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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Neural Headset



California based NeuroSky is providing solutions to effectively interface bio-signal information, including brainwaves, to consumer electronic products such as music players that automatically select songs by analyzing the feelings of users, as well as devices to support nursing-care work and to measure learning effects. NeuralSky's MindSet reads brain waves, known as EEG's, and the brain's activity can be utilized by computers and other devices.

NeuroSky plans to demonstrate a brain-controlled video game at the 2008 Tokyo Game Show starting on Oct 9 at the Makuhari Messe convention center in Chiba, near Tokyo. A brain-controlled video game is expected to hit the Japanese market as early as 2009.

The MindSet™ is the first commercially available, "consumer-ready", brainwave-controlled headset for the mass consumer market. The headset reads and interprets different mental states associated with the headset user and transmits that information wirelessly to a variety of platforms. Utilizing NeuroSky's fully-embedded, ThinkGear-EM technology, which manages the brainwave acquisition and interpretation chores, the MindSet communicates equally well with game consoles, PC's and mobile platforms, including cell phones. The MindSet is currently available to NeuroSky's OEM customers.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Unicycle-riding robot


Smart technology to come! Kyoto precision parts maker Murata Manufacturing has unveiled a unicycle-riding robot called Seiko-chan. The 50 cm-tall robot can go forward and back on one wheel and come to a full stop without toppling over. It uses the same gyro sensor and flywheel technology that went into Murata Boy, the firm's popular bicyclist robot. Kids who saw the biker asked the firm to create a unicyclist, and a female employee designed its look. The diminutive performer can be controlled via Bluetooth, and is also equipped with an obstacle sensor and a video camera.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Asimo welcomes investors to Japan

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Invest in Japan has started a promotion campaign using humanoid Asimo as an eye catcher. The campaign named "Think original" points at the fact that Japan is leading in manufacturing technology patent filing, more than USA and Europe together.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Robots in the Metaverse

The Department of Industrial Design of the Technische Universiteit Eindhoven (TU/e) has the following vacancy (code V51.062): The Metaverse (global standards among real and virtual worlds) project will provide a standardized global framework that enables the interoperability between virtual worlds (as for example Second Life, World of Warcraft, IMVU, Google Earth and many others) and the real world (robots, sensors, actuators, vision and rendering, social and welfare systems, banking, insurance, travel, real estate and many others). The project is a funded through the European ITEA organization and the Dutch SenterNovem organization.

US Ground Robotics Research Center

In July the University of Michigan College of Engineering oppened a new research center with four new faculty members, a master’s degree program and 5,000 square feet of additional lab space. With $2 million in projects funded by the U.S. Army’s Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) the new Ground Robotics Research Center looks to leverage automotive expertise as the area expands into military ground robotics and intelligent transportation. TARDEC gave another $2 million to seven other universities in the state and U-M will collaborate with these institutions and industry partners.

The U.S. Army has moved its ground robotics activities from Alabama to Detroit Arsenal in Warren, Mich. The area’s automotive presence makes this a natural fit. Robotic systems that sense a vehicle’s surroundings and react accordingly are the next frontier in auto safety. The military uses robots for transporting cargo, surveillance, unmanned defense, de-activating roadside bombs, rescuing soldiers and more.

The center will research all aspects of ground robotics, including their design, propulsion, navigation and reliability. It will also look at how robots and humans interact and seek ways to improve safety.

In addition to 5,000 square feet of new robotics lab space, the college will provide space for industry offices on campus in effort to foster collaboration.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Telerobotics with Rovio WiFi Robot



According to Wikipedia definition telepresence refers to a set of technologies which allow a person to feel as if they were present, to give the appearance that they were present, or to have an effect, at a location other than their true location. Telepresence refers to a user interacting with another live, real place, and is distinct from virtual presence, where the user is given the impression of being in a simulated environment.

Leading consumer robot developer WowWee, an Optimal Group company (NASDAQ:OPMR), has developed a new telepresence robot called Rovio. The three wheel robot is based on
Evolution Robotics NorthStar 2.0 system, which enables robots to be truly aware of their environment and perform everyday tasks with complete autonomy.

