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Elowan Plant-Robot Hybrid
MIT researchers have created Elowan, which is basically a cybernetic lifeform, or a plant in direct dialogue with a machine. This plant-robot hybrid is interfaced through its own electrochemical signals with a robotic extension that drives it towards light. Since plants have natural bioelectrochemical signals inside them, they get excited in response to environmental conditions and conduct these signals between tissues as well as organs. Read more for a video and additional information.

MIT Robot Jenga
MIT’s new robot, developed by researchers at the MCube lab, led by Alberto Rodriguez, uses machine-learning and sensory hardware to learn how to play the game Jenga. This technology could be used in robots for manufacturing assembly lines. Simply put, it’s equipped with a soft-pronged gripper, force-sensing wrist cuff, and an external camera, all of which it uses to see and feel the tower and its individual blocks. As the robot carefully pushes against a block, a computer takes in visual and tactile feedback from its camera as well as cuff, and then compares these measurements to moves that the robot previously made. “It also considers the outcomes of those moves — specifically, whether a block, in a certain configuration and pushed with a certain amount of force, was successfully extracted or not. In real-time, the robot then “learns” whether to keep pushing or move to a new block, in order to keep the tower from falling,” according to the paper. Read more to see it in-action.

Amazon Scout Robot Self Driving Car
Amazon.com has started testing Scout, a six-wheeled, self-driving blue robot that delivers packages. The company is currently field testing six Scout robots in a neighborhood of Snohomish County in Washington, during weekday daylight hours. Scout robots are “the size of a small cooler, and roll along sidewalks at a walking pace,” according to Amazon. “We are delighted to welcome Amazon Scout into our community. Similar to Amazon, we are always looking for new ways to better deliver service to our residents. From the latest Amazon innovation to cutting edge technology, Snohomish County is a great place for entrepreneurial creativity,” said Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers. read more for a video and additional information.

Knightscope K7 Security Robot

Forget humans, the Knightscope K7 is a fully autonomous, four-wheeled security robot that weighs in at 770 lbs. It’s designed for multi-terrain applications and is most practical for use in airports, prisons, power substations, and solar / wind farms. This robot boasts holonomic steering which means it can move like a “crab” rotating or moving side to side. It uses LiDAR, sonar, GPS, thermal imaging, license plate recognition, and people detection to ensure it always stays on course. Read more for another video, additional pictures and information.

Robot Scientist Amniote

Photo credit: Geek.com
Ever wonder how the earliest land animals moved? If so, you’ll be glad to know that scientists, led by evolutionary biologist John Nyakatura at Humboldt University in Berlin, have used a 290-million-year old fossil skeleton to create a moving robot model of prehistoric life. This four-legged plant-eater lived before the dinosaurs and believed to be called a “stem amniote”, or an early land-dwelling animal that later evolved into modern mammals. It fascinates scientists “because of its position on the tree of life,” said Nyakatura. The team partnered with robotics expert Kamilo Melo at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne to develop a model of how the creature moved before building OroBOT. This robot is made of motors connected by 3D-printed plastic and steel parts and “helps us to test real-world dynamics, to account for gravity and friction,” said Melo. Read more for a compilation of interesting images gathered from around the web.

BreadBot Bread Robot

Photo credit: CNET
The Wilkinson Baking Company aims to take bread making to the next level with their new automated bread-making robot, called “The BreadBot”. Unveiled at CES 2019, you’ll be able to see this machine transform flour to loaf all on its own. Compared to store-bought bread, this robot produces loaves that are fresher, healthier, preservative free and eco-friendly. It mixes, forms, proofs, bakes and cools ten loaves of bread per hour. Best of all, the machine can make most varieties of bread that require dry ingredients – including white, wheat, whole wheat, nine grain, sourdough and honey oat. Read more for another video, hands-on pictures and additional information.

Groove X Lovot Robotic Pet Robot

Japan-based company Groove X says its Lovot robot, which comes with cartoon eyes and fuzzy arms, is designed to “nurture people’s capacity to love” by demanding the affection of its owner. This is made possible with a host of sensors that respond to human touch. When the robot wants to be cuddled, it waves its arms in the air, and will follow behind its owner on wheels. Or, it even falls asleep in the owner’s arms if offered a cuddle. A a head-mounted video camera is used to recognize the face of its owner and avoid collisions. One caveat: it’ll set you back a cool $5,500 for a pair. Read more for a video and pictures of Lovot straight from CES 2019.

Hyundai Elevate Ultimate Mobility Vehicle

Emergency services know that the first 72 hours are the most crucial following a natural disaster, but often times it can be difficult for search-and-rescue and humanitarian aid missions to get immediate help for those in need. That’s exactly why Hyundai developed a vehicle with moveable legs, called Elevate, which is the first Ultimate Mobility Vehicle (UMV) that blends technology found in electric cars and robots. This means it’s capable of traversing terrain beyond the limitations of even the most capable off-road vehicles. Read more for another video, additional pictures and information.

LG Cloi Suitbot

LG Electronics’ CLOi SuitBot is touted as the first “human-centric” wearable robot, but it doesn’t navigate airport lounges and hotel hallways by itself. What it does is support and enhance a user’s legs to allow for more mobility as well as lower limb strength, complete with naturally rotating joints that allow the CLOi SuitBot to move in a more relaxed and natural way to enhance the lower body while walking, standing or working. Read more for another video and additional information.

Honda Neo Fighter Motorcycle
Photo credit: Arik Schwarz via Yanko Design
The Honda Neo Fighter by industrial designer Arik Schwarz looks like a motorcycle straight out of Blade Runner, and apparently each one is made from spare robot parts. Sporting a low-handlebar look with a short seat cowl combined with high-tech components, such as a solar tank, aluminum / helium frame, and adaptive brakes. The body panels can easily be swapped out should you want something more exciting than just going stealth. Read more for additional pictures.