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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Smarter robots from Japan



Japanese humanoid developers are competing in robot smartness. Toyota continues to develop robots that can play music. The latetest robot musician is a violin player that can entertain in cooperation with robotic drummers and trumpet players. Toyota´s Partner Robot Group will increase from 100 to 200 researchers in a new robot research center according to Toyota President Katsuaki Watanabe.

Toyota has marked the 70th anniversary of its founding by announcing a long-term business plan that calls for the commercialization of its humanoid Partner Robots for jobs like housekeeping and nursing support. The Toyota Global Vision 2020 plan sees robots as a core business for the leading automaker, which also plans to make hybrid technology available for its entire fleet of vehicles.



Competitor Honda continues to develop its humanoid robot Asimo and the robot can now operate with people as well as other humanoids in the same environment. It is the first update since 2006 and the latest version will be serving refreshments at Honda's Tokyo HQ the next two months. Asimos working together will wirelessly share data such as battery levels and the closest unit to a given task. When Asimo's battery level falls below a certain level, it will return to its recharging station and power up. Each robot works autonomously based on the networked information. Another new function allows Asimo to estimate the path of people walking toward it based on their speed and direction and to avoid them by stepping back if necessary. Check out the Honda videos here.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

South Korea to Build Robot Theme Parks

Nov 13, 2007
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) The Commerce Ministry announced a proposal Tuesday to build two parks by 2013 for $1.6 billion.
South Korea regards robotics — which includes software and hardware used mostly in manufacturing but also in some consumer appliances and other devices — as a key area for economic development. The young field has grown about 40 percent a year since 2003, according to the ministry.
Combining culture and entertainment with robot technology, they are to be built in Incheon, just west of Seoul, and the port city of Masan, about 242 miles south of Seoul, the ministry said in a statement. The government will provide $54.7 million to each city.

Visitors will be able to interact with robots and test new products. The project still needs to be approved in a feasibility study next year before getting off the ground in 2009, the ministry said.

Japanese robot news

Household robot
Japanese researchers on Tuesday unveiled a new humanoid robot designed to lend a hand with housework, particularly the rapidly growing number of elderly people in the Asian country. The 147-centimetre (four-foot-10) robot, pure white save for blue eyes and red arm joints, put its skills on display by helping an elderly person get out of bed and preparing breakfast.

While communicating with the person, the 111-kilogramme (244-pound) robot picked up tomato sauce from the refrigerator with four fingers and carried it with a piece of bread on a plate to the dining table.

Hitachi EMIEW 2
New EMIEW 2 humanoid robots from Hitachi Ltd. was shown during a press preview at its research center in Hitachinaka, north of Tokyo, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2007. The 80 centimeter (31.50 inch) tall 13 kilogram (29 pound) toddler-like robot, designed to work as a guide and run errands in offices, rolled around on two wheels or four wheels and waved just fine in a demonstration upon receiving commands from a personal computer by a new remote wireless control function, only to crash into a desk over a wireless glitch — highlighting the enormous hurdles robots must overcome to become real-life partners.

Lady Bird robot cleaner
On November 21, a group of small- to medium-sized venture companies based in western Japan unveiled an autonomous ladybug-shaped robot designed to clean public restrooms at highway rest areas.
The 1-meter (39-inch) tall, 1.35-meter (53-inch) long prototype robot — named “Lady Bird” — is equipped with water tanks, brushes and other tools needed for heavy-duty scrubbing. Obstacle detection sensors allow the robot to safely perform its duties without running into people.
In addition to cleaning, Lady Bird can engage in simple conversation with restroom users, thanks to microphones in its “antennae,” speech recognition capabilities and a voice synthesizer. The robot has access to the latest information about traffic conditions on nearby roads, which it can relay to anyone comfortable enough to ask.

The developers, who are building Lady Bird for West Nippon Expressway Company Limited (NEXCO), aim to complete the machine by March 2009, and they hope to one day see it cleaning toilets at hotels and other institutions. Lady Bird robots are expected to sell for about 3.5 million yen ($30,000) each.

WAO-1: Face massage robot
On October 9, professors Atsuo Takanishi of Waseda University and Akitoshi Katsumata of Asahi University unveiled an oral rehabilitation robot, called “WAO-1″ (Waseda Asahi Oral Rehabilitation Robot 1), which is designed to help treat mouth, jaw and facial disorders by performing therapeutic face massages. In November, the developers will begin clinical testing of a prototype robot — built by dental X-ray equipment manufacturer Asahi Roentgen — on patients in Yokohama.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Toyota Partner Robot Vision

Toyota Motor has marked the 70th anniversary of its founding by announcing a long-term business plan that calls for the commercialization of its humanoid Partner Robots for jobs like housekeeping and nursing support. Accoording to the Toyota Global Vision 2020 plan robots will be a core business for Toyota, which also plans to make hybrid technology available for its entire fleet of vehicles.

During the EXPO 2005 AICHI, JAPAN (The 2005 World Exposition, Aichi, Japan) Toyota displayed a variety of its future technologies, based on the theme “The Dream, Joy and Inspiration of Mobility in the 21st Century.” Some of the technologies on display included the personal mobility “i-unit,” the “Toyota partner robots” designed to aid human activities, a next-generation urban transit system called “IMTS(Intelligent Multimode Transit System),” and a fuel cell hybrid bus. http://www.toyota.co.jp/en/vision/emerging_tech/index.html

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Tartan Racing wins $2 million prize for DARPA URBAN CHALLENGE

Tartan Racing’s “Boss” of Pittsburgh, Penn., turned in the top performance in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Urban Challenge and won the $2 million cash prize as the competition’s first-place winner, DARPA announced on Nov 4th. Stanford Racing’s “Junior” of Stanford, Calif., won the $1 million second place prize, while Victor Tango’s “Odin” of Blacksburg, Va., received $500,000 for finishing third.

The
Urban Challenge prize winners competed as part of a field of 11 finalists that was selected from 35 semifinalists that competed in the National Qualification Event (NQE) prior to the final event. Semifinalists were selected from the original field of 89 competitors.

Vehicles that competed in the Urban Challenge were required to operate entirely autonomously, without human intervention, as they obeyed California traffic laws and performed maneuvers such as merging into moving traffic, navigating traffic circles and avoiding obstacles. The vehicles had to think like human drivers and continually make split-second decisions to avoid moving vehicles, merge into traffic and safely pass through intersections. Demonstrating safe operation in an urban situation was an effective and consolidated method of testing situations the vehicles might face even while conducting missions in less populated areas.



Monday, October 29, 2007

World Robotics 2007

The IFR Statistical Department, hosted by VDMA Robotics and Automation in Frankfurt, has published its 2007 World Robotics survey. The survey comprises statistics, market analysis, prognoses and case studies. After the record numbers recorded in 2005, sales of industrial robots were 11% lower in 2006, at 112,200 units. Nevertheless, this was the second highest result ever recorded. Although the automotive and the electrical/electronics industries, which in 2005 were still the main engines of the rapid growth that had been experienced, reduced their investment in robotics by 17% and 34% respectively, all other industrial sectors increased robot purchases by 25%.

Worldwide there are now over 951,000 robots in operation. Almost 50% of these are in Asia, a third in Europe, and 16% in North America.

Up to the end of 2006 about 40,000 service robots for professional use were installed worldwide. With more than 9,000 units the service robots in defense, rescue and security applications accounted for the highest share of the total number of service robots for professional use installed up to the end of 2006.

