December 13th, 2013

Robots: The DARPA Robotics Challenge

In this episode, Sabine Hauert interviews Paul Oh, the Director of the Drexel Autonomous Systems Lab at Drexel University. His team, spanning 10 universities, is competing in the DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) with the HUBO humanoid made by KAIST in South Korea. The goal of the challenge is to design robots capable of assisting humans in responding to natural and man-made disasters. Trials will take place next week in Florida from December 20-21 and will require robots to drive a vehicle, walk over rough terrain, clear debris, open doors, use a hand tool to break through a wall, climb a ladder, turn a valve, and finally drag a hose and connect it to pipes. The 7 HUBO robots on Oh’s team will be competing against sixteen other teams from around the world to determine which teams continues on to the DRC Finals in 2014 with continued DARPA funding. Competing in the 2014 Finals will lead to one team winning a $2 million prize.

The video below shows Oh’s vision for robot-enabled disaster response in 2020. You can find more videos of the HUBO working on tasks for the trials here.

Paul Oh
Paul Oh is a Full Professor at Drexel’s Mechanical Engineering Department, Affiliated Faculty in the ECE Department, and Director of the Drexel Autonomous Systems Lab (DASL). He received mechanical engineering degrees from McGill (B.Eng 1989), Seoul National (M.Sc 1992), and Columbia (PhD 1999). Honors include faculty fellowships at NASA Jet Propulsion Lab (2002), Naval Research Lab (2003), the NSF CAREER award (2004), the SAE Ralph Teetor Award for Engineering Education Excellence (2005) and being named a Boeing Welliver Fellow (2006). He is also the Founding Chair of the IEEE Technical Committee on Aerial Robotics and UAVs. From 2008-2010, he served at the National Science Foundation (NSF) as the Program Director managing the robotics research portfolio. Paul Oh was named ASME Fellow in 2011.
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November 29th, 2013

Robots: Working with EOD Personnel

In this episode, AJung Moon talks to Julie Carpenter, a recent graduate of the University of Washington who interviewed 23 U.S. Military Explosive Ordnance Disposal personnel to find out how they interact with everyday field robots. Julie is currently writing a book on the topic that is scheduled to be published next year.

Julie Carpenter

Julie Carpenter has received her doctoral degree in Education at the University of Washington with her dissertation titled The Quiet Professional: An investigation of U.S. Military Explosive Ordnance Disposal personnel interactions with everyday field robots. She primarily studies emotional attachment issues in human-robot interaction, and how it affects user decision-making in collaborative, sometimes stressful, situations.

Find out more about Julie and her work on her website.

Holiday Robots
Like last year, we ask you to submit videos or audio related to robotics and the holidays! Content can be fictional, scientific or business oriented. We’ll be posting the material on our dedicated YouTube channel. To submit material, simply go to www.robotspodcast.com/christmas or send us your material by email to christmas@robotspodcast.com. To get in the spirit, check out the videos from previous years via the link above or on our YouTube channel. Some of these videos gathered millions of views!

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November 15th, 2013

Robots: From the Greenhouse to the Fields

In this episode, Ron Vanderkley speaks with David Dorhout from Iowa State University about his Agricultural Robots that include Prospero the robot farmer and Aquarius the greenhouse watering robot.

Today’s agricultural equipment has been designed around a single farmer sitting on large machinery. This method has its drawbacks since farming decisions have to be made at the level of the field. Nature instead is chaotic and dynamic, soil nutrients and moisture change from foot to foot. A swarm of small robots like Prospero would have the ability to farm inch by inch, examining the soil before planting each seed and choosing the best variety for that spot. Ideally, this would maximize the productivity of each acre, allow less land to be converted to farm land, and ultimately feed more people.

Prospero is the working prototype of an Autonomous Micro Planter (AMP) that uses a combination of swarm and game theory to plant seeds at safe distances from one another.

Dorhout’s second agricultural robot Aquarius is a greenhouse robot that autonomously waters plants using its 30 gallon tank. The robot is programed using taping on the ground of the greenhouse.

David Dorhout
David Dorhout is a graduate of Iowa State University. He has always been interested in robotics and has 14 years of experience in the agriculture and biotech industry doing field and greenhouse discovery work. He is the founder of Dorhout R&D LLC which is a research and development business designing and building novel robotic systems and interactive consumer electronic devices.

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November 1st, 2013

Robots: Blue River Technology

In this episode Sabine Hauert speaks with Jorge Heraud, CEO of California-based startup Blue River Technology which brings together computer vision and robotics to automate agriculture. Their first robot LettuceBot targets the state’s #1 vegetable crop. Its task is to thin rows of lettuce in fields. This involves selectively removing some of the plants by spraying excess fertilizer on them, thereby avoiding overcrowding while fertilizing nearby plants. The tractor-mounted robot is already being rented out to farms across the state.

Heraud tells us about the challenges in robot vision and the rapid growth of Blue River Technology. He shares his hopes to apply their technology to other agriculture tasks and crops with different vision challenges. Finally he explains how this technology will transform the classical workforce on farms.

Jorge Heraud
Jorge Heraud is CEO of Blue River Technology. Before co-founding the company with Lee Redden, a fellow graduate student at Stanford University, Heraud worked in precision agriculture as Director of Business Development at Trimble Navigation. At Stanford he completed an MBA at the Graduate School of Business.

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October 18th, 2013

Robots: FutureDairy

FutureDairy is an R&D development program to help Australian dairy farmers manage the challenges they are likely to face during the next 20 years. In this episode, Ron Vanderkley speaks with the project lead Kendra Kerrisk from the University of Sydney about robotic milking and herding.

As one of the big challenges is the availability of labor and associated lifestyle issues in the dairy industry, FutureDairy’s focus is on automatic milking systems. While robotic milking technology is now in wide use overseas, there’s less experience with automatic milking in grazing-based farming systems such as in Australia. The video below summarizes some of the results from the DeLaval pilot farm in Australia.

With increasing numbers of Australian dairy cows now being milked by robots, researchers are looking at a range of exciting ways to use robots on the farm. One that has already shown promise is the use of robots (UGV) to herd cattle from the paddock to the dairy. In the videos below you can see two trials with the Shrimp rover hearding cows in Australian farms.

FutureDairy 3 is sponsored by Dairy Australia, the University of Sydney, the NSW Department of Primary Industries and DeLaval.

Kendra Kerrisk
Kendra Kerrisk is Faculty of Veterinary Science at the The University of Sydney in Australia. Kerrisk developed a strong interest for the Dairy Industry whilst conducting undergraduate and post-graduate studies at Massey University in New Zealand and has remained a leader in the field since then. During her PhD at the University of Melbourne she studied Peri-parturient Management for Large Dairy Herds using Controlled Breeding Programmes. After her PhD, she worked for Dexcel (formerly Dairying Research Corporation) in New Zealand on the world’s first pasture-based Automatic Milking System research farm. Through her academic life, she has contributed significantly to the national and international knowledge regarding application of Automatic Milking Systems (AMS) with pasture-based dairying. One of the highlights of the work conducted within FutureDairy, a project which she leads, has been the co-development of the world’s first Robotic Rotary (Automatic Milking Rotary, DeLaval AMRTM). This internationally recognized work will increase the feasibility of robotic milking for large dairy herds that are more common within the Australian and New Zealand industries.

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