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Category: Robots

“Hey, Alexa! Are you trustworthy?”
January 14, 2022

A family gathers around their kitchen island to unbox the digital assistant they just purchased. They will be more likely to trust this new voice-user interface, which might be a smart speaker like Amazon’s Alexa or a social robot like Jibo, if it exhibits some humanlike social behaviors, according to a new study by researchers in MIT’s Media Lab. The researchers found that family members tend to think a device is more competent and...

Q&A: Cathy Wu on developing algorithms to safely integrate robots into our world | MIT News
December 17, 2021

Cathy Wu is the Gilbert W. Winslow Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and a member of the MIT Institute for Data, Systems, and Society. As an undergraduate, Wu won MIT’s toughest robotics competition, and as a graduate student took the University of California at Berkeley’s first-ever course on deep reinforcement learning. Now back at MIT, she’s working to improve the flow of robots in Amazon...

Giving bug-like bots a boost | MIT News
December 16, 2021

When it comes to robots, bigger isn’t always better. Someday, a swarm of insect-sized robots might pollinate a field of crops or search for survivors amid the rubble of a collapsed building. MIT researchers have demonstrated diminutive drones that can zip around with bug-like agility and resilience, which could eventually perform these tasks. The soft actuators that propel these microrobots are very durable, but they...

From “cheetah-noids” to humanoids | MIT News
December 14, 2021

In November 2018, MIT Professor Sangbae Kim brought his mini cheetah robot onto “The Tonight Show’s” Tonight Show-botics segment. Much to the delight of host Jimmy Fallon, the mini cheetah did some yoga, got back up after falling, and executed a perfect backflip. Behind the stage, Benjamin Katz '16, SM '18 was remotely controlling the cheetah’s nimble maneuvers. For Katz, waiting in the wings as the robot...

Meet the Oystamaran | MIT News
December 8, 2021

When Michelle Kornberg was about to graduate from MIT, she wanted to use her knowledge of mechanical and ocean engineering to make the world a better place. Luckily, she found the perfect senior capstone class project: supporting sustainable seafood by helping aquaculture farmers grow oysters. “It’s our responsibility to use our skills and opportunities to work on problems that really matter,” says Kornberg, who...

A system for designing and training intelligent soft robots | MIT News
December 7, 2021

Let’s say you wanted to build the world’s best stair-climbing robot. You’d need to optimize for both the brain and the body, perhaps by giving the bot some high-tech legs and feet, coupled with a powerful algorithm to enable the climb.  Although design of the physical body and its brain, the “control,” are key ingredients to letting the robot move, existing benchmark environments favor only the latter....

Generating a realistic 3D world | MIT News
December 7, 2021

While standing in a kitchen, you push some metal bowls across the counter into the sink with a clang, and drape a towel over the back of a chair. In another room, it sounds like some precariously stacked wooden blocks fell over, and there’s an epic toy car crash. These interactions with our environment are just some of what humans experience on a daily basis at home, but while this world may seem real, it isn’t. A new...

Design’s new frontier | MIT News
November 19, 2021

In the 1960s, the advent of computer-aided design (CAD) sparked a revolution in design. For his PhD thesis in 1963, MIT Professor Ivan Sutherland developed Sketchpad, a game-changing software program that enabled users to draw, move, and resize shapes on a computer. Over the course of the next few decades, CAD software reshaped how everything from consumer products to buildings and airplanes were designed. “CAD was part...

Giving robots social skills | MIT News
November 13, 2021

Robots can deliver food on a college campus and hit a hole-in-one on the golf course, but even the most sophisticated robot can’t perform basic social interactions that are critical to everyday human life. MIT researchers have now incorporated certain social interactions into a framework for robotics, enabling machines to understand what it means to help or hinder one another, and to learn to perform these social...

Dexterous robotic hands manipulate thousands of objects with ease | MIT News
November 13, 2021

At just one year old, a baby is more dexterous than a robot. Sure, machines can do more than just pick up and put down objects, but we’re not quite there as far as replicating a natural pull toward exploratory or sophisticated dexterous manipulation goes.  Artificial intelligence firm OpenAI gave it a try with Dactyl (meaning “finger,” from the Greek word “daktylos”), using their humanoid robot hand to solve a...

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