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Monday, January 31, 2011

European Research Council awards three outstanding robotics researchers with million Euros ERC Grants

Prof. Dr. Wolfram Burgard, Institute for Computer Science, Research Laboratory for Autonomous Intelligent Systems at the University of Freiburg, has been awarded an ERC Advanced Grant totalling around 2.5 million euros for his project "LifeNav - Reliable Lifelong Navigation for Mobile Robots". The LifeNav project seeks to investigate how to construct mobile robots that are able to navigate fully autonomously and operate over long periods of time in complex and dynamic application scenarios.
Academic Profile 1983-2010 (1)
Wolfram Burgard: 321 publications, 7630 Citations, G-Index 82, H-Index: 45, collaborated with 230 co-authors from 1990-2010

Prof. Dr. Martin Buss, Institute of Automatic Control Engineering, TU Munich, has been awarded an ERC Advanced Grant totalling around 2,5 million euros for his project "SHRINE - Seamless Human Robot Interaction in Dynamic Environment" to highlight and further promote the outstanding achievements by his team in the field of advanced Human-Robot-Interaction.

Academic Profile 1983-2010
Publications: 273 | Citations: 716 | G-Index: 17 | H-Index: 12, Collaborated with  259 co-authors, from 1983 to 2010

Prof. Dr. Brad Nelson, founder of the Institute of Robotics and Intelligent Systems at ETH Zurich, where he leads the Multi-Scale Robotics Lab , has been awarded an ERC Advanced Grant for his project "BOTMED - Microrobotics and Nanomedicine".  His current research is in microrobotics, biomicrorobotics, and nanorobotics, including efforts in robotic micromanipulation, microassembly, MEMS (sensors and actuators), mechanical manipulation of biological cells and tissue, nanofabrication and NanoElectroMechanical Systems (NEMS).
Academic Profile 1983-2010
Publications: 150 | Citations: 556 | G-Index: 18 | H-Index: 14, collaborated with  208 co-authors, from 1993 to 2010.
The European Research Council (ERC) is the first European funding body set up to support investigator-driven frontier research. Its main aim is to stimulate scientific excellence by supporting and encouraging the very best, truly creative scientists, scholars and engineers to be adventurous and take risks in their research. The scientists are encouraged to go beyond established frontiers of knowledge and the boundaries of disciplines. The ERC complements other funding activities in Europe such as those of the national research funding agencies, and is a flagship component of the 'Ideas Programme' of the European Union's Seventh Research Framework Programme (FP7).
(1) Sources: ERC, Microsoft Academic Search (G-Index, H-Index)

First demonstration of SARTRE vehicle platooning

Vehicle platooning, where a convoy of vehicles follows a professional driver in a lead vehicle by adjusting its movements to the distance, speed, and the direction of the car in front, has advanced in great strides. Following much work in simulation, researchers of the European project Safe Road Trains for the Environment or SARTRE have now achieved a key milestone by performing a real-world demonstration of an autonomous car following a human-driven test vehicle in highway conditions. Have a look at the SARTRE video below.

Ballbots - Mobility Innovation from Switzerland

A disruptive innovation from Switzerland may change mobile robotics and how we will use it in the future. Creative students at the Autonomous Systems Lab, ETH Zurich, have developed a unique Ballbot, able to balance and drive on a single sphere. Inspired by researchers from USA (1) and Japan (2) they have designed the first Ballbot prototyp, called Rezero, especially for high acceleration, it moves in a very organic and elegant way. Rezero moves on a single ball, not on wheels. It can move spontaneously in any direction and does so in a manner as smooth and elegant as a figure skater on ice. Whether used as a guide, a toy, a service robot or a daily aid, a Ballbot can prove its potential in a narrow, varying and crowded environment.

Rezero is the first Ballbot which does not only focus on stability, the calm balancing, but also aims at high agility, the fast movement. Primarily, Rezero is meant to entertain and impress. It is supposed to create emotions. It will be able to interact with a small group of people, react on attractions and in doing so create a hands-on experience with the Ballbot technology. The Ballbot will be an ambassador of its own movement skills.
(1) Ralph Hollis at Microdynamics Systems Lab, CMU, Pittsburgh, USA
(2) Masaaki Kumagai and Takaya Ochiai at Tohoku Gakuin University, Japan

ROS Global Network Expands

Willow Garage’s open source ROS (Robot Operating System) started in 2007 and has attracted more and more universities and companies using and extending ROS. Furthermore ROS is beginning to enter the hobby market, which opens opportunities for next generation roboticists. From small differential-drive robots to mobile manipulators to autonomous cars, robots of every size and shape are using ROS to do interesting research and applications development. Groups around the world are also releasing free, open-source software to push robotics forward.
ROS Global Robot Network (click image to enlarge)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Mindmapping Global Robotics

Who is leading the robotics revolution? Where are the big funders? Who are the top talents in robotics? Where do they meet? Where do they publish? Which are the leading robot companies in the world? Where can a busy robotics researcher or manager find the answers?

