Posts about Robots

Remote Presence Robot

Anybots allow remote presence today. They can be rented for just $600 a month. You can purchase your own for just $15,000.

The newest version, just unveiled at a CES has a much bigger screen (which seems very wise to me).

This is another example of robots making it into real use. While I am sure few workplaces are ready for this jump today, 10 or 20 years from now a telepresence robot (that can do much more) is likely I think to be significantly used. Not only will functionality increase, prices will drop dramatically: as the wonderful combination so often happens with technology. There is a great deal of effort going into making commercial viable “personal” robots. I think these efforts will make significant inroads in the next 10-20 years.

My old office wouldn’t have been willing to pay $15,000 but one of our developers looked into creating his own (after he moved and was working remotely). He hasn’t quite gotten it done yet, but may at some point.

Related: Managing By Rolling Around (I like how the robot owner used the robot to have his mother attend his wedding (and dressed up the robot) – Robot Finds Lost Shoppers and Provides DirectionsNew Yorkers Help Robot Find Its Way in the Big CityToyota Partner Robots

Awesome Gifts for the Maker in Your Life

See the full Sylvia’s Super-Awesome MAKE Holiday Gift Guide 2011

Related: Science and Engineering Gadgets and GiftsGet Your Own Science ArtSiftable Modular ComputersArduino: Open Source Programmable Hardware

Robot Prison Guards in South Korea

photo of robot prison guard

Robotic prison wardens to patrol South Korean prison

The one-month trial will cost 1bn won (£554,000) and is being sponsored by the South Korean government. It is the latest in a series of investments made by the state to develop its robotics industry.

The country’s Ministry of Knowledge Economy said in January that it had spent the equivalent of £415m on research in the sector between 2002 and 2010. It said the aim was to compete with other countries, such as Japan, which are also exploring the industry’s potential.

In October the ministry said the Korean robot market had recorded 75% growth over the past two years and was now worth about £1 billion…

The potential market for robotics is huge. Smart countries are investing in becoming the centers for excellence in that area. Japan and South Korea may well be in the lead. The USA, Germany and China also have strong communities.

Related: Robot Finds Lost Shoppers and Provides DirectionsThe Robotic Dog (2008 post)Soft Morphing Robot FutureHonda’s Robolegs Help People WalkRoachbot: Cockroach Controlled Robot

Dennis Hong, Virginia Tech Mechanical Engineering Professor, Leading Robotics Innovation

Dennis Hong is the U.S. star in humanoid robotics

Hong came by his interest in science naturally. He was born in 1971 on the exclusive Palos Verdes Peninsula, outside Los Angeles, and his father, Yong Shik Hong, worked as an aerospace engineer at the federally funded Aerospace Corp. The family returned to Seoul in 1974 so the elder Hong could lead South Korea’s short-range missile program, at the bidding of then-President Park Chung Hee.

Korean fathers of that era were strict and remote. Hong’s father was engaged and intellectually indulgent. He installed a work bench in Dennis’s room when he was 4, complete with a hammer and saw. He led the children in chemistry experiments and brought home model airplanes from America.

Dennis Hong built things with scraps of wood and metal and bits of plastic. He disassembled toys and stored the parts in a chest beneath his bed.

“We spent a lot of time building things and breaking things,” said Julie Hong, Hong’s older sister. “He was the one who broke things the most and built things the most.”

Hong traveled to America to complete his university study, following his father’s credo, “Big fish must swim in the big sea.” He earned a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering at the University of Wisconsin and a master’s and doctorate at Purdue.

Dennis’ success illustrates several themes repeated in posts on this blog: the USA attracting talent from overseas, kids curiosity and exposure to science and engineering leading to great things, the value of strong science and engineering programs and professors. Robotics continue to progress very quickly. The economic impact of robotics is large already (largely in manufacturing) and will continue to grow dramatically. Likely robots will find their way into much more diverse areas over the next 2 decades. The Robotics and Mechanisms Laboratory, lead by Dennis Hong, seems poised to play a big role in that future.

Related: Robocup 2010, Robot FootballSoft Morphing Robot FutureEvolution of Altruism in RobotsToyota Develops Thought-controlled Wheelchair

Continue reading

Robot Tennis Partners Coming Soon?

