Archive for the ‘Podcast’ Category

April 10th, 2009

Robots: The Race to the Moon

In this episode, we take-off for the moon with Prof. William “Red” Whittaker who is the director of the Field Robotics Center at Carnegie Mellon University in the US. Strong of his victory at the Darpa Urban Challenge and its autonomous cars, Red is now pursuing an endeavor which seems even more out of reach. His team is currently working on sending a privately funded robot to the moon, and then having the robot travel on its surface and transmit video, images and data back to the Earth. The first team to reach the moon will be awarded a juicy $20 million Google Lunar X Prize.

William “Red” Whittaker

Prof. William “Red” Whittaker, who simply goes by the name “Red”, is the Fredkin Professor of Robotics, Director of the Field Robotics Center, and founder of the National Robotics Engineering Consortium, all at Carnegie Mellon University . He is also the Chief Scientist of RedZone Robotics.

Red has been a driving force in field robotics, bringing robots out of the lab and into natural environments such as mines, volcano interiors, farms, nuclear facilities, hazardous waste sites and now outer space. One of his best known robots is an autonomous car capable of navigating in urban environments and even traffic. The car drove his TARTAN racing team to victory in the 2007 Darpa Urban Challenge.

In this episode he presents his new endeavor: developing a lunar robot named “RED Rover”, capable of reaching the moon, traveling on its surface and transmitting data to Earth. He’ll be competing against many different teams from around the world to be the first to win the $20 million Google Lunar X Prize.



Survey – Google Lunar X Prize

Do you think a privately-funded team will land a robot on the moon and win the Google Lunar X-Prize by 2014?

Yes
No

View results

The Google Lunar X-Prize is the latest competition sponsored by the X Prize foundation who’s aim is to promote private-sector involvement in science that has been traditionally sponsored by large governments. The goal of this contest is to build a robot that can “safely land on the moon, travel 500 meters over the lunar surface, and send images and data back to the Earth.” Sponsored by Google this time around, the first successful privately-funded team will win a prize of $20 million! The challenge is tough however and the deadline short, with the full prize only available until the end of 2012 and a final deadline of 2014 for a reduced prize. What do you think, will the teams be able to accomplish this daunting task? Take a look at the teams and then vote!



Links:


Latest News:

Visit the Robots Forum for more information, discussion and videos on this week’s news, including Adam, the robot scientist, silent UAVs and Honda’s new brain machine interface!

View and post comments on this episode in the forum

| More

Related episodes:

August 15th, 2008

Robots: DelFly and Europe’s Micro Air Vehicle Competition

In this episode we talk about two major events in aerial robotics in the last few weeks: the announcement of the Delfly Micro and the 2008 European Micro Air Vehicle (EMAV) Competition. We first speak with Christophe de Wagter, a member of the Dutch team that’s been churning out amazing flapping-wing robots in the last few years. Our second interview features Peter Vörsmann, chair of this year’s EMAV competition, to explain the latest advances in autonomous flying vehicles.

Christophe de Wagter

In a recent press release a Dutch team of researchers from the Delft University of Technology announced the DelFly Micro, the latest and smallest member of the DelFly family, achieving flight at a very impressive 3g. Not only can this robot fly for 3 minutes, it actually carries a camera, and thus can sense its environment and is already capable of some basic autonomous flight.



De Wagter is one of the main developers of the DelFly family of ornithopters and tells us about the new platform’s capabilities, as well as the motivations of the project. He also tells us about the recent EMAV’08 competition in Germany and the impressive results of the DelFly II, the precursor to the DelFly Micro.



Peter Vörsmann

With its third edition in Braunschweig, Germany, the European Micro Air Vehicle competition (EMAV) reunited the MAV family of flapping, rotary and flying wing robots. The indoor and outdoor competitions were focussed on advancing the state-of-the art in aircraft maneuverability and autonomy while minimizing the size of the MAVs (see the mission description and rules). The 14 outdoor teams and 9 indoor teams showed off their platforms as they swooped over forests through arches and up a chimney, a hand-full of the MAVs performing autonomously.

The chair of the competition, Prof. Peter Vörsmann from the TU Braunschweig and Director of the Institute of Aerospace Systems, tells us about his view on the event, its challenges and impact. He also presents his Institute’s work on MAVs with autopilot technologies, meteorological MAVs and his future aerobatic robots.

Links:


Latest News:

Visit the Robots Forum for links and discussions about the
RED teaching robot, Hanson and Byrne’s singing robot and the iRobot Negotiator presented in the podcast.

View and post comments on this episode in the forum

| More

Related episodes:

July 4th, 2008

Robots: Robot Soccer

To close this year’s soccer season after Spain’s victory in the EUROCUP we went to the robotic kingdom to see who was driving the game. With Prof. Manuela Veloso from Carnegie Mellon University and President-Elect of
the International RoboCup Federation, we’ll be looking behind the scene of the best known competition in robot soccer. Finally, we’ll be discussing the future of artificial dribblers and their odds against the human 2050 world champions with a poll and discussion on our forum.

Manuela Veloso

Robot SoccerManuela Veloso is Professor of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, President-Elect of
the International RoboCup Federation and leader of the Coral Research Group (Cooperate, Observe, Reason, Act, and Learn). Since the first official Robocup soccer games in 1997, she’s been active in presenting teams to the Sony AIBO 4-legged league, the smallsize league, simulation league and Segway league with a great success at adding stars to the shirts of her robotic players with numerous first places in world and US championships.

In this episode we’ll be focusing on CMDragons’ cookie-box-like omni-wheeled robots from the small size league and their off-board perception.



We’ll also be looking at how the CMDash team has tamed the AIBO robot dogs to perceive their world and cooperate in a decentralized manner. Veloso gives us some insight on the challenges related to competing against different opponents and the need for teams to adapt during the games.



Finally, since the AIBOs are no longer produced, the RoboCup Federation is now making way for the Nao humanoid as the next challenging platform in robot soccer along with other research driving leagues such as the Nanogram league previously featured in Talking Robots (see Brad Nelson‘s interview).

Poll

Do you think robots will be able to beat humans at soccer by 2050?

Yes
No


View results

More discussions on this topic on our forum.

Links:


Latest News:

Visit the Robots Forum for links and discussions about
Pixar Animation’s Wall-E Robot Movie, the cutest robots as selected by TIME magazine and the 2008 European Robot Football Cup mentioned in the podcast.

View and post comments in the forum

| More

Related episodes: