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  1. $400,000 Robot Scoops Some Mean POOP

    Ben Cohen and his posse at the GRASP Lab at the University of Pennsylvania have been working on a revolutionary project in robotics. They took a $400,000 PR2 robot, which has been used for such extravagent and sophisticated tasks such as making breakfast and cookies, and programmed it to pick up POOP. You're probably wondering why that's in all caps. Well, it's because POOPs (Potentially Offensive Objects for Pickup) are not necessarily poop, but poop is always a POOP. Logic!

    Using its POOP SCOOP (Perception Of Offensive Products and Sensorized Control Of Object Pickup) protocol the PR2 can scoop POOP and poop with unmatched skill. The bot uses its color cameras to identify POOP, then uses haptics to make sure that the POOP has been effectively scooped. If not, it'll give it another go. So far, the PR2 can scoop 95% percent of POOPs on the first try. Granted, no one will actually use a PR2 to scoop POOP, and this is probably just a silly gimmick, but how can you not love something with POOP and POOP SCOOP acronyms that good.

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  2. Robot Bakes Giant Cookie, Soon to Replace Grandma

    It seems that no job is safe -- not even that of supplying delicious baked goods -- from the encroaching robot horde. Much to the chagrin of grandmas the world over, the PR2 robot at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab has successfully baked a large Chocolate Afgan cookie.

    The project, headed by hungry graduate student Mario Bollini, sounds deceptively simple but has been months in the making, requiring reams of code and careful planning by the whole team. Simply opening and closing the door of the oven was a problem that required much human effort to solve. All the effort paid off and the fruits baked goods of the team's labors appear to be well worth it. Now we just need to get this guy working with the breakfast bots and we might have ourselves a meal! Be sure to read on after the break for video of this thrilling accomplishment for robots everywhere.

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  3. Domestic Robots Make Breakfast

    In a match made in domestic heaven, the robots TUM-James and TUM-Rosie have been used to successfully prepare traditional Bavarian breakfast called Weisswurst Frühstück, made of sausage and bread. The robots have previously been used to make more commonplace pancakes. Their skills in the kitchen undoubtedly make them masters of the first meal of the day.

    James is a PR2 robot. He was built by the U.S. robotics firm Willow Garage, and brought to Germany as part of the PR2Beta Program, which seeks to popularize personal robots. At the Technical University Munich (TUM), James began working alongside Rosie, which is a dual-arm robot. The machines have several similarities in design and operation: they both run Robot Operating Systems (ROS), use Hokuyo laser scanners and Kinect 3D sensors, and have omnidirectional mobile bases.

    But despite their similarities each robot performs their own specific tasks in the kitchen. Led by Dr. Michael Beets and Dr. Bernd Radig from the IAS group at TUM, the James robot goes shopping for items needed to make the meal, in addition to slicing a baguette to accompany the sausages that Rosie boils and serves.

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  4. This Robot Won’t Crush Your Skull, Just Lightly Pincher It

    Remember that robot that folded laundry? Well, it's at it again, earnestly trying to please it's human overlords with mundane household tasks. On the docket today? Fine motor control and tactile cues. Or, in other words, when to let go of an item when someone tries to take it from them, understanding when to stop its movement because it might damage something, and not crushing things with its terrifying robot strength. Even as a PHD student repeatedly tries to mess with it. Laundry folding robot just wants to be your friend. (via Neatorama.)

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