Opening remarks by Brian Gerkey and keynote by Morgan Quigley at ROSCon 2012, Part 1 of 2. (Duration 33:31)
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Opening remarks by Brian Gerkey and keynote by Morgan Quigley at ROSCon 2012, Part 1 of 2. (Duration 33:31)
If you enjoy Cali Lewis's refreshing style, and you like robots, then Cali going gaga over robots during the first few hours of her recent trip to Japan is sure to be a fun ride. Enjoy! (Hint, if the toys aren't you're thing, stick with it, because at 1:30 the center of attention turns to one of Hiroshi Ishiguro's Geminoid robots, being used in a storefront display, where the obvious comparison is with a static mannequin.
Founded in 1990, PolyPlus began operations in 1991, based on work previously done at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory on lithium/organosulfur (Li-S) batteries. The Li-S technology is now mature, has been licensed for production, and is a commercial product. Development of the company's signature Protected Lithium Electrode (PLE) began during their work on Li-S batteries, but has proven more broadly applicable. PLEs are metallic lithium encapsulated within
a solid electrolyte membrane to prevent direct electron transfer from the negative electrode to the (fluid) electrolyte (whether polysulfide, water, or air).
The solid electrolyte is highly conductive to lithium ions, but impervious to liquids and gases. In this way, the lithium core is electrochemically active but chemically isolated from the external electrolyte. The result is batteries with unusually high energy densities, several times higher than Li-ion. PolyPlus is currently developing both Lithium-Water and Lithium-Air batteries, and hopes to take the Lithium-Water variant to market next year. Li-Water batteries are expected to quickly find their way into buoys and other aquatic devices, including unmanned submersibles. The company has received a grant from ARPA-E for the development of rechargeable Li-Air batteries. Its Li-Water technology was included among Time Magazines 50 Best Inventions for 2011, and more recently it received the 2012 Gold Edison Award in Energy and Sustainability for its work in Li-Air and Li-Water batteries.
(I recently, erroneously placed PolyPlus at a prominent German industrial trade show, which they did not in fact attend.)
The EFF has issued an appeal to local governments to institute privacy protections against the misuse of drones by local law enforcement agencies. The FAA's initial rules for allowing flying robots into the National Airspace System were announced on 14 May. Many law enforcement agencies are already obtaining and flying drones but they're not likely to volunteer that information. It took an EFF Freedom of Information Act lawsuit to make the FAA release the list of who has been approved to fly spy drones over US cities. When local newspapers in Seattle found out from the EFF that police had purchased two drones and made survellience plans without informing the City Council, the Washington ACLU called for the city to develop policies to safeguard privacy and free speech rights. The police backed down
"With drones - and the privacy questions they raise - thrown into the public spotlight in that way, a contrite assistant police chief appeared before the Seattle City Council this week to assure city leaders and the public that the drones would not be deployed until written policies for their use are in place. He promised that police would work with the ACLU and others in the community to draft them."
There is also a safety concern as increasingly massive robots are flying over heavily populated areas. At least one police department crashed their shiny new $300k surveillance drone into their own SWAT vehicle during a test flight. There's no disputing the legitimate uses of domestic flying robots by government agencies, including first response to accident scenes, search and rescue, agricultural uses, forest fire monitoring. But concerns are being raised over the increasing militarization of US police departments and increasing abuses of power. If city-level governments refuse to address privacy concerns, will it fall to private individuals to launch their own UAVs to watch the watchers? Find out if your local police have already deployed flying robots to spy on you by checking the EFF's Domestic Drone Authorization map.
This video introduces TurtleBot 2, which was shown this past weekend at ROSCon 2012. TurtleBot 2, built around an iClebo Kobuki from Korean firm Yujin Robot, improves upon the original from Willow Garage. (Note that Sam Park, Executive Vice President of Yujin Robot, recently joined Brian Gerkey, Director of Open Source Development at Willow Garage, on the board of directors for the Open Source Robotics Foundation.)
The above video, posted to IEEE Spectrum's YouTube channel, shows a sampling of the exhibits that were there to be seen at ICRA 2012 (May 14-18), with a few scenes taken from the robot's point of view. Rated G for Good Fun!
