enlightening Big Thinkers seminar on “Learning and Multiagent Reasoning for Autonomous Robots.” Founder and Director of the Learning Agents Research Group (LARG) within the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory in the Department of Computer Science at UT Austin, Dr. Stone discussed everything from a brief history of computing to the path to fully autonomous robots.

Dr. Stone talked about his research efforts to realize his long-term goal of “robust, fully autonomous agents in the real world.” In other words, a future where robotics is ubiquitous. To illustrate his research process and display the progress made, Professor Stone spent time demonstrating his robot soccer project, RoboCup Soccer, where the goal is to have a team of “humanoid robots that can beat the human World Cup champion team” by the year 2050.

Much of the progress in the RoboCup Soccer game is attributable to the evolution of Dr. Stone’s hierarchical machine learning method known as “layered learning,” which he discussed at length. The event was broadcast live on our labs.yahoo.com homepage and viewers had the opportunity to ask questions and comment on our Twitter stream @YahooLabs as well as our Facebook page. 

If you would like to learn about layered learning and see what the future of robotics looks like, watch the full seminar here:

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This is a robot trying to figure out how to fold clothes.

Seven years ago, Pieter Abbeel set out on a quest: to teach a robot how to fold laundry. He named his robot BRETT — short for the “Berkeley Robot for the Elimination of Tedious Tasks.”

After years of work they taught BRETT to fold a towel in 20 minutes — eventually he learned to do it in a minute and a half. But he can still get stumped by things like a bundled-up sock or an inside-out onesie.

Full story here.

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An untethered miniature origami robot that self-folds, walks, swims, and degrades has been created by a team of the department of informatics, Technische Universitat in Germany and the computer science and artificial intelligence lab at MIT!

Unfolded, the robot has a magnet and PVC sandwiched between laser-cut structural layers (polystyrene or paper). When placed on a heating element, the PVC contracts, and where the structural layers have been cut, it creates folds - so this is how the origami part works. Kelsey Atherton in Popular Science, said, “Underneath it all, hidden like the Wizard of Oz behind his curtain, sit four electromagnetic coils, which turn on and off and makes the robot move forward in a direction set by its shape.”
The authors also wrote such autonomous ‘4D-printed’ robots could be used at unreachable sites, including those encountered in both in vivo and bionic biological treatment. read more here