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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Denmark invests € 4,5 Million in Therapeutic Robots from Japan

The Centre for Robot Technology at the Danish Technological Institute started in 2008 an extensive national project with focus on Paro, a human-interactive robotic seal, and its therapeutic qualities within the field of care and welfare. This testing of the robotic seal was the first of its kind outside Japan. Denmark has signed an aggreeemnt with Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) to purcase 1,000 of Paros for use in health care facilities. Paro has scientifically demonstrated the ability to elicit emotions, activate the mind and calm nerves in patients at hospitals and nursing homes. Although the well-traveled Paro now resides at welfare institutions in more than 20 nations around the world, the Danish government is the first organization to make a large-scale purchase. Denmark aims to have the Paro robots in their new homes by 2011.

€11 Million for a Companion Robot

Researchers from six European countries and 18 reseach institutions are working together to provide the synergy of Robotics and Ambient Intelligence technologies and their semantic integration to provide for a care-giver's assistive environment. The CompanionAble consortium lead by The University of Reading, UK, has 48 months and a budget of €11 million to address the issues of social inclusion and homecare of persons suffering from chronic cognitive disabilities prevalent among the elderly, a rapidly increasing population group. Those people need support of carers and are at risk of social exclusion, yet this problem not well addressed by ICT technology, but would lead to a social and economical pressure for staying at home as long as possible.will

1st Demonstration of the CompanionAble Robot will be helt at the Conference Marking the European Day of People with Disabilities from the 3rd to 4th December in Brussels.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Cultural Acceptability for Educational Robots

Reseachers at the Cheongju National Univ. of Education in Chungbuk, South Korea have compared the cultural acceptability for Educational Robots between Korea and Europe (Spain). Their findings, pubished in the Journal of Information Processing Systems, Vol.4, No.3, September 2008, are that Spains are much more rigid in their thinking on robots and especially have a negative view on robots as peers since they regard robots as labor machines. Recently, Korea invented several educational robots as peer tutors. Korean parents have a strong tendency to see robots as 'the friend of children,' while on the other hand, European parents tend to see educational robots as 'machines or electronics'. Meanwhile, the expectation of children on educational robots showing identification content was higher in Europe than in Korea since European children are familiar with costume parties. This result implies that the Korean market for educational robots is earlier than the European market, but European children will be eager to play with educational robots even though their parents have a negative view of them.

Acceptance of Healthcare Robots

The rapidly ageing population is placing increasing strain on healthcare services. Robots have been proposed as a way to assist people to stay healthy and safe in their own homes. I en recent published article in the Int. Journal of Social Robot researchers at the University of Aukland, NZ, who have reviewed the literature about human responses to healthcare robots and summarises the variables that have been found to influence responses, propose that despite the need for such assistive devices and the success of some healthcare robots, other robots have had a poor response.

They come to the conclusion that it may be possible to increase acceptance of healthcare robots by properly assessing the needs of the human user and then matching the robot’s role, appearance and behaviour to these needs. Because robots have limitations in their abilities, another way to increase acceptance may be to modify the expectations of users to better match robots’ abilities. They ask for more research in potential users’ needs and expectations in specific situations and whether interventions to increase the match between robot and human can increase acceptance.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

$ 1,5 Million for 50 Ton Robot Statue

In Kobe’s Wakamatsu Park a new 18-meter tal and 50 ton heavy metal Robot Statue of Gigantor – or Tetsujin #28 as it is known in Japan has been built in commemoration of the devastating 1995 Great Hanshin earthquake. The new tourist attraction has cost $ 1,5 million (135 million yen) to build.

€ 0,6 Million for Fully Autonomous WheeL Loaders

Researchers at the AASS Learning Systems Lab at Örebro University collaborate with Swedish construction company NCC and truck builder Volvo CE to develope a generic, modularized system for autonomous wheel loaders that carries out all parts of the material handling cycle in the context of an asphalt production site.

This project is co-sponsored by the KK-foundation, Vinnova and Robodalen.

