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A foundation for robotics

Ohio State's Adaptive Suspension Vehicle (ASV) and engineers

Ohio State's Adaptive Suspension Vehicle (AVS), nicknamed the "Walker." Developed by electrical engineer Robert McGhee and mechanical engineer Kenneth Waldron, along with a 60-member team of students and technical assistants, the 'Walker' was designed to carry cargo for industrial and military applications over rough, mountainous, icy or muddy terrain.

Credit: The Ohio State University Archives


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A robot arm  developed in the 1970s

This image of a robot arm, developed by the Stanford Research Institute, is similar to the one that appeared in the 1976 NSF Annual Report. The robotic system used computer vision to identify and make decisions about parts on an assembly line. This is one of several projects from that era aimed at improving the productivity of American manufacturing processes.

Credit: SRI International


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ODIN (Omni-Directional Intelligent Navigator) under water

First built in 1991, the Omni-Directional Intelligent Navigator (ODIN) was a sphere-shaped, autonomous underwater robot capable of instantaneous movement in six directions.

Credit: Credit: Autonomous Systems Laboratory, University of Hawaii


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Nursebot, a personal service robot

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh, University of Michigan and Carnegie Mellon University have developed mobile, personal service robots, such as Nursebot, that assist elderly people in their everyday life. An autonomous mobile robot that "lives" in the home of a chronically ill elderly person might remind its owner to take medicine, provide videoconferencing with doctors, collect patient data or watch for accidents, manipulate objects for arthritis sufferers, and provide some social interaction.

Credit: Carnegie Mellon University


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A search-and-rescue robot in action in the aftermath of september 11

From September 12th - 23rd, National Science Foundation-funded researchers aided World Trade Center recovery efforts. University of South Florida engineering professor Robin Murphy and three graduate students took six urban search and rescue robots to "ground zero" in New York to help find survivors. Murphy's 11-day mission was a part of a larger team that recovered remains of six victims. Murphy's robots are unique in that they are small and can maneuver in very tight situations. Tethered and fitted with headlights and cameras, these robots bring distinct advantages to a rescue mission the magnitude of the World Trade Center attacks where the damage is massive and recovery very dangerous. Although they cost between $10,000 and $40,000, Murphy foresees search-and-rescue robots becoming standard equipment in fire departments across the country.

Credit: FEMA


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Robotic bees, or Robobees compared to scale with a penny

Inspired by the biology of a fly, with submillimeter-scale anatomy and two wafer-thin wings that flap almost invisibly, 120 times per second, the Robobee takes its first controlled flight. The culmination of a decade's work, RoboBees achieve vertical takeoff, hovering, and steering.

Credit: Kevin Ma and Pakpong Chirarattananon


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girls playing with simple robotic cubes

Cubelets are magnetic, electronic building blocks, each with a small computer inside, that can be connected in many different ways to move around a table, follow a hand signal, turn on a light, play sounds, or do many other creative tasks. They were developed by Eric Schweikardt and his team at Modular Robotics, with support from the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.

Credit: NSF


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Simon the robot developed at Georgia Tech

Simon the robot was developed by Georgia Tech researcher Andrea Thomaz, whose research is funded by NSF. Using Simon as her student, Thomaz is redefining how robots and humans interact. She sees a future where any "naive user" (or nonprogrammer) could buy a robot, take it home and instruct it to do almost anything. But for this to work, robots need to think like naive users. So Thomaz invites folks from off the street to teach Simon at her Georgia Tech lab. Lessons include everything from clearing the dinner table to sorting objects by color. Based on the results, Thomaz tweaks Simon's algorithms to make him a more efficient communicator and learner.

Credit: Georgia Tech


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