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Butlers, lunar rovers, snakes and airboats: the best of Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Institute

Brian Heater

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How was your week? We got to spend a couple of days trekking around the Carnegie Mellon campus in Pittsburgh, PA to check out some of the latest projects from the school's world renowned Robotics Institute -- a trip that culminated with the bi-annual induction ceremony from the CMU-sponsored Robot Hall of Fame. Given all the craziness of the past seven days, you might have missed some of the awesomeness, but fear not, we've got it all for you here in one handy place -- plus a couple of videos from the trip that we haven't shown you yet. Join us after the break to catch up.

We've seen CMU's modular snake robot pop up every so often, but it still never ceases to amaze us. The 'bot was put through its paces during our visit, demonstrating different pre-programmed "gaits," which allow it to perform different moments, including mimicry of real world counterparts, such as the sidewinder rattlesnake. The 'bot is made up of a series of modules that are identical, save for the front and the last, each containing a number of different features like temperature gauges, accelerometers and their own processing units, so they can easily be swapped out.

Gallery: Carnegie Mellon modular snake robot | 5 Photos

We've also seen these magnetic levitation interface devices from Butterfly Haptics before, but we weren't going to turn down an opportunity to play around with the things. The Maglev 200 features a handle levitated by a magnetic field, letting the user move it around in three dimensions. The company demonstrated some possible use cases such as remote bomb disposal and surgery.

Gallery: Butterfly Haptics Maglev 200 | 4 Photos

A circuit kit "designed for young hands" is at the center of the Children's Innovation Project. Another form of community outreach being helmed by CMU's CREATE Lab, the project aims at teaching school children the fundamentals of electricity, letting them configure kits and "remix" electronic toys.

Gallery: Carnegie Mellon Children's Innovation Project. | 3 Photos

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