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A new study by MIT researchers finds people are more likely to interact with a smart device if it demonstrates more humanlike attributes, reports Brian Heater for TechCrunch. The researchers found “users are more likely to engage with both the device — and each other — more when it exhibits some form of social cues,” writes Heater. “That can mean something as simple as the face/screen of the device rotating to meet the speaker’s gaze.”


MIT researchers have developed a new technique for producing low-voltage, power-dense actuators that can propel flying microrobots, reports Danica D'Souza for Mashable. “The new technique lets them make soft actuators that can carry 80 percent more payload,” D’Souza reports. 


Gramophone contributor Laurence Vittes spotlights Prof. Tod Machover’s “Death and the Powers,” an opera about robots and humans that has recently been released as an “electrifying surround-sound thriller.” Vittes writes that “Machover’s arsenal of music stands triumphantly on its own, fusing and defusing technoflash from the composer’s MIT Media Lab with rich writing for Gil Rose’s Boston Modern Orchestra ensemble.”


Wired reporter Matt Simon spotlights CSAIL’s ‘Evolution Gym,’ a virtual environment where robot design is entirely computer generated. “There’s a potential to find new, unexpected robot designs, and it also has potential to get more high-performing robots overall,” says Prof. Wojciech Matusik. “If you start from very, very basic structures, how much intelligence can you really create?”

Scientific American

MIT researchers have created a virtual environment for optimizing the design and control of soft robots, reports Prachi Patel for Scientific American. “The future goal is to take any task and say, ‘Design me an optimal robot to complete this task,’” says undergraduate Jagdeep Bhatia.


Tech Crunch reporter Brian Heater spotlights how CSAIL researchers have unveiled a testing simulator for soft robotic designs. “It offers some interesting insights into how compliant robots can adapt to different environmental changes,” writes Heater.


MIT researchers developed a new control system for the mini robotic cheetah that allows the robot to jump and traverse uneven terrain, reports Jules Suzdaltsev for Mashable. “There’s a camera for processing real-time input from a video camera that then translates that information into body movements for the robot,” Suzdaltsev explains.


MIT researchers have developed a new fiber, dubbed OmniFibers, that could potentially be used to help regulate breath, reports Ray White for Mashable. “When sewn into clothing, the fiber can sense how much it’s stretched. It then gives tactile feedback to the wearer via pressure, stretch or vibration.”

Popular Science

Popular Science reporter Charlotte Hu writes that MIT researchers have simulated an environment in which socially-aware robots are able to choose whether they want to help or hinder one another, as part of an effort to help improve human-robot interactions. “If you look at the vast majority of what someone says during their day, it has to do with what other [people] want, what they think, getting what that person wants out of another [person],” explains research scientist Andrei Barbu. “And if you want to get to the point where you have a robot inside someone’s home, understanding social interactions is incredibly important.”


MIT researchers have developed a new machine learning system that can help robots learn to perform certain social interactions, reports Brian Heater for TechCrunch. “Researchers conducted tests in a simulated environment, to develop what they deemed ‘realistic and predictable’ interactions between robots,” writes Heater. “In the simulation, one robot watches another perform a task, attempts to determine the goal and then either attempts to help or hamper it in that task.”


TechCrunch writer Devin Coldewey reports on the ReSkin project, an AI project focused on developing a new electronic skin and fingertip meant to expand the sense of touch in robots. The ReSkin project is rooted in GelSight, a technology developed by MIT researchers that allows robots to gauge an object’s hardness.

Fast Company

Fast Company reporter Kristin Toussaint spotlights how researchers from CSAIL and the Senseable City Lab have worked with the Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions on developing a robotic boat now ready to be used in the canals of Amsterdam . “It’s a kind of dynamic infrastructure that can adapt to the needs of a city as they change, and help Amsterdam decongest its street and better use its waterways,” says Toussaint.


Reuters reporter Toby Sterling spotlights how MIT researchers have been working with Amsterdam’s Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions to develop a self-driving watercraft for transporting passengers, goods and trash through the canals. “We have a lot of open water available in the canals,” says Stephan van Dijk, Amsterdam’s Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions Innovation Director. “So, we developed a self-driving, autonomous ship to help with logistics in the city and also bringing people around.” 

The Henry Ford Innovation Nation

Brady Knight '16, Michael Farid '16, Kale Rogers '16, and Luke Schlueter '16 co-founded Spyce, an automated health food restaurant, reports Alie Ward for The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation. “I started thinking about how we are going to make healthy food more accessible, more affordable and more available and we had this idea that if we used automation, we could help make it a lot more efficient therefore more accessible,” says Faird. 


Forbes reporter Aayushi Pratap spotlights Vicarious Surgical, an MIT startup and surgical robot company aimed at making “abdominal surgery faster, easier and subject to fewer complications, starting with hernia repairs.”