Jellyfish-Like Robot Can Carefully Grasp Fragile Objects

Soft gripper grasps succulent.

If you’ve ever played the claw game at an arcade, you know how hard it is to grab and hold onto objects using robotics grippers. Imagine how much more nerve-wracking that game would be if, instead of plush stuffed animals, you were trying to grab a fragile piece of endangered coral or a priceless artifact from a sunken ship. 

Most of today’s robotic grippers rely on embedded sensors, complex feedback loops, or advanced machine learning algorithms, combined with the skill of the operator, to grasp fragile or irregularly shaped objects. But researchers from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have demonstrated an easier way.

Taking inspiration from nature, they designed a new type of soft, robotic gripper that uses a collection of thin tentacles to entangle and ensnare objects, similar to how jellyfish collect stunned prey. Alone, individual tentacles, or filaments, are weak. But together, the collection of filaments can grasp and securely hold heavy and oddly shaped objects. The gripper relies on simple inflation to wrap around objects and doesn’t require sensing, planning, or feedback control. 

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10,000 Times Quicker: New Breakthrough Could Change the Field of Medical Microrobots

The breakthrough is expected to help improve the efficiency of regenerative medicine, such as stem cell delivery.

Scientists have developed a mass-production method for biodegradable microrobots that can dissolve into the body after delivering cells and medications.

In order to create a technology that can produce more than 100 microrobots per minute that can be disintegrated in the body, Professor Hongsoo Choi’s team at the Department of Robotics and Mechatronics Engineering at the Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science & Technology (DGIST)worked with Professor Sung-Won Kim’s team at Seoul St. Mary’s Hospital, Catholic University of Korea, and Professor Bradley J. Nelson’s team at ETH Zurich.

There are many approaches to building microrobots with the goal of minimally invasive targeted precision treatment. The most popular of them is the ultra-fine 3D printing process known as the two-photon polymerization method, which triggers polymerization in synthetic resin by intersecting two lasers.

This technique has the ability to create structures with nanometer-level accuracy. The drawback is that it takes a lot of time to create a single microrobot since voxels, the pixels realized by 3D printing, must be successively cured. In addition, during the two-photon polymerization process, the magnetic nanoparticles in the robot may block the light path. When utilizing highly concentrated magnetic nanoparticles, the process result may not be uniform.

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A.I.-driven robots are cooking your dinner

Your next Friday night pizza may be made by robot hands.

BY STEPHANIE CAINE

That’s the vision of Ajay Sunkara, who launched the Pizzaiola autonomous chef, an A.I.-driven, voice-controlled pizza maker that’s making its way to Chicago-based regional pizza chain, Slice Factory. The robotic chef monitors more than 1,200 parameters every microsecond, from managing food quality to the point-of-sales machine.

When a customer places a pizza order, Pizzaiola will select, press, and stretch the dough; add the sauce, cheese, and toppings; then cook, slice, and box the pizza all to the customer’s specified preferences. It’s fulfilled in real time and can even have an individual jumbo slice ready to go through the Slice Factory drive-thru in minutes.

Not a single human touch is involved.

“There are robotics in the food industry, but in factories, meat-processing centers, and packaged food processing,” Sunkara tells Fortune. “We reduced the scale of it from industrial to something that can fit in a normal commercial kitchen.”

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How a fleet of robots could help solve the Great Lakes plastic pollution problem

A Seabin at work in one of the Great Lakes

By REBECCA REDELMEIER

Waste capture devices collect thousands of pieces of trash in the Great Lakes each day. Can they also motivate humans to stop putting waste in the water in the first place? 

In the murky waters of Lake Ontario just off the Toronto harbor, a stream of trash inches toward a round, tubular-looking device floating in the water. A piece of white styrofoam bumps up against the device’s lip. Then, in one fluid motion, it tumbles over the edge. With tendrils of marine plants circling the waste, it looks like the styrofoam could have entered a portal to an undersea world. Instead, the device is a gateway to a less mystical — yet vital — destination: the garbage dump.

“It’s basically like a floating trash can,” says Chelsea Rochman, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Toronto, who has worked with a team at the university to capture trash in Lake Ontario with bins like these since 2019. Powered from shore, the device, called a Seabin, uses a motor to create a vortex that gently pulls in floating waste from a 160-foot radius and then stores the trash in an attached basket. 

Across the Great Lakes, which stretch from Duluth, Minnesota, to the border between the United States and Canada in northern New York, dozens of Seabins now work alongside stormwater filters in a cross-border project dubbed the Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup. In mid-September, they were also joined by aquatic waste-collection drones and beach-cleaning roving robots — all to remove some of the 22 million pounds of plastic that enter the lakes each year and help researchers like Rochman understand the Great Lakes waste problem.

