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June 18, 2013 > The Robot Report

The Robot Report

By Frank Tobe

Bionic Leg

The Tibion Bionic Leg won the 2013 IERA (Invention and Entrepreneurship Award in Robotics and Automation) Prize at the recent ICRA Conference in Karlsruhe, Germany. The device is not a prosthesis (artificial limb), or a device a patient wears indefinitely. It is a robotic aid worn during therapy sessions over weeks or months, until the patient recovers their gait so they can walk without it. Tibion was recently acquired by AlterG, a rehab products company.

Digital sensor

The new Kinect uses an infrared light to illuminate whatever is in front of the sensor; pixels of an infrared camera watch for each pulse to reflect back. Just like radar, distance is calculated by the time it takes for light to reach a particular pixel and reflect back. The new Kinect can process six people at a time and, instead of wire-frame skeletal tracking from the past, can now track fingers, muscle and force, facial expressions, joint orientation in light or dark without distortion from side or inconsistent light sources.


The Northrop Grumman X-47B unmanned aircraft made its first aircraft carrier launch the week of May 15, 2013. Two days later they spent the whole day doing touch-and-go take-offs and landings.

The US Navy's Naval Research Lab (NRL) flew a UAV for 48 hours, breaking a fuel-cell-for-flight record. The UAV was powered by a liquid hydrogen fuel in a cryogenic fuel storage tank and delivery system.

In the UK, two pilots didn't have anything to do as their BAE Systems passenger aircraft flew from Lancashire to Inverness, Scotland controlled by a pilot in Warton using advanced sensors and on-board robotic systems.

iRobot's SUGV's will be getting a new "batwing" fix which adds a collapsible hook that affixes to a telescoping pole to better examine IEDs.

In Saskatoon, Canada, RC Mounties launched a Draganflyer UAS equipped with FLIR (forward-looking infrared), to find and save the life of a disoriented man in a field on a cold night.


A new start-up being spun off from the IRIS labs at the ETH in Zurich, Switzerland offers promise of robotically-controlled catheters to support cardiac procedures.
Aeon Scientific's new technology is also a platform for other medical applications including targeted drug delivery. Magnetics enable moving a micron-sized medicine delivery system in the retina of an eye, steering it to an exact spot.

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