The unmanned aerial and ground-based vehicles for military use are the most established professional robots. Thereafter follow milking robots, underwater systems, pool cleaning robots, demolition systems for the construction industry, robot assisted surgery and mobile platform for general use.

Turning to the projections for the period 2007-2010, the stock of service robots for professional use is forecast to increase by some 35,500 units. Application areas with strong growth are military applications, field robots, cleaning robots, medical robots and mobile robot platforms for multiple use.

About 3.5 million service robots for personnel/domestic use were sold up to 2006. So far, service robots for personal and domestic use are mainly in the areas of domestic (household) robots, which include vacuum cleaning and lawn-mowing robots, and entertainment and leisure robots, including toy robots, hobby systems and education and training robots.

Robots for handicap assistance have not yet taken off as could be expected given their potential in regard to both the supposable need and the existing technological level of the equipment. In a longer perspective, say in the next 10 years, and taking into account demographic shifts and advances in technology, assistive robots for disabled and handicapped persons are certain to be a key area for service robots.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Great Robot Exhibition

Japan continues to promote robotics with a great retrospective on Japanese robot culture at the National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo. The exhibiton entitled "Dai Robotto Haku" (The Great Robot Exhibition) shows karakuri, anime and many of the best Japanese robots out there today. Highlights include a wall of one hundred "Master Grade" Gundam plastic models, an original 19th-century karakuri archer doll by Tanaka Hisashige and a new stage show by Honda's Asimo.

After the closure of the Robot Museum in Nagoya this fall, sales stop of consumer robots like Aibo and Wakamaru has raised questions about the state of Japanese robotics. Despite huge national robotics research program and impressing marketing events to promote next generation robotics the practical market outcome is still disappointing. Retrospective praising of Japanese robotics may enjoy historians, robot fans and developers of the past, but will it also stimulate a debate about market failiures and business blind spots?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Toyota’s new guide robot TPR-Robina

Toyota’s new guide robot TPR-Robina, released on August 22, has improved ability to avoid obstacles and operate autonomously, while agile, jointed fingers enable the robot to grasp writing utensils and sign autographs. Further, in addition to being able to communicate using words and gestures, the 60-kg, 1.2-meter tall robot has an image recognition system that allows it to read visitors’ name tags so that it can tailor its directions accordingly. TPR-Robina is working as a receptionist and guide at the Toyota Kaikan Exhibition Hall.
http://www.toyota.co.jp/en/news/07/0822.html

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Asimo robots invade Germany

The University of Bielefeld has opened up a new research Institute for cognition and robotics (CoR Lab). Interdisciplinary research groups at the lab will be working on the development of robots with cognitive and social abilities that will make them suitable assistants for people in everyday life.
As a partner of the lab, Honda of Japan has provided researchers in Germany with two humanoid Asimo robots complete with software. The CoR Lab is thus the first university in Europe that can play around with Honda's high-tech robots for research.
The CoR Lab gets part of its funding from the Ministry of Innovation, Science, Research, and Technology in the German state of North Rhine/Westphalia, which has provided 1.1 million euros for the establishment of the Institute. The lab will mainly be focusing on research in the fields of artificial perception, computer site, and neural motion control.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Service Robotics will drive Industrial Robotics

Service robotics will become an important indstrial sector according to future visions in Japan, Korea and Europe. Bill Gates expects "A robot in every home" anticipate service robots that can assist senior citizens wiith personal care. In the home of the future we will meet home assistants, secretary robots, security assistants and sports assistants. In hospital nursing robots and medical robot for operations will do the jobbs. In industry transportation robots and partner robots will support workers. In the office cleaning robots, office assistants and robotic guides will take the lead. Security robots will be used for reconnaissance, surveillance of buildings/borders, disaster response.

Service robots will be needed in the future to cope with demographic change, with a growing number of of elderly people and a decline of workforce. Stefan Müller, president of International Federation of Robotics, IFR, means that robots are needed to maintain the manufacturing industry and keep pace with an ever-increasing demand for quality. At the same time, people want to live in their own homes for as long as possible in old age, but supportive family structures are increasingly disappearing. The ideal solution according to Stefan Müller would be a "health care robot".

The service robotics market is still small but its future prospects seems to be great. Service robots are highly individual and are used in a wide variety ofapplications: underwater, for cleaning, defense or security, or in the medical sector. According to IFR/UNECE a total of 31,600 service robots for professional use were sold worldwide up to the end of 2005. Between 2006 to 2009, the number of robots sold is forecast to rise by a further 34,000 robots.

In private homes service robots are are used above all as vacuum cleaners and lawnmowers or in the area of hobbies and leisure. Up to the end of 2005, a total of 2.9 million service robots were sold, and this figure is expected to increase to 5.5 million units between 2006 and 2009.

A mass market for household robots needs inexpensive components and high productivity in manufacturing, which means heavy automation and industrial robotics.

Nagoya Robot Museum closed

The Japanese robotics crisis continues. The next victim is the Robot Museum in Nagoya, that was openend a year ago, but will be closed at the end of the month due to lack of visitors according to operator Gyrowalk. Inspite of the popularity of robots in Japan and a ambitous museum concept with a large retail area, event space and robot exhibition gallery the museum could not meet the annual 400.000 expected visitors. The shut down of the Robot Museum in Nagoya is an important market signal that illustrates the vulnerabilty of early adopters but also the need of viable business models.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

New backlash for Japanese service robotics

Japanese service robot market in trouble, again. After Sony's termination of its famous robot dog AIBO in 2006, japanese service robot manufacturer Mitsubishi has decided to stop sales of its prestigious partner robot Wakamaru according to a report of Nikkei Weekly. The robot was launched in 2005 with a sales target of about a 100 robots for about $14,300 USD each. But consumers have been disappointed about features and functionality. Its voice-recognition capability was too narrow, its body too big for small Japanese homes and Internet services not good enough.

In June 2007 a rental service was launched to offer the robot for reception and communication tasks. The daily rental fee varied according to the lease length. For a lease of 1-5 days, it's 120,000 yen ($970), while 21-30 days is only 20,000 yen ($160).

The termination of Wakamaru, one of the leading edge domestic robots in Japan, raises many questions about the future of japanese service robotics?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Belgium researcher won the Robotdalen Scientific Award 2007


Three final candidates attended the first prize ceremony of the international Robotdalen Scientific Award, set up by the Swedish robotics cluster Robotdalen. Dr Eric Demeester from Katholieke Universiteit in Belgium won the Robotdalen Scientific Award 2007 with his thesis “User-adapted plan recognition and shared control for wheelchair driver assistance under uncertainty”and received € 20 000.

The jury’s statement on the winning thesis was: A beautifully organized and prepared application describing the candidate's research in human-robot interaction with the crucial goal of "understanding what the user had in mind", excellently implemented in the important domain of intelligent wheelchair mobility. The jury was impressed by the importance of the underlying problem and the relevance of the application domain, the extensibility of the approach, and the integration of theory, modelling, and hands-on implementation.

The two other final candidates are Bram Vanderborght from Virje Universiteit Brussel, Belgium and Mike Stilman from Carnegie Mellon University, USA, who both received honorary mentions and a prize sum of 1 000 euro each.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Korea invests $M 500 in Robot City

The Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy annonced plans to invest in a Robot City, the first of its kind in the world. Construction of the site should begin in 2009. The city, to be developed as the mecca for the country's robotics industry, will house manufacturers, parts suppliers, research centers, exhibition halls and a stadium where robots can compete in various events.

