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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 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


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.