€ 2 Million for Domestic Robots

French robot manufacturer ROBOSOFT is coordinating a three year € 2 Million EU-project with 8 partners from France, Austria and Hungaria to find out, evaluate and demonstrate the relevance and efficiency of an evolutionary integration robotics platform. The consortium will study the needs in robotics, sensors and 24/7 communication services for the elderly and the deployment of the proposed system in realistic environments. Overall project goal: to have products available at the end of the project 2012.

Two robot platforms will be evaluated: RobuMate will be used to evaluate verbal and visual interactions with the user, cognitive and memory assistance, sending video stream for scene analysis in case of emergency alarm, stimulation for doing physical exercises and watching user behaviour.

RobuWalker is a robotic walker for physical interaction with the user assisting the sit-to-stand and walking, supervising, monitoring the heart rate and sending data to processing centre.

Exploring the Future of Robotics

What are the greatest opportunities and risks with Future Robotics?
How are todays society systems influenced by the development of technical system with a higher degree of autonomy?
Will new vulnerabilities emerge by transfering important society tasks to robots?
What will happen, when robots take over tasks in the home?

These and other highly critical issues are now discussed at Robotland Open Forum.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Cyberdyne in Sweden

Today I attended a seminar at Danderyds Hospital about innovative Technology in neurorehabilitation. Prof. Sankai, Tsukuba University gave a lecture about his research and demonstrated his latest version of robot suit HAL. His company Cyberdyne has signed a letter of attention with DS to conduct clinical trails. This is a great opportunity for Sweden to evaluate forefront robotics.

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

€36 million Q3 loss for ABB Robotics

ABB has no plans to sell its Robotics division despite $36 million loss in Q3according to ABB CEO Joe Hogan. In the long run he believes in Robotics because robotics solutions will be demanded the coming 5-6 years to other industry segments and not as now concentrated to the auto industry. ABB is repositioning now and will return stronger when the recession is over.

A positive sign comes from China, where ABB´s robots have become the highlight of in the new hall of the China Science and Technology Museum in Beijing. With a creative theme and interactive program, the ABB robots have The presentation allows the audience, especially young visitors, to experience the excitement of robotic technology, providing an informative and memorable science lesson.

This May, ABB Engineering (Shanghai) inaugurated a new multi-business manufacturing facility in Shanghai, doubling ABB’s manufacturing capacity for robotic products in China.

IEEE Spectrum 11/09

Robots for real - Androids of Hiroshi Ishiguro

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

$750.000 for Moondust Robot

The Worcester Polytechnic Institute-sponsored team Paul’s Robotics took home first place at NASA’s 2009 Regolith Challenge, beating out 22 other teams of professional engineers, and college, university, and high school students from across the country, for the $500,000 top prize. The competition was held Oct. 17-18, 2009 at the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif., and was part of NASA’s Centennial Challenges program, which exists to help inspire innovative solutions to technical challenges in the aerospace industry.

Since fall 2007, WPI has offered the nation's first bachelor's degree program in robotics engineering, and in 2009 began offering a new master's-level robotics program.

$700 Million for Military Robots

Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle(SUGV) have fast grown into a multibillion-dollar business. Massachusetts company iRobot has already delivered around 2,700 robots to militaries around the world. Some of those were part of a December 2007, $300 million U.S. Defense Department contract that iRobot won after prevailing over an upstart that purloined its technology. A second Massachusetts firm, Foster-Miller, won a contract in 2008 for another $400 million to supply thousands of its TALON robots. Both iRobot's PackBot and Foster-Miller's TALON are mostly used to locate and detonate improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, which have proved to be one of the Taliban's deadliest weapons.

$10 million for a RoboBee

A multidisciplinary team of computer scientists, engineers, and biologists at Harvard received a $10 million National Science Foundation (NSF) Expeditions in Computing grant for RoboBees, a colony of small-scale mobile robotic devices.

US Spherical robot

Colorado State grad student Greg Schroll has developed a spherical robot as a thesis project at MIT. Among those applications for this robot are use on environmentally hazardous sites, underwater and space exploration. Schroll has been named one of Popular Mechanics' 10 Most Brilliant Innovators of 2009.

