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Roborobo! A Fast Robot Swarm Simulator

Posted 11 Apr 2013 at 21:46 UTC by steve

Looking for a multi-platform, portable, and fast simulator for large-scale robot swarm and collective projects? Look no further. EU researchers backed by the EU FET Proactive Initiative and other robotics research grants, have developed Roborobo! Coded in C++, it relies on the SDL 2D graphic library, and provides a basic robot similar to the e-puck and Khepera robots. And Roborobo! is licensed under the BSD license, meaning it respects the users freedoms in all the ways suggested by the Free Software Foundation and Open Source Initiative. Here's how the authors compare Roborobo! to other available robot simulators:

"With respect to other robotic simulators, Roborobo! takes an intermediate approach to model a robotic setup in order to combine (pseudo-)realistic modelling with fast-paced simulation. As such, it stands in between realistic, but slow, robotic simulation framework (such as Player/Stage, Webots, V-Rep, Gazebo or Microsoft Robotic Developer Studio), and unrealistic, but easy to use, agent based simulation tools such as Netlogo and MASON. It also differs from easy-access and fast robotic agent simulators such as Breve and Simbad, by focusing solely on swarm and aggregate of robotic units, focusing on large scale population of robots in 2-dimensional worlds rather than more complex 3-dimensional models"

The image above shows three sample screen captures from Roborobo! with 1, 100, and 5000 robots respectively. You can download the complete source code to Roborobo! from the roborobo repository at Google code. A modified version of the code, known as RoboRoboOrganism is available that offers support for modular robot organisms. For a brief technical overview of the Roborobo! simulator, see the paper Roborobo! a Fast Robot Simulator for Swarm and Collective Robotics (PDF format).

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Best Robot Photos of the Week

Posted 10 Apr 2013 at 22:17 UTC by steve

This edition of best robot photos of the week includes a rare bubble-faced RoboBrrd, ROGER the Recycled Object Gathering Electronic Robot, the Copenhagen Zinkglobal robot, the impressive "Guardian of Trafalgar Lane" robot, a full-size Wall-E, and a few other surprises. Every week we post a collection of the best robot photos submitted by our readers to our robots.net flickr group. Why? Because everyone likes to see cool new robots! Want to see your robot here? Post it to flickr and add it to the robots.net flickr group. It's easy! If you're not already a flickr member, it's free and easy to sign up. Read on to see the best robot photos of the week!

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Robohub.org focuses on jobs

Posted 10 Apr 2013 at 17:02 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

Here is Managing Editor Hallie Siegel introducing Robohub's week of focus on the interrelationship between robotics and jobs.

For the next week, Robohub will host a special focus on robots and jobs, featuring original articles from leading experts in the fields of robotics and automation. The goal of the series is to explore the shifting employment landscape as robots become more prevalent in the workplace, and we’ve got a great lineup!
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Random Robot Roundup

Posted 8 Apr 2013 at 20:28 UTC by steve

Lots of cool robots stuff in our inbox this week, so here goes...

  • Intelligrated Robotics Lab announced an educational series of events for National Robotics Week. Check out our earlier article to find more National Robotics Week events
  • RoboteQ announced the new SBL1360 30A motor controller
  • Illah Nourbakhsh, of the CMU Robotics Institute, has a new book out, Robot Futures in which he discusses social implications of human-robot interaction
  • Jose Aisoy let us know about a new robot he's launching, called the Aisoy1
  • Check out Fritz the Robotic Puppet, a Kickstarter project that needs your help
  • IEEE Spectrum posted photos and video of the headless COMAN humanoid robot being pushed around by some humans
  • The rapid pace of discoveries about the human brain continues with a UC Irvine news release describing a gene linked to long-term memory
  • NPR posted an article that's fun on two levels. First it's a video of John Cleese explaining the human brain. Second, the article describes how to turn on YouTube's allegedly intelligent closed captioning software, which is totally baffled by Cleese's antics.

Know any other robot news, gossip, or amazing facts we should report? Send 'em our way please. Don't forget to follow us on twitter and Facebook. And now you can add us to your Google+ circles too.

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Robohub coverage of We Robot

Posted 8 Apr 2013 at 15:07 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

WeRobot graphic

We Robot: Getting Down to Business is the title of the 2nd annual conference on robotics and the law, being held today and tomorrow at Stanford Law School. With several contributors in attendance, Robohub.org will be providing live coverage of this event. Check back frequently for updates.

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Robots Podcast #127: Software marketplace

Posted 7 Apr 2013 at 15:53 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

Celestino and Lucia of Adele

In episode #127 (April 5th, 2013), interviewer Per talks with Celestino Alvarez Martinez and Lucia Fernandez Cossio of Spanish robotic startup Adele. Adele is creating a marketplace for robotics software. Through their platform, robot developers can buy and sell robotic software components, in a practical way. Examples of these software components, which Adele calls sparks, are speech recognition, synthetic speech, vision systems, and user interface components. Their flagship project FIONA (Framework for Interactive-services Over Natural-conversational Agents) allows users to create intelligent and interactive virtual avatars.

