Six tiny microbots weighing 3.5 ounces pull a 3,900-pound car

Slow but steady does it.

John Markoff at the New York Times:

A group of researchers at the Biomimetics and Dexterous Manipulation Laboratory at Stanford University has been exploring the limits of friction in the design of tiny robots that have the ability to pull thousands of times their weight, wander like gecko lizards on vertical surfaces or mimic bats.

[Modeled After Ants, Teams of Tiny Robots Can Move 2-Ton Car / John Markoff / The New York Times]

Dogs and robots work together on emergency response teams

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Dogs are “fast, efficient, able to cover all sorts of terrain, can understand both verbal and gestural commands, and they run on dog food.” But dogs can’t move rubble or fly. Robots can do those things.

What if robots and dogs could work together on emergency response? That’s a job for the Smart Emergency Response System (SERS), a joint project involving MIT and other universities along with National Instruments, Boeing, and other businesses. Robots communicate with a command center using whatever wireless networks are available.

The dogs are intended to be an integral part of this system, and they’re being outfitted with modular “cybernetic suits” that can be rigged up with a variety of sensors depending on the situation.

The suits also monitor the dogs themselves, sending back their heart rates so that their handlers can make sure that they’re doing okay. It works in the other direction, too, with speakers on the vests relaying vocal commands, and embedded tactile systems providing gentle nudges to steer the dogs remotely.

Emergency Response Teams Combine Mobile Robots, Drones, and Dogs – IEEE Spectrum