Rovio robot is able to let users drive the robot with shortcut “go-to” commands, to make it easy to control the robot remotely over the web or from a mobile phone. Rovio can also operate in “patrol mode” and automatically send pictures of specific locations the user wants to check. Rovio can autonomously guide itself back on course if someone picks it up and move it, The robot can navigate to its charging station from anywhere in the house, and dock with pinpoint accuracy.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Swiss researcher won the Robotdalen Scientific Award



Sylvain Calinon from Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne in Switzerland is the winner of the Robotdalen Scientific Award 2008 and received € 20 000.

Sylvain Calinon’s winning thesis is titled "Continuous Extraction of Task Constraints in a Robot Programming by Demonstration Framework" and examines how a human instructor can teach manipulation skills to a robot by first demonstrating the required motions, then leading the robot through them, then coaching the robot’s refinement of its skill level by providing feedback using gestures and voice emphasis.

The other finalists are Pinhas Ben-Tzvi from University of Toronto in Canada and Antonios Bouloubasis from University of Reading in Great Britain, both received honorary mentions and € 1 000.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Robotics Cloud

Rescue Robot BEAR lifts 600 pounds



The Vecna Battlefield Extraction-Assist Robot (BEAR), is designed to rescue military personnel in combat situations, the Vecna BEAR can lift up to 600 pounds. Based on a Linux operating system, BEAR is controlled by hydraulics with dynamic balancing behavior to navigate buildings, landscapes and even stairs.

Robotics will be the next big industry for Taiwan


Johnny 5 robot from PlayRobot

Taiwan´s Vice President Vincent Siewat said at the first Taipei International Robot Show (TIROS), that the show not only serves as an important milestone but also indicates that robotics will be the next big industry. He cites Bill Gates who predicts that robotics is the next big industry. Siew said: "The prospects present in the robotics industry are the same as those in the personal computer industry when it was about to boom."

Chen Chao-yi, director general of the Ministry of Economic Affairs' Industrial Development Bureau, said Taiwan has the advantage to edge into the robot market in a short time, as it has a complete industrial supply chain and the ability to adjust to the fast-changing industry. The Industrial Development Bureau has already invested NT$35 million (US$1.11 million) to help companies develop robots and the investment is expected to generate an output value of NT$1.4 billion, according to Chen.

Taiwan's robot manufacturers are aiming for a share of the global market, which is worth a total of $17 billion annually, according to the International Federation of Robotics (IFR). Industrial robots are expected to increase from about 951,000 units by the end of 2006 to 1,173,300 by the end of 2010, representing an average annual growth rate of 5.5 percent, the IFR said.

iRobot acquires Durham underwater robot technology firm

Leading robotics company iRobot has acquired Nekton Research, a developer of unmanned underwater robot technology. “We believe that the underwater market is the next frontier for robots” said Helen Greiner, co-founder and chairman of iRobot, in a statement. “This acquisition positions us for leadership in robot solutions on both the land and sea.” Nekton customers include several U.S. military clients – the Office of Naval Research, Naval Undersea Warfare Command, naval Air Systems Command and U.S. Special Operations Command.

Robots invade hospitals

Rodney Brooks of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology predicts that the use of robotics in everyday life will surge. He specifically sees a role for robots in the healthcare sector. According to Brooks, a number of US hospitals are already using robots as "human assistants", freeing nurses to focus more on patient care. In less than 50 years, Rodney Brooks expects to see robots deployed in all aspects of everyday life. The US is leading the way with using robots as human assistants in hospitals to help improve the working environment of nurses. Worldwide more than 200 hospitals have installed automated guided vehicle systems (AGVS) so far.

JBT Corporation (formerly FMC Technologies), Chicago, IL, is a world leader in providing Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) Systems and supplies ATLIS (Automated Transport and Logistics Integration Systems) specifically designed for the hospital and health care industry to provide safe, efficient automatic transportation of goods. The goods typically transported by the system include carts of dietary/food items, medical/surgical supplies (case carts), linens, trash, regulated medical waste, pharmaceuticals, items for decontamination centers, and general housekeeping items.

Aethon, based in Pittsburgh, Pa., has developed TUG a automated technology platforms redefining hospital supply chain logistics by automating the location, delivery and recovery of key assets. TUG is used in more than 100 hospitals by central supply, dietary units, laboratories, laundry rooms, mail rooms, materials management, medical records, nursing, pharmacy and other departments.