Read On | Tune In

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Aquatic Robotics

DARPA Reveals Shark Sub-Hunting Robot

Posted 5 Apr 2013 at 18:36 UTC by steve

DARPA issued a news release today with some photos of the Phase II prototypes for the SHARK (Submarine Hold At RisK) UUV ( (unmanned underwater vehicle). The robot is designed for Distributed Agile Submarine Hunting (DASH), which is DOD acronym-speak for a distributed active sonar system which can track hard to detect silent submarines. The SHARK is built from commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) parts to help reduce the cost. SHARK works with another platform known as TRAPS (Transformational Reliable Acoustic Path System), which is a passive sonar detector platform that will be stationed at a fixed location. When a submarine triggers the TRAPS system, a SHARK is dispatched to locate and track the submarine. From the news release:

“The goal is not only to show we can address the most challenging problem in ASW [anti-submarine warfare], but that we can do so with systems that are scalable and affordable,” said Andy Coon, DARPA program manager. “A single deep sea node provides a field of view with significant coverage allowing for a limited number of nodes to scale to large areas. Within the trade space of deep ocean sonar, we need to get creative to achieve affordable hardware and operations. We purposely have avoided increasing the size and complexity of arrays to achieve our aims. This is a gamble, but we believe the potential payoff will be high.”

The SHARK prototype looks to be a modified version of a Bluefin Robotics AUV, maybe the Bluefin-21. For more details see the Bluefin Robotics press release. Also see our article last year on DARPA's other anti-submarine robot technology, known as ACTUV (ASW (Anti-Submarine Warfare) Continuous Trail Unmanned Vehicles) - DARPA does like its acronyms.

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National Robotics Week is Here!

Posted 4 Apr 2013 at 18:35 UTC by steve

It's time once again for National Robotics Week in the United States. Hundreds of local events are planned by robot clubs, schools, libraries, museums, and other groups throughout the week of 6-14 April. Over 170 events have already been registered on the National Robotics Week event list but many more are planned. Events range from robot contests and exhibitions to University lab tours. Check the list to find out what's happening near you and, if you can't find anything nearby, it's not too late plan something simple like a meetup of robot geeks at the local coffee shop. If you happen to be near Dallas, TX, stop by and see me at the Tanner Electronics Robot Expo on the 13th where there will be robots from the Dallas Personal Robotics Group, Quadcopters from Dallas Makerspace, and other robot surprises from local clubs and universities.

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UAVs for Agricultural Weed Control

Posted 3 Apr 2013 at 19:17 UTC by steve

Precision Agriculture is a hot topic these days as researchers look for ways to reduce the massive amounts of chemicals that are currently sprayed on food crops. A new research paper describes one of the ways robots may help in Early Season Site-Specific Weed Management (ESSWM). In the study, a UAV equipped with a multispectral camera collected images of sunflower field infested with naturally occurring weeds. Similar imaging techniques using traditional satellite and aerial methods to adjust herbicide distribution have yielded up to 50% reduction in the total amounts of herbicides used. The researchers hope to replicate this process using the less expensive flying robot. From the paper:

Weeds are distributed in patches within crops and this spatial structure allows mapping infested-uninfested areas and herbicide treatments can be developed according to weed presence. The main objectives of this research were to deploy an UAV equipped with either, RBG or multispectral cameras, and to analyze the technical specifications and configuration of the UAV to generate images at different altitudes with the high spectral resolution required for the detection and location of weed seedlings in a sunflower field for further applications of ESSWM. Due to its flexibility and low flight altitude, the UAV showed ability to take ultra-high spatial resolution imagery and to operate on demand according to the flight mission planned.

In the experiment, an MD4-1000 VTOL quadcopter from Microdrones GmbH was used (pictured above). The UAV was equipped with GPS, waypoint navigation software, telemetry logging, and two cameras: an Olympus PEN E-PM1 point-and-shoot digital camera and a Tetracam Mini-MCA-6 six-band multispectral camera. The immediate research goal in this project was to figure out what sensors and image processing techniques would work, so further improvements are quite likely. Now all they need to do is find a catchy name for this technology: weedbots? agridrones? herbidroids? For all the details, read the paper "Configuration and Specifications of an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) for Early Site Specific Weed Management" by Jorge Torres-Sánchez, Francisca López-Granados, Ana Isabel De Castro, and José Manuel Peña-Barragán. Read on for some photos showing sample imaging data from the UAV and waypoint navigation paths over the test crop.

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Best Robot Photos of the Week

Posted 2 Apr 2013 at 18:41 UTC by steve

In this exciting edition of best robot photos of the week find out what happens when Lunar robots need gas, see a Cyberman's severed head, check out the Cyton Gamma 1500 arm, see a FIRST team waiting with their robot for a final match, and see a toy based on one of those goofy robots from Disney's Black Hole movie. Lots more interesting stuff, of course, but easier seen than explained. Every week we post a collection of the best robot photos submitted by our readers to our robots.net flickr group. Why? Because everyone likes to see cool new robots! Want to see your robot here? Post it to flickr and add it to the robots.net flickr group. It's easy! If you're not already a flickr member, it's free and easy to sign up. Read on to see the best robot photos of the week!

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