A similar robot called Groundbot designed to detect and report intruders has been developed by a Swedish start-up company Rotundus.

$20 Million for Feeling Communication Robots

At the $20 million Keio-NUS CUTE Center in Singapore more than 50 researchers from Japan and Singapore are inventing next generation Social Networking Robots for children to communicate in multisensory ways. The first robot called Petimo is an interactive robotic toy designed to protect children from potential risks in social networks and the virtual world and it helps them to make a safely connected social networking environment. Together, Petimo and Petimo-World is a new mediator in cultivating positive social behavior and better familiarization to computing environments among young growing minds.

iPhone controlled bipedal walking robot with multi-touch gestures

A novel operating method for a bipedal walking robot through personalized gesture expressions of fingers has been developed by researchers at Keio University, Japan.

Bipedal walking robot mimics the human walking for a certain extend and fingers can be used as analogy to human legs. Moreover, fingers not only have visual resemblance but also can mimic actions of legs such as walking, running, kicking or turning, very easily.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Home Evaluation Trial for Care Robot

According to a report from Georgia Institute of Techology older adults reported more willingness than younger adults in having a robot perform critical tasks in their home.

The results suggest that both younger and older individuals are more interested in the benefits that a robot can provide than in their interactive abilities. The responses of 117 older adults (aged 65-86) and 60 younger adults (aged 18-25) were analyzed. The results indicated that respondents of both groups were more willing to have robots perform infrequent, albeit important, tasks that required little interaction with the human compared to service-type tasks with more required interaction; they were least willing to have a robot perform non-critical tasks requiring extensive interaction between robot and human.

U.S. company GeckoSystems Intl. Corp has recently announced that they are starting limited in home evaluation trials for their first product, a personal companion home care robot, the CareBot(TM). The company claims to be "the first mobile robot developer in the world to begin actual in-home eldercare evaluation trials".

The primary market for this product is the family for use in eldercare, care for the chronically ill, and childcare. The primary distribution channel for this new home appliance is the thousands of independent personal computer retailers in the U.S. The manufacturing infrastructure for this new product category of mobile service robots is essentially the same as the personal computer industry. Several outside contract manufacturers have been identified and qualified their ability to produce up to 1,000 CareBots per month within four to six months.

2 mill Euro for Danish Field Robot

Researchers from the Mobile Robotics Group at the Aalborg University have received a grant of 14.3 mill DKK (2 mill EUR) for the ASETA project from the Danish Strategic Research Council. The project is in cooperation with Life and Green Support Services at Copenhagen University and Nordic Beet Research. The goal is to develop a system based on autonomous helicopters and ground robots that can spot weed in field of sugar beets and apply appropriate treatment. The first field test is planned to summer 2011 with a larger demonstration of the entire concept in 2013.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

China to hold first humanoid robot Olympics 2010

HARBIN, Nov. 4 (Xinhua) -- Robot makers around the world can show their creations and compete in the first International Humanoid Robot Olympic Games in June 2010 in China's northeastern city of Harbin.

More than 100 universities from about 20 countries are expected to send humanoid robots to compete in 16 events in five categories, including track and field, balls, combat, dancing as well as domestic service such as cleaning and medical care, said Hong Rongbing, a professor with Harbin Institute of Technology (HIT) and an official with the China National Conference of Artificial Intelligence.

Unlike other games that allow both wheeled and humanoid robots, this event accepts only android robots designed in human forms, with two legs and two arms, he said.

ShanghAI Lecture 5

This lecture is about development and learning in embodied systems. Prof. Pfeifer gave an example of the relation between physical dynamics and information processing by showing a video från University of Tokyo where researchers have developed Mowgli, the jumping robot frog. He can jump on and off of things about 20 inches high, and can even kick a soccer ball (somehow).