In an interview conducted while attending Robotdalen, Professor Paolo Dario outlines three waves of innovation in robotics, predicting that the coming third wave will be characterized by interdisciplinary efforts and robots that both contribute to and depend heavily upon the ambient intelligence of ubiquitous networks. Having received his graduate degree in engineering from the University of Pisa, Professor Dario, in 1989, founded the Advanced Robotics Technology and Systems (ARTS) Lab. He is also coordinator of the Center for Research in Microengineering (CRIM Lab), and affiliated with the Biorobotics Institute, which encompasses both, within the Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna, also in Pisa. He is a past President of the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society, and the first european to hold this position. Looking forward, Prof. Dario is coordinator of the Robot Companions for Citizens (RCC) project, which is one of six candidates to become a FET Flagship Initiative. The essential characteristic of a robotic companion seems to be reciprocal empathy between the robot and the humans in its environment.
Read On or Tune In
Announced via the Willow Garage website, the
Open Source Robotics Foundation, Inc. (OSRF) is an independent non-profit organization founded by members of the global robotics community. Its mission is
to support the development, distribution, and adoption of open source software for use in robotics research, education, and product development. OSRF's board of directors includes Professor Wolfram Burgard of the University of Freiburg, Ryan Gariepy, CTO of Clearpath Robotics, Brian Gerkey, Director of Open Source Development at Willow Garage, Helen Greiner, a co-founder of iRobot and currently CEO of CyPhyWorks, and Sam Park, Executive Vice President of Yujin Robot. Initially sponsored projects include the Robot Operating System (ROS), and Gazebo, a 3D multi-robot simulator with dynamics. Gazebo has been chosen by DARPA as the simulation platform for its recently announced robotics challenge for (humanoid) disaster robots.
While it took her 16 days to do it, Claire Lomas, who lost use of her legs in a 2007 accident, finished the London Marathon with the aid of a ReWalk powered exoskeleton from Argo Medical Technologies.
Berkley's Floating Sensor Network project launched 100 floating robots equipped with GPS-enabled smartphones down the Sacramento River on May 9. The launch was designed to test a new generation of water monitoring technologies. The 12 inch robots, called Drifters, are designed to provide real-time, high-resolution data of hard-to-map waterways. One of many possible uses is locating breeches in levee systems quickly enough to allow repair, before erosion destroys the levee. Other uses include identifying contaminants. Andrew Tinka, lead graduate student on the project notes:
“If something spills in the water, if there’s a contaminant, you need to know where it is now, you need to know where it’s going, you need to know where it will be later on. The Floating Sensor Network project can help by tracking water flow at a level of detail not currently possible.”
Deploying the robots is as simple as throwing them into the water from boats, docks, or helicopters. Each robot has a buoyancy control system, differential drive, GPS, compass, depth sensor, salinity sensor, Zigbee and GSM radios, and 72 hours of power from a lithium battery. The open source control system is written entirely in Python and runs on top of Linux. The project is headed by Alexandre Bayen of the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS). For more details see the Berkley news release. The project has also released quite a few technical reports and papers describing the developments that went into designing the drifter robots. You can also check several videos of the robots in action.
We usually forget that apart from an exciting research field, robotics is also a huge industry. Frank Tobe, Editor and Publisher of The Robot Report describe the robotics stock exchange map from an investor’s perspective. There are numerous companies that are currently active on robotics but only a fraction of them rely heavily on that sector, most of these stocks are influenced by other trends. There are also newly formed companies that aspire to cash in on the hype that surrounds robotics as an exotic and innovative sector without providing evidence that they are a viable and healthy investment. You can read more about robotics stocks in the article from everything-robotic.com and also in the Robot Report.
If you're unfamiliar with Hannover Messe (Hannover Fair), the above video from ABB is probably worth the time it takes you to watch it. It's mainly in German, with English subtitles, and is more about the fair itself than about ABB's presence there. It may even make you want to put Hannover Messe 2013 on your calendar (link downloads ICS file).
Allison Kirk tells us about a new robot website: "TelepresenceRobots.com just launched its website to give businesses, hospitals and schools more information on telepresence robots and to assist them in choosing the best robot to fit their specific needs". The May edition of the robot competition list is out. Our friends over at Plasticpals.com let us know about a new post on the Russian space agency's answer to NASA's Robonaut. Did you check out our photo gallery of the 2012 VEX World Championship? Out of the The Swirling Brain come two robot news stories: first is a news release from Purdue on new research that let's robots see in 3-D with simulated, human-like visual perception. Be sure to check out the YouTube video. Then there's Smartinversion, a sort of flying, helium-filled geometric jellyfish robot that floats through the air by constantly inverting its shape. 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.