Global Robotics Brain 2011
Global Robotics Brain is the ideal starting point for everyone interested in robotics. With only a few clicks the world of robotics is open by country, industry or topic. With powerful search features users can search by key words or tags that link directly to home pages, short notes or documents for further exploring. The great advantage with Global Robotics Brain is that you can search as deep as you want while maintaining an ordered view.

Robotics Intelligence
Global Robotics Brain is not only a tool for searching, it can also help researchers and managers to get deeper insight into relations and connections between universities, companies, projects, and researchers. Here you can analyze networks of researchers to find partners for new projects. Global Robotics Brain can be useful for companies to identify strategic partnerships or teams of researchers for knowledge creation and sharing. Collaboration maps provide management with information on the structures and relationships between researchers and development teams. It can also be useful to identify and weave communities of practice. 

Facts & Figures: more than 22.000 robotics research and development organizations including 36.000 links to people, projects and publications. More than 8.000 web links, 3.000 notes and 120 robotics tags. More than 100.000 updates have been made so far.

Friday, January 28, 2011

US$ 89,5 million for Korean Robot Projects


The South Korean government will spend US$89.5 million (100 billion won) on robot-related pilot projects to bolster growth of the cutting edge industry, officials said Thursday. The joint support plan outlined by the knowledge economy, education, environment, health and defense ministries calls for state funds to be made available for various projects up till 2013, with 30 billion won to be earmarked for this year.

"Robotics is a high-tech, value-added convergence industry with considerable growth potential that could receive a boost from state assistance," the Ministry of Knowledge Economy said. It pointed out that in the past, the government had limited itself to research and development (R&D), which was not enough to create new market opportunities. 

Seoul had allocated US$ 662 million (740 billion won) for R&D in the robotic sector since 2002, but had only spent 10 billion won on related pilot projects that could fuel actual demand. Under the new master plan, government ministries will provide funding for large scale pilot projects worth up to 2 billion won from just 100-200 million won worth of assistance offered in the past.

Pilot projects will involve such areas as education, defense, firefighting, security, manufacturing, farming and medical services, according to the plan.
Source: Yonhap News

(1000 won=0,89 US$)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Ambient Assisted Robotics in Europe

By 2050 37% of the EU population will be over 60 years of age and it is expected that there will be fewer than two persons of working age per older person of 65 or older. This will lead to both an increasing demand for care and a shortage of care givers. Older persons need support due to their declining capabilities but also to age related illnesses. 

Several studies and roadmaps predict that robotics will play an important role as assisting and rehabilitation technology, supporting professional and home care. Robotics can add value to health care and care of elderly i.e. by reduction in labour costs, increasing independence and social participation, increasing the quality of care and performing activities that can not be performed by humans. 

Some ongoing projects related to Ambient Assisted Living and Assistive Robotics are listed below. If you are missing any project, please contact Robotland

KSERA - Knowledgeable SErvice Robots for Aging
The KSERA project is aimed to develop a socially assistive robot that helps elderly people, especially those with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), with their daily activities, care needs and self-management of their disease. KSERA is cooperating with two other projects: eHome and RoboEarth. 

AAL - eHome
The Austrian project AAL- eHOME focus on the development of an assistive home environment for elderly persons, covering fall recognition and prevention, activity monitoring and social integration of elderly persons and their carers. The KSERA intelligent home environment will include expertise from the eHOME project such as wearable and distributed approaches for fall prevention and recognition.
ROBOEARTH -  Robots sharing a knowledge base for world modelling and learning actions
The EU funded FP7 project RoboEarth will develop a World Wide Web for robots including nurse-bots and socially assistive robots (SAR). The robots use the World Wide Web to store and retrieve learned tasks and actions. This enables robots to learn form each other and apply it in their own setting. KSERA and RoboEarth partners share their knowledge and investigate how the KSERA project can contribute to the World Wide Web for robot assistants for the aging population.

FLORENCE -  Multi Purpose Mobile Robot for Ambient Assisted Living
Florence is a sister project in the EU's FP7 objective ICT-2009.7.1. ICT & Aging: service robotics for aging well. The project is based on a multipupurpose mobile robot platform and will pioneer the use of robots in delivering new kinds of AAL services to elderly persons and their caretakers. The main objective of Florence is to make this concept acceptable for the users and cost effective for the society and care givers.

ROBO M.D. - Home care robot for monitoring and detection of critical situations
In the INTERREG-IVC project ROBO M.D. develop a home care robot which monitors and detects critical situations which need prompt medical attention for older persons or people with cardiovascular diseases.