Ten provincial governments have submitted applications. Cost of constructing the site is estimated at about 500 billion won (about $M 500). The government may provide about 50 billion won for the building of Robot Land.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Three final candidates for the Robotdalen Scientific Award

The three final candidates of the Robotdalen Scientific Award have been elected and will all attend the prize ceremony at Robotdalen Day in Örebro September 5, where the winner will be officially presented. The final candidates are:
* Bram Vanderborght from Virje Universiteit Brussel in Belgium,
* Eric Demeester from Katholieke Universiteit in Belgium,
* Mike Stilman from Carnegie Mellon University in the USA.

Swedish Robotdalen has founded The Robotdalen Scientific Award, an international competition for young scientists, with EUR 20 000 in prize money. The purpose is to encourage young, innovative people all over the world in the field of robotics and automation, to find new and untried approaches for the future.

Nec introduces Mini PaPeRo

According to a press release from May 2007, NEC has developed a "mini version" of its PaPeRo conversation robot. The 25 cm tall and 2,5 kg heavy robot can move around and is able to perform speech recognition, speech synthesis, sound source detection and face recognition.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Microsoft enters the Korean Robotics Market

Korea IT Times reports Microsoft's enterance of the Korean robotics software market. which is most active in commercializing intelligent robots.

Micosoft plans to open for the first time a MS-Robotics website for a non-English speaking country. The Robotics business unit of Microsoft even sent an employee to be exclusively engaged in the Korean market.

Microsoft also announced that it would set up a professional community by supplying robotics SW to 100,000 software developers in Korea, which is a similar practice to facilitating the global PC market in the past thanks to open software developed by individuals in the early stages of the PC industry.

Microsoft will have promotion events at 13 universities nationwide starting next month, and support various robotics software competition. It will also launch 4 to 5 robotics platforms for developers in cooperation with 6 domestic robotics partners such as Yujin Robotics and Micro Robot. The Intelligent Robotics Department of Mokwon University has already included the MS robotics-SW into its curriculum for the first semester of next year.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

DARPA ANNOUNCES 36 SEMI-FINALISTS FOR URBAN CHALLENGE

Autonomous Vehicle Competition to be Held in Victorville, Calif. (Anaheim, Calif.) – Dr. Tony Tether, director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), today announced the 36 teams (list attached) selected as semi-finalists for the Urban Challenge. The semi-finalists will next compete in the Urban Challenge National Qualification Event (NQE) scheduled for October 26-31, 2007. The top 20 teams from the NQE will move on to the Urban Challenge final event on November 3, and compete for cash prizes worth $2 million for first, $1 million for second, and $500,000 for third place.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Military robots

The number of flying robots in the American armed forces' arsenal has gone up by nearly 1400% in four years, military documents show. A relatively modest unmanned fleet of 217 machines has grown into a 3211-drone armada. The most popular of these UAVs in the Army's three-foot-long Raven which has a typical Air Time of 80 minutes and maximum altitude of 1,000 feet. Watch Raven in the New Air Force Commercial video.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Robot dog from Sega Toy

Sega Toys has announced it will market a small toy robot dog, called Mio, that can express its "emotions" and respond to petting. It has sensors on its head, chin and back. Mio's eyes will display over a hundred icons to express psychological states. It can also respond to voice with its own "babble," play music and shuffle along. Take a look at the video clip here.

Monday, June 25, 2007

New working humanoid: HRP-3 Promet Mark II

The new HRP-3 Promet Mark II is designed to work in tunnels, disaster zones and other dangerous environments such as nuclear power plants. Jointly developed by Kawada Industries, Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) and others, HRP showed off its skills tightening bolts and screwing screws.



Rain- and dust-proof, the latest robot in the HRP series stands 160 cm tall and weighs 68 kg. HRP-3 has 42 degrees of freedom and has improved grasping ability. The robot can operate autonomously or by remote control. The price for the robot will be $80.000-150.000 when ready for the market in 2010.




(HRP - Humanoid Robotics Project).

Sunday, June 24, 2007

DARPA Urban Challenge 2007

The DARPA Urban Challenge is an autonomous vehicle research and development program with the goal of developing technology that will keep warfighters off the battlefield and out of harm’s way. An autonomous ground vehicle is a vehicle that navigates and drives entirely on its own with no human driver and no remote control. Through the use of various sensors and positioning systems, the vehicle determines all the characteristics of its environment required to enable it to carry out the task it has been assigned.

The Urban Challenge features autonomous ground vehicles maneuvering in a mock city environment, executing simulated military supply missions while merging into moving traffic, navigating traffic circles, negotiating busy intersections, and avoiding obstacles.
The competitive final event is scheduled to take place on November 3, 2007. The exact location will be announced before the National Qualification Event scheduled for October 2007. DARPA is offering $2M for the fastest qualifying vehicle, and $1M and $500,000 for second and third place.

53 teams from have been qualified for the first qualification round.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Robot Dinosaurus Pleo


Pleo is an autonomous robotic life form modeled on a one-week-old Camarasaurus dinosaur. Pleo is designed to mimic life which means Pleo thinks and acts independently, just like a real animal. It’s about the size of a really fluffy house cat, with big blue eyes and a chubby playful body. Pleo does evolve over time in 3 major stages as curious baby, adaptive infant, and finally juvenile dinosaur.

Pleo will be available for $349 USD in the United States in October 2007. Replacement battery packs will be available too. International customers will have to wait until some time in Fall 2007 for further information on Pleo availability in their area.


Monday, June 18, 2007

Robotarium X - the first AI-Zoo

The Robotarium X at Jardim Central, Alverca (Vila Franca de Xira), Portugal, the first zoo in the world dedicated to robots and artificial life. It is latest technology-art project of Leonel Moura, a European artist born in Lisbon, Portugal, who works with AI and robotics.

Robotarium is conceived for a public garden it is constituted by a large glass structure containing 45 robots, most powered by photovoltaic energy and a few plugged to the ceiling or to the ground. The robots are all original, created specifically for the project, representing 14 species classified by distinct behavior strategies and body morphologies. Obstacle avoidance, movement or sunlight detection and interaction with the public are some of the robots skills.

Home Robot for Rent


Japanese robot manufacturer Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has announced that its humanoid communication robot Wakamaru is now available for rent. Wakamaru has vision, auditory and touch sensors and was launched last year. The rental project is aimed at businesses, hospitals and events, where the robot can be used as receptionist or guide. Wakamaru understands about 10,000 japanese words, can retrieve information or emails from the Net with its wireless LAN link.

The daily rental fee varies according to the lease length. For a lease of 1-5 days, it's 120,000 yen ($970), while 21-30 days is only 20,000 yen ($160). Shipping and management charges extra. The rentals will come with touch panels that can display venue maps and other info.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Robotics Journals ranked by impact

The below table shows the citation impact of robotic journals based on their 2005 "impact factor," as enumerated in the current edition of the Thomson Scientific Journal Citation Reports®. The 2005 impact factor is calculated by taking the number of all current citations to source items published in a journal over the previous two years and dividing by the number of articles published in the journal during the same period—in other words, a ratio between citations and recent citable items published.
Rank 2005 (Impact Factor):

  1. IEEE Trans. Robotics(1.49)
  2. Autonomous Robots(1.25)
  3. Int. J. Robot. Res.(1.13)
  4. Robotics & Auton. Syst.(0.77)
  5. Robot. Comp.-Int. Mfg.(0.64)
  6. Robotica(0.49)
  7. IEEE Robot./Autom. Mag.(0.45)
  8. Advanced Robotics(0.35)
  9. J. Robotic Systems(0.32)
  10. J. Int. Robot. Syst.(0.22)

See also new: Top 10 Robotics Journals 2010 - click here!

