Archive for the ‘Podcast’ Category

November 21st, 2008

Robots: Bio-inspired Locomotion

In our 13th episode we talk with biologist Robert Full from UC Berkeley about the research he’s been doing on animal locomotion and how his insights have been inspiring engineers to create robots. We then talk to expert Auke Ijspeert from the EPFL on his insight on bio-inspired locomotion.

Robert Full

Prof. Robert Full is the director of the Poly-Pedal Lab at UC Berkeley where he has been interacting with engineers, biologists and mathematicians for the interdisciplinary study of locomotion in animals and robots.

By studying how cockroaches run over complex terrain or how crabs can run in sand, he’s inspired roboticists to create the RHex robot with open-loop control and bouncy legs capable of running along in rough terrain. With the running out of the way, Full then looked at climbing animals such as geckos and the Van der Waals forces which allow their hairy feet to cling to a wall. The resulting bio-inspired dry adhesives have been covered in Talking Robots by Prof. Ron Fearing and Prof. Mettin Sitti. However, what happens when a gecko slips or even falls? After a quick inquiry from an engineer about the use of gecko tails, Full found the answer by discovering that geckos can actively use their tail to stabilize and even do controlled gliding!



Finally, Prof. Full presents his view on bio-inspired engineering, the use of robots for biologists, and the amazing compliance and robustness of living creatures still unachievable by robots.

Auke Ijspeert

Prof. Auke Ijspeert is a long-time colleague of Full, meeting at countless conferences and exchanging visits to each other’s labs on both sides of the Atlantic. As professor of the Biologically Inspired Robotics Group at EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland, he is involved in many bio-inspired robotics projects such as the Salamandra Robotica, and has been featured in a Talking Robots interview on his work. Ijspeert tells us a bit about Full’s work as seen by the scientific community, and what he thinks are Full’s most important contributions to the field of robotics.

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Latest News:

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Death of the Phoenix Lander, World’s largest robotic truck and Honda’s assisted walking prototype presented in the podcast.

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October 24th, 2008

Robots: Jumping and Crawling in Millirobots

This episode concentrates on how to scale down robots to the size of our creepy crawly friends, insects. Sarah Bergbreiter tells us about the micromachining techniques required to build jumping robots at this small scale and the applications in sensor networks. Aaron Hoover then talks about his 6-legged crawling robot that is slowly approaching the cockroach in size and locomotion capability.

Sarah Bergbreiter

Sarah Bergbreiter is Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Maryland where she directs the Micro Robotics Lab.

With her vision of mobile sensor networks composed of large numbers of autonomous robots, Bergbreiter first started designing the CotsBots, built entirely from commercial off-the-shelf components. She then went to micro-sized robots which could be used in a non-invasive manner in their deploying environment. As a first step in her endeavor she contributed to Seth Hollar and Anita Flynn‘s walking microrobot and then went on to her own tiny jumping robots to achieve better mobility. To enable jumping, she demonstrated the quick release of a mechanical leg based on a silicon micro rubber band (see video here).

Finally, to avoid spending hours in a clean room, Bergbreiter is looking to develop fabrication techniques for the fast prototyping of novel robots, in particular with respect to challenges in scaling down robotic components for energy storage, actuation, power, sensing and control.

Aaron Hoover

Aaron Hoover is a research assistant in Prof. Ron Fearing’s lab at the University of California at Berkeley. His expertise lies in the use of novel manufacturing techniques based on smart composites, flexure joints and folding structures. Hoover’s efforts to mimic complex biological systems such as beetles that can run over a myriad of surfaces has culminated in the 2.4g RoACH hexapod robot. The RoACH is capable of crawling autonomously at 1 body length per second and can last for almost 10 minutes on a single charge. Check out a video of the RoACH in action!

Selkies

In the third quarter of the science fiction story “Selkies” by author Jack Graham, we meet researcher Sylvia Ochoa from the UN Marine Fisheries and follow Mangan in his endeavor to shark-proof his robot-seals. Don’t miss his other SciFi stories straight out of Cambridge MA on lonesomerobot.com, such as “arm” and “posthuman playground“.