ALIAS - Adaptable Ambient LIving ASsistant
The objective of the ALIAS project is development of a mobile robot system that interacts with elderly users, monitors and provides cognitive assistance in daily life, and promotes social inclusion by creating connections to people and events in the wider world. The system is designed for people living alone at home or in care facilities such as nursing or elderly care homes.
ALIZ-E - Adaptive Strategies for Sustainable Long-Term Social Interaction
The goal of ALIZ-E is to develop methods for developing and testing interactive, mobile robots which will be able to interact with human users over extended periods of time, i.e. a possibly non-continuous succession of interactions which can refer back to, and build forth on, previous experiences.To achieve this aim, ALIZ-E will address three related issues in developing interactive robots capable of self-sustaining medium- to long-term autonomous operation in real-world indoor environments. 

COMPANIONABLE - Integrated Cognitive Assistive & Domotic Companion Robotic Systems for Ability & Security
CompanionAble will provide the synergy of Robotics and Ambient Intelligence technologies and their semantic integration to provide for a care-giver's assistive environment. This will support the cognitive stimulation and therapy management of the care-recipient. This is mediated by a robotic companion (mobile facilitation) working collaboratively with a smart home environment (stationary facilitation). 

EXCITE - Enabling SoCial Interaction Through Embodiment
The primary objective of the ExCITE project is to evaluate user requirements for social interaction via robotic telepresence, and develop insight around the usability and acceptance of this technology. The project is focused on user experience in native settings that accurately represent relevant factors, including user profile, user attitude, home environment, network and the robotic technology itself. A prototype system called the Giraff is used. The Giraff is a remotely controlled mobile, human-height physical avatar integrated with a videoconferencing system. 

French Telepresence Robot Gostai Jazz

Gostai is a French robot manufacturer and an editor of innovative software for robotics & Artificial Intelligence. The new Jazz robots line is Gostai’s flagship, with business applications in telepresence and telesurveillance. Jazz integrates Gostai’s innovative softwares. Gostai also develops the Urbi open source operating system for robotics, as well as Gostai Suite, a suite of graphical programming tools for robotics and complex system, and the GostaiNet cloud computing architecture for robotics.

The Gostai Jazz is an autonomous service robot for telepresence in business and security. The Gostai Jazz robot is 1 meter in height and mobile. It is fitted with a camera and include Wi-Fi connectivity. The user can connect to the robot via a web browser and can control it from afar, allowing them to see what the robot’s camera sees in real time. They can also hear what’s going on and can communicate through an embedded loudspeaker. Jazz Connect was designed specifically for business conferencing. The company believes the units could be useful for organisations wishing to reduce their carbon footprints and could reduce travel costs for frequent flyers.

Jazz Security can be used as a form of guard robot. It can patrol autonomously at night using an infrared camera and a map of its surroundings, as well as a laser system to help it localise things. The robot detects suspicious moves to help a night watchman or traditional alarm system. A teleoperator can control it any time there is an alert. Jazz Security can also send SMS alerts if it detects an intruder and LED power lights to illuminate dark areas. Jazz Icon, a much more detailed unit designed to promote a brand or image at points of sales and fairs. Jazz Connect and Icon are available from €7,900. Icon can be rented from €1,800. Jazz Security is available from €8,400.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

$71 million for Alabama Robotics Technology Park

The Alabama Robotics Technology Park (RTP) is a collaboration between the state of Alabama, Calhoun Community College, Alabama Industrial Development Training (AIDT), and robotics industry leaders across the nation.  RTP will consist of three individual training facilities each targeted to a specific industry need. The three buildings will have an investment of approximately $71 million including robotics equipment.

  • The Robotic Maintenance Training Center was opened on September 15, 2010 and house an industry training program where technicians will be trained to work on robotic machinery. The 52,000 square foot facility will be staffed by trainers supplied by top robot builders and will be home to several major robotics and automation brands.
  • The Advanced Technology Research and Development Center will feature a test facility for companies currently in the robotics manufacturing industry. The 30,000 square foot facility will be used for the purpose of research, development and testing of leading edge robotics used for military projects and space exploration. The structure will have appropriate infrastructure to support these activities with substantial outdoor areas for testing in a variety of environments.
  • The Integration and Entrepreneurial Center will be a collaborative consolidation of technology involving higher education and industry. This facility will allow companies to build and adapt robots for new industries. Start-up plants will be able to set up manufacturing lines to integrate software and equipment, test systems and train maintenance and production staff.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Denmark first with Social Robot Drivers License

Denmark is first in Europe to qualify care personal with a social robot drivers license. The first International Certification Workshop with a group of participants from Spain, the Netherlands and Sweden was recently held at the Danish Technology Institute, DTI, in Odense. The aim of this workshop was to learn how to use PARO but also to discuss ethical issues.
In 2008 a study found that therapy robot PARO soothed dementia patients and helped them communicate. Since then the DTI has become the European distributor of PARO and encouraged every Danish nursing home to buy one. So far Danish nursing homes have purchased 110 PAROs, mainly with public funds.