An avid reader of science fiction, Daniel Wilson originally wanted to be a sci-fi writer, but, because it still wasn't happening as he approached college, he decided upon a career in science, as the next best thing. Then, after some experience with computers, it occurred to him that they could be programmed to figure out how to solve problems, and he realized that AI and robotics were real fields with huge potential, at which point he was hooked, and that carried him through a PhD. in robotics at Carnegie Mellon University. But he never forgot his dream of being an author, and published his first book,
How to Survive A Robot Uprising, in 2005, discussing this and other early work in a Talking Robots podcast in mid-2007. His 2011 novel, Robopocalypse, which Steven Spielberg is making into a movie to be released summer 2013, is the starting point for the current interview.
Read On or Tune In
A new start-up company from Spain is the latest addition to the very popular sector of multirotor aerial platforms. Intelligenia Dynamics aspires to provide a complete and competent aerial platform with substantial automation and embedded intelligence. Their website describe many of the possible application like remote inspection, fire prevention, rescue etc although not in depth. The generalized missions are more or less widely known, the difficult part is to develop a mature product or a complete solution and offer it commercially; very few companies have achieved that level.
The most interesting part at least from what they have already published is the UAV-01 platform. It may not be something groundbreaking but it looks very well designed with attention to detail. Instead of four single motor/props it has four double propeller co-axial units. That set-up is more expensive and slightly more complicated than a conventional quadrotor but it provides more lift for a given volume and it can also produce a more agile vehicle with quicker and more precise thrust control at each unit. The motors appear to be off the shelf commercial items (from Himax) although this is just the prototype. Apart from that, the frame and fuselage is well designed and offer a cartridge type battery swap. You can read more about intelligenia DYNAMICS at iuav.com
While Panasonic's legal department may be cringing at the prospect, this shampoo-bot appears to be headed straight for market, where it can relieve busy stylists from the need to also perform shampoos, while providing customers with more thorough shampoos and less water in the eyes. Add a sanitization cycle to keep from passing germs and parasites from one customer to the next (if it doesn't already have one), and it just might be marketable as is.
The Mediated Matter Group within the MIT Media Lab,
is dedicated to the development and application of novel processes that enable and support the design of physical matter, and its adaptability to environmental conditions in the creation of form. One of their projects, CNSILK: Computer Numerically Controlled Silk Cocoon Construction,
explores the design and fabrication potential of silk fibers—inspired by silkworm cocoons—for the construction of woven habitats. While the material being applied in the above video may not be silk, the principles being applied to wrapping it around the interior of a tension-providing frame remain the same. Phys.org has more detail.
Hannover Messe, the world's biggest industrial fair, took place April 23rd through 27th. Among the many exhibits there were Festo's ExoHand, which connects a glove, with an attached exoskeleton containing sensors, to a robotic hand with a very nearly duplicate exoskeleton, operated by pneumatic actuators. The robotic hand mimics the movements of the glove, but can do so with amplified force.
The video above shows the action of a gear-and-lever assembly designed to operate the legs of the TE+ND Rover, a gardening robot which will be on display at the Bay Area Maker Faire, May 19th & 20th. In the last week we have also been treated to another peek into the continuing drama of Q.bo's exploration of its environment, as one Q.bo meets another, and a pair of robot arms one of which draws pictures while the other holds the drawing surface. (videos after the break)
We recently received an announcement of a Mecanum-wheeled kit available from Nexus Robot (a.k.a. or at least co-located with Nexus Automation Ltd., possibly renamed due to a conflict with Nexus Automation GmbH). At first glance the announcement seemed to refer to a new product, however the product page on their website merely calls it a "special". I was unable to determine just how special since the online order system wouldn't work for me (perhaps you need an account first) and the price doesn't appear elsewhere. Nevertheless, these minor irritations which may simply be growing pains aside, and to judge from the collection of videos posted to YouTube last year by
nexusrobot, the engineering side of this company seems quite competent, leading me to suspect that we'll all be hearing from them again. Nexus Robot is located in Dongguan, China, about midway between the urban center of Guangzhou and the port city of Shenzhen.
2012 Top 10 Robot Christmas Gift Ideas
DARPA Robotics Challenge Kick Off
2012 ASABE Robot Contest Photos
Interview with David L. Heiserman
David Anderson on Subsumption Robots
Review: Apocalyptic AI by Robert M. Geraci
Raspberry Pi Interview with Eben Upton
2012 VEX Robotics World Championship
Giant Dallas Robot Cited as Best Public Art
There's More Than One Way to Skin a Robot
Day of the Androids at Hanson Robotics