Posts with «robots» label

Boston Dynamics unveils an all-electric version of its Atlas robot

When Boston Dynamics announced on Tuesday it was retiring the hydraulic version of Atlas, there were a few hints that the company wasn't done with humanoid robots entirely. Sure enough, one day later, Boston Dynamics has unveiled an all-electric model.

Atlas was originally envisioned as a search-and-rescue robot and Boston Dynamics claims the latest model is designed for real-world applications. It calls Atlas "the world’s most dynamic humanoid robot" and it certainly looks limber. 

A video shows Atlas lying prostrate and flipping its feet over to push itself up into a standing position. The robot then turns its head 180 degrees, followed by its torso. The rotations of the legs and the rest of the body are a little unnerving, but it's an impressive display of balance and flexibility. 

The electric Atlas appears sleeker than its predecessor, which looked slightly like a person wearing an exosuit. Rather than having a face with human features, Atlas' featureless head looks a bit like a ring light.

Boston Dynamics says parent company Hyundai's next generation of automotive manufacturing tech is the "perfect testing ground for new Atlas applications." It plans to show off what the robot can really do over the coming months and years, and to put Atlas through its paces with a small group of partners at first.

The company is looking into new gripper systems to make sure Atlas is suitable for a range of commercial needs while building on the previous parkour-capable model's ability to lift and move a variety of heavy and irregular objects. It claims that the new Atlas will be stronger than before and it's confident that it can commercialize a humanoid robot.

"Atlas may resemble a human form factor, but we are equipping the robot to move in the most efficient way possible to complete a task, rather than being constrained by a human range of motion. Atlas will move in ways that exceed human capabilities," Boston Dynamics wrote in a blog post. "Combining decades of practical experience with first principles thinking, we are confident in our ability to deliver a robot uniquely capable of tackling dull, dirty and dangerous tasks in real applications."

Boston Dynamics is hardly the only company working on a humanoid robot. Tesla, of course, has one in the pipeline, while Menteebot, which can be controlled using natural-language voice commands emerged just this morning. 

However, Boston Dynamics has been working on robots with this form factor for well over a decade, far longer than most. As things stand, it may be best positioned to get a humanoid robot into workplaces and even homes. Before that though, you might expect to see some videos in which the electric Atlas shows off some slick dance moves.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

This hopping robot with flailing legs could explore asteroids in the future

Over the past two-and-a-half years, a group of students from ETH Zurich have been developing a robot with three spindly legs that was designed to be able to hop like an insect in microgravity. That's right — the curious little machine was built for space, specifically for the exploration of small celestial bodies like asteroids and moons. SpaceHopper, as the robot is called, could thus provide us more information to advance our understanding of life's origin, of the origin of water on our planet and of asteroids as potential providers of valuable resources. 

It has no preferred orientation, so it can go in any direction, and it has nine motors that give it the capability to jump long distances in low-gravity environments. The robot can even self-right after landing, ensuring the safety of any scientific payload it may carry. Since SpaceHopper was made for use on asteroids and moons, which have very little gravity compared to Earth, it has to be tested under conditions similar to those environments first. To see if it will actually work as intended, the students and the European Space Agency have recently taken the robot on a parabolic flight that creates a zero gravity environment when the aircraft freefalls. Apparently, they had no idea if SpaceHopper would be able to move as they intended in zero gravity scenarios and seeing that it actually worked was a "massive weight off [their] shoulders."

You can watch SpaceHopper flail about in the test flight below:

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Menteebot is a human-sized AI robot that you command with natural language

The whole world is ragging on a barely functional $700 AI pin at the moment, but what if similar tech was squeezed into a gigantic robot that lives in your home? That’s a worst case scenario for the recently-introduced Menteebot, a human-sized robot that’s stuffed to the brim with AI-adjacent bells and whistles.