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Latest News:

Visit the Robots forum for links, videos and discussions
about the wirelessly-powered robot swarm, the new robotic instrument which allows surgery on a beating heart and the iPhone’s robotic legs.

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August 29th, 2008

Robots: Bacteria-Propelled Microrobots

In this episode we look at bacteria-propelled microrobots which, in the future, could be used for sensing or drug delivery inside the liquid environments of the human body, such as the urinary tract, eyeball cavity, ear and cerebrospinal fluid. With Prof. Metin Sitti from Carnegie Mellon University, we’ll be hearing about the science and challenges behind harnessing living organisms to robots at the microscale. Gastroenterologist Dr. Mark Schattner then gives us his medical view on in-body robots and how they could by useful in his day-in, day-out tasks.

Metin Sitti

Prof. Metin Sitti is the director of the Nanorobotics Laboratory at the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Robotics Institute, Carnegie Mellon University, USA.

With all the micro and nano scale technologies swimming, crawling, running and climbing out of his lab, he’s become an expert at mimicking the physics of the tiny exhibited by natural systems such as climbing geckos, water-running lizards or water striders. Previously featured in a Talking Robots interview, these bio-inspired technologies have pushed the limits of today’s robot locomotion.



One of Sitti’s aims is now to miniaturize a robot to the microscale, so that it can in the future navigate in the human body for directed drug-delivery and sensing. However, instead of building the locomotion in hardware, he decided to attach a robot to an organism, which was already perfectly capable of flagellating through liquid: bacteria. In this episode we concentrate on Sitti’s latest developments in bacteria-propelled micro-robots and how they can be controlled by changing their chemical environment (see video1 and video2) .

In other related projects, Sitti is currently developing an endoscopic microcapsule which will be able to stick to a patient’s intestine on demand.

Mark Schattner

Dr. Mark Schattner is a gastroenterologist with a special interest in therapeutic endoscopy and specialized nutrition support for cancer patients at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.

He gives us his medical view on how robots could in the future be useful to ensure non-invasive diagnosis and treatment for his patients with concrete applications and examples. Interestingly, the barriers in getting these robots out of the labs and into the clinics are not so much ethical, but just like any other new medical technology, the lengthy pipeline to prove its safeness and usefulness in human beings.

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Latest News:

Check out the Robots Forum for pictures, links, videos and some ongoing discussion for this episode’s news, including the first rat-brain robot, the flying and ground based robot teams in the UK’s Grand Challenge as well as the ESA’s new Mars rover.

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May 9th, 2008

Talking Robots Podcast LogoTalking Robots: Blue Brain Robotics
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In this episode of Talking Robots we speak with Henry Markram who is the director of the Blue Brain Project, director of the Center for Neuroscience and Technology and co-director of EPFL’s Brain Mind Institute in Switzerland. While most roboticists have been working on abstracting the brain, the Blue Brain project has been painting the whole picture of a rat neocortical column (NCC) from the bottom up; starting with the cells, neurons, and finally pulling the connections which generate the jungle of the mind. It seems that modeling our grey matter as a whole might result in emergent features such as consciousness or self representation and provide necessary tools for the study of brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s or Autism. Finally, robots embedded with such in-silico replication of the brain might not only be more efficient in communicating, showing emotions and planning, they will also serve as essential testbeds to better understand what’s happening in our head.

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April 25th, 2008

Talking Robots Podcast LogoTalking Robots: Neurobotic Prosthetics
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In this episode of Talking Robots we speak with Yoky Matsuoka who is the director of the Neurobotics Laboratory at the University of Washington in Seattle, USA. Boosted by her nomination as MacArthur Fellow she has been recognized as a leader in the emerging field of neurobotics. With her team, she’s been focused on understanding how the central nervous system coordinates musculoskeletal action and how robotic technology can enhance the mobility of people with manipulation disabilities.

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