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Anthropomorphic robotic arm from the DLR

Posted 28 Jan 2011 at 08:44 UTC by mwaibel


Ioannis K. Erripis from the Robots Podcast reports on a new hand developed at the Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics at Germany's Aerospace Centre DLR. It combines accurate object manipulation, robustness and strength in a quite compact and light package. The robotic hand is inspired by the human one although anatomic fidelity isn't the main objective. It can handle small and fragile objects but it is also able to exert forces of 30 newton at the fingertips. It is also able to survive a baseball bat hit (an impact with a 66 g acceleration - see video) while being relatively compact and light. The key of these hands' amazing ability lies in its operating principle and its clever inner workings: The fingers are held and operated by a web of 38 tendons made from a very strong polyethylene fiber. The hand will be a part of a complete two-arm torso and researches are focusing on grasping and manipulations strategies and two-arms coordination. More details on the mechanics after the jump.

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Tune in to Robot Party

Posted 26 Jan 2011 at 22:33 UTC by steve

RobotGrrl is hosting a live streaming Internet video program at 8pm EST Thursday nights called Robot Party. The 30 minute stream includes cool DiY demonstrations, Robot Roll Call, and the infamous 5 minute hack. RobotGrrl will take your questions and comments afterwards on Freednode IRC channel #FMCG. RobotGrrl tells us the only thing Robot Party lacks is a cohost:

Maybe you can mention that I am looking for a cohost? I think having a cohost would be less boring. The person just has to be available at that time slot- and they have to have Skype :) They should also be enthusiastic about robots!!!

The next episode of Robot Party is coming up Thursday at 8pm EST, so check it out.

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Commercial Robotics

Real-world vehicle platooning demo

Posted 26 Jan 2011 at 08:39 UTC by mwaibel

Vehicle platooning, where a convoy of vehicles follows a professional driver in a lead vehicle by adjusting its movements to the distance, speed, and the direction of the car in front, has advanced in great strides (see our previous post from 2005). Following much work in simulation, researchers of the European project Safe Road Trains for the Environment or SARTRE have now achieved a key milestone by performing a real-world demonstration of an autonomous car following a human-driven test vehicle in highway conditions. For more details, have a look at the SARTRE webpage and this SARTRE press release.
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Construction with Quadrotor Teams

Posted 25 Jan 2011 at 20:02 UTC by mwaibel

John Payne from the Robots Podcast has sent news on a recent video by Daniel Mellinger and Vijay Kumar from UPenn's GRASP Lab. Following a great deal of other work with robotic quadrotor aircraft, their latest video above shows a team of quadrotors cooperating on a construction project. For more information on similar work (including some more complex cooperation tasks with pieces of wood), have a look at a recent Robots Podcast interview with Kumar and Mellinger, at Mellinger's YouTube channel and at work done by my colleagues at the Flying Machine Arena (FMA on YouTube).

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Pencil Balancing With Pixels

Posted 24 Jan 2011 at 17:33 UTC by Rog-a-matic

Researchers at the Institute of Neuroinformatics in Zurich are using their Silicon Retina (Website down due to disk crash) to perform a balancing trick normally reserved for biological systems. Balancing a pole is one thing, but balancing a tiny pencil is quite another due to the computational speed required, specifically the image processing part. Inspired by the human eye and visual cortex, the team is using a vision system that focuses on individual pixels to produce data quickly that, in turn, controls the motors that moves the base of the pencil. Watch the fascinating video

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Oobject List Sampler

Posted 22 Jan 2011 at 04:34 UTC (updated 22 Jan 2011 at 04:38 UTC) by Rog-a-matic

The creative collectors of interesting lists over at Oobject continue to work their magic. Their lists of the bizarre and funny can easily consume countless hours of an otherwise productive day. Here's a sampling of entries to soothe a typical robot enthusiast's appetite for inspiration and giggles: Wall Climbing Robots, Exoskeletons, Toy Robot Commercials, Cyborg Technologies, B Movie Robots, Robotic Car Garages, Self-Assembling Machines, Sewer Robots, Mechanical Animals, Cardboard Robot Costumes.

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Aquatic Robotics

Undulating Fin Propels Robotic Fish

Posted 20 Jan 2011 at 16:00 UTC by Rog-a-matic

Modeled after the Black Ghost Knifefish using computational fluid dynamics simulation, Researchers at Northwestern University are exploring an interesting form of locomotion that could be useful for underwater robotic propulsion. Using precise control of counter-propagating waves along undulating fins just like the fish of the Amazon Basin rivers, the robot can control movement in 3d space.

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Random Robot Roundup

Posted 17 Jan 2011 at 21:04 UTC by steve

You may have noticed a new menu item on the site this month: Podcasts. We're going to be working a little more closely with our friends at the Robots Podcast this year to share news back and forth in ways that will benefit our readers as well as their listeners. We've been carrying the release announcements for the podcast for some time but if you still haven't listened to one yet, go check it out right now! In other news, Billy McCafferty let us know about his new blog, SharpRobotica.com, which will focus on the software side of robotics. I also have a couple of Swirling Brain stories that piled up during the holidays: an ubergizmo story on Aldebaran Robotics newer, bigger Romeo humanoid robot; and an io9 story with photos and trailers from Real Steel, a new robot movie. Know any other robot news, gossip, or amazing facts we should report? Send 'em our way please. And don't forget to follow us on twitter.

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Robots: Harvest Automation

Posted 16 Jan 2011 at 20:42 UTC by mwaibel

In its latest episode, the Robots Podcast interviews Joe Jones, co-founder of Harvest Automation, the first employee of iRobot, and inventor of the Roomba (together with another Harvest Automation cofounder, Paul Sandin). Jones shares his deep insight into robotics in both academia and business and explains how his startup is the next logical step after the Roomba - and taps into a potentially huge market for autonomous robots. Read on or tune in!

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CES 2011

Posted 14 Jan 2011 at 09:26 UTC by mwaibel

A series of robotics novelties were showcased at the annual Consumer Electronics Show this week in Las Vegas. Among the most remarkable novelties was a new telepresence robot by iRobot called AVA. The working prototype uses Microsoft Kinect-type sensors for safe navigation. It moves using omniwheels and can be controlled using an ipad mounted on its height-adjustable head or by simply pressing touch sensors around its neck. Another interesting robot was demonstrated by CMU's Quality of Life Technology Center. Rather than using a stiff robotic arm, the group showed how an assistance robot can use inherently safe inflatable arms to perform tasks like sponge-bathing a patient (much more QoLT@CES2011 here). Other novelties included Dreambot's Wheeme massage robot, two new Robovie humanoids by Japanese company Vstone, a new Scooba floor-scrubber by iRobot, the relaunch of robot toy dinosaur Pleo by Innvo Labs, the Hom-Bot vacuum cleaner robot LG Electronics, the first US demo of Cyberdyne's HAL exoskeleton, and the smart-phone controlled Sphero robot, essentially a small, remote controlled sphere, shown in the video above.

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