It’s being advertised as the “personalized AI-based robot you can mentor.” It can run, walk sideways and even turn, all “with the same balance and control as a human.” Manufacturer Mentee Robotics also says it’ll adjust its gait when lifting heavy objects. It should be able to lift these heavy objects with ease due to the fact that it’s, well, absolutely gigantic. Many of the models also have no head, which certainly doesn’t recall any old-time myths about a scary demon on a horse.

Now, we’ve had humanoid robots for a while. There was Honda’s Asimo, which has been sadly discontinued, and the army of nightmare creatures that Boston Dynamics is busy cooking up. Agility Robotics has been building out its robot assistant Digit and Elon Musk, who never makes false promises ever swear to God, says that Tesla is working on a humanoid robot called Optimus.

There’s one major difference between the aforementioned bots and Mentee’s creation. Menteebot is stuffed with AI algorithms, natural language processing models and software that unlocks “advanced training techniques.” The company says that this means the robot is “not bound to a limited set of commands” and that it can even hold conversations with humans. As a matter of fact, users issue commands to the robot via natural language. 

It’s a robot with two arms and two legs that can, in theory, do many of the same things we do. The company says that we can train it to do these things. This seems to sort of work like another controversial piece of AI tech, the Rabbit R1. To teach Menteebot a new task, you run a simulated version of the bot through a digital version of the task. The software completes the task over and over until it figures it out. Then the robot should be able to complete the task in the real world. This seems like an extremely lofty promise, but we’ll wait to see the final result. Here’s hoping it doesn't hallucinate and do whatever the heck it wants like other bits of AI tech. 

Menteebot does look quite agile. There are tons of videos of the robot being put through its paces. It can run and the arms and hands “present a full range of motion and enough accuracy to perform delicate tasks.” To that end, there’s a video of it gently handing a piece of dinnerware to a person.

While it’s highly unlikely this robot will live up to the initial promotional materials when it arrives in 2025 (just look at the initial promises Humane made for the AI pin), it still seems pretty darned cool. There’s no announced price, but it’s certainly going to be a whole lot more than the aforementioned $700 pin. This is an agile humanoid robot that weighs over 150 pounds. 

Menteebot will be available in two flavors. There’s the residential bot, which is forced to do household chores, and the commercial bot, which is forced to do manual labor. No matter which you choose, for heaven’s sake, be extra nice to the thing. Don’t boss it around. Let it sit at the dinner table. Keep it away from the vast majority of sci-fi. It can watch Star Trek: The Next Generation, maybe, as Data seems like a decent enough role model.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Boston Dynamics sends Atlas to the robot retirement home

Nearly 11 years after it first showed off its current humanoid robot, Boston Dynamics is retiring Atlas. The DARPA-funded robot was designed with search and rescue missions in mind, with the idea that it would be able to enter areas that were unsafe for humans to carry out a range of tasks. However, Atlas became a bit of a star thanks to videos showing off its slick dance moves and impressive feats of strength, agility and balance. Fittingly, Atlas is trotting off into the sunset with one final YouTube video.

"For almost a decade, Atlas has sparked our imagination, inspired the next generations of roboticists, and leapt over technical barriers in the field," the YouTube description reads. "Now it’s time for our hydraulic Atlas robot to kick back and relax."

Boston Dynamics' farewell to Atlas doesn't just show some of the cool things the robot can do. It's a bit of a blooper reel as well. Along with hurling a toolbag and leaping between platforms, Atlas slips, trips and falls a bunch of times in the clip — oddly enough, that makes it seem more human.

Boston Dynamics of course has more commercially successful robots in its lineup, including Spot. It's likely not the end of the line for the company's humanoid robots entirely, though. "Take a look back at everything we’ve accomplished with the Atlas platform to date," reads the description on the farewell video. Those last two words suggest Boston Dynamics isn't quite done with that side of robotics yet.

Engadget has contacted the company for details about its future humanoid robot development plans. For now, it seems Atlas could be looking for a Wednesday afternoon dance partner at a robot retirement home.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

iRobot says its new robot vacuum and mop outperforms 600 Series Roombas for $275

Robot vacuums are handy little devices that can help folks save a ton of time and energy. However, some of the more well-known options are often a bit pricey, especially when a mopping function comes into the mix. As it happens, iRobot has revealed a relatively budget-friendly 2-in-1 robot vacuum and mop. It says the $275 Roomba Combo Essential actually outperforms the Roomba 600 Series thanks to 20 times more suction power, and the addition of a mop and smart navigation.

