Recently in the Robotics Category


Restore-L Refueling Mission

Disruptive technologies have often changed the course of history, breaking the status quo and unlocking possibilities that have yet to be imagined.

Twenty-one robotics teams are returning to Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) for a fifth year to compete in NASA's $1.5 million Sample Return Robot Challenge.

Clutter is a special challenge for robots, but new Carnegie Mellon University software is helping robots cope, whether they're beating a path across the Moon or grabbing a milk jug from the back of the refrigerator.

When explorers first set out to discover new lands, they couldn't take everything they needed with them.

In a live space-to-ground test of humanrobot cooperation, ESA astronaut Tim Peake will control a rover on Earth on Friday from the International Space Station, helping prepare for future exploration missions.

Have you got what it takes to help NASA design a free-flying robot for the International Space Station?

On 17 November 2015 NASA issued a press release titled "NASA Awards Two Robots to University Groups for R&D Upgrades" regarding NASA JSC's R-5 robot.

The final approach to an asteroid has been practised for ESA's proposed Asteroid Impact Mission using a real spacecraft camera mounted on a robot arm.

Hopping, tumbling and flipping over are not typical maneuvers you would expect from a spacecraft exploring other worlds.

Early September will see the very first force-feedback-based teleoperation of a rover-based robotic arm system on Earth from the International Space Station, orbiting 400 km above our heads.

If you ever visit NASA's Johnson Space Center and get to meet the Robonaut 2 prototype, be sure to shake the robot's hand, since it can do that, and congratulate it.

Robotic Refueling Mission Upgrade

Who doesn't love an upgrade? Newer, better and oh so shiny is great, but what's really fantastic is when a change unlocks new possibilities. That's the case with NASA's fix-it investigation on the International Space Station, the Robotic Refueling Mission (RRM).

Reaching Across Space

As engineer Manuel Aiple moves his gauntleted hand, the robotic hand a few metres away in ESA's telerobotics laboratory follows in sync.

NASA's built and is sending a set of high-tech legs up to the International Space Station for Robonaut 2 (R2), the station's robotic crewmember.

One day, human activity will extend across the solar system. Scientists believe this will expand our understanding of Earth and the universe in which we live.

JPL's RoboSimian

Miami Speedway in Homestead, Fla., was the place to be late last month for an unusual two-day competition: the DARPA Robotics Challenge Trials.

Abigaille, The Wall-crawler Robot

Climbing robots that mimic the stickiness of gecko lizard feet could work in space as well as on Earth, ESA has shown, raising the prospect of hull-crawling automatons tending future spacecraft.

Legs For Robotnaut 2

NASA engineers are developing climbing legs for the International Space Station's robotic crewmember Robonaut 2 (R2), marking another milestone in space humanoid robotics.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has selected a group from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., as one of the teams entitled to move forward from the Virtual Robotics Challenge, the first event of the DARPA Robotics Challenge.

Morpheus Tether Test 24

This is the 24th tether test of the Morpheus Vehicle. This test was performed with the "Bravo" version of the vehicle and tested some of the new backup systems. There are two firings in this test, the first firing was soft aborted. This was caused by an imbalance in the fuel load which caused the vehicle to exceed it's tight safety zone. The 2nd firing was a complete success.

Liquid Robotics(R), an ocean data services provider and developer of the Wave Glider(R), announced it has been officially awarded the Guinness World Record for the longest journey of an unmanned autonomous surface vehicle. "Benjamin Franklin," the Wave Glider named in honor of one of the United States' founding fathers and the oceanographer who discovered and named the Gulf Stream Current, traveled farther than any other unmanned autonomous surface vehicle -- land or sea.

Kerry Ellis: Future human space exploration will mean getting beyond low-Earth orbit--and returning safely. Several projects across NASA are working on the challenges that goal presents, among them propulsion alternatives and guidance, navigation, and control. Three years ago, Project Morpheus and the Autonomous Landing and Hazard Avoidance Technology project, or ALHAT, began collaborating on advances in these areas.