Robot tour in Versailles

From June 7 to 27, 2007, Orange fibre customers will be able to enjoy a remote tour of the rooms in the palace of Versailles inaccessible to the general public by steering, from their PC, a robot fitted with a camera. A world first that brings together culture, high-speed broadband and robotics.

During this experimental phase, Orange fibre customers will be able to discover the collection in the
Chimay rooms, which are generally closed to the general public. Accompanied by an explanatory
voice commentary, the images of the works filmed by the robot will be broadcast live in high definition.

This unique technological innovation is made possible by fibre optics and a visiophony system
developed in the Orange Labs. These free tours, lasting 20 minutes, will be available every day from 9
am to 1 pm and 6 pm to 10 pm. Orange "fibre" subscribers can book tours since June 4 on the highspeed
broadband portal at www.orange.fr.

This experimental phase is part of the GVN project (Grand Versailles Numérique (Digital Great
Versailles)). Launched by the Palace of Versailles in 2005, GVN’s aim is to imagine, test and then
deploy new digital tools designed to enrich visits to the museum and the Versailles estate. It is a
research and experimentation programme that merges culture and technology. A prototype of GVN
could be duplicated in other cultural sites, in France and throughout the world. The innovations
contained in this project are linked to improving the reception, information and orientation of the public,
preparation, enrichment and prolongation of the visit, sharing knowledge and exchanges between
visitors.

Robosoft, a worldwide leader in service robotics solutions, has prepared and loaned the project one of
its robuters®. The robuter is an intelligent mobile robot equipped with a camera, and able to perform
pre-programmed themed visits, or to be remote controlled on demand from any PC connected to the
Internet. This world first is a clear illustration of Robosoft’s vision that, by 2011, robuters will change
our daily lives, particularly through functions like tele-presence, which is demonstrated today in the
Palace of Versailles. Exclusively available on Orange fibre, this experiment illustrates one of the uses made possible by fibre optics and opens up perspectives in other fields (tourism, cultural, educational, medical, security, etc.) or in the search for solutions to facilitate access to cultural events for people with reduced mobility.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Underwater robot Depthx successful dive

The Deep Phreatic Thermal Explorer (DEPTHX) project is creating the navigation and autonomy needed to enable an underwater robot to map the depths of the Zacaton Cenote in central Mexico. This scientific investigation is seeking to understand the unique organisms that survive in this, the deepest sink hole in the world (300 m).

The DEPTHX project is led by Stone Aerospace, Field Robotic Center at Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute, who designed and integrated the vehicle. Southwest Research Institute has built the sciencepayload for science investigators from the University of Texas at Austin, Colorado School of Mines, and NASA Ames Research Center. Carnegie Mellon is developing the navigation and guidance software to map the cenote and autonomously execute the exploration strategy.

Depthx has 100 sensors, 36 computers and 16 thrusts ( small actuators) and is navigating autonomously.
Images

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Androids have higher calling than mechanical cousins, IU expert says

Human-looking robots have a greater potential for social interaction according to MacDorman, associate professor at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. "They are the ultimate human communications interface. They can serve as companions, entertainers, rehabilitation therapists, realistic medical training dummies and teachers for autistic children."
MacDorman, , will share his expertise at the International Robots and Vision Conference in Chicago, June 11-14. He will join scientists from 26 nations presenting at a session highlighting recent trends and technology in service robots.

In the United States robots are still viewed mainly as tools for performing specific tasks, even when they act autonomously. They can be programmed for tasks such as delivering messages, medications and food in hospitals, cleaning public areas and general surveillance. "However, using an android seems to have little if any advantage over special-purpose robots in performing these kinds of jobs," he said. "A less expensive, wheeled robot can courier or vacuum faster than an android and with less power consumption."

Pool-cleaner robots

Home vacuum robot maker iRobot (NASDAQ: IRBT) has launched two new pool-cleaner robots for home use. The two robots, Verro 300 and Verro 600, are available now for $800 and $1200. The 300 model uses water jet and vacuum to suck up debris from the pool. The Verro 600 uses brushes along with the vacuum and filter. Drop the robot into the water and it will clean the pool in 60 to 90 minutes. The robots require a power umbilical plugged in but do not need any hose connection to the pool's pump. iRobot worked with the Aqua Products Group companies to develop their robots.

Another makers of pool cleaner robots are Maytronics (Isreal), Weda (Sweden), Aquabot (USA), Ozonex (France).

Home Companion robot

Korean start-up KornTech has launched a new home companion robot called Rogun a 1-meter tall humanoid who can walk and communicate wirelessly with the Internet and cell phones. It is designed to play with kids and entertain them through a small video screen on his chest. Through a cell phone the parents will be able to watch their kids and send commands to them and the robot. KornTech says they have spent US $1 million developing the first unit. They will build more to order for $100,000 right now. In the future the plan to sell the cuties for as little as $5000.

Hitachi Develops Portable Photo-topography Equipment for Measuring Brain Activities in Daily Life -- Tech-On!

Hitachi Ltd's Advanced Research Laboratory has prototyped a portable photo-topography equipment, which weighs only 1 kg. As using this equipment allows easy measurement of brain activities in daily life, "Not just for medical applications, photo-topography technology will be more familiar to us. For example, this technology may be useful for health care application with observing a trend in everyday measurements," said Hitachi. The company also explains about some other application fields such as psychology, marketing and education.

Child robot makes debut : Science & Nature : Features : DAILY YOMIURI ONLINE (The Daily Yomiuri)

Child robot makes debut : Science & Nature : Features : DAILY YOMIURI ONLINE (The Daily Yomiuri)

A child-sized android with flexible joints and soft skin developed by the Japan Science and Technology Agency was unveiled June 2 at Osaka University, where the agency's research and development team is based. The 1.3-meter-tall, 33 kilogram humanoid robot has optical, auditory and tactile sensors. Fifty-one actuators inside its body run on compressed air and enable the robot to make complex movements smoothly.About 200 tactile sensors are embedded in the robot's gray skin, which is made of silicon and other materials. The robot can react to its surroundings by blinking and altering its facial expressions.

The robot, which has the physical ability of a 1- or 2-year-old toddler, can turn over and stand up with assistance. At the news conference Friday, the humanoid moved its hands and feet and turned its eyes. The 33-kilogram humanoid is fitted with an artificial vocal cord can also form words.Its name is CB2, an abbreviation of Child-Robot with Biomimetic Body.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Autonomous Navigation in Dynamic Environments

Series: Springer Tracts in Advanced Robotics , Vol. 35
Laugier, Christian, Chatila, Raja
2007, Approx. 170 p., Hardcover
ISBN: 978-3-540-73421-5
Not yet published. Available: October 4, 2007

Part I: Dynamic World Understanding and Modelling for Safe Navigation.- Mobile Robot Map Learning from Range Data in Dynamic Environments.- Optical Flow Approaches for Self-Supervised Learning in Autonomous Mobile Robot Navigation.- Steps Towards Safe Navigation in Open and Dynamic Environments.- Part II: Obstacle Avoidance and Motion Planning in Dynamic Environments.- Provably Safe Motions Strategies for Mobile Robots in Dynamic Domains.- Motion Planning in Dynamic Environments.- Recursive Agent Modeling with Probabilistic Velocity Obstacles for Mobile Robot Navigation among Humans.- Towards Real-Time Sensor-Based Path Planning in Highly Dynamic Environments.- Part III: Human-Robot Physical Interactions.- Tasking Everyday Interaction.

