June 28th, 2013

Robots: Robotics Business Review

In this episode we meet with Tom Green, editor in chief of the Robotics Business Review, to discuss current trends in robotics. Robotics Business Review is a global robotics news and information resource headquartered in metro Boston (USA).

Green shares his view on how the focus within the robotics community differs in different parts of the world, and what impact public funding has on this. According to him, it is not technology but people that hold development up at the moment. We also hear about some success stories, that show how robotics make a difference in people’s lives.

Tom Green
Tom Green is the Editor in chief of the Robotics Business Review, a global robotics news and information resource headquartered in metro Boston (USA). 

Formerly, Green worked as print/online writer and video producer for the MITRE Corporation, an R&D facility specializing in computer engineering, avionics, robotics, RADAR, marine engineering, satellite communications, systems engineering and deep-space information systems for the U.S. federal government, NATO, World Radiocommunication Conferences and civilian projects worldwide (2000-2009). In 2010, Green published an Amazon best-selling history of the computer revolution: “Bright Boys: The Making of Information Technology 1938-1958″. He was also online editor/writer for Millipore/Merck Corporation; website developer and editor for JAZD Business Publications; and TV program developer for Gostelradio.

He is also an Emmy-nominated, award-winning writer, producer and playwrighter who utilizes online editorial and video content to report on and produce programs on science, technology and engineering. Green wrote and produced the forum-based TV pilot “Lifelines” for a local Boston network. His stage plays have been produced at Boston’s Next Move Theater and then reproduced as radio plays for National Public Radio.

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June 14th, 2013

Robots: The OpenROV Project

In the episode, we speak with Eric Stackpole and David Lang from the OpenROV project about their challenge in developing Eric’s idea to find an easy way to explore a cave that was rumored to contain a sunken treasure near his home.

OpenROV (OPEN-source Remotely Operated Vehicle) is a telerobotic submarine built to make underwater exploration and education affordable. We will hear of their learning curve to turn a fun idea into a funded kick-starter project, on a shoestring budget and how they inspired the community to develop the project further. This has united the imagination of DYI beginners, amateurs, professional engineers and scientists from over 50 countries, with far more applications than were original conceded, from pollution monitoring to species identification in the Antarctica.

Eric Stackpole
Eric Stackpole is a Co-Founder of OpenROV and the original designer of the robot. He currently works part-time for NASA at the Ames Research Center and is finishing his masters thesis in mechatronics at Santa Clara University. Eric has always been an enthusiast of  exploration technology, from building a telerobot to attend classes in college to lugging ham radios up mountains during backpacking trips.

David Lang
David Lang is a Co-Founder of OpenROV. He also writes the Zero to Maker column for the MAKE blog, where he chronicles his crash-course into the maker world. Prior to underwater robots, David managed OCSC Sailing in Berkeley where he helped hundreds of students learn to sail and led sailing adventures around the world.

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May 31st, 2013

Robots: Curved Artificial Compound Eye

In this episode, we speak with Ramon Pericet and Michal Dobrzynski from EPFL about their Curved Artificial Compound Eye (CurvACE) published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Inspired by the fly’s vision system, their sensor can enable a large range of applications that require motion detection using a small plug-and-play device. As shown in the video below, you could use these sensors to control small robots navigating an environment, even in the dark, or equip a small autonomous flying robot with limited payload. Other applications include home automation, surveillance, medical instruments, prosthetic devices, and smart clothing.


The artificial compound eye features a panoramic, hemispherical field of view with a resolution identical to that of the fruitfly in less than 1 mm thickness. Additionally, it can extract images 3 times faster than a fruitfly, and includes neuromorphic photoreceptors that allow motion perception in a wide range of environments from a sunny day to moon light. To build the sensors, the researchers align an array of microlenses, an array of photodetectors, and a flexible PCB that mechanically supports and electrically connects the ensemble.

This work is part of the European Project Curvace which brings together a total of 15 people from four partners in France, Germany and Switzerland.

You can read our full coverage about this new sensor on Robohub.

Ramon Pericet Camara
Ramon Pericet Camara is the scientific coordinator for the CurvACE project and a postdoctoral researcher at the Laboratory of Intelligent Systems at EPFL. His research interests are oriented towards bio-inspired robotics, soft robotics, and soft-condensed matter physics.

Ramon received a Masters degree in Physics in 2000 from the University of Granada (Spain) and a PhD in Multidisciplinary Research from the University of Geneva (Switzerland) in 2006. Subsequently, he was granted a fellowship for prospective researchers from the Swiss National Science Foundation to join the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research in Mainz (Germany).

Michal Dobrzynski
Michal Dobrzynski is a PhD student at the Laboratory of Intelligent Systems at EPFL. He obtained his master degree in Automatic Control and Robotics in 2006 from the Warsaw Technical University (Poland). He then joined the SGAR S.L. Company (Barcelona, Spain) as a Robot and PLC Software Engineer where his work focused on industrial robots and automatic lines programming and visualization. Next, in 2007, he joined a Numerical Method Laboratory at the University Politechnica of Bucharest (Romania) where he spent two years working in the FP6 “Early Stage Training 3″ project as a Researcher.




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May 17th, 2013

Robots: Autonomous Lethal Weapons

In this episode, AJung talks to Peter Asaro from The New School in New York city about autonomous weapons systems. Peter tells us about the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, an international consortium of NGOs working together to ban autonomous weapons systems. You can read our full coverage on Robohub.

Peter Asaro
Peter Asaro is an Assistant Professor at The New School and an Affiliated Scholar at the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School. As a Co-founder and Vice-Chair for the International Committee for Robot Arms Control founded in 2009, Peter has been thinking, talking, and writing about lethal robots for many years. Computer scientist and philosopher by training, he is one of the leading figures in roboethics urging scientists to join the Scientists’ Call to ban autonomous lethal weapons.

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May 3rd, 2013

Robots: Controlled Flight of Insect-sized Robots

In this episode we hear from researchers at the Harvard Microrobotics Lab about the Science paper published today reporting on the first controlled flight of an insect-sized robot. The amazing high-speed video below shows the robot taking off, hovering in place and steering left and right. This work is part of the Robobees project that aims to make swarms of insect robots. You can read our full coverage on Robohub.




Kevin Ma, Pakpong Chirarattananon and Sawyer Fuller
Kevin Ma and Pakpong Chirarattananon are graduate student researcher at the Harvard Microrobotics Lab working with Prof. Robert Wood (listen to Wood’s podcast here). Kevin studies the design and manufacturing of very small-scale robots while Pakpong’s work focuses on flight control strategies for flapping wing robots. Sawyer Fuller is a postdoctoral researcher with experience in the control and sensing of biological and robotic flies.

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