Fifty teams of undergraduate and graduate students from around the world will demonstrate their lunar excavator robots May 20 - 24 at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Practice sessions for the fourth annual Lunabotics Mining Competition will take place May 20 - 21, followed by the official competition. Media representatives are invited to cover the event on Wednesday, May 22 from 12 - 4 p.m. EDT, at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

NASA's newest scientific rover is set for testing May 3 through June 8 in the highest part of Greenland. The robot known as GROVER, which stands for both Greenland Rover and Goddard Remotely Operated Vehicle for Exploration and Research, will roam the frigid landscape collecting measurements to help scientists better understand changes in the massive ice sheet. This autonomous, solar-powered robot carries a ground-penetrating radar to study how snow accumulates, adding layer upon layer to the ice sheet over time.

2013 Sample Return Robot Challenge

Fourteen teams from across the country and around the globe are perfecting their hardware and software to compete for $1.5 million in prize money at NASA's 2013 Sample Return Robot Challenge, the latest competition of the agency's Centennial Challenges program. The event will take place in June at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Mass.

"The 2014 Night Rover Challenge is scheduled and teams that wish to compete may register. Centennial Challenges is a program of prize competitions to stimulate innovation in technologies of interest and value to NASA and the nation. The 2014 Night Rover Challenge is a prize competition designed to encourage development of new energy storage technologies or application of existing storage technologies in unique ways for application in extreme space environments. Competitors will need to demonstrate high energy density storage systems (>330w-hr/kg) that would enable a rover to operate throughout lunar darkness cycles. Cleantech Open of Palo Alto, California administers the Challenge for NASA. NASA is providing the $1,500,000 prize purse." More

New NASA Robonaut Challenge

"TopCoder(R), Inc., the world's largest open innovation platform and competitive community of 470,000 digital creators, today announced two new marathon competitions hosted through the NASA Tournament Lab (NTL) that will look to continue delivery of output-based high value returns in the most cost-effective and measurable software development process currently available to government agencies. The competitions will center on NASA's famous space robot Robonaut 2 aboard the International Space Station (ISS). The initial challenge will focus on enabling Robonaut 2 to interact visually with different types of input devices the astronauts use on the Space Station." More

"NASA Television will broadcast the annual FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Kickoff event on Saturday, Jan. 5, starting at 10:30 a.m. EST from Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester. The event also will be streamed live on NASA's website. As in past years, NASA plays a significant role by providing public access to robotics programs to encourage young people to investigate careers in the sciences and engineering. Through the NASA Robotics Alliance Project, the agency provides grants for almost 250 teams and sponsors four regional student competitions, including a FIRST regional competition in Washington that will be held March 28-30." More

"The FIRST Robotics Competition kickoff marks the beginning of the season for high school students from across the nation to design and build robots to compete in an annual tournament against a field of competitors. FIRST, or For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, is an international, mentor-based student program that builds science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, skills for high school students by combining the excitement of sports with the rigors of science and technology. Over 100 local students, teachers and volunteers are scheduled to attend Cleveland's kickoff at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 5, at the Cuyahoga Community College Unified Technologies Center, located at 2415 Woodland Ave, in. Cleveland. NASA, the largest sponsor of the FIRST Robotics Competition, will broadcast the kickoff nationwide on NASA Television from Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester." More

Ping Pong Ball Sized Robots

"University of Colorado Boulder Assistant Professor Nikolaus Correll likes to think in multiples. If one robot can accomplish a singular task, think how much more could be accomplished if you had hundreds of them.Correll and his computer science research team, including research associate Dustin Reishus and professional research assistant Nick Farrow, have developed a basic robotic building block, which he hopes to reproduce in large quantities to develop increasingly complex systems. Recently the team created a swarm of 20 robots, each the size of a pingpong ball, which they call "droplets." When the droplets swarm together, Correll said, they form a "liquid that thinks." To accelerate the pace of innovation, he has created a lab where students can explore and develop new applications of robotics with basic, inexpensive tools." More (with video)

"This notice is issued in accordance with 51 U.S.C. 20144(c). The 2013 Sample Return Robot Challenge is scheduled and teams that wish to compete may register. Centennial Challenges is a program of prize competitions to stimulate innovation in technologies of interest and value to NASA and the nation. The 2013 Sample Return Robot Challenge is a prize competition designed to encourage development of new technologies or application of existing technologies in unique ways to create robots that can autonomously seek out samples and return to a designated point in a set time period. Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) of Worcester, Massachusetts administers the Challenge for NASA. NASA is providing the prize purse." More

A Robot That Explorers Moon Caves

"William 'Red' Whittaker often spends his Sundays lowering a robot into a recently blown up coal mine pit near his cattle ranch in Pennsylvania (see video). By 2015, he hopes that his robot, or something like it, will be rappelling down a much deeper hole, on the Moon. The hole was discovered three years ago when Japanese researchers published images from the satellite SELENE, but spacecraft orbiting the Moon have been unable to see into its shadowy recesses."

"NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) successfully have used an experimental version of interplanetary Internet to control an educational rover from the International Space Station. The experiment used NASA's Disruption Tolerant Networking (DTN) protocol to transmit messages and demonstrate technology that one day may enable Internet-like communications with space vehicles and support habitats or infrastructure on another planet. Space station Expedition 33 commander Sunita Williams in late October used a NASA-developed laptop to remotely drive a small LEGO robot at the European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany. The European-led experiment used NASA's DTN to simulate a scenario in which an astronaut in a vehicle orbiting a planetary body controls a robotic rover on the planet's surface." More

NASA astronaut Sunita Williams recently controlled an ESA rover in Germany from the International Space Station in a joint test of a communication protocol designed for interplanetary spaceflight.

"NASA and the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Worcester, Mass., have opened registration and are seeking teams to compete in next year's robot technology demonstration competition, which offers as much as $1.5 million in prize money. During the 2013 NASA-WPI Sample Return Robot Challenge, teams will compete to demonstrate a robot can locate and retrieve geologic samples from a wide and varied terrain without human control. The objective of the competition is to encourage innovations in automatic navigation and robotic manipulator technologies. Innovations stemming from this challenge may improve NASA's capability to explore a variety of destinations in space, as well as enhance the nation's robotic technology for use in industries and applications on Earth. The competition is planned for June 2013 in Worcester, Mass., attracting competitors from industry and academia nationwide." More

Using Space Internet to Control Robots

"ESA and NASA have tested a communications protocol that will allow astronauts to control robots from space stations orbiting planets or asteroids. The test marks the way for a trial-run with an astronaut on the International Space Station next week. Last week a Space Station user centre at the University of Boulder, USA sent a command to a NASA laptop on the International Space Station to start a script that controlled the Mocup robot at ESA's ESOC operations centre in Darmstadt, Germany. The robot was commanded to move forward and take pictures, which it performed as planned. Mocup is one of the robots in ESA's Meteron - Multi-purpose End-To-End Robotic Operations Network - initiative for future missions to the Moon, Mars and other celestial bodies. Space exploration will most likely involve sending robotic explorers to test the waters on uncharted planets before sending humans to land." More

"A new robotic space technology spinoff derived from NASA's Robonaut 2 project someday may help astronauts stay healthier in space and aid paraplegics in walking here on Earth. Robonaut 2, the first humanoid robot in space, currently is working with astronauts aboard the International Space Station. NASA and The Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC) of Pensacola, Fla., with the help of engineers from Oceaneering Space Systems of Houston, have jointly developed a robotic exoskeleton called X1. The 57-pound device is a robot that a human could wear over his or her body either to assist or inhibit movement in leg joints. In the inhibit mode, the robotic device would be used as an in-space exercise machine to supply resistance against leg movement. The same technology could be used in reverse on the ground, potentially helping some individuals walk for the first time." More

A new robotic space technology spinoff derived from NASA's Robonaut 2 project someday may help astronauts stay healthier in space and aid paraplegics in walking here on Earth. Robonaut 2, the first humanoid robot in space, currently is working with astronauts aboard the International Space Station.

