Future Tech: Featuring a ‘secret agent’ robot fish & an autonomous construction vehicle.
This soft muscle design can lift 1000 times its own weight
Scientists at the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at MIT and the University of Harvard’s Wyss Institute have developed a new type of artificial soft muscle that is incredibly flexible and light but capable of lifting 1,000 times its weight. MIT CSAIL director Daniela Rus claims that equipping robots with these muscles will be “like giving [them] superpowers.” Cue the Terminator 2 theme.
Most soft artificial muscles have a problem — the softer and more flexible the muscle, the less strength it has — and vice versa. This greatly reduces their usefulness. A potential human arm replacement, for example, wouldn’t be able to exert the same kind of power as a real human arm.
The CSAIL and Wyss project changes the strength-power relationship.” In their tests, a muscle weighing only 0.09 ounces lifted 6.6 pounds. To help you visualize it, this is the equivalent of “a duck lifting a car,” according to the researchers.
A robot imposter that infiltrates and leads schools of fish
From New Atlas:
A humanoid robot may have just been granted citizenship status for the first time, but we’re still a long way from crossing the uncanny valley to where they blend seamlessly into our society. But apparently fish are easier to fool, since a team from EPFL has successfully integrated a robotic imposter into schools of zebrafish, to the point where the robot could guide the group’s behaviour.
Fish have inspired robots for years, allowing scientists to measure the acidity or quality of water without disturbing the locals, and teaching us more about how fish move and sense their surroundings in murky waters.
This new robot is more of a social experiment. It was designed to be a “secret agent,” integrating with schools of fish to see if it could learn to communicate and move like the real thing, as well as influence the group’s behaviour.
Let this self-driving bulldozer do the heavy lifting
From Popular Mechanics:
Piloting construction equipment like an excavator can take a lot of skill, and the best drivers have honed their ability to accomplish all kinds of zany tasks. But the most basic job of pushing around dirt and moving it from pile to pile is simple enough to be automated. That’s right folks, the self-driving bulldozer has arrived.
Built Robotics was founded by ex-Google engineer Noah Ready-Campbell, and the Autonomous Track Loader (ATL) is the star of its show. Using a combination of the LIDAR tech similar to what you can find in self-driving cars, and GPS technology that allows for location-sensing down to the centimetre, the ATL is able to perform simple but arduous tasks like digging a hole once you tell it where and how large that hole should be.
In some ways, programming an autonomous construction vehicle is easier than programming a car. While secluded in its work-zone, it doesn’t have to worry about dodging other vehicles and can simply halt all movement if it detects a vehicle or person it might hit.
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