DARPA Grand Challenge

DARPA Grand ChallengeThe Race of the CenturySeries: Springer Tracts in Advanced Robotics , Vol. 36
Iagnemma, Karl; Buehler, Martin; Singh, Sanjiv (Eds.)
2008, Approx. 480 p., Hardcover
ISBN: 978-3-540-73428-4

The DARPA Grand Challenge was a landmark in the field of robotics: a race by autonomous vehicles through 132 miles of rough, cross-country Nevada terrain that showcased exciting and unprecedented capabilities in robotic perception, navigation, and control. The event took place in October 2005, and drew teams of competitors from academia and industry, and many garage hobbyists. This book presents fifteen technical papers that are written at a level that makes them easily accessible to a broad technical audience, describing the technology behind most of the robotic vehicles that participated in this famous race. The papers describe each team's driverless vehicle, race strategy, and insights. As a whole, they present the state of the art in autonomous vehicle technology, and offer a glimpse of future technology for tomorrow’s driverless cars.
This book will serve as an authoritative, archival source for the DARPA Grand Challenge and a “must have” for robotics students and researchers, since it describes the state of the art in perception, planning and control.

Friday, June 01, 2007

BBC NEWS | UK | Scotland | Tayside and Central | Scientists to build robot society

Scientists in Dundee have announced plans to create a "robot village" in an effort to learn how different cultures emerge in society. The University of Abertay’s four-year study will feature about 60 miniature robots who will be organised into groups and programmed to interact. The project team plans to observe the robots to see how they behave together. The university will undertake the study along with five other institutions across the UK. Scientists say the robots will be organised into groups or “villages” and told to observe then copy each other’s behaviour in different situations. The research, costing more than £700,000, is being funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. A consortium of universities, including the University of Exeter, Warwick, Manchester and the West of England will take part in the study along with researchers from Leeds Metropolitan University.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

2007 winners of the fourth EURON/EUnited Robotic Technology Transfer Award

The EURON/EUnited Robotics Technology Transfer Award was created in 2003 in order to improve the quality of robotics research and to raise the profile of technology transfer between science and industry.

The EURON/erf Technology Transfer Award rewards outstanding innovations in robot technology and automation arising from cooperation between academic researchers and industry. The initiative can have come from either end -- either industry going to a university with a problem to be solved; or a university project with real potential looking for expertese in the marketing process.

2007 winners are two teams:

Ulrich Hagn (DLR), Tobias Ortmaier (KUKA Roboter, DLR), Richard Wohlgemuth (Brainlab) for KineMedic: a generic, kinematic redundant, light-weight, and torque-controlled robot developed for medical interventions.

Hong Liu, Peter Meusel, Gerd Hirzinger (all of DLR) for the SAH hand (featured coincidentally as "Robot of the Week" on this site in week 11). The Schunk Anthropomorphic Hand (SAH) is a joint development study of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and the Harbin Institute of Technology (HIT). The goal is to use mainly industrial standard components and common technologies to produce a hand useable in small-scale production. EURON: activities/techaward

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Cyberhand Project

The CYBERHAND project, funded by the Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) arm of the IST Programme, aimed at exploring cutting-edge theories and solutions in the fields of neuroscience and robotics, in order to develop a cybernetic prosthetic hand.
The main result of the CYBERHAND project was the development of a new kind of hand prosthesis (i.e., a "cybernetic prosthesis") able to re-create the natural link which exists between the hand and the Central Nervous System (CNS). The Demonstrator can be considered the first tangible result towards the implementation of a "bionic hand" completely interchangeable with the natural one.

Monday, March 26, 2007

The Robotdalen Scientific Award 2007

The Swedish innovation cluster Robot Valley, in Swedish called Robotdalen, has announced The Robotdalen Scientific Award, an international competition for young scientists, with EUR 20 000 in prize money. The purpose is to encourage young, innovative people all over the world in the field of robotics and automation, to find new and untried approaches for the future. The first entry date is June 30, 2007.

The international research award is for graduate and postgraduate students worldwide, who have completed or are about to complete their degree. The award promotes groundbreaking ideas and exceptional talent, and is worth a total of EUR 20 000. Young academics from all faculties and any nationality can submit a summary of their graduate or postgraduate thesis. Finals papers of Bachelor's and Master's Degree courses are also eligible for submission.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Japanese robot survey

According to japan.internet.com 69% of Japanese want to use domestic robots in the future but 18% do not.
(Google translation from japanese)
“We would like to utilize,” that when the housekeeping which in 222 people who reply is wanted helping concretely in the robot is asked, “cleaning” occupied 90.5% (201 people) with preponderant large number, next “laundry” 50.5% (112 people), “cooking kitchen work” 48.2% (107 people) with became. On the one hand, “care 22.5% of the garden” (50 people), “nursing 20.3% the parent” (45 people) approximately 2 it was restricted comparatively, “playmate 14.0% of the child” (31 people), “shopping” 13.1% (29 people) with continued.By the way, when in the future it becomes some existence, the user you probably think the robot home appliance? “The electrification product 48.8% (161 people) with was most to the last,” below, 28.5% “of the assistants” (94 people), 11.5% of the “housekeeping ladies” (38 people), with continued.

In 2005 MyVoice surveyed 17,958 people registered in the MyVoice community; 42% male and 39% in their thirties.
Q1: Do you think you’d want to use a robot in your home?
I absolutely want to use (13.9%), I probably want to use (36.0%), I can’t say whether I want to or not (29.6%), I don’t really want to use (12.2%), I absolutely don’t want to use (8.3%)
Q2: What sort of robot functions do you want to use? (Multiple answer)
Cleaning the house (58.4%), Crime prevention (55.3%), Home minding (39.2%), Tidying up after meals (34.4%), Clothes washing (26.8%), Ironing (23.1%), Cooking (22.1%), Carrying baggage (21.8%), Healing (19.9%), Play (18.9%), Nursing (17.7%), Driving car (16.9%), Work or study help (15.3%), Communication or chat (15.1%), Health management (12.0%), Child minding or child eduction (10.4%), Others (2.2%), I don’t want to use a robot (11.3%), No answer (0.2%)

Note: the difference between “crime prevention” and “home minding” is probably that “crime prevention” implies detection of intruders, whereas “home minding” is more just monitoring the house, answering the phone or the door, watching the cat, etc.

Q3: If you bought a robot, up to about how much would you pay?
Up to 10,000 yen (11.9%), 10,000 to 100,000 yen (37.8%), 100,000 to 200,000 yen (13.4%), 200,000 to 300,000 yen (7.0%), 300,000 to 500,000 yen (5.2%), 500,000 to 1,000,000 yen (5.0%), 1,000,000 to 10,000,000 yen (1.1%) Over 10,000,000 yen (0.2%) I don’t think I want to buy (18.0%), No answer (0.5%).
Q4: Are you uneasy about the spread of home robots?
I feel completely uneasy about it´(6.7%)
I’m a little uneasy about it (27.4%)
I can’t say whether I am uneasy or not (34.1%)
I don’t really feel uneasy (22.4%)
I don’t feel uneasy at all (8.4%)
No answer (1.0%)

Saturday, March 24, 2007

DARwIn the Humanoid Robot

DARwIn is a humanoid robot that plays soccer, set to take on other candidates from around the world in the 2007 Robocup competition. It was developed by a group of mechanical engineering students from Virginia Tech, in the Robotics & Mechanisms Laboratory, RoMeLa. The DARwIn humanoids are part of a whole group of robots developed at RoMeLa and their current research covers half a dozen prototypes based on the same technology as the Robocup team.