NASA Tests New Launcher at Wallops

"NASA successfully tested a new suborbital sounding rocket today from the agency's launch range at the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Launched at 7:00 a.m. EDT, the Talos-Terrier-Oriole flew to an altitude of 167.4 miles and then reentered in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Wallops Island. The payload was not planned to be recovered. This was the first flight of the 65-foot tall Talos-Terrier-Oriole that is being developed to support high-altitude space science research." More

"NASA has selected eight advanced robotics projects that will enable the agency's future missions while supporting the Obama administration's National Robotics Initiative. The projects, ranging from technologies for improving robotic planetary rovers to humanoid robotic systems, will support the development and use of robots for space exploration, as well as by manufacturers and businesses in the United States. Robots can work beside, or cooperatively, with people to enhance individual human capabilities, performance and safety in space as well as here on Earth. Co-robotics, where robots work cooperatively with people to enhance their individual human capabilities, performance and safety, is a valuable tool for maintaining American leadership in aerospace technology and advanced manufacturing. "Robonaut, NASA's robotic crewmember aboard the International Space Station, is being tested to perform tasks to assist our astronauts and free them up to do the important scientific research and complex engineering taking place each day on our orbiting national lab," said NASA Chief Technologist Mason Peck at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "Selected through our participation in the National Robotics Initiative, these new projects will support NASA as we plan for our asteroid mission in 2025 and the human exploration of Mars around 2035." More

"NASA is accepting applications from teams of U.S. and international undergraduate and graduate students for the fourth annual Lunabotics Mining Competition. The event will be held at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida May 20-24, 2013. Participants in the competition will design and build a remote controlled or autonomous robot. During the competition, the teams' designs, known as lunabots, will go head-to-head to determine which machine can excavate and deposit the most simulated lunar dirt within 10 minutes. Registration is limited to the first 50 teams submitting applications." More

Zero Robotics Video Challenge

Kids are always told to reach for the stars. Now, NASA is literally giving them a chance to by providing middle and high school students with unprecedented access to the International Space Station and letting them write the programs that control state-of-the-art robots on the International Space Station -- no Ph.D. in astrophysics required!

The NASA Tournament Laboratory, established by NASA and Harvard University, along with the enabling capabilities of the TopCoder community, have partnered with Tongal to hold a competition with cash prizes for winning ideas, pitches and promotional videos to inspire tomorrow's scientists to see mathematics as more than just digits on a calculator, to further the study of outer space and to push the limits of human knowledge about the worlds (and the space) beyond our planet. The winning videos will help inspire middle and high school students to compete in the Zero Robotics Challenge, which is managed for NASA by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, or MIT.

ESA Tests Self-steering Rover in 'Mars' Desert

"ESA assembled a top engineering team, then challenged them to devise a way for rovers to navigate on alien planets. Six months later, a fully autonomous vehicle was charting its course through Chile's Mars-like Atacama Desert. May's full-scale rover field test marked the final stage of a StarTiger project code-named 'Seeker'. Standing for 'Space Technology Advancements by Resourceful, Targeted and Innovative Groups of Experts and Researchers', StarTiger involves a multidisciplinary team gathered at a single site, working against the clock to achieve a technology breakthrough."

Sample Return Robot Return Challenge

NASA Sample Return Robot Return Challenge at WPI Concludes

"Autonomous robots roamed across the grassy terrain at Worcester Polytechnic Institute searching for samples to collect at the 2012 Sample Return Robot Challenge in Worcester, Mass., June 14-17. The challenge: design, develop and demonstrate the next generation of robots capable of exploring the landscapes of other worlds. Eleven teams initially registered for the competition. Six teams made it to WPI for the start of the challenge. After weigh-in and inspections, one team (Space Pride -- http://www.spacepride.com) successfully met all requirements and competed in the challenge but did not win a cash prize."

Ocean Robots Embark on Final Stage of Pacific Crossing (PacX) Collecting Unprecedented Amounts of Ocean Data

"Liquid Robotics(R), an ocean data services provider and developer of the Wave Glider(R), the first wave-powered, autonomous marine robot, today launched the PacX Wave Gliders from the Big Island of Hawai'i on the final phase of a first-of-its-kind scientific expedition across the Pacific Ocean. Continuing their record-breaking journey across the high seas with approximately 5000 nautical miles until their final destinations of Australia and Japan, the Wave Gliders have collectively already traveled more than 13,000 nautical miles. This is more than 2x the distance from San Francisco to Tokyo, Japan. During their voyage, the Wave Gliders are collecting and transmitting in near real-time, unprecedented amounts of ocean surface data on a scale never before continuously collected across the Pacific Ocean."

