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Now it’s time for the robot Winter Olympics

Future Tech #RobotsRoundup: Featuring freaky robot dogs & air-powered microbots.

Korean robotics teams test their creations in a robot skiing challenge

From The Verge: 

This year’s Winter Olympics in PyeongChang worked overtime to showcase Korean robotics technology, featuring robots to clean, guide visitors, drill through a wall to pass on the Olympic torch, and now, compete in ski tournaments. 

In a tournament aptly called “Edge of Robot: Ski Robot Challenge,” eight robotics teams from research universities, institutes and a private company competed for a $10,000 prize to see which robot could ski down the slopes and race to the finish line the fastest while avoiding obstacles.

The tournament took place at an 80-metre alpine skiing course at Welli Hilli Ski Resort, an hour away from the games in PyeongChang. With record-low temperatures affecting robot functionality, many of the robots tumbled down through much of the course. Normally, this would have been devastating to watch with real athletes who have trained years for their big moments, but with robots donning child-sized outfits and skis, it was hilarious and endearing.

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A closed door won’t stop this robot dog

From The Guardian: 

Eight years after it was first revealed to the public, the uncanny gait of Boston Dynamics’ quadrupedal robots is still unsettling. But a new video, released by the firm on Monday, shows the company’s flagship robot, the SpotMini, crossing a new threshold — literally — as it demonstrates that it can open doors.

The video depicts a SpotMini, a four-legged yellow machine that stands about a metre high, flummoxed by a closed door before a second robot of the same type, equipped with a fifth limb extending from its back, arrives to save the day. The second bot turns the handle, pulls the door open and holds it for the first to walk through, then follows.

The actions may sound prosaic, but small touches betray the complexity of the programming. After the second SpotMini pulls the door slightly ajar, it hooks one foot behind it, holding it open while it moves to the side to provide more room to swing it the whole way. When the first SpotMini arrives at the door, the robot — which has no neck but an array of sensors placed where its shoulders would be — leans back to peer at the door handle in a movement more fitting for a kennel than a robotics firm.

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This tiny robot runs on moisture from the air 

 

From Popular Mechanics:

South Korean scientists have developed tiny robots that don’t need an engine or battery to power their movements. But it’s not perpetual motion. Instead, the robots run on environmental humidity, absorbing the moisture in their surroundings to be powered by water. 

In a new paper in Science Robots, the scientists from Seoul National University describe the advantages of microrobots and how their so-called hygrobots could increase their usage. Microrobots can already help people have children and pull cars, but they’re limited by the number of power sources available to them.

To solve the problem, the Korean team took an interdisciplinary approach. The paper’s authors include Beomjune Shin of the SNU’s department of mechanical and aerospace engineering as well as Gee Ho Park of the school’s program looking at stem cell biology. The product is a bot inspired by plants.

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The Editors

The Editorial Team develops articles, company profiles and resources for the Business Hub to bring IT, tech and innovation stories to the Manitoba business community.

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