Thursday, March 22, 2007

Robots on the move

Walking robots and robot chairs are the technical challenge for robotics scientist especially in Japan and Korea. The walking chair competition between Japan and Korea started att the Expo 2005 when Toyota presented iFoot - a large exoskeleton designed for a single human of max 60 kg. This exoskeleton can climb stairs and is intended for the elderly and those with disabilities. ifoot uses a birdlike leg joint so it can bend down for the user to get in and out. It walks at the speed of 1.35 km/h (0.83 miles/hr).

The korean HUBO Lab has developed HUBO-FX1 a human-riding robot having wiht 12 DOF (degrees of freedom). The development concept is that the robot can walk naturally with carrying a person or a load of 100 kg, so the lower body takes after legs of human and the upper body takes after a chair. A person who sits on the upper body can control the robot naturally using the built-on joystick installed. It has many kinds of sensors. Each ankle has the 3-axis force/torque sensor which measures a normal force and 2 moments. Each foot has the inclination sensor which measures angle of the slope. Also the rate gyro and the inclination sensor of the body can do a stabilization of itself. HUBO-FX1 is 2m in height and 150kg in weight. It is possible to perform forward walking, backward walking, side walking and turning around. Video

South Korean scientists are now trying to develop a walking android with legs like a human. Att the Korean Institute of Industrial Technology, KITEC, researchers have developed EveR-2MUSE , the worlds first singing android designed to look like a young Korean woman. The robot has motor functions, enabling her to walk, stand up and sit down. Her predecessor, EveR-1, was stationary and couldn’t move. Also, EveR-2 is larger than EveR-1 - 165 centimeters and 60 kilograms versus 160 centimeters and 55 kilograms.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Spy Robot from Meccano

Meccano has introduced Spyke, a remote controlled robot kit that runs on a rubber band. It has a webcam and can communicate over wifi. The robot can be uses for video surveilliance, as a VOIP phone and digital music player. The pricing will be appr. € 250.

Similar robots with camera and Wi-fi remote control are sold in Japan as home security robot or pet sitters, e.g. Nuvo from ZMP.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

VolksBot

The German research institut Frauenhofer IAIS has developed a flexible and modular mobile robot construction kit , designed to fit the needs in research and education as well as in application-based rapid-prototyping. The component-based approach offers a plug-in architecture in electronic hardware, software and mechanics. It provides open interfaces to hardware and software modules.Combined with an effective and robust design, a wide range of domain-specific robots can be created with little effort. Furthermore, the modular concept facilitates reusability of already developed components. The robot kit and its components are available for sale via Steinbeis-Transferzentrum Informationstechnische Systeme. Price starts from 5300:- EUR.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

The Battlefield Extraction-Assist Robot

The Battlefield Extraction-Assist Robot, or BEAR, is the flagship of College Park (MD) based Vecna Robotics. The robot combines a hyper-agile mobility platform with dynamic balancing and a high-strength upper body, all in humanoid form. Designed to find, pick up and rescue people in harm's way, the humanoid BEAR robot can do what humans can't: Lift heavy loads and carry them long distances. Whether on a battlefield, in a nuclear reactor core, near a toxic chemical spill, or inside a structurally-compromised building after an earthquake, the BEAR can rescue those in need as well as or better than humans can, without risking additional human life. Vecna Robotics Home Page

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

RoboGames 2007

RoboGames is the world's largest open robot competition and brings together robotics experts and hobbyists from around the world to compete in over 70 different events. Combat robots, walking humanoids, soccer bots, sumo bots, and even androids that do kung-fu. Some robots are autonomous, some are remote controlled. This years event will be helt June 15-17 in Fort Mason, San Francisco.

This year RobotGames also host the Federation of International Robot-soccer Association annual Robot World Cup. Soccer playing robots from around the world will compete in seven different classes - from bots as small as a quarter to androids that are almost 3 feet tall.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

War protesters arrested at Carnegie Mellon robotics center

About a dozen anti-war protesters were arrested Friday after some blocked the entrances to Carnegie Mellon University's robotics center. The activists oppose work at the National Robotics Engineering Center, (NREC) which develops advanced mobile robotics and field roboticssystems for business and government, including the development of vehicles and other devices used by the U.S. military. The robotics center gets 87 percent of its funding (about $22 million) from the Department of Defense. Research results from NREC programns will be used as a Future Combat Systems (FCS) technology feed program advancing work on other autonomous vehicle programs including the Armed Reconnaissance Vehicle (ARV) and the Autonomous Navigation System. (ANS). The vision of Autonomous Combat Systems and Armed Robots is controversial not only from an ethical but also from a technical point of view. Regulating the behaviour of robots is going to become more difficult in the future, since they will increasingly have self-learning mechanisms built into them, says Gianmarco Veruggio, a roboticist at the Institute of Intelligent Systems for Automation in Genoa, Italy in the Economist. As a result, their behaviour will become impossible to predict fully, he says, since they will not be behaving in predefined ways but will learn new behaviour as they go. Who will be resposible for Autonomous Combat Systems when they got wild, have been hi-jacked or became friends with the enemies Autonoumous Combat Systems? Please as your representative in Congress, parliament, Riksdagen, they use your tax and should know - before it is too late.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

HAL-lelujah! - catwalk with robot suite

Forget the robo-babe metallic leggings of Balenciaga, the Chanel pans or Hussein Chalayan´s cyber skirt, they are old fashion. Think future and invest US $ 5000 in Hybrid Assistive Limb (HAL) a robot suit from japanese Cyberdyne which can expand and improve your physical capabilities. With HAL-5 you can hold up to 40 kg load by arms and can increase the maximum weight of leg press from 100 kg to 180 kg. HAL can be used for heavy physical labor supports at factories and plants, rescue supports at disaster site, care personnel supports, entertainments. HAL is originallly developed to help elderly or disabled people walk around with their own legs and HAL-3 achieved the primary goal in 2000. In 2005, the latest model HAL-5 was given upper body limbs as well as weight saving and more compact power units, longer life battery, much smaller control unit and spectacularly designed outer shells.

HAL is 1600 mm height, and the full body type weights approx. 23kg, lower body approx.15kg. HAL is deriven by battery with continuous operating time of approx. 2 hours and 40 minutes. HAL can be used for daily activities indoor or outdoor such as standing up from a chair, walking, climbing up and down stairs, hold and lift heavy objects etc.

Cyberdyne Inc will co-operate with Daiwa House Industry Co to produce 400 HAL units per year. Daiwa House has investered approx. 1 billion yen (about 1 million dollar) in Cyberdyne to establish infrastructure for massproduction. Cyberdyne will use Daiwa Houses sales network to offer HAL for rehabilitation and elderly care rent. The renting fee will be 60.000 yen - 200.000 yen per month. HAL-lelujah!

Robot as construction worker

Dr. Behrokh Khoshnevis an inventor, engineering professor and director of the Center for Rapid Automated Fabrication Technologies at the University of Southern California has the idea to automate housebuilding with help of a wall building robot. By the end of summer 2007, his structure – an undulating, futuristic concrete demonstration building – should be in place at the information sciences institute at the University of California in Marina Del Rey. A protype video can be seen here.