NASA's Lunabotics Mining Competition

NASA Invites Media To Annual Lunabotics Mining Competition

"More than 50 teams of undergraduate and graduate students from eight countries will come to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida May 21-26 to take part in the third annual Lunabotics Mining Competition. The teams have designed and built remote controlled or autonomous robots that can excavate simulated lunar soil. During the competition, the teams' designs, known as lunabots, will go head-to-head to determine whose machine can collect and deposit the most simulated moon dust within a specified amount of time."

NASA $1.5 Million Robot Competition Rolls Onto WPI Campus June 14-17

"Autonomous robots created by 11 teams of engineers from across the country will compete for a NASA prize purse of $1.5 million on the campus of Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), in Worcester, Mass., June 14 -17. The challenge: design and develop the next generation of robots to explore the landscapes of other worlds. The NASA-WPI Sample Return Robot Challenge requires the competing teams to design and build an autonomous robotic system that will locate and collect a set of specific objects from a large area and return the "planetary samples" to the starting zone."

A Washington State University astrobiologist is leading a group of 20 scientists in calling for a mission to Mars with "a strong and comprehensive life detection component." At the heart of their proposal is a small fleet of sensor packages that can punch into the Martian soil and run a range of tests for signs of ancient or existing life.

DARPA's Robotics Prize

DARPA Seeks Robot Enthusiasts (and you) To Face Off for $2 million Prize

"DARPA's Robotics Challenge will launch in October 2012. Teams are sought to compete in challenges involving staged disaster-response scenarios in which robots will have to successfully navigate a series of physical tasks corresponding to anticipated, real-world disaster-response requirements. Robots played a supporting role in mitigating fallout from the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster in Japan, and are used by U.S. military forces as assistants for servicemembers in diffusing improvised explosive devices. True innovation in robotics technology could result in much more effective robots that could better intervene in high-risk situations and thus save human lives and help contain the impact of natural and man-made disasters."

Astrobotic's Moon Rover

Astrobotic Technology Reveals Design for Robot to Prospect at Moon's Poles

"Astrobotic Technology unveiled its new Polaris lunar rover design, which will prospect for potentially rich deposits of water ice, methane and other resources at the moon's north pole in three years. A powerful Falcon 9 rocket from SpaceX will launch Polaris from Cape Canaveral in late October 2015. Four days later Polaris will land during north pole summer, when patches of ground that are in cold shadow most of the year get brief illumination. This is where ice will be found closest to the surface, and when a solar-powered robot will get the sunlight needed to sustain exploration. Polaris will search for ice for the next 12 days until sundown in early November."

Printable Robots

NSF Announces New Expeditions in Computing Awards

"The National Science Foundation's (NSF) Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) today announced four new Expeditions in Computing awards. Each award will provide $10 million in funding over five years, representing the single largest investments in computer science research NSF makes. "Computer science research drives advances in science, engineering and education with significant positive impact on the economy, the achievement of national priorities and improvements in quality of life. The U.S. government has an essential role to play in ensuring that investments in this field are sustained over the long-term," said NSF Director Subra Suresh. "With these Expeditions awards, NSF continues its tradition of investing in ambitious, bold ideas. Our economic future and competitiveness depend on them."

National Robotics Competition Arrives in Washington March 30

"Media representatives are invited to attend an international student robotics competition sponsored by NASA and other organizations Friday and Saturday, March 30 and 31. The event, which is free and open to the public, will be held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, 801 Mount Vernon Place NW, in Washington. The competition, For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, or FIRST, provides access to robotics programs to encourage young people to investigate careers in the sciences and engineering, and possibly become the nation's next generation of technical leaders."

NASA and GM Are Developing New Droids

GM, NASA Jointly Developing Robotic Gloves for Human Use

"General Motors and NASA are jointly developing a robotic glove that auto workers and astronauts can wear to help do their respective jobs better while potentially reducing the risk of repetitive stress injuries. The Human Grasp Assist device, known internally in both organizations as the K-glove or Robo-Glove, resulted from GM and NASA's Robonaut 2 (R2) project, which launched the first human-like robot into space in 2011. R2 is a permanent resident of the International Space Station."