Ethical Recommendation on Social Robots

Denmark was one of the first countries in the world with recommendations on social robots. It started in 2007, when the Danish Council of Ethics launched a popular debate about new intelligent technologies through a campaign site. The debate unfolded later in the media and through a long series of debates that were arranged all over the country. After the debate, the Council publishing its considerations on social robots. The Council believes that the development of robots for use among people as everyday help, as entertainment or therapy is a development that in time will involve more and more ethical consideration, including some which are currently to difficult to foresee or describe. It is therefore important that robot technology is followed-up and commented upon from an ethical standpoint.
The recommendations on social robots cover four main topic:

  1. Social robots and welfare technology as elements of care and therapy 
  2. Product responsibility and social robots 
  3. When social robots pretend to have an inner life 
  4. Social robots, monitoring and privacy

These recommendations can be useful for politicians, developers and other stakeholders in the area as good points to bear in mind when legislating in this area and when new technology is being developed. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Top 10 Robotics Journals 2010

The Top 10 Robotics Journals based on SCImago Journal Rank (H-Index):
  1. Proceedings - IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (H 64)
  2. International Journal of Robotics Research (H 60)
  3. Autonomous Robots (H 49)
  4. IEEE Transactions on Robotics (H37)
  5. Journal of Field Robotics (H 35)
  6. IEEE Robotics and Automation Magazine (H 32)
  7. Advanced Robotics (H 25)
  8. Journal of Intelligent and Robotic Systems (H 24)
  9. Industrial Robot (H 16)
  10. Artificial Life and Robotics (13)
 H-index expresses the journal's number of articles (h) that have received at least h citations. It quantifies both journal scientific productivity and scientific impact and it is also applicable to scientists, countries, etc. 

Top 4 Robotics Journals 2002-2009
The graphs below show SJR, cites per paper and total cites 2002-2009 for the top 4 Robotics Journals
SCImago Journal & Country Rank SCImago Journal & Country Rank SCImago Journal & Country RankSCImago Journal & Country Rank
SJR (SCImago Journal Rank)
Citations per paper: average citations per paper in a 2 year period and total amount of citations:
Amount of citations: received by the journal in a 3 year period.

SJR (SCImago Journal Rank) indicator expresses the average number of weighted citations received in the selected year by the documents published in the selected journal in the three previous years, --i.e. weighted citations received in year X to documents published in the journal in years X-1, X-2 and X-3.

SCImago Journal & Country Rank is a portal that includes the journals and country scientific indicators developed from the information contained in the Scopus® database (Elsevier B.V.). These indicators can be used to assess and analyze scientific domains. This platform takes its name from the SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) indicator, developed by SCImago from the widely known algorithm Google PageRank™. This indicator shows the visibility of the journals contained in the Scopus® database from 1996.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Seaswarm - a fleet of low-cost oil absorbing robots

Photo: MIT Senseable City Lab
Researchers at the MIT Senseable City Lab have developed a new robot that by autonomously navigating the water’s surface remove oil on ocean surface. The robot called Seaswarm uses a photovoltaic powered conveyor belt made of a thin nanowire mesh to propel itself and collect oil. The nanomaterial, patented at MIT, can absorb up to 20 times its weight in oil. The flexible conveyor belt softly rolls over the ocean’s surface, absorbing oil while deflecting water because of its hydrophobic properties. The first Seaswarm prototype was tested in the Charles River in mid-August 2010. The vehicle’s flexible conveyor belt easily adapted to surface waves and succesfully propelled itself through the water. MIT researchers estimate that a fleet of 5,000 Seaswarm robots would be able to clean a spill the size of the gulf in one month. The team has future plans to enter their design into the X-Prize’s $1 million oil-cleanup competition. The award is given to the team that can most efficiently collect surface oil with the highest recovery rate. 
Seaswarm is intended to work as a fleet, or “swarm” of vehicles, which communicate their location through GPS and WiFi in order to create an organized system for collection that can work continuously without human support. Because they are smaller than commercial skimmers attached to large fishing vessels, they are able to navigate hard to reach places like estuaries and coast lines. Seaswarm works by detecting the edge of a spill and moving inward until it has removed the oil from a single site before joining other vehicles that are still cleaning. Oil is "digested" locally so that Seaswarm does not need to make repeated trips back to shore, which would dramatically slow collection time. 

