This Robot Could Perform Your Colonoscopy In The Near Future

Increasing the roles played by robots in society can conjure various visions of both utopias and dystopias, depending on your level of comfort with and trust in technology.

Case in point: A team of scientists based at the University of Leeds in the UK has developed a semi-autonomous robotic system to perform one of the most intimate and dreaded routine medical procedures around: the colonoscopy.

“What we have developed is a system that is easier for doctors or nurses to operate and is less painful for patients,” explains Pietro Valdastri, a professor of robotics and autonomous systems overseeing the research. “It marks an important step in the move to make colonoscopy much more widely

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How Amazon Is Disrupting Robot Intelligence

Bringing a new robot to market is exciting: new capability, new hardware, new services. The problem is when you get to software, where everything feels harder and takes longer than you think it should. Like Tesla’s full self-driving, which has all the hardware and intelligence it needs — with the possible exception of LIDAR — but is perpetually just … about … to … arrive … and even so, was recently savaged by Consumer Reports as buggy and ineffective.

Hardware is necessary, but software provides the animating intelligence that allows it to do useful, efficient, and safe work.

That’s why Nader Elm, CEO of autonomous drone company Exyn Technologies, compared robots today to the iPhone before the App Store: the hardware’s there, but the software layer is immature.

Amazon’s hard

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Watch a Spot robot from Boston Dynamics explore an old mine

The ground is rocky and uneven. Old, rusted rails that used to carry loads of precious metals run the length of the path. Most wheeled robots would have trouble navigating this uneven surface, but it’s not a problem for Spot.

“This is one of the most advanced robots in the world.” Hao Zhang tells me. He’s a professor at the Colorado School of Mines, and he’s brought his department’s new robotic dog from Boston Dynamics to the Edgar Mine outside of Denver for testing. The school is one of the first customers to buy a Spot robot since the four-legged machines went on sale this summer.

Spot robot in Edgar Mine

A handler guides Spot the robotic dog with a proprietary tablet controller.


Agata Bogucka

Much of Zhang’s work in robotics involves exploring ways robots can take over dangerous jobs from people, like searching for survivors in a collapsed mine or inspecting nuclear facilities

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A tech expert’s guide to iRobot Roomba robot vacuums

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The name “Roomba” has almost become synonymous with robot vacuums — and iRobot’s automated house-cleaners are still the best in their class. With so many models to choose from, though — about a dozen, depending on how you keep count — it’s hard to know which Roomba is right for you. Looking at general best practices in choosing a robot vacuum and Roomba’s common properties can make it easier to figure out which one fits your space, needs and budget. Having been testing and writing about tech for more than a decade, I’ve used and played around with enough Roomba robot vacuums

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Tally The Cute Shelf-Scanning Robot Is Coming To More Grocery Stores

When you shop at a Schnucks grocery store, you may share the aisle with Tally the shelf-scanning robot. Made by Simbe Robotics, Tally is autonomous and scans shelves for inventory to make restocking easier. Schnucks is expanding its use of the robot to 62 locations, which will allow Tally to scan more than 4.2 million products every day.

“The real-time data Tally collects helps retailers like Schnucks ensure shelves are stocked, prices are correct, and the products customers are looking for are where they expect them to be. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Tally has been crucial to Schnucks’ success. Tally has been able to keep track of inventory and replenishment, while simultaneously minimizing the amount of time workers need to spend in the aisles, keeping customers happy and workers safe,” Brad Bogolea, co-founder and CEO of Simbe Robotics, said.

Tally removes the mundane, often-dreaded task

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Pizza-making robot startup Picnic raises $3M as pandemic puts spotlight on food automation

Picnic’s pizza-making robot at CES earlier this year. (GeekWire Photo / Taylor Soper)

Seattle startup Picnic raised an additional $3 million from existing investors as it gears up for a commercial rollout of its pizza-making robot.

Vulcan Capital, Flying Fish Partners, Creative Ventures, Arnold Venture Group, and others put more money behind Picnic, known for its automated food preparation device that can churn out up to 300 12-inch customized pizzas per hour. It follows a $5 million seed round in November.

The fresh cash will be used for product development, response to customer interest, new hires, and marketing. The company has seen increased demand for its machine during the pandemic from customers looking for ways to prepare food with less contact.

“This work is important because we’re supporting struggling restaurants who are looking for any advantage that will help them weather the storm of losing 60% of their sales,” CEO

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AI researchers challenge a robot to ride a skateboard in simulation

AI researchers say they’ve created a framework for controlling four-legged robots that promises better energy efficiency and adaptability than more traditional model-based gait control of robotic legs. To demonstrate the robust nature of the framework that adjusts to conditions in real time, AI researchers made the system slip on frictionless surfaces to mimic a banana peel, ride a skateboard, and climb on a bridge while walking on a treadmill. An Nvidia spokesperson told VentureBeat that only the frictionless surface test was conducted in real life because of limits placed on office staff size due to COVID-19. The spokesperson said all other challenges took place in simulation. (Simulations are often used as training data for robotics systems before those systems are used in real life.)

“Our framework learns a controller that can adapt to challenging environmental changes on the fly, including novel scenarios not seen during training. The learned controller is

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Ocado accused of infringing robot technology patents

Ocado’s strategy of selling its grocery ecommerce knowhow worldwide is under threat after a Norwegian rival has claimed the company has copied its technology and infringed its patents.

AutoStore, a developer of warehouse automation systems, on Thursday filed legal claims in the UK and US courts alleging that the Ocado Smart Platform (OSP) infringed several AutoStore patents.

OSP is the integrated hardware and software system that Ocado is busy marketing to food retailers around the world, and its prospects underpin the company’s £20bn market value.

Ocado shares were down 5 per cent in early afternoon trading. The claim does not stipulate an amount for damages but court documents state that it will be for more than £10m.

AutoStore said the design of the robots that pick grocery orders from within a “hive” warehouse, along with the lifting mechanism and the in-wheel motors, are covered by patents granted to it in

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Toyota’s robot butler prototype hangs from the ceiling like a bat

The Earth’s population is rapidly aging, with people aged 65 and over constituting the world’s fastest-growing age group. This is going to create problems for lots of countries as they struggle to find resources to look after seniors. And it’s why Toyota’s robotics division is focused on developing mechanical helpers for the home, keeping older generations healthy and happy as they age.

This week Toyota offered a closer look at some of the prototypes it’s testing in mock-up home environments built in its labs in California. These include a “gantry robot” that hangs from the ceiling and is able to complete tasks like cleaning and loading the dishwasher.

Toyota says the robot’s design was inspired by trips to Japanese homes, where researchers found that limited floor space would constrain a robot’s ability to help. Their solution was to imagine a

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Curly the Curling Robot Can Beat the Pros at Their Own Game | Smart News

The sport of curling requires such precision and strategy that it’s sometimes referred to as “chess on ice.” Players push 40-pound stones across frozen sheets, rotating the stones just enough that they “curl,” and try to knock opposing teams’ stones out of central rings.

Subtle variables at play—tiny, ever-changing bumps in ice, the pressure exerted by one’s hand, the smoothness of the stone—all impact the outcome, so much that curling requires machine-like precision from its players.

So, it makes sense that an actual machine might have a shot at winning, if it could learn to strategize on its own. Enter Curly: a robot powered by artificial intelligence (AI) that recently competed against professional South Korean curling teams and won three out of four official matches.

Curly’s impressive feat is recounted in an article published this month in Science Robotics by researchers Seong-Whan Lee and Dong-Ok Won of Korea University and

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