Mad Scientists Use Wolf Spider Carcasses as Robotic Grippers

A group of researchers at Texas’s Rice University have developed a method of turning wolf spider carcasses into robotic grippers, making the legs open and extend when a small amount of air is applied inside the carcass and close and grip when the air is drawn back out. The researchers have named their unholy field of experimentation “necrobotics.” Just to be perfectly clear, this is not good news.

In tests, the mad scientists discovered the necrobot spiders could lift more than 130% of their own body weight. They also endured about 1,000 cycles of air application/removal before the spider’s internal tissue began to degrade and, presumably, legs started falling off. They hope that the spiders can last even longer with the addition of a polymer coating, but I hope they abandon the project altogether.

What will they possibly think of next? Honestly, I’m scared to find out. Remember yesterday when you didn’t know anything about necrobotic spider grippers? Those were simpler times, weren’t they? Better times, even. I sure miss those days.

[via NewAtlas]

Researchers Develop Octopus Sucker Glove for Grasping Objects Underwater

Researchers from the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Virginia Tech (my alma mater!), led by Assistant Professor Michael Bartlett, have developed the Octa-Glove, a glove with octopus-like suckers on the fingers designed for firmly grasping objects underwater without requiring grip strength. That’s great news because my grip strength has always been lacking.

The glove features soft sucker-like membranes, which, when actuated, attach to objects much like an actual octopus’s tentacles without needing to apply any grip pressure. An array of micro-LIDAR optical proximity sensors detect just how far away an object is, and a microcontroller can activate or releases adhesion almost instantly. When reached for comment, Doctor Octopus says he wishes he’d thought of this.

The researchers envision the gloves being utilized in future underwater search and rescue missions, presumably rescuing mermaids from the evil grasp of Ursula. But will you be able to fight her organic suckers with robotic ones? Only time will tell, but I imagine Ariel is pretty worried about it.

[via TechEBlog]

Scientists Create Self-Healing Skin For Robots Using Human Cells

Researchers at The University of Tokyo have covered a robotic finger with skin created from actual human skin cells. It’s also capable of repairing itself when a collagen sheet is applied. And repair itself, it’s going to need to because I’m taking that Terminator finger down!

Professor Shoji Takeuchi believes realistic skin is the key to robots becoming human-like enough for society to accept them. I don’t know about you, but I feel like ultra-realistic humanoid robots are the opposite direction we should be headed. I think robots should all look like Rosie the Robot from The Jetsons. The key is non-threatening, not lifelike. That’s just creepy.

Takeuchi says that the current silicone skin used for robots just isn’t lifelike enough for humans to foster a kinship with our robotic brethren and plans on adding sweat glands, hair follicles, and fingernails to the robots in the future. And on the day that happens, I’ll be waving goodbye as my rocket blasts off far into space, away from all the hairy, sweaty robots on earth.

[via CNet]

Tiny Robotic Crab Is So Small It Can Stand on the Edge of a Penny

Developed by researchers at Northwestern University, this tiny robotic crab is so small it can stand on the edge of a penny. Not the side of a penny, the EDGE. Now that’s small. So small there could be a whole army of them in your bed right now, and you wouldn’t even know it. Sweet dreams!

The robocrab is covered in a fine glass coating, which, thanks to the crab’s incredibly small size (it’s only half a millimeter wide), is able to be quickly heated using a laser, which then rapidly cools. When this is done in rapid succession, scanning the laser either left to right or right to left, the crab will walk in that direction at a rate of about half a body length per second. No word if it’s capable of pinching yet.

It’s only a matter of time until we’re all filled with tiny robotic crabs scuttling around inside us, monitoring our vitals and performing other medical tasks to make us live longer. And I’ll laugh and briefly ponder just how primitive technology was in the early 2020s while I blow out the candles on my 190th birthday cake.

[via TechCrunch]

The Proto “M”: A Compact Holographic Display and Media Device

If Back To The Future II taught us anything, it’s that the future will be filled with holograms. Of course, Back To The Future II was supposed to take place in 2015, and we haven’t realized even a small fraction of the technology it promised, but enough about my resentfulness; this is about the Proto Hologram “M,” a compact holographic display and media device made for home use. Curse you, Robert Zemeckis!

With its integrated AI-enabled smart camera, the $2,000 “M” can provide two-way holographic communication with another unit, taking video calls to the next level. That level being holographic calls, just so we’re clear. That is if my parents ever bother to pick up the hologram when I call, which they probably won’t. I swear I’m not just calling for money again!

Proto imagines the “M” being used in a variety of applications, including virtually trying on clothes, personal training workout routines, and displaying your expensive NFTs so guests know you’re a hip investor. And while all this sounds well and good, I can’t help but be a little skeptical about a technology company that only uploaded their demo video in 480p. Makes me wonder.

[via DudeIWantThat]

Tiny Drone Swarm Navigates Bamboo Forest Autonomously

Because the robotic apocalypse can’t come soon enough for some people, researchers at China’s Zhejiang University have programmed a swarm of small drones to navigate autonomously to avoid obstacles. In this case, those obstacles are the entirety of a bamboo forest. It’s been real, folks, but there is officially nowhere to run and nowhere to hide.