Friday, January 14, 2011

US$ 300 million for Robot City Daegu

Daegu, the 3rd largest city in Korea, and host for the IAAF World Championchips 2011, Aug 27 - Sept 4. is emerging as a mecca for the high-tech robot industry in Korea as the Ministry of Knowledge Economy (MKE) has selected the city as its priority negotiation partner to be the home of the envisioned Korea Robot Industry Promotion Institute. According to a recent report from the 'Robot Industrial Cluster Creation Project' about US$ 322 million (357.5 billion KRW) would be invested 2012-2016 to convert Daegu into the hub of the nation's robot industry. 
Daegu has a variety of related R&D infrastructures - Pragmatic Applied Robot Institute (PARI) of Daegu-Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology (DGIST), Pohang Institute of Intelligent Robotics (PIRO), Daegu branches of Electronics & Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) and Korea Institute of Industrial Technology (KITECH), Robot Business and Industry Promotion Center (ROBIC) of Kyungpook National University and Daegu Machinery Institute of Components & Materials (DMI). 

Korea Institute for Robot Industry Advancement

In 2010 the state-run Korea Institute for Robot Industry Advancement (KIRIA) was launched aimed to lay the foundation for building up the local robotics industry. The institute will take charge of all government-led research projects and establish industrial support policies so that South Korea gains an edge in the robotics field, which has the potential to change both the business sector and everyday lives. The institute will be headed by Joo Dong-young, who headed both the Korea Institute of Industrial Technology and the Korean Agency for Technology and Standards.

The City of English teaching assistant robots

Image: KIST/

Daegu has already drawn attention from international media for deploying 29 English teaching assistant robots at 21 high schools in the city, and conduct pilot education until March 2011. According to a city official the pilot project is expected to help form a consensus on the robotics industry among citizens, and make major contributions to enhancing the image of Daegu as a city spearheading the robotics sector. If this pilot project receives a positive response from students, the city will consider expanding the introduction of robots in phases.

A Second Korean Miracle
In 1960, South Korea was poorer than two-thirds of the nations in sub-Saharan Africa. Today it’s the world’s most digital nation, with a per capita income of nearly $28,000, higher than New Zealand ($27K) or Portugal ($22K). This transformation largely took place during 1965-1985, and is known as the “Korean Miracle. South Korea is pushing ahead with a host of interlocking technology initiatives bold enough to potentially make the period 2010-2025 a second Korean miracle.
South Korea’s Ministry of Knowledge and Economy has announced a service robot industry promotional plan, which will see investment of US $26 million (30 billion KRW) in 2011 alone. The plan focuses on cleaning and educational robots, and will bolster international market penetration, the discovery of new sectors with high growth potential, and the development of better robotics technologies.  Part of the plan includes strategic marketing for major territories, such as surveillance robots for the Middle East, healthcare robots for the U.S. and E.U., and cleaning robots for China and Southeast Asia.  Furthermore, they’re pushing for more joint R&D projects with Japan, the U.S., and Germany, and will build more robot R&D centers at universities at home.

Int. Symposium on Service Robotics 2011

The 4th international symposium on Service Robotics,  the SCHUNK Expert Days Service Robotics 2011will be held February 23-24, 2011 at the SCHUNK automation plant in Brackenheim-Hausen, Germany.  Experts in service robotics from all over the world will meet to discuss research, development trends, and efficiency. It is considered to be the worldwide leading communication platform for applied service robotics.

Attending the event is the scientist and mastermind in service robotics, Prof. Paolo Dario from Italy, Prof. Kerstin Dautenhahn from Great Britain, Prof. Danica Kragic from Sweden, as well as Prof. Dragomir Nenchev from Tokyo. Moreover, there will be numerous experts with a technical-industrial background, who will report on impressive practical applications of service robotics, such as Stefanie Angerer from Audi AG, Dr. Andreas Bley from Metralabs GmbH, and Reinhard Teutenberg from Polysius AG.

The Expert Days are an ideal platform for generating international networks and to discuss forthcoming projects. The two-day symposium will be presented by Professor Dr. Henrik I. Christensen, holder of the chair in robotics “KUKA Chair of Robotics” at the Georgia Institute of Technology, located in Atlanta, Georgia, as well as Martin Hägele, Head of Department Robot Systems at the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Engineering and Automation IPA in Stuttgart, Germany. 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Dutch Robotics 2011 Inventory

Dutch robotics network Robonet has performed an inventory on Dutch Robotics Activities. In a brand new report 94 different projects are listed including information about application fields, technology, website and contact details.  
The projects are classified in five main application groups: health, industrial, consumer services and applications, professional services and applications, and space as shown in the graph below. 

