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2012 VEX Robotics World Championship

Posted 26 Apr 2012 at 21:03 UTC by steve

The 2012 VEX Robotics World Championship is over and I've returned with hundreds of photos. This year's championship was held at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, CA. Last year, VEX cohosted several other events including BEST competitions, a Coast Guard robot contest, and a Boy Scount merit badge event. This year it was all VEX, all the time. The special guests were Nobel Prize winning physicist Dr. Douglas D. Osheroff, Dave Lavery of NASA, and Miral Kotb's dance troupe iLuminate. Read on for more photos and coverage of the event.

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Russian Robot Demonstrates Delicate Touch

Posted 26 Apr 2012 at 14:28 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

While the robot in this video appears to be entirely glove controlled, rather than autonomous, it does demonstrate that at least one Russian team is making progress towards dextrous manipulation.

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President Obama drives Sphero

Posted 25 Apr 2012 at 04:59 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

President Obama arrived in Boulder today, primarily to deliver a speech at the University of Colorado in support of extending the halving of student loan interest rates, currently due to expire July 1st. But before repairing to the Coors Events Center to deliver that speech, he made a quick visit to The Sink (locally famous because Robert Redford worked there while attending CU). The President made the rounds of those inside and then stepped outside to discover that a crowd had gathered around the restaurant. In that crowd was one of the team members from Orbotix, who had with him a Sphero robotic ball, which he demonstrated. He then turned the controller (iPhone?) over to President Obama, who tried it out for himself.

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Eliminating boilerplate code with rosserial

Posted 24 Apr 2012 at 16:26 UTC (updated 24 Apr 2012 at 16:30 UTC) by John_RobotsPodcast

In the above video, posted by WillowGaragevideo, Adam Stambler, a student at Rutgers University, who spent last summer working at Willow Garage, explains how rosserial can help alleviate the need for writing new drivers from scratch when attaching new hardware or assembling a new machine.

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Bird Brain's Hummingbird kit unboxing

Posted 24 Apr 2012 at 04:57 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

The above video shows Tom Lauwers of Bird Brain Technologies unboxing their Hummingbird robotics kit, which appears to be quite close to being ready for market.

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Military Robotics

Upgraded Reaper can fly 42 Hours

Posted 22 Apr 2012 at 17:52 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

General Atomics MQ-9

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems has announced the near-term availability of a trio of field retrofits for the Predator B (MQ-9 Reaper) Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS). Taken together, these enhancements increase the endurance of the Reaper from 27 to 42 hours, or, without the extended wings, from 27 to 37 hours. The upgrades consist of stronger landing gear, underwing fuel pods, and longer wings that take the wingspan to 88 feet. (via Danger Room)

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Aquatic Robotics

Knifefish: UUV minehunter for LCS shps

Posted 22 Apr 2012 at 16:45 UTC (updated 22 Apr 2012 at 16:47 UTC) by John_RobotsPodcast

Knifefish UUV

At last week's Sea-Air-Space Exposition, sponsored by the Navy League, General Dynamics showed it's Knifefish Surface Mine Countermeasure Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (SMCM UUV), intended to be incorporated into the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) mine countermeasures mission package. The 20 ft., 3000 pound submersible will prowl for 16 hours at a time, to detect and identify mines in high-clutter underwater environments without putting sailors in harm’s way, including mines that are suspended in the ocean, resting on the sea floor or buried. The Knifefish will help alleviate what's seen as a deficiency in the LCS's collection of capabilities. UUVs have been integral to the Navy's planning process for some time, as evidenced by the now declassified 2004 report The Navy Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (UUV) Master Plan.

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Robots Podcast #102: Steve Cousins & Roland Siegwart

Posted 20 Apr 2012 at 16:46 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

composite photo of Steve Cousins and Roland Siegwart

In Robots Podcast #102 (April 20th, 2012), continuing with interviews recorded in February at SCHUNK ExpertDays, Amanda talks with Steve Cousins, CEO of Willow Garage, and Roland Siegwart, Vice President of Research and Corporate Relations and director of the Autonomous Systems Lab at ETH Zurich. Both talk about the challenges of going to market with the products of research.

Read On or Tune In

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Call for participation: DARPA Robotics Grand Challenge

Posted 20 Apr 2012 at 00:50 UTC by IKE_RobotsPodcast

If you are even remotely interested in robotics you should be aware of the new DARPA Robotics Challenge competition that aims to push the boundaries of rescue robots and especially humanoids.
Davide Faconti and Icarus Technology are setting up a team in order to compete at the top-level “Track A” part of the competition where the participants create both the software and the hardware platform for the challenge. The task is quite ambitious but the team is very experienced having already a range of operational humanoid robots.
Also an interesting aspect is the goal to make both the software and the hardware open source.
Currently there is an open call for participation towards everyone with the skills to be a part of such a project. It is a great opportunity for roboticist to participate at DARPA’s Robotics Challenge! You can find more information here

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