The jump is only controlled by the morphological structure of the robot, there is no controller needed. The robot utilizes an artificial musculoskeletal system with pneumatic muscles to perform explosive motion jumping as high as 50% the robot’s height and landing smoothly.

ECCCEROBOT (Embodied Cognition in a Compliantly Engineered Robot) is a three-year project funded by the 7th framework programme of the EU (ICT-Challenge 2, "Cognitive Systems, Interaction, Robotics") that has the goal to build and control the first anthropomimetic robot and finally, to investigate its human-like cognitive features.

€ 405 Million for Flying Demorobot nEUROn

Image: Saab
At Swedish Saab in Linköping the construction of Europe's experimental Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV), nEUROn, has now started. The nEURON is a €405 million cooperation between several European countries, with French Dassault as master builder. France will provide €202.5 million, half of the program's €405 million budget, while the remaining funds will be supplied by the other participating member nations. Sweden has a 25% stake in nEUROn, with Saab’s responsibilities including supplying its core avionics and mission computer, working on its autonomous capabilities and manufacturing its front and centre fuselage.

nEUROn is a delta wing stealth UCAV demonstration project and not for military operational deployment. A main aim of the nEUROn programme is to sustain and develop European manufacturers' aeronautic and other technologies for next-generation combat aircraft and UAVs.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

iRobot Healthcare Robots

iRobot announced the creation of a new product unit: healthcare robots. CEO Colin Angle said the overall goal is to add “one million hours of independent living” to seniors’ lives.

President of the healthcare business unit will be Tod Loofbourrow. The new business unit is committed to exploring the potential of robotics as an assistive technology to promote wellness and enhance quality of life for seniors. In this role, Loofbourrow will be responsible for all aspects of the group’s strategy, research and operations. He will report directly to Angle.

iRobot is now targeting the market for eldercare robots based on the experience of the short-lived ConnectR project they worked on last year. ConnectR was designed to facilitate telepresence, such as between a parent and child in different geographical locations. Telepresence has applications in remote physician visits, or for adult children to check up on their elderly parents. Combine iRobot’s experience with telepresence with their innovative ways to automate common household chores in a user-friendly way, and you have a compelling case for a useful, assistive robot that may allow elderly people to live independently for a greater length of time.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Robotics Research Overview 2009

More than 50.000 scientific papers related to Robotics have been published since 1980-ies based on bibliographic research conducted by Infonaut. Most papers have been published in 2009 with a total of 6000.

According to one scentific source (Springer) representing appr. 15 percent of all robotics papers came from the U.S. followed by Russia, Japan, the United Kingdom and France.

Among the the 4200 robotics research institutions worldwide the Russian Academy of Sciences is the leader with 328 published papers followed by the University of California (159), Carnegie Mellon University (152), MIT (63) and Nanyang Technological University (59).

Most productive among the 12.000 robotics scientists have been so far Professor Keigo Watanabe, Saga University with 37 papers followed by Professor Kiyotaka Izumi, Saga University with 29 papers.

The leading scientific robotics journals with most published papers are Robotics and Autonomous Systems, Robotics and Computer-Integrated Manufacturing, Machine Learning, Journal of Intelligent and Robotic Systems, Journal of Intelligent Manufacturing, International Journal of Computer Vision, and Automation and Remote Control.

A detailed overview of the global robotics community by country, research organisation, researcher and subjects can be ordered from Infonaut.

$ 100 Million for Japanese Robots

In the past several years, the Japanese government has funded some $100 million for the first phase of a humanoid robotics project, and development of key robot technologies until 2010. The government estimates the national robotics industry could surge from about $5.2 bln in 2006 to $26 bln in 2010 and nearly $70 bln by 2025

At EXPO 2005 Aichi World Exhibiton Japan presented about 100 next generation robot projects to demonstrate the countries leading positon in robotics research and development. There were robots that can come into practical use by 2010 and a diverse range of prototype robots expected to emerge around 2020. Some examples are presented below.

Find more photos like this on Robotland

Four years have now passed since the Robot exhibition in Aichi but there is still a long way to go until some of these prototype robots will hit the global mass market.