Image: RoboNED Dutch Robotics Inventory2011

The projects will be available for searching via the RoboNED database
RoboNED started in April 2010 with coordinating robotics activities in the Netherlands and aims to bring the various fields and disciplines involved in robotics together. RoboNED' goal is to stimulate the innovation-ecosystem in the Netherlands by uniting stakeholders from research, education, industry and society. RoboNED will also stimulate the social acceptance of robotics in the Netherlands. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Top 10 Robotics Researchers 2011

Microsoft Academic Search lists about 37.000 researchers linked to search term "robotics". The top 10 names ranked after citations are 

  1. Takeo Kanade, Carnegie Mellon University 
  2. Sebastian Thrun, Stanford University
  3. Marco Dorigo, Université Libre de Bruxelles
  4. Maja Mataric University of Southern California
  5. Wolfram Burgard, Universität Freiburg
  6. Oussama Khatib, Stanford University
  7. Vijay Kumar, University of Pennsylvania
  8. Gaurav Sukhatme, University of Southern California
  9. Daniela Rus, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  10. Minoru Asada, Osaka University

The Co-author graph below presents Prof. Takeo Kanade´s co-author relationships among robotics scholars and provides a deeper insight in research connections and intellectual impact. 

(Click if graph isn´t visible! iPhone/iPad users, sorry but this interactive Microsoft Graph doesn´t work on your platforms.)

On the Co-author Graph each node represents an author, and a bigger node means the author has more publications. The more papers two authors write together, the closer their nodes are positioned. The graph also contains other information such as paper count and basic information of each author, number of co-written papers between two authors, etc.. 
If you need more information about co-author analysis please contact Infonaut

Monday, January 10, 2011

The 2010 Robotics Award Winners

Joseph F. Engelberger Award 
The 2010 Engelberger Robotics Award was presented to Heinz-Dieter Schunk, Schunk GmbH and Scott W. Deming Corning Inc. during the 41st International Symposium on Robotics held here in conjunction with AUTOMATICA. 
The Engelberger Robotics Award is the world's most prestigious robotics honor. The awards are presented to individuals for excellence in technology development, application, education, and leadership in the robotics industry.

IEEE RAS Award winners 2010 
Associate Professor Yu Sun, Advanced Micro and Nanosystems Lab, Dept. of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, University of Toronto, received the 2010 IEEE Robotics & Automation Society Early Career Award "for contributions to enabling microrobotic and MEMS technologies for automated cell manipulation and characterization in cell biology and clinical applications".

Dr. Leandro Barajas
received the 2010 IEEE Robotics & Automation Society Early Career Award for "pioneering the use of diagnostics and prognostics research in large-scale industrial robotics and automation applications." Leandro G. Barajas is Staff Researcher, Advanced Robotics Group Manufacturing Systems Research Laboratory General Motors R&D Center. 

The 2010 Georges Giralt PhD Award

Ludovic Righetti from EPFL received the 2010 Georges Giralt PhD Award for his thesis entitled "Control of Legged Locomotion using Dynamical Systems: Design Methods and Adaptive Frequency Oscillators." 

Robot of the Year 2010 (Japan)

The METI Grand Prize Award 2010 for industrial robots was received by Toyota Motor CorporationOchiai Nekus Inc. Nagoya Institute of Technology and Tokyo Metropolitan University for its low power 80W energy-saving comfortable robot  installed at the Toyota car assembly plant working safely in cooperation with people.
More info.

Robotics Reference Database

A general robotics publications database is experimentally available through a web interface at INRIA. The web interface allows to submit query among the 14.269 references (5731 journal papers, 5939 conference papers) available currently in the database and to export the query result as a bibtex file.

Infonaut/GRB: Contributor to the INRIA Robotics publication database

The Top Innovative Robot Designers 2010

Global Robotics is slowly transforming from industrial to service robotics with focus on user interaction, usability, safety and social issues. Innovation and design are key success factor for high-tech products and robot developers can find inspiration from many young industrial designers all over the world.  Some of the most innovative and creative robot designers 2010 are among the Electrolux Design Lab 2010 Competiton finalists and the ICSR 2010 Inaugural Robot Design Competition winners.

Bio Robot Refrigerator  
Yuriy Dmitriev, Chuvash State University, Russia developed the The Bio Robot Refrigerator concept where biorobots in biopolymer gel cool through luminescence and use the non sticky, odorless gel to envelope stored food as individual pods. Sans doors and drawers, the fridge can be oriented vertical or horizontal, as per the home requirements. See Yuriy´s presentation below.