Robot sales in North America down 30%

Last year new robot orders in North America fell 30 percent according to new statistics from Robotic Industries Association, RIA. The automotive industry has traditionally been and remains the largest customer for robotics, but the crisis in GM, FORD and Chrysler has heavy impact on future robot sales to the whole supply chain. The downtown in auto industry was compensated by increase in new markets such as beverages and tobacco, apparel, wood products, paper manufacturing, printing, machinery manufacturing, and furniture. Non-automotive orders accounted for 44% of total orders in 2006.

Who wants a sexy robot nurse?

Who will serve you when you get old and disabled i nthe future? Who will take care for your elderly parents?n the future. Who will prepare their meal, come with their medicine, get them from bed to bathroom or a wheelchair? Public health care assistents, personal nurses, your children? Well, forget your children, they have no time for home health services, they are needed as tax payers. Personal nurses are becoming increasingly costly and will be hard to find. Public health care will have problems to serve the rising number of retirees with increasing demands. So, the future is seems not so bright when you get older.

Are non-human caregivers are the solutions? Some belief robots could do the job. If they can become affordable they could revolutionize the way healthcare is provided. The only problem is that experts disagree about how these intelligent machines should be designed and operate.

Hiroshi Ishiguro, a professor in Osaka University's Department of Adaptive Machine Systems, believes robots should look, act, and even feel like humans.

Stephen Keeney, the project leader for Honda America's North American Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility (ASIMO), says they will have to look more artificial and like something out of a sci-fi movie before humans will accept them.

Who cares, only they can care in time without reboot.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Tea time with robot

A humanoid wearing an apron picks up a cup of tea after University of Tokyo Professor Tomomasa Sato drank it during a demonstration at the campus in Tokyo Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2007. In the demonstration led by Sato, a robot with camera eyes made by Japanese machinery maker Kawada Industries Inc. poured tea into the cup and another robot on wheels, shown in this photo, delivered it to Sato, then rinsed the cup after taking it back to the kitchen sink in an experimental room, which includes sensors embedded in the floor and sofa, as well as monitor cameras on the ceiling, to simulate living with robotic technology. Robotics with tea time

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Tokyo Robot Gallery

Japanese engineers have created hundreds of robots for everything from entertainment to mine clearance. One of the pioneers of robotics in Japan is Professor Shigeo Hirose at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, one of the leading robot reseachers in the world. His lab is crammed with prototypes and designs for robots that can walk, crawl, swim and jump. BBC NEWS In pictures: Robot menagerie, Robot lab

Future Combat Robot System

An overview of the US Army´s Future Combat System Vision with unmanned combat robots on ground and in the air. Please notice it´s not a computer game, its a vision!
Army Media Player

Barricade the War Machine in Pittsburgh

Friday, March 2, will be a day of civil disobedience and direct action against the war machine in Pittsburgh. The main action will be an attempt to barricade the National Robotics Engineering Center, a branch of Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) that develops robotic vehicles and weapons delivery systems for the U.S. Army and Marines. Barricade the War Machine in Pittsburgh

Balancing robot

Anybots announces the world's first dynamically balancing walking humanoid robot. The robots have been under development since 2001. Dexter balances dynamically, walks and will be able to run. Monty has one fully articulated hand driven by 18 motors and one gripper. Dexter's legs and Monty's arms are driven by compressed air. Driven remotely by a human operator, they can perform a wide range of industrial and household tasks. Anybots is a privately held company located in Mountain View, CA.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Tiny robot reduces need for surgery ::: Pink Tentacle

On February 26, researchers from Ritsumeikan University and the Shiga University of Medical Science completed work on a miniature robot prototype that, once inserted into the body through an incision, can be freely controlled to perform medical treatment and capture images of affected areas. The plastic-encased minibot, which measures 2 cm (0.8 inch) in length and 1 cm (0.4 inch) in diameter, can be maneuvered through the body by controlling an external magnetic field applied near the patient.
Tiny robot reduces need for surgery ::: Pink Tentacle

Microrobot reports from your stomach

Endoscopic capsules, ingestible pill-shaped devices designed to capture images from inside the digestive tract, have been around for quite a while. But Sayaka, an endoscopic capsule developed by RF System Lab in December 2005, has dramatically increased the overall image quality by changing the camera position and enabling the camera to rotate. Sayaka: Next-generation capsule endoscope ::: Pink Tentacle

Osaka Robot Research Center 2011

With the completion of the Umeda Kita Yard Redevelopment Project in 2011, the robot takeover of central Osaka will have begun. This 7-hectare area on the north side of JR Osaka station will be home to the Osaka IRT Research Center (tentative name), which will bring together ten companies — including Citizen, German industrial robot manufacturer KUKA, Panasonic (Matsushita), Murata Manufacturing and others — who will conduct IRT (information/robot technology) research in areas ranging from data communication networks to artificial intelligence to control technology. In an area open to the human public, the companies will maintain ongoing interactive exhibits showcasing the latest advances in robotics, making it an ideal destination for tourists and residents who wish to acquaint themselves with their new overlords.

A Robot for every home 2015?

A group at Stanford University has been working on the problem of creating robots that can peform everyday tasks. Among the tasks they've selected are cleaning up after a dinner party, "fetching a person or object from an office upon verbal request, showing guests around a dynamic environment and assembling an IKEA bookshelf using multiple tools". The first task involves some seemingly simple problems such as finding the dirty dishes left over from the dinner party, picking them up, and placing them in the dishwasher. The group of 10 professors and 30 students have solved a small part of that problem. They've created software that allows a robot to examine an unfamiliar object and determine how to pick it up. They expect it make take another decade to produce a consumer-ready robot that does the job. For more details see the Stanford School of Engineering - Information Technology

Canada's first intelligent home

As the Canadian population ages, the number of people affected by Alzheimer's disease and other dementias is expected to increase dramatically. It is estimated that by the year 2031, more than 750,000 Canadians will have Alzheimer's or a related dementia. Researchers at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute (Toronto Rehab) are leading the way in the development of intelligent, self-adaptive technologies that will enable older adults with cognitive impairments to safely remain in their homes. Toronto Rehab: News & Events

Robotic exoskeleton replaces muscle work

A robotic exoskeleton controlled by the wearer's own nervous system could help users regain limb function, which is encouraging news for people with partial nervous system impairment, say University of Michigan researchers.

Selforganizing Robot Systems

John von Neumann introduced the concept of self-replicating machines more than fifty years ago. But a fully autonomous self-replicating robot system has not been implemented until now. The self-replication robot system utilizes an original unit to actively assemble an exact copy of itself from passive components. This can result in exponential growth in the number of robots available to perform a job, thus drastically shortening the original units task time.