According to iRobot, this model offers 25 percent better performance at picking up dirt from hard floors than the Roomba 600 Series. It's also said to have a longer battery life at up to 120 minutes, the ability to clean in neat rows, customizable suction and liquid settings, Clean Map reports and intelligent settings such as suggested cleaning schedules.

Although you can set up cleanings in advance, you can start one at any time with an Alexa, Siri or Google Assistant voice command. Alternatively, you can press the Clean button or tap a button in the iRobot Home app to put the device to work right away.


The device has a four-stage cleaning system that includes adjustable suction and liquid settings, a v-shaped multi-surface brush, an edge-sweeping brush and a pump-fed microfiber mop pad. For vacuum-only operation (i.e if you're looking to remove dirt from a rug), you'll need to remove the mop pad first. That adds a little bit of friction to using this model. There's another trade-off in that this isn't a self-emptying Roomba — you'll need to empty out the dirt storage bin manually more often.

Still, this seems like a solid Roomba at an eye-catching price. It's available in Europe, the Middle East and Africa now, and iRobot will start selling it in the US on April 7 and Canada on April 12. The Roomba Combo Essential will reach Asia Pacific markets later this month. Folks in the US can trade in a Roomba 600 Series for a $50 credit toward a Roomba Combo Essential

In addition, iRobot is rolling out a model called the Roomba Vac Essential in North America. It has the same smart functions and other similar features as the Combo Essential, but there's no mop. That robot vacuum will cost $250 and it'll land in the US on April 7 and Canada on April 12.

Meanwhile, iRobot says it has reached a new milestone. Since debuting the Roomba in 2002, the company has sold more than 50 million robots.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Apple is developing personal robots for your home, Bloomberg says

Apple is still on the hunt for the next revolutionary product to help it remain dominant in the market and to serve as new sources of revenue after abandoning its plans to develop an electric vehicle of its own. According to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, one of the areas the company is exploring is personal robotics. It reportedly started looking into robots and electric vehicles at the same time, with the hopes of developing a machine that doesn't need human intervention. 

While Apple's robotics projects are still in the very early stages, Bloomberg said it had already started working on a mobile robot that can follow users around their home and had already developed a table-top device that uses a robot to move a screen around. The idea behind the latter is to have a machine that can mimic head movements and can lock on to a single person in a group, presumably for a better video call experience. Since these robots are supposed to be able to move on their own, the company is also looking into the use of algorithms for navigation. Based on the report, Apple's home devices group is in charge of their development, and at least one engineer who worked on its scrapped EV initiative has joined the team. 

Robots, however, aren't like phones in the sense that people these days need them in their lives. Apple is apparently worried about whether people would pay "top dollar" for the robots it has in mind, and executives still can't get to an agreement on whether the company should keep working on these projects. Gurman previously reported that Apple may have sold its EV for $100,000 — if that's true, it had a bigger potential to grow the company's revenue. But the Apple Car is now out of the picture, and the company is reportedly putting all of its focus on the Vision Pro and new products for the home, which also includes a home hub device with a display that resembles an iPad. Of course, Apple could still scrap these projects, and it could find other classes of products to invest in if it discovers that they could bring in bigger money in the future. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

This Shark robot vacuum and mop is nearly half off right now

It's spring cleaning season, but that doesn't mean you need to get on the floor and scrub. Robot vacuums are a great way to keep your home clean while doing little to nothing, and a few robovacs from Shark are currently on sale. One of the best deals comes courtesy of a 44 percent discount on Shark's AI Robot Vacuum and Mop. The device is down to $270 from $480 — only $20 more than its all-time low price.