VR Robotic Chefs
The virtual Kitchen with robotic chefs is the brainchild of Daniel Dobrogorsky, student at Industrial Design & Mechanical Engineering at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. He developed the Kitchen Hideaway virtual reality concept that allows the inhabitants of a communal building to imagine being in a kitchen, preparing a particular meal rather than having to actually do this for themselves. The thoughts of the user are then transmitted to robotic chefs within the building who then prepare the visualised meal in a real kitchen and with real ingredients. In effect, the headset replaces the need for kitchen appliances in individual dwellings, saving space through creative thinking. Daniel didn´t win the competition but Electrolux, Swedish world leading producer of appliances and equipment for kitchen and cleaning, likes his idea so much that it already has applied patent (SE1000512-2for "Method for Cooking".

Aibo-like Vacuum Cleaner
A more traditional robot idea comes from Berty Bhuruth who designed the Instinct Vacuum cleaner, a robotic, four-legged device that adapts to its environment in response to a future where people will have less time and less space to store things, making efficient cleaning a problem. The vacuum cleaning robot chooses the path of less cleaning resistance by consulting 3d models of the room it creates before tackling its task.

Soft Social Robot
Squishy Robots
RuiFeng Yeo from School of Design at Nanyang Polytechnic, Singapore, imagines social robots that are able to interact with parents and child. His Squishy robots are able to learn, teach and grow along with the child. The robot is a stimulant for the child and parents to allow better bonding and   better communications. It also teaches the child according to its learning capabilities. Squishy was awarded with the First Prize at the ICSR 2010 Inaugural Robot Design Competition in Singapore.

Robotics Pet Networks & Creepy Avatars
In the future people will interact with robots in a more entertaining, engaging, and seamless manner as a collaborator or assistant, rather than merely use robots as tools for daily assistance. This is the idea behind Robomo of Prof. Ravindra De SilvaInteractions and Communication Design Lab, Toyohashi University of Technology. In his vision  futuristic vision robots can act as personalized-accompanying sociable animal-like creatures that  establish social robot network among them to learn and acquire information based on the personality of the proprietor. Robomos can collect information, learn and act as companions for their owners.

Telepresence of the Future
Infonaut: Telenoid@Ars Electronica 2010
Japanese roboticist professor Hiroshi Ishiguro from Osaka University, well known for his human like androids, surprised in 2010 with a minimalistic telepresence robot, sized as a small child, with soft torso, a bald head, a doll-like face, and stumps in place of limbs. 
The idea behind this strange robotic creature called  Telenoid was to create a teleoperated robot that can be female or male, an adult or a youngster, that can be easily transferred, making it suitable for a wide-range of users. 

Saturday, January 08, 2011

iRobot´s second telepresence robot trial

At CES 2011 iRobot has jumped for second time on the telepresence wagon and presented a telepresence prototype robot called AVA. Recently checked, iRobot has no information about AVA on its website. The second launch of a prototype telepresence robot as new platform for robot app developers seams very weak and confusing. A CEO statement reported by cnet  like "It could be serving drinks or act as a mobile alarm clock", demonstrates serious lack of telepresence vision and customer value focus. AVA has either release date nor price, so we'll have to see if it can be more successful than the ConnectR product.

High-tech AVA is no design hit with its pedestal and tablet PC added top. According to reports of engadet it can move in any direction, with a top speed of about 6 feet per second, thanks to software from the company's military robots like PackBot. AVA is equipped with two PrimeSense sensors, the same ones used in the Kinect for Xbox 360, as well as microphones and speakers, laser range finders, scanning acoustic sensors, and bump sensors for obstacles.
For more details take a look at the interview of PC Magazine's Lance Ulanoff with iRobot CEO Collin Angle.

Friday, January 07, 2011

From Avatar Kinect to Avatar Robot

The idea of using avatars in an idealized virtual world is back. After the Second Life hipe some years ago (1), Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced at CES 2011 that Kinect and Xbox will connect with consumers via avatars, transporting Xbox Live Gold subscribers into the virtual world of Avatar Kinect.
According to Ballmer this will "make entertainment more interactive, more social, and more fun for everyone". Avatar Kinect allows for richer virtual interactions by tracking the actual facial expressions and gestures of users and letting their avatars express them on screen — or not. With an avatar, people can choose which visual details they want to transmit. The technology could go way beyond gaming and opening new dimensions to telepresence and robotics.

From Virtual Avatar to Robotic Avatar

Infonaut: Telenoid@Ars Electronica 2010

Japanese roboticist professor Hiroshi Ishiguro has already gone from cyberspace into robotspace by creating human like androids designed to "transmit the presence" of people to a distant place. His previous remote controlled androids include a robot replica of himself that he named Geminoid HI-1 and a smiling female android called the Geminoid F. His latest creation is called Telenoid R1 and is a minimalistic design, sized as a small child, with soft torso, a bald head, a doll-like face, and stumps in place of limbs. More info here

(1) Second Life was launched in 2003 and In November 2010, 21.3 million accounts were registered, although there are no reliable figures for actual long-term consistent usage.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

The Top Robot Teams 2010 (Part 2)

MAGIC 2010 Winner
MAGIC 2010, University of Michigan Team
With a squad of 14 robots that worked together autonomously in a complicated mapping exercise, the University of Michigan's team won the inaugural Multi Autonomous Ground-robotic International Challenge in Australia. With the win, Team Michigan and partner SoarTech earned a grant of $750,000. The team was led by Assistant Professor Edwin Olson, team lead from the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department at the University of Michigan.

