Digging, levitating, climbing: a raft of new robots

May 12, 2011 | Source: New Scientist One Per Cent

This week in Shanghai, more than 1,700 engineers and businesspeople are convening to demo and discuss the latest in robotics, from iRobot’s PackBot cleaning up the¬†Fukushima reactor to burrowing worm robots and cameras that levitate magnetically inside the body.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ (IEEE) International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) included a presentation from the Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) on a burrowing worm robot with an auger head that could be used to take samples below the surface of planets like Mars. The worm robot uses an oscillating motion to burrow through a granular substrate.

Researchers at the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies in Pisa, Italy presented a new mobile, magnetically levitating camera robot for insertion into the body during minimally invasive keyhole surgery. This gives the camera 80 degrees of rotational freedom and makes it less likely to obscure areas of surgical interest.