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RB3D Hercule robotic exosceleton

Posted 21 Feb 2012 at 14:10 UTC (updated 21 Feb 2012 at 14:21 UTC) by IKE_RobotsPodcast

Hercule is the name of this robotic exoskeleton developed by RB3D, a French engineering company, under the steering and funding of DGA, the French ministry of defense. Hercule doesn’t need any special training or knowledge skills, the person that wears it just performs his or her usual tasks and the exoskeleton provides the additional support and strength. It is electrically powered (unlike some other similar concepts that used 2 stroke internal combustion engines) and its battery life is about 20km at a moving speed of km/h (a regular walking pace) with the capacity of carrying 100kg. It can be used by the military (silent operation will be quite important) but civilian applications are equally important. Fire fighting, construction, logistics and even medical applications are possible. You can find more on this pdf brochure (2nd page in English) and in this article (in French). (via Innorobo)

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A Unique Pop-up Origami Fabrication of Micro Robots

Posted 17 Feb 2012 at 15:29 UTC by The Swirling Brain

Harvard's Microrobotics Lab has created a new Pop-up Origami style of fabrication for their winged microbots. A carrier is first made out of several layers of carbon fiber, brass, and thin flexible plastic. Then, using fabrication techniques such as laser etching, a design forms and then it is popped into place in sort of a pop-up book and Origami fashion. The robot is then tack soldered to lock the design into place and then laser cut and removed from the carrier material. The Mobee or Monolithic Bee is a very tiny robot at about the size of a Quarter. The video shows this unique assembly process and the finalized Mobee's wings being tested at 1Hz and 30Hz. A must-see very impressive manufacture of winged microbots!
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Ryan Calo of Stanford Law School on personal robotics

Posted 16 Feb 2012 at 22:22 UTC (updated 16 Feb 2012 at 22:36 UTC) by IKE_RobotsPodcast

Ryan Calo talks about personal robotics and their effect on society in two short videos produced by James Temple. Ryan Calo is the director of privacy and robotics at Stanford’s Center for Internet and Society and expert in robots and the law, subject which he actively blogs and tweets about. He was interviewed on Robots Podcast in 2010.

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Robots Podcast #97: Carlo Ratti

Posted 11 Feb 2012 at 20:42 UTC (updated 11 Feb 2012 at 20:45 UTC) by John_RobotsPodcast

composite photo of Digital Water Pavilion

Robots Podcast #97 (February 10th, 2012) features Carlo Ratti, Associate Professor of the Practice in MIT's Department of Urban Studies and Planning, and Director of MIT's SENSEable City Laboratory, discussing the lab's purpose and several of its projects, which include the Digital Water Pavilion installation in Spain, depicted in the composite photo above. Professor Ratti also presented his work nearly a year ago, at a TED conference.

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EcoBot-III Runs On Human Excrement!

Posted 8 Feb 2012 at 15:01 UTC (updated 8 Feb 2012 at 15:57 UTC) by The Swirling Brain

I imagine a brilliant scientist somewhere was thinking of what he could do one day and came up with: I think I'll make a robot that runs on human excrement, then craps into a litter box. And there you have it, the EcoBot-III. Thanks to funding from Bill and Melinda Gates, you know of Microsoft, researchers at Bristol Robotics Laboratory gave EcoBot-III sensors to move itself towards food, water or light which it consumes and then poops out the waste. Like don't stand in the light, swim or smell tasty. Previous versions ran on other bio material like dead flies or sugar which were processed through the MFC or Microbial Fuel Cell which uses e-coli bacteria to turn the bio matter into electricity. The software and sensors monitor the digestive system and can wirelessly report on its surroundings.
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Military Robotics

DARPA LS3, robotic "pack mule"

Posted 7 Feb 2012 at 21:52 UTC (updated 8 Feb 2012 at 00:59 UTC) by IKE_RobotsPodcast