People can’t remove waste 24 hours a day like the devices can

“We know that the amount of litter we have out there needs more power than the people power that we have,” Rochman explains. Though local groups have organized beach cleanups for decades, people can’t remove waste 24 hours a day like the devices can, nor can they pick up the tiny pieces that machines are able to capture.

Standing on the shore of Lake Ontario, with Toronto’s streetcars rattling by, Rochman points out the overflowing municipal trash bin along the sidewalk — one of several sources of the trash. Municipal sewage systems, industrial spills, stormwater runoff, recreational boating and beach waste, and agricultural debris all wind up in the lakes as well. In one bin, toothbrushes, tampon applicators, dental flossers, shoe strings, eyeglasses, food scraps, and syringes are entwined in the tendrils of marine plants. Between the leaves, tiny flecks of plastic poke out.

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Israeli Robots To Dry-Clean Solar Panels In India

By Ariel Grossman

Israeli robots will clean solar panels in India under a new agreement.

Airtouch Solar will supply its autonomous and water-less cleaning robot to Avaada Group, India’s leading renewable energy supplier, for the next 25 years.

The robots use microfiber wipes and wind-blowing technology to remove dirt and soil from solar panels. The company’s software can also predict problems in advance and reduce failure rate.

According to the company, the robots will be able to save 80,000 to 100,000 kiloliters of water per megawatt of energy produced annually, in addition to revenue gains and faster cleaning.

Currently, 95 per cent of the solar panel market is operating without a robotic cleaning solution. The solar panel robotic cleaning industry is estimated to be worth $11 billion by the year 2025. 

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Elon Musk Says His A.I. Robot Will Pave The Way to ‘A Future of Abundance’

At Tesla’s A.I. Day, Musk claimed that his robots will be able to handle a wide variety of tasks.

BY BEN SHERRY

Elon Musk gave the world a first look at Optimus, the company’s A.I.-powered “humanoid” robot, at Tesla’s second-annual A.I. Day event last week. Unlike a Tesla car, the robot was slow–very slow.

Emerging from behind a video screen, the robot, this prototype model referred to as “Bumble C,” stiltedly made its way across the stage, waved to the audience, and did a short “raise-the-roof” motion with its arms before shuffling back offstage. Unlike the proposed version shown off at the 2021 A.I. Day event, which Musk admitted was just a man in a costume, the prototype was clearly a work-in-progress, with exposed wires and blinking hardware. But Musk hinted that Tesla’s team had barely scratched the surface of the robot’s potential.

“The robot can do a lot more than what we just showed you, we just didn’t want it to fall on its face,” said Musk, who added that the demonstration was the first time that Bumble C had walked without being tethered to anything, such as a crane or external power source.

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Chipotle is moving its tortilla robot to a real restaurant | Engadget

Chipotle’s tortilla-making robot will soon help out in a restaurant you can visit. The chain has unveiled a slew of technology updates that include moving the Miso Robotics-made Chippy robot to a real restaurant. The machine will start cooking tortilla chips in a Fountain Valley, California location in October. Feedback from customers and workers will help the company decide on a national rollout.

Artificial intelligence will influence some human cooks, too. Chipotle is piloting a demand-based cooking system that uses AI to tell staff what and when to cook based on forecasts for how much they’ll need. In theory, this lightens the load for employees while making sure there’s enough freshly-cooked tacos and burritos when you show up for dinner. The pilot is underway at eight Orange County, California restaurants.

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Prime picking! New Amazon warehouse robot can handle ONE THOUSAND items per hour using ‘pinch-grasp’ technology to mimic human workers

By CHRISTOPHER CARBONE

Amazon’s new pinch-grasping robot can handle and stow 1,000 items per hour, which is significantly faster than human workers 

The prototype uses cameras, algorithms and machine learning to mimic how human hands grasp items of varying sizes and shapes

A video posted to the retail giant’s science blog showed the machine moving 19 items of varying size and shape in one minute 

‘We’re able to identify a specific item in the scene and use machine learning to know how best to pick it up and to move it quickly and without damage’

A new ‘pinch-grasping’ robot system unveiled by Amazon shows the machine deftly grabbing and stowing a wide range of items – moving at a rate of 1,000 items per hour, which is far faster than a human worker could.

