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A New Grand Challenge: Humanoid Robots

Posted 4 Apr 2012 at 04:49 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

According to Hizook, DARPA will soon be announcing another Grand Challenge, this one focused on humanoid robots. To win the competition, a robot will have to climb into an open vehicle, drive to a designated building, enter the building using a key, navigate a 100 meter, rubble-strewn hallway, climb a ladder, locate a leaking pipe and stop the leak by closing a nearby valve, and then replace a faulty pump, all semi-autonomously. This challenge will be run for two successive years, as it is not expected any team will be able to build a machine that can accomplish all this the first year. Teams will be divided between hardware and software, and there will be both funded and unpaid teams in both categories, with the potential for unpaid teams doing excellent work to displace funded teams showing less promise. More details to be forthcoming when the formal announcement is made.

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DoodleBOT: automated drawing on whiteboards

Posted 3 Apr 2012 at 17:26 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

GarabatoBOT (in English DoodleBOT) is a little robot that can make simple doodles on a vertical white-board. Its five custom components, a central body, two arms, and two pulleys, are fabricated by deposition, using a MakerBot. (Designs are available from Thingiverse.) Aside from those it consists of two stepper motors, a corresponding power driver, an Arduino Pro Mini microcontroller, and a Bluetooth modem. The pulleys are press-fit on the stepper motor shafts, and are used to reel in/out strings or thin cables which attach to the upper corners of the whiteboard, or at least to points which are widely separated. The DoodleBOT is suspended on those strings/cables and moves about as their lengths are adjusted.

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Smart Sand & Robot Pebbles

Posted 3 Apr 2012 at 05:25 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

MIT Professor Daniela Rus and her student Kyle Gilpin have co-authored a paper on smart sand, and the robot pebbles they are currently using to develop the concept. They will be presenting this paper at the 2012 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), to be held May 14th through 18th in St. Paul, Minnesota. Robot Pebbles are cubes, 12mm on a side, containing rudimentary microprocessors and four electorpermanent magnets each. Through these magnets they are able to communicate and transfer power, as well as using them to bond together. Rus and Gilpin have developed an algorithm that enables a pile of robot pebbles to duplicate the shape of any object placed into it. The copy is made up of robot pebbles, and all the other pebbles in the pile simply fall away when it is removed.

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Catching up with Robots

Posted 1 Apr 2012 at 22:20 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

Tek Robotic Mobilization Device website

There has been more news than we've had time for lately. The Tek Robotic Mobilization Device (RMD), developed by Turkish R&D company AMS Mekatronic, allows users lacking use of their legs to stand upright, and to move about while in a standing position (via The Verge). Boston Dynamics has recently posted videos (after the break) of their RHex robot, designed to scramble over rough terrain, and their Sand Flea robot, which can jump as high as thirty feet. The Human Centered Robotics Laboratory at UT Austin has posted a video (after the break) of Hume, a bi-pedal robot they've designed in cooperation with Meka Robotics, to achieve the skill of Human Centered Hyper-Agility (HCHA), with particular focus on running. DARPA has posted video (after the break) of their tank-like Robotic Suspension System, which can level out small irregularities in the terrain it crosses, much as the suspension system of the M1 Abrams provides a stable platform for its main gun. The Robotics Suspension System was develop as part of the Maximum Mobility and Manipulation (M3) program. A video from Aalborg University (after the break) shows a time-lapse view of a student of Manufacturing Technology assembling Little Helper++, a single robotic arm mounted on a mobile base.

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Google Street View Maps the Amazon

Posted 1 Apr 2012 at 19:24 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

Google Maps Street View technology being applied to the Amazon river and the communities along its banks.

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Military Robotics

Regina Dugan, Director of DARPA, at TED

Posted 31 Mar 2012 at 20:07 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

This TED talk was delivered earlier in March, and posted on the 27th.

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Commercial Robotics

Robots Podcast #100: Raffaello D'Andrea, of Kiva Systems

Posted 25 Mar 2012 at 22:55 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

In a bit of serendipity worthy of Mary Poppins, the news of Amazon's acquisition of Kiva Systems arrived just in time for Robots Podcast to arrange an interview with one of the cofounders of Kiva Systems, Raffaello D’Andrea, who is also Professor of Dynamic Systems and Control at ETH Zürich. (Professor D'Andrea was previously featured on Robots Podcast in October, 2008.) While the Kiva Systems deal provides the motivation for the current interview, many aspects of his work are mentioned. The breadth of that work is represented by a video which appears on the homepage of his personal website.

Read On or Tune In

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Military Robotics

Gesture Recognition for Robotic Aircraft

Posted 23 Mar 2012 at 16:26 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

In the above video Yale Song, a PhD student in MIT's Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, explains the project he has undertaken in concert with his advisor, computer science professor Randall Davis, and David Demirdjian, a research scientist at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), to develop a gesture recognition system that, when complete, will allow robotic aircraft to recognize and respond to the hand signals used by carrier crewmen to direct pilots, on deck and at takeoff and landing.

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RoMeLa's CHARLI-2 Keeps Balance

Posted 23 Mar 2012 at 16:12 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

The above video shows CHARLI-2, from Virginia Tech's Robotics and Mechanisms Laboratory (RoMeLa), reacting to blows from behind, first without then with stabilization.

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Random Robot Roundup

Posted 22 Mar 2012 at 21:36 UTC by steve

It's been too long since I've posted a news round up and the editor's mailbox is full! Norri Kageki sent a link to a GetRobo blog post that includes some great video of a tele-operated humanoid boxing robot. Our friends at the new NooTriX blog pointed out a recent post about venture capital and funding initiatives for robot start ups. Speaking of robot funding, the Plasticpals blog says the National Science Foundation has provided a $6M grant that allowed American universities to buy six HUBO 2 humanoid robots from KAIST. And, as the US economy continues to its recovery, Robotics Business Review reports that demand for roboticists grew 44% in Jan 2012. The Swirling Brain spotted a crazy video of a Japanese robot marathon from a year or so back where bipedal robots had to do 422 laps on a 100 meter indoor course. 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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