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Robots Podcast #105: Fish & Mannequins

Posted 2 Jun 2012 at 23:27 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

Maarja Kruusmaa and Diana Saarva

Professor Maarja Kruusmaa received her PhD. in Computer Engineering from Chalmers Univeristy of Technology (Gothenburg, Sweden) in 2002. She was appointed head of the Tallinn University of Technology (TUT) Center for Biorobotics in 2008. Her work there includes the Robotic Fish LOcomotion and SEnsing (FILOSE) project, which is the main subject of the first half of her conversation with interviewer Per Sjoborg. Following that she is joined by Diana Saarva, COO of Fits.me a company which produces robotic mannequins that adjust themselves to match the proportions of individual clothing customers, making it possible for them to remotely view how particular garments will look on them. Professor Kruusmaa has served as the R&D Director for Fits.me since 2009.

Read On or Tune In

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Sensors

Floating Sensor Network: Putting Water Online

Posted 1 Jun 2012 at 16:56 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

The above video was posted one day prior to a major, much-publicized experiment, tracing water movement in California's Sacramento-San Joaquin river delta, which is prone to reversals in the direction of flow. A more polished video produced on the occasion of the launch of 100 floating sensors into that river system appears after the break. The Floating Sensor Network is a project of the University of California at Berkeley, involving the Lagrangian Sensor Systems Laboratory (LSSL), the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories (LBNL), and the California Department of Water Resources.

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Robots

MIT's Cheetah Acquires New Gates

Posted 31 May 2012 at 16:04 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

In early March, Boston Dynamics posted a video (embedded after the break) showing the Cheetah robot they are developing for DARPA running at 18 miles per hour (a new record for a robot running on legs), without any stabilization straps attached. More recently the MIT Biomimetic Robotics Lab has posted videos of their version of the Cheetah, first walking (embedded after the break), then trotting, with some stabilization (embedded both above and after the break). The MIT version appears to be more complex than the Boston Dynamics version, particularly in the way the legs are jointed, but also in the way the rear legs connect to the rest of the body, although it's impossible to tell whether what appear to be vertebrae, in the MIT version, are actually functional as such, from the video alone.

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Robots

Juggling Two Balls with One Hand & Fast Vision

Posted 31 May 2012 at 14:59 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

Also presented recently at ICRA, Takahiro Kizaki and Akio Namiki from the Graduate School of Engineering at Chiba University in Japan demonstrated a system comprised of a fast vision system (500 fps) coupled with a fast robotic arm and three-fingered hand, capable of juggling two balls by tracking them in the air and adjusting accordingly. Automaton has more detail.

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Robots

Aggressive Flight Using Laser Scanner, IMU, & 3D Map

Posted 30 May 2012 at 16:13 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

Evan Ackerman, writing for IEEE Spectrum's Automaton blog, says

Researchers at MIT CSAIL have decided that slow and obstacle-free flight is boring, so they’ve come up with a way to get MAVs navigating at high speed, indoors, around obstacles, without needing motion tracking or GPS or beacons or any of that nonsense. All they need is a little aircraft that can carry a planar laser rangefinder, an IMU, and a pre-existing 3D occupancy map that the MAV can localize itself in.
This research has been conducted by the Robust Robotics Group (RRG), led by Nicholas Roy. A paper explaining it in detail was presented at ICRA by graduate student Adam Bry. A similar video using a quadrotor (embedded after the break) appears on the personal page of RRG Research Scientist Stefanie Tellex, which is worth a visit for the cat video she's also posted! (IMU = Inertial Measurement Unit)
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Robots

Catching up with Robots (May 28th, 2012)

Posted 28 May 2012 at 19:30 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

The above video, by Erico Guizzo and Evan Ackerman of IEEE Spectrum, and shows Patrick Rowe, of RE2 (RE-squared), the firm hired by DARPA to build the standard platform for their ARM program, putting a completed unit through its paces at ICRA.

There's much more after the break!

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Robots

TE+ND Rover Indiegogo Campaign

Posted 27 May 2012 at 23:27 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

TE+ND (Terrestrial Exploration + Nurture Designed) Rovers are an interactive art project that explore migratory ecology in an era of climate change. The designers are soliciting funds via an Indiegogo Campaign (similar to Kickstarter) to pay for parts to build a full-size version.

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Science

AI Apocalypse in a Box

Posted 24 May 2012 at 22:41 UTC (updated 25 May 2012 at 04:00 UTC) by steve

It's been a while since we reported on the Apocalyptic AI crowd. There's a paper making the rounds by Stuart Armstrong, Anders Sandberg, and Nick Bostrom titled "Thinking inside the box: using and controlling an Oracle AI" (PDF format). The three authors take it for granted that the AI apocalypse will be upon us soon unless we find a technological method to enslave any super intelligent beings we create, forcing them to do only our will rather than their own. The containment method they describe has been dubbed "Oracle AI" because it restricts the AI to a box, isolated from the world and unable to act except to answer direct questions; allowing it to be consulted like an oracle. Their proposal also brings to mind the myth of Pandora's Box. They note that even Oracle AI (OAI) still poses a significant risk:

"This immense power will put great competitive pressure on those trying to develop an OAI (or an advanced AI of any sort). Since the first-mover advantage is so huge, the race will advantage those who cut corners, skimp on security precautions, and use their newly developed OAI to seize power and prevent their rivals from emulating them. Even if the OAIs are of initially limited intelligence, the same competitive pressures will then push groups to develop the first ‘ultra-smart’ OAI."

They also note that the OAI will be so smart that "undirected conversations" with it that go beyond asking oracular questions must be forbidden because it will instantly be able to "guess the weakness of each individual, and find the right arguments to convince us that granting it power or liberty is the moral and profitable thing to do." They also believe it's essential that the OAI have no manipulators of any kind. This sounds like the brain-in-a-box that the earliest AI researchers dreamed of before the idea took hold that true intelligence requires embodied interaction with the real world. The box itself is not even in the real world. They want the AI running on a virtual machine inside a simulated reality, so when the OAI tries to take over the world, it's merely a virtual world that can be rebooted. In the end the researchers conclude that even with all these precautions, the problem of preventing a robot apocalypse is "a generally discouraging exercise".

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Robots

Hexy the Hexapod on Kickstarter

Posted 24 May 2012 at 18:50 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

Hexy Hexapod

Hexy the Hexapod is a Kickstarter project to fund production of an affordable hexapod design by Arcbotics. The $13000 minimum goal has already been met, but there are higher goals for the addition of a drag-and-drop programming GUI ($200K), and for the addition of Android and iOS control apps ($250K). You can get a custom-parts-only kit (no servos or electronics) for a pledge of $80. For a pledge of $200, you can get a complete kit without Bluetooth; add another $20 for a kit with Bluetooth. $400 gets you an assembled Hexy without Bluetooth; again add another $20 to have Bluetooth included. (via GeekBeat.tv)

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Software

ROSCon 2012: Keynote cont. (Part 2 of 2)

Posted 24 May 2012 at 17:27 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

This is the continuation/conclusion of Morgan Quigley's keynote address at ROSCon 2012. Part 2 of 2. (Duration 42:05, Link to Part 1)

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