The famous ‘Big Dog’, a quadruped robot with a characteristic life-like appearance evolved into the new Legged Squad Support System (LS3), which recently underwent its first outdoor test. The new LS3 like its predecessor is a highly mobile, semi-autonomous legged robot. It use vision sensors (DARPA calls them ‘eyes’) to follow a person and also to map its path while avoiding or navigating over obstacles like rocks, trees etc. Over the next 18 months it will be tested thoroughly in order to be able to operate along a squad of Marines or soldiers. LS3 should carry 400lbs of cargo on a 20 mile trek in 24h without refuel. It could follow a specific person, track people, objects and the terrain in front of it while creating its own course. Along with its vision sensors, “hearing” technology will be added enabling soldiers to address it and command it with simple orders like “stop”, “sit” etc. The end result will be similar to a clever robot mule that will follow and obey to simple commands. You can find more info in DARPA’s press release and at the website of Boston Dynamics.
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Swarming Nano Quadrotors from GRASP Lab

Posted 2 Feb 2012 at 16:57 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

Using hardware developed by KMel Robotics, Alex Kushleyev and Daniel Mellinger, of UPenn's GRASP Lab, working under the direction of Professor Vijay Kumar, and with assistance from Associate Professor Daniel Lee, have demonstrated coordinated flight of as many as twenty nano quadrotors.

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David Anderson on Subsumption-based Robots

Posted 1 Feb 2012 at 19:43 UTC by steve

David Anderson, a long time member of the Dallas Personal Robotics Group, did an interesting presentation recently in which he distills down what he's learned about building subsumption based mobile robots over the years. The video is a bit long but well-worth your time if you're interested in intelligent robots. David provides some additional notes that link to video of specific examples. And don't forget to check out David's "my robots" webpage for more photos and details on his robots.

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Political Pundits Discover the Uncanny Valley

Posted 31 Jan 2012 at 20:59 UTC by steve

The Uncanny Valley has been called upon to explain why Mitt Romney's persona disturbs so many people despite general agreement that he's a "successful, good-looking family man". Like Democrat Al Gore in previous races, Republican Mitt Romney creates a strange unease even among his supporters. A recent essay in the Atlantic provides an explanation for this phenomenon based on the Uncanny Valley theory that we are repulsed by slight imperfections in human-like action. The author argues that Romney's personality exhibits traits which put him into an "uncanny valley" for politicians.

"Most politicians tend to be ordinary-looking people who spend their time convincing voters they're office-quality material. Romney is rushing the other way: he's the politician from central casting who is stumbling through an audition for a role of regular human."

There were lots of jokes and comments about Al Gore being a "robot" in earlier races. But here we've got a more detailed attempt at explaining what makes people uncomfortable about this type of politician. This raises interesting questions: 1) is this just an amusing analogy or could there be any real psychology behind claims of a political uncanny valley? 2) does a reference to the uncanny valley by a political pundit mean even relatively obscure robotics and AI science is going mainstream? 3) if even some humans fall into the uncanny valley, is it more important that robots climb the other side or that we adjust our expectations of intelligent behavior?
Diagram based on Mori Uncanny Valley

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Robots Podcast: Advances in Bipedal Locomotion

Posted 27 Jan 2012 at 20:31 UTC by IKE_RobotsPodcast

In the new episode of Robots Podcast we talk to Subramanian Ramamoorthy from the University of Edinburgh about the recent progress in walking robotics. We then speak with Felipe Brandão Cavalcanti, an Electrical Engineering student working on bipedal walking at the LARA lab at the University of Brasilia with Professor Geovany Borges. Ramamoorthy tells us about the recent advances in humanoid bipedal walking illustrated by Petman and the latest version of Asimo. In particular, we look at the history of the field with work from Mark RaibertRuss Tedrake andDaniel Koditschek and how different areas, such as machine leaning and motion capture, come together to accelerate progress. Felipe Brandão Cavalcanti's project focuses on the study and implementation of gait generation and stabilization algorithms for small humanoid robots. He tells us how they hacked a humanoid toy to improve its balance and the importance of math in his work.To learn more about walking robotics read on or tune in!

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