Interviews

Robots Podcast #153: Termite-Inspired Construction

Posted 6 Apr 2014 at 15:19 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

termite-inspired construction robot

Termites, in their roles as construction workers, are simple agents, using only local information, yet they can build complex structures such as termite mounds. Taking inspiration from such swarm systems in nature, Justin Werfel and colleagues have created TERMES robots that build three-dimensional structures without the need for any leader or prescribed roles. In Robots Podcast #153, Sabine speaks with Justin Werfel about this work, which is a project of the Self-organizing Systems Research Group, a core component of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, Harvard University.

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Interviews

Robots Podcast #152: EU Robotics Week 2013

Posted 24 Mar 2014 at 01:21 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

photos of Fiorella Operto, Douwe Dresscher, and Roko Tschakarow

In episode #152, Robots Podcast does a bit of catching up, combining three interviews relating to last November's EU Robotics Week. In this episode, interviewer Sabine Hauert speaks with Fiorella Operto, the National Coordinator of the EU Robotics Week in Italy and president of the School of Robotics, Douwe Dresscher, a graduate student in robotics and mechatronics at the University of Twente, who was involved in organizing his department's participation in the event, and Roko Tschakarow, Business Director of Mobile Gripping Systems at SCHUNK, who helped organize a robotics challenge for local high-school students as part of EU Robotics Week. (Sabine herself has just taken on a position as a lecturer in robotics at the University of Bristol.)

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Interviews

Robots Podcast #151: Big deals and privacy

Posted 10 Mar 2014 at 01:03 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

photo of Avner Levin, Ryerson University

As part of Robohub's focus series on Big Deals, in Robots Podcast #151 interviewer AJung Moon talks with Avner Levin, Chair of the Law and Business Department, Ted Rogers School of Management, Ryerson University, and Director of the Privacy & Cyber Crime Institute. Their conversation ranges widely, but keeps coming back to recent acquisitions on the part of Google, in particular, and whether they represent something to be concerned about from perspective of customer privacy, or even the potential for cyber crime manifesting physically, via robotics. Levin discusses the nature of his own concern, the state of existing law and policy as regards privacy, and the need for government involvement and guidance in this fast-changing, highly competitive environment.

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Interviews

Robots Podcast #150: Dario Floreano

Posted 24 Feb 2014 at 00:12 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

Dario Floreano, with (then) graduate students Peter Durr, Markus Waibel, and Sabine Hauert

Before Robohub there was Robots Podcast. Before Robots Podcast there was Talking Robots. Before Talking Robots there was Dario Floreano, a professor at EPFL, with an idea and a handful of graduate students eager to run with it. In episode #150, Robots Podcast goes back to its roots, repeating the combination from the first episode of Talking Robots, of Markus Waibel (now a senior researcher at ETH-Zurich and heavily involved in the RoboEarth project) interviewing Dario Floreano (now also Director of the Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research for Robotics, in addition to being head of the Laboratory of Intelligent Systems at EPFL). All episodes of both Robots Podcast and Talking Robots are available directly from the Robots Podcast website as well as from the iTunes Store.

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Interviews

Robots Podcast #149: Industry and Society

Posted 8 Feb 2014 at 18:44 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

photo of Personal Intelligent City Accessible Vehicle (PICAV)

In Robots Podcast #149 Per Sjöborg speaks with Rezia Molfino from the PMAR group at University of Genova about how all robots are service robots and some of the many interesting projects she is working on, ranging from challenging manufacturing problems in thin sheet machining (SwarmItFIX) and the textile industry (clopema), to assisted-living vehicles for use in an urban environment (PICAV) and do-it-yourself, practical equipment for demining war zones (Locastra).

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Robots Podcast #148: Robert Bosch Venture Capital

Posted 26 Jan 2014 at 18:09 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

photo of Jan Westerhues

In Robots Podcast #148, Per Sjöborg speaks with Jan Westerhues, Investment Partner with Robert Bosch Venture Capital in Frankfurt, Germany, where he is responsible for robotic investments. Robert Bosch began as an automotive parts firm, but has branched out into other businesses and now has an R&D staff of 15,000 persons. The company's venture capital operation is not an angel investor, and only ever takes a minority position in the companies in which it invests, but, when approached by a company that has already completed the initial phases of identifying a market and defining a product, and has a prototype and a business plan, Westerhues will locate someone within Bosch's R&D staff with the competence to evaluate the prototype, whether it holds the potential to deliver what the company claims for it, and to ‘talk tech’ with the company's own designers and engineers. The ideal situation for Bosch is that in which their own industrial strength can be brought to bear, perhaps supplying parts for the products of the companies in which they invest, but this is not a requirement.

(I listened to this episode five or six times in preparation for this post, and suggest that anyone interested in venture capital funding do likewise.)

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Interviews

Robots Podcast #147: Giulio Sandini & Interdisciplinarity

Posted 13 Jan 2014 at 15:46 UTC (updated 13 Jan 2014 at 15:48 UTC) by John_RobotsPodcast


Giulio Sandini with two iCub humanoid robots

In Robots Podcast #147, Per Sjöborg speaks with Giulio Sandini, director of Robotics, Brain and Cognitive Sciences (RBCS) at the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT), about how, having begun his career as a bioengineer working on how the brain controls the muscles which aim and focus the eye, he eventually came to work in robotics, about why interdisciplinary work is important to robotics, and about how diverse teams of engineers, biologists, psychologists, mathematicians, physicists, and medical doctors can learn from each other. Sandini illustrates the point using examples of successful interdisciplinary efforts at IIT, including the iCub and COMAN humanoid platforms, the HyQ quadruped, and their work in rehabilitation robotics.

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Interviews

Robots Podcast #146: Lynne Parker, robot teamwork

Posted 28 Dec 2013 at 23:27 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

robots used in research by Distributed Intelligence Laboratory

Lynne Parker is Professor and Associate Head in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK). At UTK, she is the founder and director of the Distributed Intelligence Laboratory, which performs research in multi-robot systems, sensor networks, machine learning, and human-robot interaction. In this episode, Per Sjöborg speaks with Lynne Parker about her work with robot teams.

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