Shark's AI Robot Vacuum and Mop is a great option for anyone looking to try a robot vacuum or upgrade their entry-level model. It's nearly identical to Shark's much pricier Ultra 2-in-1 Robot Vacuum and Mop, which appears on our list of the best robot vacuums for 2024 — it just doesn't have a self-emptying base. 

The AI Robot Vacuum and Mop does have quite a few gadgets, including home mapping and AI laser navigation for detecting row-by-row precision and detecting objects four inches or taller. The mop executes 100 scrubs per minute and follows no-mop zones. You can use UltraClean mode on specific, busier rooms, with Shark claiming vacuum work 30 percent better at cleaning carpets in the setting. 

Follow @EngadgetDeals on Twitter and subscribe to the Engadget Deals newsletter for the latest tech deals and buying advice.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Get up to 49 percent off Roborock robot vacuums during the Amazon Big Spring Sale

Roborock robot vacuums are up to 49 percent off as part of the Amazon spring sale. All told, dozens of items are available for a discounted price, from standard robot vacuums to manual cleaners.

The most enticing offer here is likely the company’s flagship S8+ robot vacuum, which is 30 percent off. That drops the price down to $700, a record low for the device. This is a vacuum/mop hybrid that automatically deposits debris into an affiliated dock. Roborock says the dock is large enough, at 2.5 liters, to store up to seven weeks of dirt and dust before requiring a trip to the trash can.

It’s also powerful enough to clean hardwood, tiles, carpets and even thick rugs. It boasts the same kind of light and infrared imaging technology as rival robovacs, so it’ll automatically avoid floor-based hazards. The affiliated app gives access to a 3D map of the space, allowing people to adjust cleaning routes as they see fit. We have consistently enjoyed Roborock vacuums, though have found the app to be a bit on the wonky side.

The company’s Q5 robot vacuum is also on sale for $220, which is a 49 percent price drop. This is an entry-level product that lacks many of the premium features found with the S8+, but it’s still a great choice for simple cleaning tasks. The Q5 can easily handle pet hair, dust, dirt and all manner of debris, though there’s no mop feature. The battery does last for three hours before requiring a charge, which is a decent metric. It also integrates with voice assistants.

Other deals include the Roborock Q8 Max, which features a mop but lacks a self-emptying dock, for $400, and the Dyad Pro combo wet/dry manual vacuum. This cordless vac is $460 throughout the sale period, which is a discount of 30 percent.

Follow @EngadgetDeals on Twitter and subscribe to the Engadget Deals newsletter for the latest tech deals and buying advice.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Here's a video of the first human Neuralink patient controlling a computer with his thoughts

Earlier this year, Elon Musk announced that the first human patient had received a Neuralink brain implant as part of the company’s first clinical trial. Now, the company has shared a brief public demo of the brain-computer interface (BCI) in action.

The company briefly live streamed a demo on X with a 29-year-old man named Nolan Arbaugh, who said he was paralyzed from the neck down after a diving accident eight years ago. In the video, Arbaugh explains that after receiving the implant — he said the surgery was “super easy” — he had to learn how to differentiate “imagined movement versus attempted movement” in order to learn to control a cursor on a screen.

“A lot of what we started out with was attempting to move,” Arbaugh said. “I would attempt to move, say, my right hand left, right forward, back. And from there, I think it just became intuitive for me to start imagining the cursor moving.”

— Neuralink (@neuralink) March 20, 2024

In the clip, which also features a Neuralink engineer, Arbaugh demonstrates the BCI by moving a cursor around the screen of a laptop, and pausing an on-screen music player. He said the implant has allowed him to play chess and Civilization VI. He noted that he has previously used other assistive devices like mouthsticks, but that the Neuralink implant has enabled longer gaming sessions, as well as online play. He said that he can get about eight hours of use before the implant needs to recharge (it’s not clear how charging works).

Arbaugh became the first human patient to receive the implant in January after Neuralink began recruiting patients last year. The company previously tested the BCI in animals, including chimps, and some of its animal testing practices have been the subject of federal investigations.