Some research projects of interest:

Europe
Swarm-bots project - IRIDA Artificial Intelligence research laboratory of the Université Libre de Bruxelles

Hydra consortium - AdapTronics Group, Maersk Institute, University of Southern Denmark,
Mobile Robots Group, University of Edinburgh, AI Lab, University of Zurich, LEGO Platform Development

Japan
MTRAN-III reconfigurable robots, AIST and Toyko Tech, Japan
Fukuda Laboratory CEBOT, micro-robotics, Nagoya University
Distributed System Design Group M-TRAN, by Kurokawa, Kokaji, and Murata
Hokkaido University, Japan - Robotic Amoeba

USA
Modular Robotics at PARC PolyBot, PolyPod, Telecube, Digital Clay, etc.
Dartmouth Robotics Laboratory Crystaline, Cellular Automata, Molecular Robots by Rus
Murata Laboratory Satoshi Murata's new research group.
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute - Tetrobot, a modular reconfigurable parallel robot system
Carnegie Mellon University - I-Cubes
Swarm BotsCarnegie Mellon University - Reconfigurable Modular Manipulator System
Self-Replicating Robots - Robotics Research at Whiting Shool of Engineering, John Hopkins University
Swarm Development Group Wiki - Center for the Study of Complex Systems at the University of Michigan


Cornell Computational Synthesis LabBiologically inspired robotics group in EPFL, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology

Smoke detection robot

Robot manufacturer tmsuk, Kyushu University and the Kanazawa Institute of Technology have teamed up to develop a robot that can sniff out the smells that accompany fire. A public demonstration of the robot’s new abilities was held at Kyushu University on February 21. Source: Pinktentacle

Autonomous snowplow robot

Snowplow robot Yuki-taro is the result of nearly seven years of work by researchers from the Niigata Industrial Creation Organization (NICO), Research and Development, Inc. (RDI), Niigata Institute of Technology, Yamagata University and the Industrial Research Institute of Niigata Prefecture (IRI), who set out to design an environmentally-friendly robot that can operate by itself and support the elderly. The Robot measures 160 x 95 x 75 cm (63 x 37 x 30 in.) and weighs 400 kg (880 lbs). Armed with GPS and a pair of video cameras embedded in its eyes, the self-guided robot seeks out snow and gobbles it up into its large mouth. Yuki-taro’s insides consist of a system that compresses the snow into hard blocks measuring 60 x 30 x 15 cm (24 x 12 x 6 in.), which Yuki-taro expels from its rear end. The blocks can then be stacked and stored until summer, when they can be used as an alternative source of refrigeration or cooling. Source: Yuki-taro autonomous snowplow robot ::: Pink Tentacle

Robot makes money at Casino

San Diego, CA - Barona Valley Ranch Resort & Casino, known for gaming technology, is now the casino to have high-tech cleaning muscle – in the form of the robotic vacuum for commercial use.Developed by floor care innovator Intellibot Robotics LLC, the IV800 has been deployed in Barona’s 100,000-square-foot convention center. SOURCE: Machine Tools Online News for machining professionals

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Building Humanoid Robots

Robots with feelings [will be available] in just 10 years, scientists predicted yesterday. They now claim it is essential to give robots their own emotions if they are to be capable of running independently and efficiently enough to take on a variety of domestic tasks.

Building Humanoid Robots

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Home of the Future

The University of Tokyo has opened an exhibition showcasing a robotic "living room of the future". The living room has sensors in the walls and floor to track and respond to users. If you sit down by the desk and the robot lamp automatically swings over to illuminate your book. A humanoid robot serves a drink and washes up afterward. The robot is a a modified version of AIST's Promet humanoid and will be able to wash lunch boxes as well. Take a look att a short video report from Japanese television NHK.

Honda's Newest ASIMO Humanoid Robot Sprints to Its North American Debut At Consumer Electronics Show

A breakthrough version of Honda's humanoid robot ASIMO made its North American debuted at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nev. The latest ASIMO incorporates several significant technological advancements including a streamlined new design, even more fluid and quick movements and the ability to run at nearly 4 mph. The running robot also has several other new mobility and artificial intelligence capabilities for enhanced human interaction. Read more.

Monday, January 08, 2007

High Levels of Technology Development Promote Growth of Japanese Robotics Market

This Frost & Sullivan research service entitled Japanese Robotics Market – An Overview provides insights into new developments in the robotics market along with a comprehensive analysis of its key drivers, restraints, and industry challenges. It also includes a detailed breakdown of opportunities by segments. In this research service, Frost & Sullivan's expert analysts thoroughly examine the following applications: industrial, service, and personal robotics.

High Levels of Technology Development Promote Growth of Japanese Robotics Market

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Claytronics - Microrobotics Reality


Imagine a material which can be programmed to form dynamic 3D objects, which can interact in the physical world and visually take on an arbitrary appearance. Put together millions of tiny robots, called catoms, that can move in three dimensions in relation to each other, so they can form whatever you like. What you have in your hands is Claytronics, a new material to make dreams a reality. Take a look what's coming next: Synthetic Reality

LiveScience.com about robots

LiveScience is an original content site focusing on the innovative and intriguing in Science and Technology. The website covers news, views and scientific inquiry with an original, provocative point of view. In its robot section you can fins Robot images, animations and latest news. See LiveScience.com

Robosapien Dance Machine

Controling a Robosapien with a remot control needs some training. It takes time to learn handling the 168 different functions the robot can perform. That´s too much for most of us. Robosapien Dance Machine is a free open source software program that helps to controll Robosapien with your voice, to create interactive dialogues. The program contains a complete, easy-to-use Script Editor for creating scripts.

Robot Control via IR

Get control over your robots with software from Q4 Technologies. Go-Robo! will be available for sale in spring 2007. It runs under Windows XP and can control a WowWee robot like Robsapien, RS V2, RS Media, Robopet, Roboraptor or Roboreptile via a USB IR Blaster - currently supporting RedRat3 and USB-UIRT. RedRat3 is the most powerful device with a claimed 10m range, it's also CE and FCC marked.

The Go-Robo IDE (Integegrated Development Environment) is inspired by the professional tools from Microsoft, Abode et.al. GRIDscript is the language of Go-Robo. Inspired by Logo

Robot talk at CES 2007

Latest video from CES 2007 i Las Vegas with WoWWee's RS Media Robot, a new robot creature and a singing head. Why not connect the talking head to the Net? In the future your phone will look like Elvis or Madonna. See at Engadget.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Bill Gates: A Robot in Every Home

In search of new applications for Windows Microsoft has identified home robots as a new growth market. Late but may be not too late the software giant makes a try to fill robot brains with the help of Microsoft Robotics Studio, a new software development kit for robotics developers.
Refering to the Japanese Robot Association that predicts that by 2025, the personal robot industry will be worth more than $50 billion a year worldwide, compared with about $5 billion today, it makes sense that Microsoft sees a Window of opportunity. The big question is, will robots really like to run with MS Windows?

Scientific American: A Robot in Every Home

Home robots at CES 2007

World leading robotics companies met again at CES 2007 in Las Vegas. The cleaning robot fight between USA and Asia continues. American leader iRobot fights with its lastest modells of Roomba Vacuuming Robot, iRobot Scooba Floor Washing Robot against Metapo and its chinese vaccum cleaner CleanMate QQ-2 model that can search for charging station and do self-charging when battery is low. It will continue to do vacuuming when battery recharging is complete. The korean robotics company Hanool Robotics Corp developing robots for military, research, cleaning and educational use enters the home arena with its cleaning robot OTTORO Hanuri-RD4, equiped with two cameras and a laser beamer, it knows where to clean.
The ROMI home robot from korean ETRI entertained the crowd by cleaning the stage via a voice activated command system. ROMI comes with a wireless/CDMA connection that enables it to transmit videos to your PC or phone.

The humanoid race shows the two extremes in contemporaty robotics. One the one side Hondas' ASIMO that enters the sceen as usual demonstrating japanese engineering excellens, as long as it doesn't fall down the stairs again. On the other side chinese based WoWWee with its ny multimedia robot RS Media - a boy toy for everybody.