In Europe Swisslog, based in Buchs, Switzerland is the leading with its TransCar, a automatic guided vehicle system (AVG) for healthcare industry that negotiates multiple-floor facilities with narrow aisle-ways and human traffic. The TransCar AGV employs industry-leading virtual path, laser contour-following guidance. This automatic guided vehicle system does not require embedded wires, tape or chemically applied guide paths.

InTouch Health, a remote presence robotics company operating from California let doctors "virtualise" or "beam in" to a patient's bedside without having to be physically present.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Robotdalen Scientific Award 2008

For the second time Robotdalen awards the winner of the Robotdalen Scientific Award with € 20.000. The prize ceremony takes place on the annual conference Robotdalen Day in Eskilstuna, Sweden on September 10. Three finalists, selected by the jury, will attend the ceremony where one winner and two honorary mentions will be announced. The three candidates attending the prize ceremony are:

Pinhas Ben-Tzvi, University of Toronto, Canada
Sylvian Calinon, Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, Schweiz (The Winner 2008)
Antonios Bouloubasis, University of Reading, UK

Members of the jury are:
Peter Wide, PhD, Professor in Measurement Technology at Örebro University, Sweden
Charlotte Brogren, Vice President R&D, Robotics Division, ABB
Emil M. Petriu, Dr.Eng., P.Eng., Professor and University Research Chair at the School of Information Technology and Engineering (SITE), University of Ottawa, Canada
Mel Siegel, Professor, Robotics Institute, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, USA
Dr Amy Loutfi, Senior Researcher at the Applied Autonomous Sensor Systems Research

Friday, September 05, 2008

USA preparing next generation for the "Robotics Age"

The Robotics Academy at Carnegie Mellon University has published a short video that shows the exponential change that those of us over 40 have experienced in our professional lives, as we've moved to personal computers, the Internet and now to robots, in the span of less than thirty years. Robots are here to stay! Are we ready? Watch the video here.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The Future of Robosaur Pleo

In an intervju with Gizmodo UK Ugobe's Steve Bannerman talked about the future for Pleo Robot Dinosaur. So far 55,000 units of the little robosaur have been shipped worldwide. Retail price for Pleo is $349, which means 1,9 million dollars total sales.

A visit at the PleoWorld Community Forum, where Pleo owners can register and download software updates shows that 17016 users have signed in so far. A search by user name results in 15332 members. 6315 members have also registered its Pleo by name.

In June Ugobe has raised another 12.8 million dollars in additional venture capital for the purpose of extending the Ugobe robot line. Taiwanese manufacture Hyield Venture Capital Company, a division of FoxConn Technology led this recent round of funding that included the Frontier Management Group in Shanghai, China, and Maxima Capital who launched Dell's Asian operations facilities. This brings the total funding raised by Ugobe so far to 24 million dollars.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Robot as car navigator

NEC Corp demonstrated the use of its "PaPeRo" home robot as a human machine interface (HMI) for inputting information, such as the destination and purpose of an outing, into a car navigation system and other devices. The demonstration was performed at AT International 2008 in june at Makuhari Messe in Chiba Prefecture, Japan.

The purpose of utilizing PaPeRo as an HMI is to improve user convenience through the use of a home robot equipped with voice recognition and camera functions, instead of using a touch panel or other devices, which are usually used to input information into a car navigation system. For example, when a user in house tells the robot that he is "going to Yokohama on a date," the robot recognizes that person's voice and uploads the information to the server via wireless LAN, etc. The server performs an arithmetical operation on the uploaded information in consideration of the dialogue history between the robot and the user, the knowledge information inputted to the robot, the season, the time, etc. Then, information on the best route for the user to go to Yokohama on a date is calculated, and the result is sent to the user's car navigation system, etc and displayed on the screen. Therefore, the user only has to get in the car and talk to the robot to reach his destination by the best route.

Toyota Mobility Robot



Toyota's "Mobility Robot", TMR, was developed with main focus on supporting short-range personal transportation. TMR can stably negotiate steps and slopes and is equipped with an autonomous transportation function for indoor use and with a tracking function so that the robot can follow the user. TMR has a traveling range of 20 km on a one hour charge, can reach a top speed of 6 km/hr, and can climb slopes of up to ten degrees. Weight 150 kg, 100 cm tall when stopped for boarding or alighting and 110 cm tall when in motion. Toyota plans to conduct practical application testing at relevant Toyota facilities beginning in the latter half of 2008.