iRobot Finally Making a Robot Lawnmower

Image of iRobot Terra Robotic Mower setup via iRobot

Although they’re usually expensive and difficult to set up, robot lawnmowers have been growing in popularity over the past decade as people get more used to robots and get more lazy. Companies like Honda, Husqvarna, and Worx have had robot lawnmowers on the market for a while, with prices ranging from $600 up to $2,800. Now robot vacuum king iRobot is said to be entering the market with an as-yet-unpriced autonomous lawnmower called Terra.

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The flying surveyor: Civdrone speeds construction surveying

I started out my career as a civil engineer, and at the time I graduated (late 1970s), students had to take two semesters of surveying classes. For civil engineering projects, it’s often necessary to track how earth is being moved, and up until this time that’s required the labor-intensive work of land surveyors to measure elevations above or below a baseline (usually sea level) at precise points on the ground. An Israeli startup, Civdrone, wants to automate that process with a device that can be attached to commercially-available drones.

Civdrone’s device and software allow a drone to survey the land using its GPS system, then land and drive survey stakes into the soil without needing to send out a survey team. The survey stakes are marked with a QR code that can be read by the construction team, giving them data and instructions. (Video embedded below: if it doesn’t appear, reload the web page)

Civdrone co-founder Tom Yeshurun says that “A single drone and its operator can replace up to four teams a day,” and he added that drones can also work at night without good lighting. Many human land surveyors are sitting in bars by that point…

Robo-sperm could enable targeted drug delivery in humans ↗️

Via LiveScience:

Scientists in the United Kingdom have turned to the humble human sperm in their quest to design the ultimate swimming robot.

Made of a tiny magnetic head and squiggly elastic tail, the flea-size drones look and swim much like their spermy counterparts, with a few big differences: These swimmers are guided by shifting electromagnetic currents, controlled externally by scientists. Oh, and also: They won’t get you pregnant.

I love the last line: “Oh, and they won’t get you pregnant”

Japan’s MINERVA rovers send photos from asteroid 162173 Ryugu ↗️

Via PetaPixel:

A week after giving us the first photo from the surface of asteroid 162173 Ryugu, Japan’s MINERVA rovers have just sent back new views of the asteroid’s surface, including the first video ever from an asteroid’s surface.

MINERVA-II2 (AKA Rover 1B) captured 15 frames over 74 minutes on September 23rd of the sun “traveling” across the “sky.” When played back in sequence, the images become a video of the rover’s view, captured 174 million miles (280M km) away from Earth.

The images of the surface of Ryugu have a surreal quality to them. It’s great to see that Japan’s space agency JAXA is having great success with this innovative mission.

Our new cyborg cockroach overlords are under development ↗️

Via AAAS EurekAlert!

A tiny neuro-controller created by researchers at the University of Connecticut could provide more precise control of futuristic biobots, such as cyborg cockroaches that are already being tested for use in search and rescue missions inside collapsed buildings.

Scientists have spent the better part of the past decade exploring ways to tether live insects to miniaturized computer hardware so they can manipulate an insect’s movement. Such possibilities are of interest to the U.S. Department of Defense, search and rescue teams, and others.

Seriously, what could go wrong with a horde of cyborg Madagascar Hissing cockroaches when control falls into the wrong hands…. 😱

Popcorn-powered robots ↗️

Cornell University, via AAAA EurekAlert!

The study is the first to consider powering robots with popcorn, which is inexpensive, readily available, biodegradable and of course, edible. Since kernels can expand rapidly, exerting force and motion when heated, they could potentially power miniature jumping robots. Edible devices could be ingested for medical procedures. The mix of hard, unpopped granules and lighter popped corn could replace fluids in soft robots without the need for air pumps or compressors.

“Pumps and compressors tend to be more expensive, and they add a lot of weight and expense to your robot,” said Ceron, the paper’s lead author. “With popcorn, in some of the demonstrations that we showed, you just need to apply voltage to get the kernels to pop, so it would take all the bulky and expensive parts out of the robots.”

What a great and simple solution to a mechanical problem!