Archive for the ‘Podcast’ Category

November 4th, 2011

Robots: Made in Brazil

In today’s show, we take you all the way to Brazil. Marcelo Becker from the University of São Paulo (USP) talks to us about how mobile robots are going to help change agriculture, manufacturing and driving in his country. We then speak with Marcel de Sena Dall’Agnol a student at USP about the excellent robotics competition they organized at SEMATRON, which is a mechatronics conference organized by USP undergraduates.

Marcelo Becker

Marcelo Becker is Professor at the University of São Paulo, one of the top universities in Brazil. He directs the Mobile Robotics Lab that aims towards real-world applications with potential positive impact. His projects focus on agricultural mobile robots, educational robots, intelligent warehouses forklifts, quadrotors and autonomous cars with partner FIAT. More broadly, Becker discusses the growing interest for robotics in Brazil, public perception and the future of the field.

Before joining USP, Becker was Professor at the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais (PUC Minas) where he was also the co-head of the Mechatronics Engineering Department and of the Robotics and Automation Group (GEAR). He also was visiting Professor at the Autonomous System Lab (ASL) at the EPFL in 2006.

Marcel de Sena Dall’Agnol

Marcel is a third year student in EECS at the University of Sao Paolo. This year he was one of the organizers of SEMATRON VII, a week-long series of activities directed towards students in Mechatronic Engineering in São Carlos and nearby cities. During the week, students at the University of São Paulo have their lessons suspended in order to fully participate in the event which offers lectures, courses, a cultural activity and technical visits to companies. The event is one of the largest of the kind in Brazil, with around 500 participants. Internationally renowned companies such as FIAT, National Instruments, Embraer and Petrobrás have sponsored the event in past editions.

In this interview, we will be talking about one of the main attractions, the robotics competition. During the one-day event, students gather around robotic kits made by local company PNCA. The kits let students build robots from scratch and come with an easy-to-use programming interface. The task this year, inspired from the Fukushima disaster, was to retrieve victims from a nuclear power plant while avoiding hazards.

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January 14th, 2011

Robots: Harvest Automation

In today’s episode we look at a new market in robotics with huge potential, agriculture. With us, Joe Jones, co-founder of Harvest Automation and father of the Roomba.

In addition, you might have noted that we’re starting the new year with an upgrade to our website. Our partner, robots.net, will now provide us with news. You can access each episode’s news items, along with many others, via the website’s new NEWS tab, which replaces the former Forum. We think that this will increase both the quality and accessibility of our news content, and look forward to your comments in the improved comments section under each post.

Joseph Jones

Joe Jones is a robotics visionary with 24 years in the field. As proof, he was the first employee of iRobot, where he invented the Roomba that has sold over 3 million units. He also spent 9 years in robotic research at the MIT AI Lab, authored three books on robotics, and holds 15 patents. Today we have him on our show to talk about Harvest Automation, company that he co-founded with a team of robotics experts and ex-iRobot employees. Tapping into the huge agriculture market, Harvest will start by deploying thousands of robots to nurse potted plants. To give you an idea, here’s a short video.

The nice thing with agriculture robots is that incremental improvements to the robot can open a huge range of new applications. With that in mind, Harvest hopes to eventually deploy robots in real fields, doing all the large-scale dirty work challenging today’s farmers.

Finally, Jones also gives us a glimpse at the market and some of his secrets to bridge the gap between academia and business.

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