Robotics

61 stories
Just wingin' it
Soaring investment and lagging legislation — it's a Wild West for drones
The PARC drone from CyPhy Works is tethered to a controller by a microfilament cable that sends power up to the drone and downloads high-definition video. (Photo: Cyphy Works)
Andrew Kehlenbeck pulls up a shirtsleeve and exposes a few linear scars on his forearm. They’re slashes from the plastic propeller of a small drone — a very modern sort of workplace injury. Kehlenbeck is co-founder and lead engineer at Panoptes Systems in Cambridge, and he is designing a safety system to keep unmanned aircraft from hitting walls, ceilings, trees, and people. Panoptes is just one of the local companies hoping to benefit from a soaring hobbyist drone market and an expected surge in sales to businesses. Read More
Takes a kicking and keeps on ticking
Kicked but still standing: Boston Dynamics' new robot has a stunning sense of balance
Google-owned bot maker Boston Dynamics has added another leggy member to its family of fearsome robotic quadrupeds. This one’s called Spot, and its special talent is a killer sense of balance. Even as Boston Dynamics employees repeatedly kick the robot, it manages to stay standing. Read More
Robotics startup Jibo raises $25 million, brings on Nuance exec as CEO
Jibo is a $599 countertop robot designed to handle tasks like scheduling and videoconferencing. (Company-supplied photo.)
Steve Chambers says he first heard about the "social robotics" startup Jibo in late 2013, when two friends mentioned the startup to him within two hours on the same day. At the time, Chambers was running worldwide sales, marketing, and business development for Nuance, the publicly held speech recognition company in Burlington. Chambers says he couldn't leave that post immediately, but he joined Jibo's board last September as executive chairman, and helped founder Cynthia Breazeal raise $25 million in new funding. Today, the Weston company is announcing that Chambers, a veteran of both the speech recognition and videoconferencing industries, is joining Jibo as its new CEO. Read More
New funding for maker for manufacturing robots
Rethink Robotics, selling versatile worker bots, raises $27 million more
One of Boston's highest-profile robotics companies announced in a federal filing this week that it has collected almost $27 million in fresh funding. Rethink Robotics sells a two-armed robot called Baxter that can be easily trained to perform a variety of tasks. Rethink's founder is Rodney Brooks, the former MIT professor who co-founded iRobot Corp., and one of its earliest backers was Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos. Read More
Robots vs. Humans
Bring it humans: This robot will school you in beer pong
If you're prepping for a house party this New Year's Eve, you might already have picked up your Solo cups, champagne, and beer. But chances are that you won't have the life of the party on hand, because this Boston-based beer pong playing robot is headed to the Consumer Electronics Show next week in Las Vegas, where it will take on humanity in a tournament of champions. Read More
Just keep swimming
Navy's 'Silent NEMO' project tests Boston robotic fish for stealth ops
Boston Engineering's 'GhostSwimmer' robot can stealthily navigate cramped spaces. The Navy tested it off Virginia Beach last week.  (Image: US Navy)
A robotic fish called the GhostSwimmer made by Boston Engineering successfully completed a series of maneuvers led by the US Office of Naval Research last week. "I can’t tell you exactly what they wanted us to do," Mark Smithers, chief technology officer at Boston Engineering, said. "We were able to do something that [we weren't] able to do prior [to that] and we did it successfully multiple times." Read More