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Commercial Robotics

Parrot Invests in SenseFly and Pix4D

Posted 1 Aug 2012 at 20:29 UTC (updated 1 Aug 2012 at 20:36 UTC) by John_RobotsPodcast

Last week, SenseFly and Pix4D announced deals with drone maker Parrot, in which Parrot will invest in both companies, 5 million Swiss francs in SenseFly and 2.4 million in Pix4D. Both spinoffs of EPFL, SenseFly and Pix4D have a history of cooperation, with SenseFly providing the camera-equipped UAVs for which they have also developed navigational software that allows them to fly complete missions autonomously, and Pix4D providing the software that transforms the thousands of images produced by the drones into unified geographical information. (Kudos to Engadget for their prompt reportage.)

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Interviews

Interview with David L. Heiserman

Posted 1 Aug 2012 at 20:01 UTC by steve

Ask any roboticist of a certain age, whether a professional or hobbyist, how they first got interested in robots. Odds are good they'll mention a 1976 TAB book, written by David L. Heiserman, called Build Your Own Working Robot. The book described the construction of Buster, a small, wheeled robot. This was before the era of ubiquitous microprocessors. Buster's brain was a mass of TTL logic chips that implemented surprisingly complex behaviours. In some ways, Buster was not unlike Grey Walter's vacuum tube-based turtle robots from the late 1940s and was likely the first significant step forward in behavior-based robots since Walter's turtles. Did you ever wonder what Dave did after writing those books or what he's up to today? Read on to find out!

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Military Robotics

QNA's Tactical Robot Controller

Posted 28 Jul 2012 at 21:57 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

Many robots, one controller, or at least that's the idea. The Tactical Robot Controller (or TRC) is the latest innovation out of QinetiQ North America's Unmanned Systems Group. The TRC is a lightweight, wearable controller that allows the Marine or Soldier to control a family of unmanned ground vehicles, various unmanned air vehicles, and unattended ground sensors. The TRC can also be used to control a variety of third party unmanned aerial vehicles.

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Space Robotics

Robots Podcast #109: JPL's 2012 Open House

Posted 27 Jul 2012 at 23:13 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

As he was planning on attending anyway, Australian Ron Vanderkley volunteered to cover JPL's Open House 2012 for Robots Podcast. He managed to get interviews with several JPL staff members, which are collected together in this episode, along with his own narration. (Great job, Ron!) The above video is just one of many from the Open House that have been posted to YouTube.

Read On or Tune In

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Medical Robotics

Mazor Robotics' Renaissance OK'd for Brain Surgery

Posted 27 Jul 2012 at 17:47 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

Mazor Robotics announced on July 16th that its Renaissance robotic platform, already in wide use for spinal surgery, has received U.S. FDA clearance for use in brain surgery. The Renaissance platform is a surgical guidance system which first builds a 3D model based on a high-quality CAT scan, assits the surgeon in planning the surgery, and then during the surgery assists the surgeon by guiding the placement of instruments and implants. Mazor Robotics has, over the past year, accumulated an extensive collection of Videos in their YouTube channel.

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Medical Robotics

InTouch Health & iRobot Announce RP-VITA

Posted 27 Jul 2012 at 16:38 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

In a joint press release, US companies InTouch Health and iRobot have announced a new telepresence robot for hospitals. The robot called "RP-VITA" builds on iRobot's AVA platform introduced at last year's Consumer Electronics Show. Similar to the AVA, the RP-VITA uses a tablet as the user interface and has autonomous mapping and navigation capabilities. The RP-VITA can also connect with diagnostic devices, such as otoscopes and ultrasound, and comes equipped with the latest electronic stethoscope. The robot is currently pending clearance by the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA), with results expected in the last quarter of 2012.

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Entertainment

2012 (2nd Annual) Robot Film Festival

Posted 24 Jul 2012 at 02:12 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

Robot Film Festival logo

The 2012 (2nd annual) Robot Film Festival screening took place nine days ago, in the 3LD Art & Technology Center (New York City). Selected entries appear on the Robot Film Festival website, and Automaton has put together a highlights video.

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Robots

Toddler Robot with Realistic Facial Expressions

Posted 16 Jul 2012 at 15:57 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

On which side of the 'uncanny valley' would you place the robotic child in the above video? Researchers at Osaka University are developing a robot in the form of a 1-to-2 year old child, with the idea that it should be so realistic that it will elicit natural responses from human caregivers, enabling studies of human social development that can't otherwise be documented from the perspective of the child. For more information, see Automaton's article and this paper by the researchers.

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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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