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  • News

    How Twitter bots get people to spread fake news

    To spread misinformation like wildfire, bots will strike a match on social media but then urge people to fan the flames.

    Automated Twitter accounts, called bots, helped spread bogus articles during and after the 2016 U.S. presidential election by making the content appear popular enough that human users would trust it and share it more widely, researchers report online November 20 in...

    11/20/2018 - 11:00 Robotics, Science & Society
  • News in Brief

    A new robot decides how and when to transform to get the job done

    A robot made of several smaller robotic pieces can autonomously transform its body into shapes best suited for a particular task. 

    The bot primarily consists of wheeled, cubic “modules” that link up with one another using magnets, forming a small assortment of body types reminiscent of cars or snakes. The brains of the operation reside in a specialized module equipped with cameras and a...

    10/31/2018 - 14:00 Robotics, Technology
  • News in Brief

    A new palm-sized drone is mini, but mighty

    A new type of mini drone can pull a lot more than its own weight.

    The drone latches onto a surface and uses a cable to reel in objects up to 40 times its mass, researchers report. This feat is a marked improvement over other flying robots, which generally can’t tote objects heavier than about their own weight (SN: 2/7/15, p. 18). The new palm-sized flyer, described October 24 in Science...

    10/24/2018 - 14:00 Robotics, Technology
  • Teaser

    Self-driving cars see better with cameras that mimic mantis shrimp vision

    To help self-driving cars drive safely, scientists are looking to an unlikely place: the sea.

    A new type of camera inspired by the eyes of mantis shrimps could help autonomous vehicles better gauge their surroundings, researchers report October 11 in Optica. The camera — which detects polarized light, or light waves vibrating on a single plane —  has roughly half a million sensors that...

    10/12/2018 - 07:00 Robotics, Animals
  • News

    Fiberglass-spinning robots could be construction workers of the future

    Much like a silkworm uses a single thread to swaddle itself in a cocoon, a new kind of robot spins a single strand of material around its body to build custom-shaped fiberglass structures.

    The new robots could create customized construction materials on-site, unlike other industrious bots that assemble premade building blocks (SN: 3/22/14, p. 8). Fleets of the fiberglass-spinning bots...

    09/26/2018 - 14:00 Robotics, Technology
  • News

    High-tech ‘skins’ turn everyday objects into robots

    A new type of soft robot gets its power from the skin it’s in.

    Robotic skin that bends, stretches and contracts can wrap around inanimate objects like stuffed animals, foam tubes or balloons to create flexible, lightweight robots. Removable, reusable sheets of this artificial skin, described online September 19 in Science Robotics, could also be used to build grippers or wearable devices...

    09/19/2018 - 14:00 Materials, Robotics, Technology
  • News in Brief

    This flying robot could reveal secrets of the aerial world of insects

    A new winged robot helps explain why airborne insects are so doggone hard to swat.

    Scientists have wondered how these tiny pilots pull off such rapid twists and turns, but researchers haven’t been able to test all their ideas by monitoring real insects or using tethered robots. Now, a free-flying, insect-inspired robot, described in the Sept. 14 Science, gives researchers an alternative...

    09/13/2018 - 14:00 Robotics, Animals
  • News

    Here’s what robots could learn from fire ants

    Robots, take note: When working in tight, crowded spaces, fire ants know how to avoid too many cooks in the kitchen.

    Observations of fire ants digging an underground nest reveal that a few industrious ants do most of the work while others dawdle. Computer simulations confirm that, while this strategy may not be the fairest, it is the most efficient because it helps reduce overcrowding in...

    08/16/2018 - 14:04 Robotics, Animals, Technology
  • News

    Children may be especially vulnerable to peer pressure from robots

    Peer pressure can be tough for kids to resist, even if it comes from robots.

    School-aged children tend to echo the incorrect but unanimous responses of a group of robots to a simple visual task, a new study finds. In contrast, adults who often go along with the errant judgments of human peers resist such social pressure applied by robots, researchers report August 15 in Science Robotics...

    08/15/2018 - 14:00 Robotics, Psychology
  • News

    With this new system, robots can ‘read’ your mind

    Getting robots to do what we want would be a lot easier if they could read our minds.

    That sci-fi dream might not be so far off. With a new robot control system, a human can stop a bot from making a mistake and get the machine back on track using brain waves and simple hand gestures. People who oversee robots in factories, homes or hospitals could use this setup, to be presented at the...

    06/20/2018 - 00:00 Robotics, Technology