In the video, Arbaugh indicated his experience with the brain implant has so far been positive, despite some initial issues. “It's not perfect, I would say that we have run into some issues,” he said. “I don't want people to think that this is the end of the journey. There's a lot of work to be done, but it has already changed my life.”

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Dyson enters the US robot vacuum market with the 360 Vis Nav

Dyson’s one of the biggest players in the cordless vacuum and air purifier space (and, more recently, hair styling as well), but it’s kept a relatively low profile in the robot vacuum market. Today, the company’s bringing its latest robot vacuum to the US and Canada. After being available in other regions, the Dyson 360 Vis Nav is now available to order in the US for a whopping $1,199 from Dyson direct and other retailers like Amazon.

While we haven’t had the chance to test the 360 Vis Nav yet, we were able to get more details from Dyson about how the new robot vacuum works. A few things stand out as departures from traditional robot vacuums, the first being the 360-degree vision system that uses a camera on the top-center of the robot to map out your home as it cleans. Home mapping isn’t new in this space, but Dyson claims that the images captured by this vision system will help the machine better understand the layout of your home, including where obstacles like furniture live, make note of corners and edges and help it recognize where it’s cleaned and where it still needs to go to finish a job. The camera is surrounded by eight LEDs that balance exposure and better help the robovac navigate in low-light situations as well.

Second, whereas most robot vacuums use small sweepers to collect dust bunnies hiding in room corners and along furniture edges, Dyson’s machine has a side-edge actuator that opens automatically when cleaning spaces like these. It then uses suction to collect debris, which Dyson claims provides an even more thorough cleanup. I’m eager to see how this works in practice because cleaning the corners of rooms is one of the hardest things for a robot vacuum to do right, even for those that have the advantage of a D-shaped design like the 360 Vis Nav.

Finally, Dyson’s robot vacuum uses a Piezo sensor similar to those found in the company’s stick vacs to detect dirt and, subsequently, help the machine do a couple of things: kick up its suction power to the max 65 air watts when necessary, and create a heatmap in the My Dyson app of the dirtiest parts of your home. This sounds like a more useful application for a piezo sensor than that of Dyson’s cordless vacuums; I found in my testing that seeing how many dirt particles you’re sucking up with a manual vacuum might be fun to watch change on a digital display as you clean, but it’s not very actionable once you’re done vacuuming. But in this application, particularly with the heatmap, that information can show you areas of your home you may want to clean more often and you can program the 360 Vis Nav to only clean those spots from within the app.

The Dyson 360 Vis Nav has a similar design to some of the higher-end robot vacuums on the market right now, with two squared-off edges that help it get into room corners more easily. Under the hood, it has a Hyperdymium motor and a removable filter, plus a triple-action brush bar that spans the entire width of the machine, something you don’t often see in competing robot vacuums. Naturally, the cleaning surfaces borrow a lot from those on the company’s stick vacs: there are carbon fiber bristles and stiff nylon bristles for deep-cleaning carpets and a “fluffy” softer nylon surface that’s better on hard floors. The whole machine is HEPA-compliant, which means air that’s been sucked up cannot escape through other parts of the machine, making it better at trapping microscopic particles like allergens and dust mites.

Dyson may have waited a bit to enter the US robot vacuum market, but it appears it wanted to find the right ways of integrating technology from its cordless vacuums into this space before doing so. On paper, that technology could set the 360 Vis Nav apart from other robot vacuums when it comes to raw suction power. When we’re able to get testing time with the device, I’ll be interested to try out its four cleaning modes (Auto, Boost, Quick and Quiet), see if the advertised 65-minute runtime (in Auto Mode) actually holds up and judge how robust and easy to use the My Dyson app is.

But what already sets the 360 Vis Nav apart from the competition is its sky-high, $1,199 price tag. That’s a price we’ve only seen on robot vacuums that come with self-emptying bases, and the 360 Vis Nav doesn’t have one of those (its dock only recharges). But this won’t be a surprise if you’re familiar with other Dyson products, which are often priced at a premium.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at