188 posts tagged robots
The octopus is a natural escape artist. It can squeeze its soft body into impossibly tight spaces and often baffles aquarium workers with its ability to break out of tanks. These abilities could be very useful in an underwater robot, which is why the OCTOPUS Project, a consortium of European robotics labs, is attempting to reverse engineer it in all its tentacled glory. Now researchers from the Foundation for Research and Technology (FORTH), in Hellas, Greece are learning how the robot might use its tentacles to swim. (via Unleash the Kraken! Robot octopus learning to swim)
Japanese robots make a stink about bad breath, body odor
Have you got a case of dog breath? How about smelly feet? Friends and family may not tell you, but a couple of new robots will. Built by the Kitakyushu National College of Technology and a group of inventive pranksters calling itself CrazyLabo, the pair of odor-detecting robots are giving people a lesson in hygiene and a few chuckles.
Kaori-chan, a decapitated mannequin head that sits atop a pink box, is the one that smells your breath. Simply blow into her face and don’t expect her to spare your feelings if you could use a mint or two. Responses range from the blunt, “Yuck, you have bad breath!” to an embarrassing, “Emergency! There’s an emergency taking place! That’s beyond the limit of patience!”
The foot-sniffing dog, Shuntaro-kun, is a bit less eloquent but just as clear with his responses. He’ll cuddle up to you if you smell ok, but if you stink he’ll bark, fall down and growl, or play dead. Both robots get their sense of smell from a commercially available odor sensor and grade your aroma on a four point scale. (via Japanese robots make a stink about bad breath, body odor)
Perfect skin: More touchy-feely robots
RoboSKIN will develop and demonstrate a range of new robot capabilities based on the tactile feedback provided by a robotic skin from large areas of the robot body. Up to now, a principled investigation of these topics has been limited by the lack of tactile sensing technologies enabling large scale experimental activities, since so far skin technologies and embedded tactile sensors have been mostly demonstrated only at the prototypal stage. The new capabilities will improve the ability of robots to operate effectively and safely in unconstrained environments and also their ability to communicate and co-operate with each other and with humans.
To support this aim, one side of the RoboSKIN project focuses on the investigation of methods and technologies enabling the implementation of skin sensors that can be used with existing robots. The other side of the project develops new structures for representing and integrating tactile data with existing cognitive architectures in order to support skin-based cognition, behavior and communication. (via Perfect skin: More touchy-feely robots | ZeitNews)
JPL BioSleeve Enables Precise Robot Control Through Hand and Arm Gestures
No matter how capable you make a robot, its effectiveness is limited by how well you can control it. And until we’ve got this whole general autonomy thing nailed down (better not hold your breath), that means a lot of teleoperation. JPL has been working on a new gesture-based human interface called BioSleeve, which uses a [insert collective noun for sensors here] of EMG sensors, IMUs, and magnetometers to decode hand and arm gestures and map them to an intuitive robot control system.
BioSleeve is a sort of elastic bandage that covers most of your forearm and includes 16 dry contact electromyography sensors plus a pair of inertial measurement units. The sensors can detect movements of the muscles in your arm, which is where the muscles in your hand live, meaning that the BioSleeve can tell when (and how much) you move your arm, wrist, hand, and individual fingers. This enables you to make gestures and have a robot respond to them, much like existing gesture recognition systems, except that since BioSleeve doesn’t depend on vision or having your hand in close proximity to a sensor, it’s a much easier thing to use for extended periods and in the field (like in cramped spaces like the ISS). Here’s a demo: (via JPL BioSleeve Enables Precise Robot Control Through Hand and Arm Gestures - IEEE Spectrum)
Sell your data to save the economy and your future
Imagine our world later in this century, when machines have got better.
Cars and trucks drive themselves, and there’s hardly ever an accident. Robots root through the earth for raw materials, and miners are never trapped. Robotic surgeons rarely make errors.
Clothes are always brand new designs that day, and always fit perfectly, because your home fabricator makes them out of recycled clothes from the previous day. There is no laundry.
I can’t tell you which of these technologies will start to work in this century for sure, and which will be derailed by glitches, but at least some of these things will come about. (via BBC News - Sell your data to save the economy and your future)
In 1949, He Imagined an Age of Robots
It was a vision that never saw the light of day.
The year was 1949, and computers and robots were still largely the stuff of science fiction. Only a few farsighted thinkers imagined that they would one day become central to civilization, with consequences both liberating and potentially dire.
One of those visionaries was Norbert Wiener (1894-1964), an American mathematician at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1948 he had published “Cybernetics,” a landmark theoretical work that both foreshadowed and influenced the arrival of computing, robotics and automation. Two years later, he wrote “The Human Use of Human Beings,” a popularization of those ideas and an exploration of the potential of automation and the risks of dehumanization by machines.
In 1949, The New York Times invited Wiener to summarize his views about “what the ultimate machine age is likely to be,” in the words of its longtime Sunday editor, Lester Markel. (via M.I.T. Scholar’s 1949 Essay on Machine Age Is Found - NYTimes.com)
Ant studies to aid design of search and rescue robots
A study showing how ants tunnel their way through confined spaces could aid the design of search-and-rescue robots, according to US scientists.
A team from the Georgia Institute of Technology found fire ants can use their antennae as “extra limbs” to catch themselves when they fall, and can build stable tunnels in loose sand.
Researchers used high speed cameras to record in detail this behaviour.
PhD student Nick Gravish, who led the research, designed “scientific grade ant farms” - allowing the ants to dig through sand trapped between two plates of glass, so every tunnel and every movement could be viewed and filmed.
"These ants would move at very high speeds," he explained, "and if you slowed down the motion, (you could see) it wasn’t graceful movement - they have many slips and falls." Crucially, the insects were able to gather themselves almost imperceptibly quickly after each fall. To see how they managed this, the team set up a second experiment where, to move from their nest to their food source, the ants had to pass through a labyrinth of smooth glass tunnels. "We could watch these glass tunnels and really see what all the body parts were doing when the ants were climbing and slipping and falling," said Mr Gravish. (via BBC News - Ant studies to aid design of search and rescue robots)
NAO Robot Has Learned To Write
Maybe you’ve dreamt of being that man or woman who is so important as to compose speeches and letters simply by barking out declamations whilst an attentive assistant jots down your brilliant every word. Robot developer Franck Calzada has brought us one step closer. He’s created an assistant scribe for the common man in his new program in which a NAO robot can write any word.
At the moment, however, you’re going to need a lot of time – and patience – if you enlist NAO’s services. To say it’s deliberate in its writing is quite the understatement.
Calzada has himself spent a lot of time with NAO, teaching it to play games like catch, Hangman and the Statue Game. Now, with his ability to write any word it hears, NAO can actually get some work done. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen Nao write. And while it will definitely be some time before it begins replacing office workers, its penmanship has certainly improved. (via NAO Robot Has Learned To Write | Singularity Hub)