The Multi-Autonomous Ground-robotic International Challenge (MAGIC 2010) was jointly sponsored by the Australian and US Departments of Defence to attract innovative proposals from worldwide research organizations to develop next-generation fully autonomous ground vehicle systems that can be deployed effectively in military operations and civilian emergency situations.

World Robotic Sailing Champion 2010


Austria's ASV Roboat remains the undisputed world champion in robotic sailing. The completely automatic sailing boat from the  Austrian INNOC research team was able to defend its title against eight competitors from the USA, Great Britain, Canada and Germany.

The Microtransat Challenge is a transatlantic race of fully autonomous sailing boats. The race aims to stimulate the development of autonomous sailing boats through friendly competition.

AUV World Champion 2010

Cornell University: The 2010 CUAUV team  

For second year, underwater vehicle team of Cornell University won the first prize in the 13th International Autonomous Underwater Vehicle Competition RoboSub in San Diego, California. With the win, Cornell took home a $6,000 prize.

Co-sponsored by the U.S. Office of Naval Research (ONR),the goal of this competition is to advance the development of Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) by challenging a new generation of engineers to perform realistic missions in an underwater environment.  This event also serves to foster ties between young engineers and the organizations developing AUV technologies.

Winner in the “MoonBots” Educational Contest 2010
Team Landroids of New Jersey

Team Landroids of New Jersey, a group of five 8th-grade neighborhood friends who participate in various science competitions and robotics challenges, was named the grand winner of MoonBots.
The competition partnered with major technology leaders including Google, Inc., National Instruments and Wired Magazine’s GeekDad blog and challenged students, ranging from ages 9 – 18, to create simulated lunar rovers, using LEGO bricks and MINDSTORM components, similar to those competing for the $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE, an international competition for privately funded teams to build a rover to land on and explore the surface of the Moon. More than 200 teams from 16 nations representing every continent but Antarctica registered for MoonBots.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Two new cleaning robots from iRobot

iRobot Corp. has announced two new cleaning robots: the iRobot Scooba 230 - a floor washing robot small enough to clean in tight spaces and around bathroom fixtures - and the iRobot Roomba 700 Series, the smartest and most effective Roomba vacuum cleaning robots to date. Both will be unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on January 6.

iRobot® Scooba® 230 - Floor Washing Robot 
Scooba 230 is a powerful and compact cleaning machine. At 3.5 inches tall and 6.5 inches in diameter, the robot easily cleans in tight spaces, including under and around furniture and bathroom fixtures. The robot's three-stage cleaning system washes, scrubs and squeegees floors, neutralizing up to 97 percent of common household bacteria*. Scooba 230 holds enough cleaning solution to scrub up to 150 square feet of linoleum, tile or sealed hardwood floors in a single cleaning session.
iRobot Roomba 700 Series
The sixth-generation iRobot Roomba 700 Series includes the same state-of-the-art features that Roomba users have come to know and introduces new innovations that make the robot more effective and easier to use. The newest Roomba robots include an updated and improved three-part cleaning system along with several new features and upgrades.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

The Top Robot Teams 2010 (part 1)

German B-Human, a collegiate project at the Department of Computer Science of the University of Bremen and the DFKI research area Safe and Secure Cognitive Systems, became world champion in the Standard Platform League for the second time after 2009. The team also got awarded the RoboCup Best Paper Award 2010. 

The NimbRo TeenSize Team from University Bonn won the Humanoid Teen Size League tournament and was also voted Best Humanoid from the team leaders of the entire Humanoid league (34 teams), and the president of the RoboCup Federation.

First robotics back heel kick!
For the second year in a row Darmstadt Dribblers won the title in the Humanoid Kid-Size League. The strikerrobot Bruno is one of the fastest robots in his class with a maximum walking speed of more than 40cm/s. He is the first (and so far only) robot that manged to score a goal with a fully autonomous back heel kick in a competition.

The RoboCup@home winner 2010 was the eR@sers Team from the Tamagawa University, the University of Electro-Communications at Tokyo and National Institute of Information and Communications Technology at Kyoto.

The Rescue Robot League Winner 2010 was iRAP_Pro Team from King Mongkut's University of Technology, Thailand.