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Robots

Random Robot Roundup

Posted 6 Sep 2012 at 19:29 UTC by steve

As usual the mailbox is overflowing with robots news. First off, don't forget to vote for the robots you want inducted in CMU's 2012 Robot Hall of Fame ceremony. Joanne Pransky let us know about a new line of robot grippers being launched by ST Robotics. Jessica from Robotdalen sends news that Japanese firm Cyberdyne Inc, the company that makes the HAL exoskeleton, is setting up shop in Sweden. Shawn, from the University of Dayton, sent a press release and video of a new battlefield medic robot they're developing to be air-dropped into dangerous areas to locate and evacuate wounded soldiers. Wondering what The Swirling Brain has been up to lately? Building papercraft mech robots. And one last item - Curtis Ellzey of EngineeringTV sent some cool video of SparkFun's autonomous vehicle competition from earlier this year. 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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Interviews

Robots Podcast #111: Festival de Robotique

Posted 24 Aug 2012 at 16:16 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

photo of Francesco Mondada

In Episode 111, Robots Podcast speaks with Francesco Mondada, organizer of the Robotics Festival at EPFL, a yearly event which this year gathered over 15,000 visitors for hands-on workshops and demonstrations. They also walk you through the many exhibits showcasing multi-robot systems, flying robots, rehabilitation robots, and robotic salamanders. In the news segment, which precedes the interviews, they mention research at Harvard which has produced a soft robot which can change color to blend with or stand out from its surroundings, and research at the University of Geneva which has produced a collar that measures and transmits a sheep's heartbeat. Aggregation of this information over a flock is significant enough to detect, for example, an imminent wolf attack, and the collars are also capable of dispensing wolf repellant.

Read On | Tune In | Transcript

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Interviews

Robots Podcast #110: Salah Sukkarieh on Field Robotics

Posted 10 Aug 2012 at 16:12 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

photo of Salah Sukkarieh

Salah Sukkarieh is an Associate Professor in the School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering, within the Faculty of Engineering & Information Technologies, at The University of Sydney. He is also Director of the Australian Centre for Field Robotics (ACFR), which is included within the ARC Centre of Excellence for Autonomous Systems. In this interview he provides us with an overview of the Centre's past and present projects, pointing out how Australia's geography and demographics have acted to galvanize interest in field robotics there, particularly in the mining sector, and how they are likely to continue to shape the distribution of resources for ongoing research. He also discusses how the context for robotics has changed with the accumulation of experience and proven designs, such that a roboticist can now speak to a client with confidence about various potential approaches to addressing their needs.

Read On | Tune In | Transcript

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Space Robotics

Curiosity Lands Safely and In Working Order

Posted 6 Aug 2012 at 15:55 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

artist's concept of Curiosity on Mars

Depending on which time zone you're in, either yesterday evening or early this morning, a rocket-powered sky crane lowered the Curiosity rover gently to the surface of Mars, just in time for Curiosity to send a few low-res images before the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) and Odyssey, either of which could relay its signal back to Earth, dropped below the horizon and lost contact, culminating years of planning and months of anxious anticipation. Considering the complex sequence of steps involved, the narrow window of time within which each had to be performed, and the fact that all were performed autonomously by the system in flight or by the rover itself, this successful landing is a major victory for the incorporation of robotic technologies into rocket science. Congratulations to all involved!

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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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