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Summary:

Drones, humanoids and 3D printers emerged this week to showcase to the public what the country’s best labs are working on.

USC Viterbi robot open house
photo: Signe Brewster

The University of Southern California’s robots usually lurk in dim basement labs and rooms tucked at the end of winding corridors. They didn’t actually emerge on Thursday, but the public was invited inside for an intimate look at what the school’s engineering and artificial intelligence experts have been building.

First, meet the ARM robot, which uses a camera and depth sensors to see an object and pressure pads on its hands to register when it has grasped an object.

USC Viterbi robot open house

This cute little guy is the NAO robot, which pops up at a lot of robot expos doing very different things. I’ve seen it play soccer and act as a social companion. But at USC it was actually leading an exercise session, inviting its observers to do lunges, squats and jumping jacks. It acted out each movement.

USC Viterbi robot open house

USC’s other interactive robots included Romibo, dressed up like a dragon…

USC Viterbi robot open house

…and the school’s Bandit-II robot, which invited participants to copy its movements. If they messed up, it made them start all over again. Bandit-II’s lips and eyebrows move, giving it a wide range of emotions.

USC Viterbi robot open house

One of  the more unique robots was the EcoMapper: an autonomous underwater robot that can collect data on water quality and map the floors of bodies of water.

USC Viterbi robot open house

The Zeus 3D printer also made an appearance. When I wrote about the Zeus last year, most of the images were renderings. But now the machine is very real. I saw it print and scan, and got a glimpse of the beautiful user interface its team promised.

Zeus 3D printer

National Robotics Week events are going on through Sunday all over the country. Check out events near you here.

  1. Very low tech compared to rest of the world

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  2. Thanks for visiting the USC Viterbi Robotics Open House and bringing attention to the socially and environmentally assistive robotics research happening at USC! Here’s the Robotics Symposium taking place 4/15 http://www.cs.usc.edu/research/2nd-usc-symposium-futures-of-robotics.htm

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