Amazon’s New Robot Sparrow Can Handle Most Items in the Everything Store

Amazon built an ecommerce empire by automating much of the work needed to move goods and pack orders in its warehouses. There is still plenty of work for humans in those vast facilities because some tasks are too complex for robots to do reliably—but a new robot called Sparrow could shift the balance that Amazon … Read more

Video Monday: IROS 2022 Award Winners

As Verne understood, the U.S. Civil War (during which 60,000 amputations were performed) inaugurated the modern prosthetics era in the United States, thanks to federal funding and a wave of design patents filed by entrepreneurial prosthetists. The two World Wars solidified the for-profit prosthetics industry in both the United States and Western Europe, and the … Read more

How robotic honeybees and hives could help the species fight back

Schmickl, who now leads the Artificial Life Lab at the University of Graz in Austria, wasn’t wrong. Studies in various parts of the world have since found that insect populations are declining or changing. After working in the field of swarm robotics for several years—using nature to inspire robots—Schmickl decided to flip his work around … Read more

Elon Musk’s Half-Baked Robot Is a Clunky First Step

Some robot experts watching saw a project that appeared to be quickly getting up to speed. “There’s nothing fundamentally groundbreaking, but they are doing cool stuff,” says Stefanie Tellex, an assistant professor at Brown University. Henrik Christensen, who researches robotics and AI at UC Davis, calls Tesla’s homegrown humanoid “a good initial design,” but adds … Read more

Amazon September Hardware Event (2022): Kindle Scribe, Echo Dot, Fire TV Cube

Amazon announced a Prime Early Access Sale earlier this week (aka Prime Day 2.0), but today, the company took the wraps off of some new hardware it’s been cooking up over the past year. That includes new Echo speakers, as usual, but there are some surprises too, such as the Kindle Scribe—the first Kindle you … Read more

Amazon has a new plan for its home robot Astro: to guard your life

Still, last year’s pitch was that Astro would make home life more comfortable and entertaining—a sort of adorable, bumbling sidekick. This year, Amazon has recast Astro as a device with a much more serious mission: to provide another set of eyes on our pets, our homes, and our livelihoods.  As with any surveillance technology you … Read more

A Wheel Made of ‘Odd Matter’ Spontaneously Rolls Uphill

In a physics lab in Amsterdam, there’s a wheel that can spontaneously roll uphill by wiggling. This “odd wheel” looks simple: just six small motors linked together by plastic arms and rubber bands to form a ring about 6 inches in diameter. When the motors are powered on, it starts writhing, executing complicated squashing and … Read more

Circle of Circuits – IEEE Spectrum

The Big Picture features technology through the lens of photographers. Every month, IEEE Spectrum selects the most stunning technology images recently captured by photographers around the world. We choose images that reflect an important advance, or a trend, or that are just mesmerizing to look at. We feature all images on our site, and one … Read more

Ensuring Underwater Robots Survive in Hot Tropical Waters

The hot, humid environment of tropical marine areas such as Australia’s Great Barrier Reef can wreak havoc on the marine autonomous systems. Underwater and surface MAS are used for marine monitoring, locating objects such as mines on the seafloor, and rescuing swimmers. “Tropical conditions can cause systems to overheat or prevent high-density lithium batteries from … Read more

Faster, Meaner, Deadlier: The Evolution of “BattleBots”

Earlier this year, friend-of-IEEE Spectrum and fashiontech designer Anouk Wipprecht gave a peek of what it’s like to be a competitor on “BattleBots,” the 22-year-old robot-combat competition, from the preparation “pit” to the arena. Her team, Ghostraptor, was knocked out of the regular competition after losing its first and second fights, though they regained some … Read more