NASA's New Robotic Partnership

Academy of Art University and NASA Announce Design Partnership

"This semester, Academy of Art University Industrial Design students will collaborate with the NASA Ames Research Center (Moffett Field, California) to design a user interface that will allow future astronauts in space to remotely operate a robot on Earth. A number of thesis level students have been chosen and will use a variety of design skills to complete the project, including storyboarding, task analysis, ideation, brainstorming, sketching and rendering. The students' work will be used to create the user interface elements, including icons wireframes and glyphs. Simultaneously the team is identifying opportunities for additional design disciplines to be integrated into the experience. Already the team is starting conceptual work on interior architecture, product design, and apparel."

Autonomous Space Capture Challenge Opens Algorithmic Crowdsourcing to General Public

"TopCoder(R), Inc., the world's largest competitive Community of digital creators and MIT, today announced registration has opened for the Autonomous Space Capture Challenge, an algorithm competition from Zero Robotics which seeks computationally efficient code solutions for a hypothetical mission scenario which models autonomous docking or satellite servicing procedures. The online challenge is open to all eligible participants but especially teams from high schools and colleges. Four winning submissions will be tested aboard the International Space Station (ISS) in the recently established SPHERES national laboratory by astronauts. Successful teams will be invited to watch the event live onsite at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology or via webcast feed remotely."

First Robotics in Cleveland

High School Students to Show off Design and Engineering Talent at First Robotics Competition

"More than 1,500 high school students from across Ohio, the U.S. and Canada, will compete in the 11th annual Buckeye Regional FIRST Robotics Competition. Admission is free and open to the public. The event runs Thursday through Saturday, March 22-24, at Cleveland State University's Wolstein Center, 2000 Prospect Ave., in Cleveland. Practice rounds will be held March 22, and Friday and Saturday are competition days. During the event, 60 teams of 15-25 students will compete with their robots for honors and recognition. There will be forty teams from schools and community organizations from Ohio, and 20 out-of-state teams representing Canada, Maryland, New York and Pennsylvania."

Hacking Curiosity: Adding an aftermarket sample collection capability to the Mars Science Lab, Doug Mohney

"NASA's withdrawal from a joint ExoMars 2016/2018 mission has left the planetary science community grieving the at loss of the first step in a sample return mission: collection of samples. However, there's a $2.5 billion rover with a mechanical arm and plenty of power scheduled to land on Mars in August. Can the Mars Science Lab (MSL) Curiosity be fitted with a couple of "aftermarket" sample collection racks once it completes its primary mission of one Martian year? The author believes there is the potential to do so."

DARPA's Legged Squad Support System (LS3) To Lighten Troops' Load [VIDEO]

"Today's dismounted warfighter can be saddled with more than 100 pounds of gear, resulting in physical strain, fatigue and degraded performance. Reducing the load on dismounted warfighters has become a major point of emphasis for defense research and development, because the increasing weight of individual equipment has a negative impact on warfighter readiness. The Army has identified physical overburden as one of its top five science and technology challenges. To help alleviate physical weight on troops, DARPA is developing a highly mobile, semi-autonomous legged robot, the Legged Squad Support System (LS3), to integrate with a squad of Marines or Soldiers."

Bot Battle in Space

Spheres Final Robot competition in Zero-gravity

"School teams from Europe and America have been commanding robots competing in the Spheres ZeroRobotics tournament in space. The arena: 400 km above Earth on the International Space Station. Student teams could send a single piece of instruction software to control the small robotic 'Spheres'. The goal of the tournament was to earn points through masterful operation via guidance and navigation control algorithms as well as choosing the best tactics to win the game."

NASA/MIT/DARPA Robotic Challenge

NASA Joins MIT and DARPA for Out-of-This-World Student Robotic Challenge

"NASA will join the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and high school student teams from the U.S. and abroad for the third annual Zero Robotics SPHERES Challenge on Monday, Jan. 23. The event will take place on the MIT campus in Cambridge, Mass., and be broadcast live on NASA Television from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. EST."

FIRST Robotics Competition Kicks Off

The 2012 FIRST Robotics Competition Kicks Off Saturday in Cleveland

"The FIRST Robotics Competition kickoff marks the beginning of the season for high school students to design and build a robot to compete in a tournament against a field of competitors. NASA, the largest sponsor of the FIRST Robotics Competition, will broadcast the kickoff for over 100 local students at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 7, at Cuyahoga Community College, Unified Technologies Center. The event will air nationwide on NASA Television from Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester."

