NASA’s snake robot is designed to search out life in the icy oceans of a Saturn moon

The snake robot form factor has existed for decades. In addition to the diversity it adds to the world of automation, the design has several pragmatic attributes. The first is redundancy, which allows

Top robotics names discuss humanoids, generative AI and more

Last month, I took an extended break. In a bid to keep my robotics newsletter Actuator (subscribe here) up and running, however, I reached out to some of the biggest names in the industry. I asked peo

Robotics Q&A: CMU’s Matthew Johnson-Roberson

[A version of this Q&A first appeared in TechCrunch’s weekly robotics newsletter, Actuator. Subscribe here.] Over the next few weeks, TechCrunch will be running a series of Q&As with som

Human toddlers are inspiring new approaches to robot learning

It’s an exciting time for robotic learning. Organizations have spent decades building complex datasets and pioneering different ways to teach systems to perform new tasks. It seems we’re on the cu

Robots learn to perform chores by watching YouTube

Learning has been a holy grail in robotics for decades. If these systems are going to thrive in unpredictable environments, they’ll need to do more than just respond to programming — they’ll

Pieter Abbeel and Ken Goldberg on generative AI applications

I’ll admit that I’ve tiptoed around the topic a bit in Actuator due to its sudden popularity (SEO gods be damned). I’ve been in this business long enough to instantly be suspicious of hype cycle

CMU taught a robot dog to walk a balance beam

Hype machines

The age-old question in my industry is, “Where are we in a given hype cycle?” For now, crypto news cycle dominance has, thankfully, died now, largely through its own self-destructive tende

FRIDA’s robot arm attempts to bring DALL-E-style AI art to real-world canvases

One could make a very reasonable argument that FRIDA (Framework and Robotics Initiative for Developing Arts) is as much a thought experiment as it is a research project. Certainly it butts up against

Are universities doing enough to foster robotics startups?

A few years ago, I got in the habit of asking researchers the titular question: Are universities doing enough to foster robotics startups? To a one, the answer was invariably, “no.” It was a massi

Teaching home robots to learn by watching people

Robotic learning has quickly become of automation’s most vibrant categories — and understandably so. Programming a robot has traditionally required a lot of technical know-how, but what if the

Announcing the full agenda for TC Sessions: Robotics happening this July

We’re extremely excited we can finally unveil the agenda for this year’s TC Sessions: Robotics happening 100% online on July 21. It’s a tremendous labor of love for our team, and something w

Finally, VR for your mouth

Teams have tried a number of different ways to get the lower half of the face into the act with VR. That includes, and I’m quoting directly here, “a tiny robotic arm that could flick a feather acr

Optimus Not-Ready-for-Prime-Time?

So, yeah, kicking off another installment of the newsletter by talking a bit about our upcoming robotics event. Honestly, this panel is a special one, though. It’s one I’d been thinking about befo

Controlling your phone with your eyes

Eye-tracking has long been one of the those computing holy grails. Whether it’s accessibility concerns, opening up new form factors or just trying to put a novel spin on the ways we interact with ou

Dough, drones, bananas and berries

I last spoke with Bill Peduto over the summer. It was an exit interview of sorts, closing out eight years serving as Pittsburgh’s mayor. This week, Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) announced that th

Better learning through ‘complex dough-manipulation’

A disproportionate number of the early industrial food-making robots we’ve seen have been focused on pizza. I’ve long posited that this is for two key reasons. First: People like pizza. We eat a l

Putting the autonomous cart before the robotic horse

I’m writing this fresh off hosting TechCrunch Live this week with Jonathan Hurst of Agility Robotics and Bruce Leak of Playground Global. I’ll be posting more about the session later this week, bu

Business, school

Before we get started, two quick notes. We’re launching Actuator as a newsletter in a few short weeks! Make sure you’re in on the ground floor by signing up (for free!) over here. Also, the powers

CMU’s new Robotics Institute director on the future of robot research

After two years serving in an interim capacity, Professor Srinivasa Narasimhan will be stepping aside as Carnegie Mellon welcomes the sixth director of its Robotics Institute. A graduate of CMU’s Sc
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