All of the ten-drone army “are equipped with depth cameras, altitude sensors and a small computer, all running a custom algorithm for collision avoidance, coordination, and flight efficiency.” Wow, so not only are they flying around, not crashing into things, but they’re doing it efficiently. The future, ladies and gentlemen! Humanity doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance in the devil’s butt.

The drones were allegedly developed to be utilized for aerial mapping applications, as well as conservation and disaster relief. Maybe they originally were, but all that goes out the window when they become sentient and decide the only disaster that needs relief is the planet wiped clean of humans. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a rocket to the moon to build.

[via TechEBlog]

Toyota Patents Dog Walking Robot That Can Pick Up After Your Pet

Because picking up poop is one of the least desirable aspects of dog walking, Toyota recently applied for patents related to a dog-walking robot that can even clean up after a dog takes care of its business. The future, ladies and gentlemen! It finally doesn’t involve me standing around with a plastic bag on my hand, waiting to pick up a turd.

The “guidance vehicle” features a moving platform that an owner can ride on, which moves along a pre-programmed route, constantly monitoring to ensure it maintains a safe distance from the dog. And when your dog does pee, it sprays a jet of water to help dilute the urine, so it doesn’t kill the grass. And when it poops? It uses a robotic arm to pick up the nuggets, so your neighbors don’t yell at you and/or become passive-aggressive.

Will Toyota’s dog walking robot ever see actual production? That’s debatable, although stranger things have happened, including Toyota applying for dog-walking robot patents in the first place. But if it ever does see the light of day, they better call it the Pet Prius.

[via Autoblog]

Skeletonics Kinetic-Energy Exoskeleton: Humans In Disguise

Determined to win the costume contest at this year’s Halloween party? Look no further than the Skeletonics kinetic-energy powered exoskeleton – perfect for taking your Transformer costume to the next level. The next level being the 1st place pedestal at the costume contest, just so we’re clear. I can practically feel that $100 gift certificate to Spirit Halloween in my robotic hands!

Unlike some other exoskeletons, the Skeletonics relies on no outside power source, instead using a wearer’s kinetic energy to mirror their movements on a larger scale – including hand and finger movements like grasping. The whole thing stands approximately 9-feet tall and weighs only 88-pounds, making it easy to strap to the top of your car like you just bagged yourself a Decepticon.

The video demonstration really is impressive, considering the lack of an external power supply. Granted, the Skeletonics exoskeleton might not be capable of picking up a car or battling an alien queen like a Power Loader, but I really don’t want to be battling alien queens anyway – I just want to win a costume contest for once.

[via TechEBlog]

Robotic Hands Taught to Delicately Peel Bananas

What good is a robot servant if it can’t even peel your breakfast banana without smashing it to bits? With that in mind, researchers at the University of Tokyo’s ISI Laboratory have used AI to teach a pair of robotic hands how to delicately peel bananas. What a time to be alive and not a banana!

To achieve banana peeling success, the researchers first recorded 811 minutes of humans peeling bananas, with the process divided into nine stages, “from grasping the banana to picking it up off the table with one hand, grabbing the tip in the other hand, peeling it, then moving the banana so the rest of the skin can be removed.” The how-to data was then fed to the robots, which can now successfully peel bananas without damaging the fruit a relatively unimpressive 57% of the time. Hopefully, those bananas are going into smoothies, because they certainly wouldn’t pass inspection for banana splits.

There was probably a time just years ago when scientists thought robots would never be able to peel bananas but look at us now. Welcome to the future! We may not have hoverboards, but at least we have banana-peeling robots. Just to be clear, I’m rolling my eyes right now in case you couldn’t tell.

[via Laughing Squid]

The Cryptide: A Fully 3D Printed Shoe Inspired by Mythical Beasts

Meet the Cryptide, the brainchild of German designer Stephan Henrich, who set out to design a shoe inspired by cryptids that could be entirely 3D printed. Interesting design perimeters. The shoe is 3D printed via selective laser sintering (SLS, in which a high-power laser forms tiny particles of polymer powder into a solid) using a thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) material, so they aren’t rigid and painful like the entirely-too-small wooden clogs my dad brought me back from a business trip to Holland.

The idea behind the Cryptide is a shoe that can be 3D printed on-demand to fit an individual’s unique feet after taking 3D scans of them. And, I think I speak for everyone here who has two different-sized feet when I say that’s terrific news because I’m tired of having to buy one pair of 12’s and another of 7’s just to make a pair that fits.

Stephan says the unique patterns left by the shoe’s soles were inspired by cryptids like Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster. The patterns left by my soles? They were inspired by the cheapest pair of shoes I could find on Amazon. I’m just saying; there’s no way they wouldn’t leave marks all over the gymnasium floor and get me kicked out of PE, that’s for sure.

[via TechEBlog]