Recreating Avatar Technology at Home

"This is the culmination of my last year's work. I control the robot's arms through the Kinect and Wii remotes. I control the robot's navigation through the Kinect and treadmill. I control the robot's head through the head mounted display (HMD). I also see through the robot's eyes with the HMD. After doing this exercise, it became apparent that the next feature to add is hearing and speaking through the robot. Luckily both the NAO and my HMD have microphones and speakers so this shouldn't be too difficult." More information.

This about this: In addition to recreating the basic technology depicted in the film "Avatar", this also shos how straightforward it is to create telepresence. One would hope NASA is looking at simple, commercially available and easily adaptable interfaces such as these whereby Robonuat can be controlled - from the ISS and from Earth.

NASA and FIRST Robotics Competition

NASA Announces Robotics Student Competition 2012 Grant Awards

"NASA is continuing its strong support for the annual FIRST Robotics Competition, which inspires student interest in science, technology, and mathematics through a challenge to design and build a robot. The agency is awarding grants totaling $1,386,500 for student teams in 37 states to participate in FIRST, or For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology."

Flight Assembled Architecture/Architectures volantes from FRAC Centre on Vimeo.

Flying Machine Enabled Construction, ETH

Keith's note: One would think that the software developed by this team could be adapted to robots operating in space to assemble large structures such as solar power satellites or on the surface of the Moon to construct a lunar base. Indeed, you could take 3D printing software and scale it up such that you use remotely operated droids to "print out" a base on the moon using local materials.

Designing Moon Droids in Autodesk

Moon Express Designs and Engineers Lunar Mission with Autodesk Software

"Taking the main stage before more than 8,000 attendees at Autodesk University 2011, Edwin "EJ" Sabathia of the "Moon Express Robotics Lab for Innovation" (MERLIN) unveiled lunar micro-rovers designed with Autodesk software. EJ was one of eight student robotics engineers hired by Moon Express in September from a team of the nations' brightest engineering students. MERLIN is utilizing Autodesk design software for developing robotic technology supporting the company's lunar exploration missions."

Space Droids Using Sign Language?

Photos: Robonaut-2 Gestures In Space

Keith's note: I have seen Robonaut-2 in action and its dexterity is interesting - and rather facile.  So ... how could NASA demonstrate this dexterity in new ways, make it a little more "human" or approachable, - and reach a new segment of the populace that is normally overlooked? Program it to use Sign Language. Background: I worked for more than a decade as a professional certified (educational) sign language interpreter. This idea occurred to me when I was looking at this picture and instantly wondered what Robonaut-2 "wanted" or why it was seemingly in the process of saying "here" or maybe "give". Imagine how fast a video of Robonaut-2 saying something in American Sign Language from space would go viral. NASA could have a competition wherein people submit questions for it to answer. NASA already has a signing astronaut and SMD and NLSI already put out books in Braille. Just a thought.

P.S. Maybe he could repeat what that alien signed in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" (video). I first saw this film when it came out with my hearing impaired roommates - none of us knew that aliens were going to sign so we all freaked out when one of them did. Of course, it was natural to us that all aliens would know how to sign - since they all already speak English, right?

Video: Hacking Kinect - NASA Applications?

Think for a moment: Remember all of the things in "Avatar", "Star Trek", and other SciFi films that were controlled by people waving their hands over sexy looking devices, wandering around holodecks, or using remotely controlled bodies. When Kinect was first released, Microsoft was against anyone hacking it. A similar thing happened when LEGO Mindstorms was released and hobbyists began to fiddle with the software. As was the case with LEGO, Microsoft has done a complete 180 and has overtly embraced the notion that people can take technology and do things that its originators never imagined. How could Kinect hacks change the way that NASA does things? What would it be like to use Kinect as a whole body interface with 360 degrees of movement while living in microgravity aboard the ISS? Could NASA control Robonaut this way?

