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One of the self-drive cars already being used by Google in Nevada, in the US. EPA/Google

Self-driving cars need ‘adjustable ethics’ set by owners

One of the issues of self-driving vehicles is legal liability for death or injury in the event of an accident. If the car maker programs the car so the driver has no choice, is it likely the company could…
A star player can’t afford to short circuit under pressure. campuspartymexico

4-4-2 becomes 0101: inside the competitive world of robot football

The whistle has just been blown on one of the most thrilling events on the international sporting calendar. It took place in Brazil and pitted teams from all over the world against each other, each hoping…
The UNSW robot football team, rUNSWift, at play during the standard platform league of RoboCup 2014. AAP/UNSW

Australian robots are victorious in the other soccer World Cup

Germany may have won this year’s World Cup but Australia’s robot researchers have emerged victorious from a subtly different competition. The University of New South Wales' rUNSWift robot team claimed…
“Give me some skin! No, really.” saikofish

Explainer: what is electronic skin?

Once a topic explored exclusively in science fiction, the notion of restoring sensory feelings to humans and to machines is now approaching reality. Scientists around the world are developing artificial…
Your robot’s decisions will be less of a shock if you plan ahead. x-ray delta one

If you want to trust a robot, look at how it makes decisions

Robots, and autonomous systems in general, can cause anxiety and uncertainty, particularly as their use in everyday tasks becomes a more immediate possibility. In order to lessen at least some of that…
‘Avoid cat’, or ‘torment cat’? anti_christa

What to expect from Dyson’s new robotics lab

James Dyson’s decision to fund a robotics laboratory at Imperial College London may not lead to the super advanced robot friends of our dreams, but what he has planned could make robotic domestic appliances…
The golden age of AI is upon us. kidpixo

What does Google want with DeepMind? Here are three clues

All eyes turned to London this week, as Google announced its latest acquisition in the form of DeepMind, a company that specialises in artificial intelligence technologies. The £400m pricetag paid by Google…
I’ll be right with you sir, just after I put this cup away. This is a cup, right? garrettc

Your robot helper is on the way now it can learn from its friends

January is a time when many of us seek to better ourselves. We want to learn a new skill or improve an existing one. A network designed especially for robots, RoboEarth, is being tested in the Netherlands…
Google’s turned attention to robotics by buying up companies … but what do those firms do? Dita Actor

Rise of the Google machines: the robotics companies involved

Google recently acquired eight high profile start-up robotics companies, providing strong evidence of a strategy to create breakthrough applications for robotics over the next decade. This strategy is…
Is China our only hope? Alexander F. Yuan/AP

For our future in space, China must aim further than the Moon

A famous picture in the English edition of Newton’s “Principia” shows cannon balls being fired from the top of a mountain. If they go fast enough, their trajectory curves downward no more steeply than…
Science fiction to non-fiction: the next generation of robots promises to be ultra intelligent. andreybl

Self-driving cars and autonomous robots: where to now?

There isn’t a radio-control handset in sight as a nimble robot briskly weaves itself in and out of the confined tunnels of an underground mine. Powered by ultra-intelligent sensors, the robot intuitively…
A multi-armed robot assists surgery in delicate areas of the body. Mark Chew

Marking ten years of surgical robots (in a theatre near you)

A spider-like robot moves over an anaesthetised patient, deftly making controlled incisions with flexible arms while a surgeon sitting a couple of metres away peers through a console offering highly-magnified…
Simple, yet so effective – a fish’s swimming motion removes the trade-off between stability and manoeuvrability. Mell P

Mullet over: how robotics can get a wriggle on with fishy locomotion

Teaching a robot to walk – even poorly – requires huge investment into computational resources. How is it that even the simplest animals are able to achieve far more sophisticated feats of manoeuvrability…
Six-legged hexapod robots can navigate rugged terrain and access places human workers cannot. CSIRO

Beyond R2-D2: Australian manufacturing’s robotics wish-list

In 1977, George Lucas’ Star Wars introduced us to R2-D2, an intelligent bot that embodied modern assistive robotics: he could anticipate needs and perform a number of tasks with minimal instruction. Almost…

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