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Announcements

Artificial Cerebellum

Posted 15 Jul 2012 at 22:57 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

Researchers in the Department of Computer Architecture and Technology, University of Granada, and in the Department of Computer Architecture and Electronics, University of Almería, have developed a biologically-inspired adaptive microcircuit which functions as an artificial cerebellum, controlling a robotic arm with human-like precision.

To date, although robot designers have achieved very precise movements, such movements are performed at very high speed, require strong forces and are power consuming. This approach cannot be applied to robots that interact with humans, as a malfunction might be potentially dangerous. To solve this challenge, University of Granada researchers have implemented a new cerebellar spiking model that adapts to corrections and stores their sensorial effects; in addition, it records motor commands to predict the action or movement to be performed by the robotic arm. This cerebellar model allows the user to articulate a state-of-the-art robotic arm with extraordinary mobility.
(Source: Canal UGR)
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Video

Aldebaran's Shape the World recruiting video

Posted 15 Jul 2012 at 02:32 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

Having noticed a recent trend towards robotics companies releasing videos with high production values, this one caught my eye. Aldebaran Robotics is hiring, and produced an edgy video called Shape the World to call attention to that fact.

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Interviews

Robots Podcast #108: Launching Startups

Posted 14 Jul 2012 at 03:06 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

photo of Andra Keay

In the latest episode (#108, July 13th, 2012), Robots Podcast talks with Andra Keay, cofounder of Robot Launchpad, a robotics startup accelerator based in Silicon Valley, about recent events, lean startup methodology, funding, and gender. (Her Masters thesis project on “the Naming of Robots” explored how roboticists express identity and gender through their technology.) Calling herself a Robot Startup Evangelist, Andra is passionate about growing robotics, one startup at a time. Supported by key actors in the field including Erin Rapacki and Ryan Calo, Robot Launchpad aims to bridge the software, web and mobile startup worlds of Silicon Valley and San Francisco with the robotics community and the flourishing local maker sphere. She brings us into her world of lean startup methodology, minimum viable products, and tells us about the importance of women in science. Before launching Robot Launchpad, Keay completed her Master of Digital Cultures at the University of Sydney, specializing in Human-Robot Interactions. Passionate about robotics for a long time, she has also been running science and robot workshops for children since 1995, including coaching competition teams in MoonBots, FIRST LEGO League, and RoboCup Junior.

Read On or Tune In

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Robots

Random Robot Roundup

Posted 12 Jul 2012 at 20:26 UTC by steve

We're overdue for another roundup of news from the editor's inbox! Reader Bill Rogers sent a link to a recent CNN story on the Uncanny Valley and how the brain copes with conflicting information. Yuval Haimovits let us know about the latest research on thought-controlled robot avatars. Our friends over the plastic pals blog sent links to stories on the newest Chinese humanoid robot, news on the TeenSize-OP robot from Robotis, and a strange toe-tapping robot named Shimi powered by an Android phone (see also our story on Shimi). Long-time reader Guy Posey wrote to let us know about his new e-book titled, ELI-C, a novel with robots, cyborgs, even a "mysterious sorcerer". Check it out! Author Joe Tripician let us know about his new science fiction book, Immortality Wars, which takes on the Singularity along with nanotechnology and mind uploading. 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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Robots

Hizook on Video Ethics in Robotics Research

Posted 8 Jul 2012 at 23:14 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

Last Monday (July 2nd), Hizook posted a thoughtful piece, Being Honest in Robot Videos: Motion Capture, Speedup Rates, and Teleoperation, which covers even more ground than its title suggests. The article doesn't take issue with unrealistic portrayals of robots in movies, nor with robots built as art or robot performances. Rather it calls into question what might be termed misrepresentation in videos depicting research robots, due to missing or inadequate notice of certain conditions, resulting in the creation of a false impression regarding the current state of the art and unrealistic expectations for the near future in the minds of the general public, undermining support for needed research on the premise that it's already been done. The article touches on the use of external localization and motion planning systems (as opposed to accomplishing the same feats entirely with on-board sensors and processors), the distinction between teleoperation, scripting, and autonomous operation, time compression (making the robot appear to be moving faster than it really is), and tethering (for physical support, for power, and/or for low-latency, high-bandwidth communications), and suggests some best practices for providing notice of each. The comments which follow the article are also worth reading.

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Tools

3D Printing Blood Vessels and Metal

Posted 8 Jul 2012 at 21:52 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

Above, researchers at UPenn and MIT print blood vessels, using sugar. Once the sugar hardens, cells suspended in gel are added. Once the gel solidifies, the sugar is dissolved and removed. After the break, another video shows a process where powdered stainless steel is printed using a binder (weak glue), then infused with bronze.

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Space Robotics

Curiosity Update with Scott Maxwell

Posted 8 Jul 2012 at 17:51 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

Would you like to watch Curiosity pile up sand behind its wheels as it struggles up a slope, this video is about as close as you're likely to get, at least until Curiosity actually lands on Mars. For more, check out the JPLnews channel on YouTube.

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Medical Robotics

Mahoro Performs Dangerous Lab Work

Posted 8 Jul 2012 at 02:11 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

A two-armed robot, called Mahoro, jointly developed by Japan's National Institute of Advanced Science and Technology (AIST) and Yaskawa Electric Corporation, and marketed by Nikkyo Technos, Co., Ltd., already being used in labs at pharmaceutical companies and universities, is both faster and more precise than veteran laboratory technicians performing the same repetitive tasks. Using the robot to handle hazardous materials also reduces risk to laboratory personnel. DigInfo TV has more detail.

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Competitions

2012 Boca Bearing Innovation Contest

Posted 6 Jul 2012 at 16:51 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

Direct from their website...

To celebrate their 25th year in business the Boca Bearing Company is giving away over $20,000 in cash and prizes as part of their 2012 Boca Bearing Innovation Contest. Winners will be chosen based on a video submission of their innovative mechanical project that utilizes ball bearings, roller bearings, linear bearings or any form of full ceramic or ceramic hybrid bearings anywhere in the application.

One finalist will be chosen by the voting public each month in 2012 to win an iPad2 ($500 value each). The Grand Prize winner and two Runner Ups will be chosen by Boca Bearings from the monthly finalists. The two Runner Up Finalists will each win their own 3D Printer from Makerbot Industries ($2500 value each). The Grand Prize winner will receive a check for $10,000.

The Boca Bearing Company believes in supporting those individuals or companies with a focus on Art, Science, Technology, Engineering & Math. These are the creative people that push the limits of new technology and will be the drivers of our future economy.
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Competitions

Field Robot Event 2012 in Video

Posted 5 Jul 2012 at 01:38 UTC (updated 5 Jul 2012 at 01:43 UTC) by John_RobotsPodcast

The first video in this playlist is a presentation given last year at the announcement of the event. The rest were taken at the event itself, and show the nature of the competition as well as something of the level of sophistication of the competitors.

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