The robots in the video, and many more, are being tested at the Flying Machine Arena at the The Institute for Dynamic Systems and Control, Department of Mechanical and Process Engineering, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology – Zurich.

They also usually have a number of challenging projects available. Qualified, motivated students should visit the Theses/Projects page and contact them to learn more. We need more people working on these types of things so I can have my robot basketball team available when I want to play.

Related: Robot Playing Table TennisRobocup 2010, Robot FootballDolphin Kick Gives Swimmers Edge

Swarmanoid: Cooperative Robot Networks

Very cool cooperation between robots. It seems more and more research is going on in cooperative robotics. It would seem this would let us have specialized robots for various tasks instead of having to have robots that can do everything (which is very complex and difficult). Plus cooperating robots are just cool. See the Swarmanoid project web site and the overarching Swarmbot site. I look forward to what these scientists and engineers can create for us.

Related: Robots Working Together to Share Talents (2006)Autonomous Helicopters Teach Themselves to FlyUnderwater Robots Collaborate

EZ-Builder Robot Control Software

You can get EZ-Builder Robot Control Software and try this out yourself.

Not a programmer? No problem! The EZ-Builder application allows non-programmers to easily build robots using advanced functions of the EZ-B Robot Controller. It is a Microsoft Windows application that gives you remote and scripting control of your custom robot design. Within the application, you add Controls that mimic your robot’s configuration. There are many controls for speakers, iRobot Roomba, HBridge, Servos, Cameras, Voice Recognition, Joysticks and more! There is even an easy scripting language so you may create short animations, interactions or initialization routines for your robot.

Using a Dremel, hot glue gun, screw drivers and various other tools, you can begin modifying the toy shell to fit your servos. For wheels or mobility, use continuous rotation modified servos. For arms and neck, use a standard servo. To allow your robot to see for object detection, use a Sharp IR Distance Sensor or a HC-SR04 Ultrasonic Ping Sensor.

Related: Arduino: Open Source Programmable HardwareRobots That Start as Babies Master Walking Faster Than Those That Start as AdultsRobot Built Largely From Old TV Parts

Great Projects From First Google Science Fair Finalists

15 finalists (from 3 different age groups – 13-14 years old, 15-16 and 17-18) were selected. 11 finalists were from the USA and 1 each from Singapore, Canada, India and South Africa. These examples of what can be done with imagination, effort and a scientific mindset is great.

The grand prize winner, Shree Boseer’s project:

Each year, over 21,000 women are diagnosed with ovariancancer – the 5th leading cause of cancer-related deaths in women in the United States. One of the most common drugs usedin ovarian cancer chemotherapy is cisplatin, a platinum-based chemotherapy treatment. While the drug affects ordinary cells, the significantly higher replication frequency of cancer cells causes cisplatin to have a greater impact in malignant cells. However, cancer cells often develop resistance to cisplatin, rendering the treatment ineffective. To improve the efficiency of cisplatin treatment, this research sought to determine whether AMP kinase, an energy protein of cell, plays a role in the development of cisplatin resistance. Studies with various techniques showed a significant difference on cell death caused by cisplatin insensitive and resistant ovarian cancer cells when AMPK was inhibited,suggesting that AMPK plays a role in the development of resistance. This work,in addition to offering a new treatment regime, also furthers our understanding of ovarian cancer and cancers in general.

This is a great project and the experience for the students is wonderful. Still I do think the prizes should be much larger given all the large corporations involved. Get involved with the next Google Science fair.

Google Science Fair 2011 Projects semi finalistsIntel Science and Engineering Fair 2009 WebcastsHats off to the winners of the inaugural Google Science FairPresident Obama Speaks on Getting Students Excited About Science and Engineering
Continue reading

NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover

Curiosity is the name of the new rover from NASA. It will be launched to continue the exploration of Mars so successfully done by Spirit and Opportunity (2 previous Mars rovers that did some amazing work and laster years longer than expected). The rover is NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory, a mobile robot for investigating Mars’ past or present ability to sustain microbial life.

photo of NASA's Mars Rover: Curiosity

Once on the surface, the rover will be able to roll over obstacles up to 75 centimeters (29 inches) high and travel up to 90 meters per hour. On average, the rover is expected to travel about 30 meters per hour, based on power levels, slippage, steepness of the terrain, visibility, and other variables.