NASA's Robotic Lander Development Project in Huntsville, Ala., has successfully completed seven autonomous outdoor flight tests of a lander prototype, dubbed Mighty Eagle. On Oct. 14, Mighty Eagle ascended to three meters, translated 30 feet sideways and turned 90 degrees before setting down safely. On Oct. 17, Mighty Eagle successfully flew to a height of 30 feet, translated sideways 30 feet before landing. These tests are paving the way for a Nov. 4 100-foot flight test.

Upcoming NASA "Mighty Eagle" Test Flight

NASA Robotic Lander Test Flight Nov. 4

"NASA will conduct a 100-foot robotic lander altitude test flight Friday, Nov. 4, to mature the technology needed to develop a new generation of small, smart, versatile robotic landers capable of achieving scientific and exploration goals on the surface of the moon, asteroids or other airless bodies."

Innovators Sought for DARPA Satellite Servicing Program, DARPA

"More than $300 billion worth of satellites are estimated to be in the geosynchronous orbit (GEO--22,000 miles above the earth). Many of these satellites have been retired due to normal end of useful life, obsolescence or failure; yet many still have valuable components, such as antennas, that could last much longer than the life of the satellite. When satellites in GEO "retire," they are put into a GEO disposal or "graveyard" orbit. DARPA's Phoenix program seeks to develop technologies to cooperatively harvest and re-use valuable components from retired, nonworking satellites in GEO and demonstrate the ability to create new space systems at greatly reduced cost."

Mind Reading Computer System May Allow Paralyzed People To Communicate and Control Robots, NSF

"Imagine living a life in which you are completely aware of the world around you but you're prevented from engaging in it because you are completely paralyzed. Even speaking is impossible. For an estimated 50,000 Americans, this is a harsh reality. It's called locked-in syndrome, a condition in which people with normal cognitive brain activity suffer severe paralysis, often from injuries or an illness such as Lou Gehrig's disease."

Think about this: this is clearly one of the major steps in the path toward creading the human/machine interface used inthe film "Avatar" wherein a paraplegic person was able to remotely control an "avatar" body. The same technology could aid astronauts n the operation of various robotic vehicles in remote and hazardous locations.

NASA/NIA 2012 Student Rover Contest

NASA, NIA Announce 2012 Student Rover Contest

"NASA and the National Institute of Aerospace (NIA) are launching a 2012 undergraduate and graduate level student robotics competition. The RASC-AL (Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts Academic Linkage) Exploration Robo-Ops Student Challenge will allow up to eight teams to compete at NASA's Johnson Space Center (JSC) next spring. The prize is $10,000 and a chance to attend the popular analog and robotics testing event, NASA Desert Rats, in fall 2012."

Crowdsourcing UAV Designs

Defense Department looks to crowd-source new drone innovations, Washington Post

"Called UAVForge, the competition is open to individuals, such as scientists, engineers or aircraft hobbyists, as well as to teams of contestants. The task is to come up with ideas for a small, silent aircraft that could be controlled from two miles away and monitor people or cars in an urban area for up to two hours while sending back still photos or video."

UAVForge, DARPA

Monkeys move virtual arm with their minds, CNN

"Remember the hit movie Avatar, where the human brain alone could control a lifelike hybrid body, seeing what it sees and feeling what it feels? Scientists at Duke University are one step closer to making that concept a reality, with important applications for medicine. They have developed a system through which a monkey can control a virtual arm with its brain and also feel sensations from the appendage. The ultimate goal is to build a robotic body suit controlled entirely by brain activity, which will provide tactile feedback to the wearer, says Dr. Miguel Nicolelis, study co-author and neuroscientist at Duke University. This could potentially enable quadriplegic individuals and people with locked-in syndrome to move, walk and feel textures with robotic hands and feet."

Think about this: The same technology could allow intimate interactions with robotic systems in remote locations in space and on other worlds. It could also allow exoskeletons to operate with humans inside on worlds with higher gravity levels.

NASA 2012 Lunabotics Competition Open For Registration

"NASA is accepting applications from teams of U.S. and international undergraduate and graduate students for the third annual Lunabotics Mining Competition. The event will be at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida May 21-26, 2012. Participants in the competition will design and build a remote controlled or autonomous robot, which could be used for future exploration on the moon. During the competition, the teams' designs, known as lunabots, will go head-to-head to determine which one can excavate and deposit the most simulated lunar dirt within 10 minutes."