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Quadrotor Light Show

Posted 27 Jun 2012 at 04:55 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

This video is a performance piece incorporating a troupe of 16 quadrotors. It's a very nice way to spend a few minutes.

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USC Researchers Make SynTouch BioTac Perform

Posted 21 Jun 2012 at 17:10 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

Researchers at the University of Southern California's Viterbi School of Engineering have succeeded in making an artificial fingertip outperform humans in identifying a range of textures. That fingertip, the BioTac® from SynTouch LLC, is a molded elastomeric sleeve with a fingerprint-like pattern on the outside and sensors on the inside, filled with a conductive fluid. What the USC researchers have done is to develop algorithms for interpreting the data produced by the fingertip and for optimizing the movement of the robotic arm or hand on which it is mounted to most efficiently produce useful data. Their findings have been published in Frontiers in Neurorobotics. SynTouch LLC, founded in 2008, is a start-up technology business that develops and manufactures tactile sensors for mechatronic systems. BioTac® sensors are available as an evaluation kit, and also as kits for the BarrettHand and the Shadow hand.

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2012 Field Robot Event June 28th - 30th

Posted 16 Jun 2012 at 21:37 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

This will be the 10th edition of the Field Robot Event. Organized by Fontys University of Applied Sciences and Wageningen UR (University & Research), it will be held in Venlo, The Netherlands, on the grounds of Floriade 2012.

(PDF of slides from above presentation video about the 2012 Field Robot Event)

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Robots Podcast #106: Swiss Robotics

Posted 16 Jun 2012 at 20:24 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

Dario Floreano

In this episode Robots Podcast talks with Dario Floreano about his new role as director of the Swiss National Center of Competence for Research (NCCR) in Robotics which brings together leading experts in the field working at Swiss institutions, including EPFL, ETH Zurich, the University of Zurich, and Dalle Molle Institute for Artificial Intelligence (IDSIA). NCCR Robotics was launched in December 2010 and will run for up to twelve years. The center aims to develop human­-oriented robots that assist people in their daily lives and improve their quality of life. Their research is currently organized into five projects that they hope will result in new design principles, approaches, and technologies required for the conception and design of human-oriented robots, the materials and components they are made of, and the control methods that enable them to interface and operate with humans. Floreano also shares the latest developments from his Laboratory of Intelligent Systems at EPFL, including flying robots that physically interact with their environment (see previous post) and soft “cells” that can assemble in air.

Read On or Tune In

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EPFL Aerial Crash Recovery

Posted 15 Jun 2012 at 16:41 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

Researchers at EPFL, in Switzerland, have developed an aerial system which absorbs the energy of low-speed collisions, rights itself, and resumes flying.

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Three-fingered Hand With One Actuator

Posted 15 Jun 2012 at 16:20 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

Japanese company DOUBLE Research and Development has developed a three-fingered robotic hand using a single pressure sensor and a single actuator. The linkage through which the fingers are attached to their mount automatically equalizes the pressure applied by each.

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Joggobot Will Keep You Moving

Posted 15 Jun 2012 at 04:56 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

Researchers at the Exertion Games Lab at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia have created a robot to support you while exercising. Joggobot is a modified version of the popular AR Drone quadrocopter platform developed by French company Parrot. The robot will track a marker pattern printed on your t-shirt and fly ahead of you when you go out for a run. The researchers describe Joggobot as an "exertion game". They believe that jogging is play - we are not jogging to get from A to B, but for the experience of jogging - and point out that jogging with a physical device that reacts to its environment and, similar to a human jogger, has a limited amount of energy for exercise creates a very different interaction experience than pure audio-visual stimuli such as aerobic videos. They hope that the robot can improve the jogging experience and enhance our understanding of why we jog (and hence why we do not jog enough).

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Robotic Zebrafish Influences Real Fish

Posted 14 Jun 2012 at 17:22 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

robotic zebrafish in tank

Researchers at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University in the U.S. and the Instituto Superiore di Sanitá in Italy have created a robotic zebrafish that can mix with real zebrafish and influence their behavior. The robot visually resembles an actual zebrafish. It is roughly 15 centimetres long and spray-painted with the zebrafish' characteristic blue stripe pattern. To influence fish behavior, the researchers controlled the robot's tail motion to mimic that of real fish. This new research builds on past projects for mixed robot-animal societies which has tackled chickens and cockroaches. Such mixed societies add a powerful new experimental option to the toolbox of behavioral biologists to understand social interactions between animals, which are usually very difficult to understand by observation alone.

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Milestone Reached in Brain Mapping Project

Posted 13 Jun 2012 at 18:45 UTC by steve

A CSH Lab news release says neuroscientists at the Brain Architecture Project have reached an important milestone. They've released the first installment of the 500 terabytes of data from the whole-brain wiring diagram of a mouse brain. The data is in the form of gigapixel whole-brain slice images. It's possible browse through the brain to the desired 20 micron-thick slice, then view the image, zooming it the level of individual neurons. Most importantly, the image data is being released in an open science initiative, freely available for anyone to view and use in their research. The technical approach used was developed by Partha P. Mitra.

"The pragmatic approach Mitra advocated and which is realized in this first data release, is to image whole mouse brains in a semi-automated, quality-controlled process using light microscopy and injected neural tracers (both viruses and classically used tracer substances). While the basic methodology has been available for some time, systematically applying it to a grid of locations spanning the entire brain, and digitizing and re-assembling the resulting collection of brains, is a new approach made feasible by the rapidly falling costs of computer storage."

For more details see the Mouse Brain Architecture Project Technical White Paper. This is just the first step in the overall brain architecture project. After the mouse brain, there's the Human Brain Architecture project which has the potential to do for the human brain what the human genome project did for our genes.

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Random Robot Roundup

Posted 7 Jun 2012 at 22:47 UTC by steve

There's a cool Robotics Trends article on robotics researchers studying how mosquitoes survive flying through rain when every raindrop is 50 times the mass of the mosquito. The idea is to make micro air vehicles that sturdy. The Swirling Brain tells us robot lifeguards are on the way. Nootrix did a post recently in which they speculate about using ROS with the new LEAP gesture sensor. IEEE Spectrum published an interesting piece about educational robotics in Africa. And Slate posted an essay by Dale Dougherty on how we could improve education in the US by replacing standardized testing with a program of teaching kids to do real things, like building robots and rockets. NASA, well known for building robots and rockets, let us know they're ready with their new autonomous robot competition in which teams have built planetery rover style sample return robots. 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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