236 posts tagged robotics
If you want to trust a robot, look at how it makes decisions
Robots, and autonomous systems in general, can cause anxiety and uncertainty, particularly as their use in everyday tasks becomes a more immediate possibility. In order to lessen at least some of that anxiety, we should shift our focus from the decisions robots could make on our behalf to how they actually make them in the first place. In some ways, they may be more trustworthy than a human. Like it or not, autonomous systems are here and here to stay. By “autonomy” we mean the ability of a system to make its own decisions about what to do and when to do it. So far, most of the examples you might have come across, such as robot vacuum cleaners, aircraft autopilots and automated parking systems in your car, are simple and not even particularly autonomous. These systems adapt to their environment, responding automatically to environmental changes. They are pre-programmed to adapt to environmental stimuli. But old science fiction stories warn us about systems that go further. What worries us is what happens when a human pilot, driver or operator is replaced by software that makes its own choices about what to do. In air travel, an autopilot system can keep an aircraft flying on a certain path, but there is a human pilot deciding which path to take, when to divert, and how to deal with unexpected situations. Similarly, cruise control, lane control and soon convoying will allow our cars to carry out path following activities though drivers will continue to make the big decisions. But once we move to truly autonomous systems, software will play a much bigger part. We will no longer need a human to decide when to change the route of an aircraft or when to turn off the motorway onto a side road. (via If you want to trust a robot, look at how it makes decisions)
A Telepresence RoboCop Piloted by Oculus Rift and Sensored Gloves
A student at the Florida International University (FIU) dons a sensor-laden pair of gloves and vest and an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. He lifts his arm, makes a fist—and across the room a robot awakens and mimics his movements.
Using a potent cocktail of new technologies and $20,000 from a private contributor, Jeremy Robins, a team of FIU researchers and students says they’ve engineered a telepresence robot suitable for law enforcement—a real telepresence RoboCop.
(via A Telepresence RoboCop Piloted by Oculus Rift and Sensored Gloves | Singularity Hub)
Paralyzed woman walks again with 3D-printed robotic exoskeleton
3D Systems, in collaboration with Ekso Bionics, has created a 3D-printed robotic exoskeleton that has restored the ability to walk in a woman paralyzed from the waist down. The Ekso-Suit was trialled and demonstrated by Amanda Boxtel, who was told by her doctor that she’d never walk again after a skiing accident in 1992. (via Paralyzed woman walks again with 3D-printed robotic exoskeleton)
Humans Appear Programmed to Obey Robots, Studies Suggest
Two 8-foot robots recently began directing traffic in the capital city of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kinshasa. The automatons are little more than traffic lights dressed up as campy 1960s robots—and yet, drivers obey them more readily than the humans previously directing traffic there. Maybe it’s because the robots are bigger than the average traffic cop. Maybe it’s their fearsome metallic glint. Or maybe it’s because, in addition to their LED signals and stilted hand waving, they have multiple cameras recording ne’er-do-wells. “If a driver says that it is not going to respect the robot because it’s just a machine the robot is going to take that, and there will be a ticket for him,” Isaie Therese, the engineer behind the bots, told CCTV Africa. The Congolese bots provide a fascinating glimpse into human-robot interaction. It’s a rather surprising observation that humans so readily obey robots, even very simple ones, in certain situations. But the observation isn’t merely anecdotal—there’s research on the subject. (Hat tip to Motherboard for pointing out a fascinating study for us robot geeks.) (via Humans Appear Programmed to Obey Robots, Studies Suggest | Singularity Hub)
Since the first industrial robot was used in 1961, the robot population has grown at an average rate of 375,000 per year. As of 2012, according to the International Federation of Robotics, there were an estimated 19.1 million robots in the world. That number could double in the next 3 years!
Hacker makes air hockey table from 3D printer parts
If you hated losing to the computer at Pong, then at least you could console yourself with the knowledge that the computer was on home turf; the contest took place in the computer’s ethereal realm of ones and naughts. Now, a project by Spanish tinkerer Jose Julio has given rise to a competitive, merciless air hockey machine that will lay bare your mortal frailties and beat you into submission on your own physical terms. What’s more, it’s built largely with 3D printer parts. (via Hacker makes air hockey table from 3D printer parts)
Animals Bow to Their Mechanical Overlords
Robots are infiltrating insect, fish, and bird communities—and seizing control.
Several years ago, a group of American cockroaches discovered four strangers in their midst. A brief investigation revealed that the interlopers smelled like cockroaches, and so they were welcomed into the cockroach community. The newcomers weren’t content to just sit on the sidelines, however. Instead, they began to actively shape the group’s behavior. Nocturnal creatures, cockroaches normally avoid light. But when the intruders headed for a brighter shelter, the rest of the roaches followed. What the cockroaches didn’t seem to realize was that their new, light-loving leaders weren’t fellow insects at all. They were tiny mobile robots, doused in cockroach pheromones and programmed to trick the living critters into following their lead. The demonstration, dubbed the LEURRE project and conducted by a team of European researchers, validated a radical idea—that robots and animals could be merged into a “biohybrid” society, with biological and technological organisms forming a cohesive unit. A handful of scientists have now built robots that can socially integrate into animal communities. Their goal is to create machines that not only infiltrate animal groups but also influence them, changing how fish swim, birds fly, and bees care for their young. If the research reaches the real world, we may one day use robots to manage livestock, control pests, and protect and preserve wildlife. So, dear furry and feathered friends, creepy and crawly creatures of the world: Prepare for a robo-takeover.
Who wouldn’t want to slip into Iron Man’s armor or try out the gigantic Jaegers that saved the world in the movie Pacific Rim? Wearable exoskeletons currently being built, from the military-based TALOS, XOS 2 and HULC to rehabilitative models like the ReWalk, MindWalker and X1, all have one thing in common; they are all robotic automated body suits designed to enhance or assist people. Is there a place for a skill-oriented, non-robotic walking exoskeleton, that a person would have to master physically by feel, much like how one might master riding a bicycle or using a skateboard? Jonathan Tippet thinks so. He and his team of volunteers are building Prosthesis, claimed to be the world’s first human-piloted racing robot. It’s a 5-meter (16-ft) tall behemoth that will rely entirely on the pilot’s skill to balance itself or walk or run. (via Prosthesis human-piloted racing robot aims to usher in a new sport)
In case of emergency.. :-) irony for the future
A world wide web for robots to learn from each other and share information is being shown off for the first time.
Scientists behind RoboEarth will put it through its paces at Eindhoven University in a mocked-up hospital room. Four robots will use the system to complete a series of tasks, including serving drinks to patients. It is the culmination of a four-year project, funded by the European Union. The eventual aim is that both robots and humans will be able to upload information to the cloud-based database, which would act as a kind of common brain for machines. (via BBC News - Robots test their own world wide web, dubbed RoboEarth)