The rover is about the size of a small SUV — 10 feet long (not including the arm), 9 feet wide and 7 feet tall. It weighs 900 kilograms (2,000 pounds)

The rover will carry a radioisotope power system that generates electricity from the heat of plutonium’s radioactive decay. This power source gives the mission an operating lifespan on Mars’ surface of a full martian year (687 Earth days) or more, while also providing significantly greater mobility and operational flexibility, enhanced science payload capability, and exploration of a much larger range of latitudes and altitudes than was possible on previous missions to Mars.

Related: Mars Rover Continues ExplorationMars Rovers Getting Ready for Another Adventure (2007)Sunset on Mars

Evolution of Altruism in Robots

The webcast explores robots evolving cooperative behavior. A Quantitative Test of Hamilton’s Rule for the Evolution of Altruism (open access paper)

One of the enduring puzzles in biology and the social sciences is the origin and persistence of altruism, whereby a behavior benefiting another individual incurs a direct cost for the individual performing the altruistic action. This apparent paradox was resolved by Hamilton’s theory, known as kin selection, which states that individuals can transmit copies of their own genes not only directly through their own reproduction but also indirectly by favoring the reproduction of kin, such as siblings or cousins. While many studies have provided qualitative support for kin selection theory, quantitative tests have not yet been possible due to the difficulty of quantifying the costs and benefits of helping acts. In this study, we conduct simulations with the help of a simulated system of foraging robots to manipulate the costs and benefits of altruism and determine the conditions under which altruism evolves.

By conducting experimental evolution over hundreds of generations of selection in populations with different costs and benefits of altruistic behavior, we show that kin selection theory always accurately predicts the minimum relatedness necessary for altruism to evolve. This high accuracy is remarkable given the presence of pleiotropic and epistatic effects, as well as mutations with strong effects on behavior and fitness. In addition to providing a quantitative test of kin selection theory in a system with a complex mapping between genotype and phenotype, this study reveals that a fundamental principle of natural selection also applies to synthetic organisms when these have heritable properties.

Related: Robots That Start as Babies Master Walking Faster Than Those That Start as AdultsFriday Fun: Robocup 2010, Robot FootballToyota Develops Thought-controlled Wheelchair
Continue reading

Robots That Start as Babies Master Walking Faster Than Those That Start as Adults

In a first-of-its-kind experiment, Bongard created both simulated and actual robots that, like tadpoles becoming frogs, change their body forms while learning how to walk. And, over generations, his simulated robots also evolved, spending less time in “infant” tadpole-like forms and more time in “adult” four-legged forms.

These evolving populations of robots were able to learn to walk more rapidly than ones with fixed body forms. And, in their final form, the changing robots had developed a more robust gait — better able to deal with, say, being knocked with a stick — than the ones that had learned to walk using upright legs from the beginning.

Bongard’s research, supported by the National Science Foundation, is part of a wider venture called evolutionary robotics. “We have an engineering goal,” he says “to produce robots as quickly and consistently as possible.” In this experimental case: upright four-legged robots that can move themselves to a light source without falling over.

Using a sophisticated computer simulation, Bongard unleashed a series of synthetic beasts that move about in a 3-dimensional space. “It looks like a modern video game,” he says. Each creature — or, rather, generations of the creatures — then run a software routine, called a genetic algorithm, that experiments with various motions until it develops a slither, shuffle, or walking gait — based on its body plan — that can get it to the light source without tipping over.


Continue reading

  • Recent Comments:

    • Jack Lawson: Wow! Awesome article and very entertaining story about insects. Animals are awesome! Keep it...
    • Mehmet: I think governments should encourage people for such initiatives.
    • Anonymous: It looks like a bird like a woodpecker. I do not know the name, but I have a perfect creation.
    • David: Very interesting story about the architecture of insects. They create very interesting shapes.
    • Mon Roi: Instead of marketing DVD sets or VHS sets or whatever else they just give it up for free. There is...
    • Gebze Pansiyon: Woww…. what a beautiful bird. I love the picture.
    • Vignesh P: very useful information.thank you for sharing It is so good blog !
    • Dustin McEarchern: Love the use of technology to improve lives. Really great story.
  • Recent Trackbacks:

  • Links