Although humans don’t spend much time figuring out how to grasp a bottle from the back of the fridge that might fall and break open, teaching a robot to deal with cluttered spaces, locate a wide range of items and deftly move them is a challenge for the retail giant’s robotics division.

In a video posted to Amazon’s science blog, the robot prototype can be seen using its finger-like pinchers to move and stow 19 items – including small bags, a broom, a spice container and a small box – in 60 seconds. 

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Cornell Scientists Create Microscopic Robots With Electronic ‘Brains’

By Ryan Whitwam

We’ve seen tiny robots before, but never like this. Researchers from Cornell have created the first microscopic robots that operate without any form of external control. These nanomachines have all the hardware they need on board, including a basic electronic brain. They just need a little solar energy, and off they go. They’re currently very limited devices, but the designers envision almost unlimited applications. 

The research, which was led by postdoctoral researcher Michael Reynolds, built on research that was already happening at Cornell. Previously, Cornell set the world record for the smallest walking robot, but the new version is infinitely smarter. Reynolds developed robots between 100 and 250 micrometers across with an electronic circuit that controls the robot. That eliminates the need for an external control mechanism like heat or magnetism, which is required for other tiny robots. Reynolds says those robots are more like marionettes than true robots. 

The brain inside these robots is a simple complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) clock circuit. It contains just a thousand transistors, which is nothing compared with the billions that exist in today’s full-scale computer processors. The purpose of the circuit is to generate phase-shifted square waves that control the walking gait of the robot, which it does automatically when the integrated photovoltaic cells are exposed to light. The team tested three different designs with two, four, and six legs. The fastest among them can walk at a blistering 10 micrometers per second — that’s pretty fast given the microscopic scale. 

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Robo-Farmers: Solinftec’s Solar-Powered Robots Will be Offered to US Farmers Soon

A weeding robot is pictured during a demonstration of new technologies “Digifermes” (Digital farms) at the Arvalis farm, an applied agricultural research organisation dedicated to arable crops, on June 15, 2016 in Saint-Hilaire-en-Woevre, eastern France

By Joaquin Victor Tacla

Solar-powered robots will now be offered to US farmers.

With the help of the e-commerce platform Farmers Business Network, a business with the financial support of a wealthy Brazilian family will provide US farmers with robots that spray pesticides and fertilizer, according to a report by Bloomberg.

However, these are not your regular robots. They are autonomous, solar-powered, and AI-driven!

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The Future of Healthcare in the Home May Come With Robots

Modern tech has revolutionized the healthcare industry. When patients can’t be treated at the hospital, new technologies enable patients to receive quality care from the comfort of their homes.

By Sam Bowman 

But while the benefits of telehealth were once limited to virtual checkups and prescription deliveries, modern healthtech is advanced enough to completely replace several services offered by primary care providers, hospitals, and specialists.

Thanks to modern robotics — and the artificial intelligence that supports its functionality — care is more convenient, accurate, and affordable than ever. Let’s explore some of the new technology that brings doctors to patients’ homes, and how providers and patients alike can benefit from robots in the future of healthcare.

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THIS $3 MILLION, 500-POUND ROBOT DOLPHIN MAY REPLACE REAL ANIMALS AT THEME PARKS

In 2019, there were 3,029 dolphins in captivity in marine parks. 

By Terrell Worrell

This $3 million hyperrealistic robotic dolphin may one day free captive dolphins all over the world through a combination of mechanical innovation and high-tech puppetry. 

Edge Innovations’ robotic dolphin, Delle, weighs over 500 pounds and measures 8.5 feet long, about the same size as a real bottlenose dolphin. 

But what makes Delle so incredible is her medical-grade silicone skin and smooth mechanical movements, which make her appear so real that it’s almost impossible to distinguish her from a real dolphin on looks alone. 

Edge Innovations explains that Delle the robo-dolphin comes to life through a mix of puppeteering, programming, and artificial intelligence. The animatronic learning aid seems to be a valuable addition for PETA, as it is used to teach school kids to respect living creatures.

There is hope at Edge Innovations that animatronic dolphins can one day replace the wild animals kept in captivity for marine park attractions. In 2019, there were 3,029 dolphins in captivity in marine parks around the world, an industry that generates between $1.1 and $5.5 billion a year, as estimated by World Animal Protection. 

Most of those dolphins are kept in five countries; China, Japan, the United States, Mexico, and Russia, in descending order of quantity.

These vibrant and intelligent creatures would typically enjoy ranges of 100 square kilometers (38.6 square miles) in the wild, but are instead kept in enclosures 77,000 times smaller and forced to perform for crowds. 

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