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Space Robotics

Curiosity Update with Scott Maxwell

Posted 8 Jul 2012 at 17:51 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

Would you like to watch Curiosity pile up sand behind its wheels as it struggles up a slope, this video is about as close as you're likely to get, at least until Curiosity actually lands on Mars. For more, check out the JPLnews channel on YouTube.

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Medical Robotics

Mahoro Performs Dangerous Lab Work

Posted 8 Jul 2012 at 02:11 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

A two-armed robot, called Mahoro, jointly developed by Japan's National Institute of Advanced Science and Technology (AIST) and Yaskawa Electric Corporation, and marketed by Nikkyo Technos, Co., Ltd., already being used in labs at pharmaceutical companies and universities, is both faster and more precise than veteran laboratory technicians performing the same repetitive tasks. Using the robot to handle hazardous materials also reduces risk to laboratory personnel. DigInfo TV has more detail.

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Competitions

2012 Boca Bearing Innovation Contest

Posted 6 Jul 2012 at 16:51 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

Direct from their website...

To celebrate their 25th year in business the Boca Bearing Company is giving away over $20,000 in cash and prizes as part of their 2012 Boca Bearing Innovation Contest. Winners will be chosen based on a video submission of their innovative mechanical project that utilizes ball bearings, roller bearings, linear bearings or any form of full ceramic or ceramic hybrid bearings anywhere in the application.

One finalist will be chosen by the voting public each month in 2012 to win an iPad2 ($500 value each). The Grand Prize winner and two Runner Ups will be chosen by Boca Bearings from the monthly finalists. The two Runner Up Finalists will each win their own 3D Printer from Makerbot Industries ($2500 value each). The Grand Prize winner will receive a check for $10,000.

The Boca Bearing Company believes in supporting those individuals or companies with a focus on Art, Science, Technology, Engineering & Math. These are the creative people that push the limits of new technology and will be the drivers of our future economy.
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Competitions

Field Robot Event 2012 in Video

Posted 5 Jul 2012 at 01:38 UTC (updated 5 Jul 2012 at 01:43 UTC) by John_RobotsPodcast

The first video in this playlist is a presentation given last year at the announcement of the event. The rest were taken at the event itself, and show the nature of the competition as well as something of the level of sophistication of the competitors.

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Interviews

Robots Podcast #107: Mary-Anne Williams

Posted 30 Jun 2012 at 17:41 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

photo of Prof. Mary-Anne Williams with PR2

Professor Mary-Anne Williams came to robotics through RoboCup. Her background began in computer science, from which she moved to AI, with a primary interest in knowledge representation and reasoning, having done some work in belief revision (how to update a knowledge base when you receive new or contradictory information). In 2001, she attended the International Joint Conferences on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI), with which RoboCup was co-located, and was captivated by the Sony AIBO (then used as players in RoboCup soccer). She was also impressed with how much progress there'd been since the first RobotCup, a few years earlier. Returning to Australia, she wanted to see her belief revision algorithms running on a robot, thinking they might improve performance. However, the only way to get an AIBO in 2001 was to actually start a soccer team, so that's what she did. That team placed third the following year and won the competition in 2004. Ms. Williams is a Research Professor at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), Australia. She is also Director of the Innovation and Enterprise Research Laboratory (a.k.a. The Magic Lab), which has come under the umbrella of Quantum Computation & Intelligent Systems at UTS. Her work focuses on cognitive models of decision making and behaviour in complex and dynamic environments, including applications in mobile robotics. In this interview, she talks about her work, her involvement with the International Conference in Social Robotics and the PR2 robot.

Read On or Tune In

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Announcements

SoftWear Automation Awarded $1.25 Million DARPA Contract

Posted 29 Jun 2012 at 17:05 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

SoftWear Automation, the latest in a string of ventures founded by Steve Dickerson - a retired Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Professor Emeritus at Georgia Institute of Technology - and nurtured by Georgia Tech's startup accelerator, the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), has been awarded a contract for $1.25 Million, by DARPA, to develop automated sewing work-cells, that the company hopes will reinvigorate the domestic garment industry and DARPA hopes will shorten the time from requisition to delivery while lowering costs, as well as reducing reliance on foreign suppliers. (The Department of Defense currently spends about $4 Billion per year on uniforms.) Part of that $1.25 Million will go to Georgia Tech, which is expected to provide considerable support for the development of the technology. The idea for SoftWear Automation began when, in 2007, Professor Dickerson was asked to participate in a seminar on the future of robotics. Danger Room provides perspective, and Gizmag has both more detail and a small gallery of conceptual hardware prototypes.

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Entertainment

Tovbot's Shimi at Google I/O

Posted 29 Jun 2012 at 15:39 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

Tovbot's Shimi made its first public appearance two days ago at Google I/O, where not just one but three Shimis performed in perfect coordination. Tovbot was formed earlier this year by a group of robot researchers and entrepreneurs hailing from Georgia Tech, IDC in Israel, and MIT Media Lab. [Their] goal is to foster a new paradigm of personal robots - robots that don't just clean your floors or your pool, but also interact with you on a personal, almost human level. According to a news item on Georgia Tech's website, Shimi, a musical companion developed by Georgia Tech’s Center for Music Technology, recommends songs, dances to the beat and keeps the music pumping based on listener feedback. Automaton has more detail.

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Competitions

10th Annual Field Robot Event Underway

Posted 28 Jun 2012 at 15:48 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

This year's Field Robot Event (FRE 2012) began today and runs through Saturday. I will bring together what reports I am able to find once the dust settles, but meanwhile you can view videos from past years' events by entering "Field Robot Event" in YouTube's search field.

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Entertainment

Quadrotor Light Show

Posted 27 Jun 2012 at 04:55 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

This video is a performance piece incorporating a troupe of 16 quadrotors. It's a very nice way to spend a few minutes.

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Sensors

USC Researchers Make SynTouch BioTac Perform

Posted 21 Jun 2012 at 17:10 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

Researchers at the University of Southern California's Viterbi School of Engineering have succeeded in making an artificial fingertip outperform humans in identifying a range of textures. That fingertip, the BioTac® from SynTouch LLC, is a molded elastomeric sleeve with a fingerprint-like pattern on the outside and sensors on the inside, filled with a conductive fluid. What the USC researchers have done is to develop algorithms for interpreting the data produced by the fingertip and for optimizing the movement of the robotic arm or hand on which it is mounted to most efficiently produce useful data. Their findings have been published in Frontiers in Neurorobotics. SynTouch LLC, founded in 2008, is a start-up technology business that develops and manufactures tactile sensors for mechatronic systems. BioTac® sensors are available as an evaluation kit, and also as kits for the BarrettHand and the Shadow hand.

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