Archive for the ‘Podcast’ Category

September 4th, 2015

Robots: Fotokite Phi - Transcript

In this episode, Audrow Nash speaks with Sergei Lupashin about Perspective Robotics upcoming flying camera, the Fotokite Phi.

The Phi is a rotor-craft unmanned aerial vehicle, called a quadrocopter, that a user controls with a retractable leash. As the quadrocopter flies, it keeps tension on the leash; this tension allows it to determine where it is in space with respect to the user holding the leash. Because the Phi figures out where it is from the leash, it can follow the user without a vision system or GPS. Lupashin says that the leash also allows users to learn to fly the Phi in a short time and that it provides a natural way of controlling the quadrocopter.

For easy transport, the four arms with propellers of the Phi can be folded up so that it can fit in a large-thermos-size cylinder.

Perspective Robotics is running an Indiegogo campaign to fund production of the Fotokite Phi. The campaign’s video is below.



Sergei Lupashin


Sergei Lupashin is the founder of Perspective Robotics, the Swiss company behind the Fotokite. Previous to that he worked in aerospace and participated in robotics competitions such as the DARPA Grand+Urban Challenges (autonomous cars). He was chief architect for the ETH Flying Machine Arena, where he enjoyed torturing little quadrocopters until they learned to do flips. He holds a BS in Elec & Comp Engineering from Cornell, an MSc + PhD in Mechanical Engineering from ETH Zurich (topic: aerial robotics) and is a TED Fellow. Sergei is passionate about building devices that are usable and useful in the real world.



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December 13th, 2014

Robots: Robotics in Theatre, Film and Television - Transcript

In this episode, Ron Vanderkley speaks with Mythbusters Grant Imahara, and Richard McKenna from The Creature Technology Company about robotics in the Film, Television and Theatre industries.

Grant Imahara

Ron Vanderkley talking with Grant Imahara at SupaNova 2014

Ron Vanderkley talking with Grant Imahara at SupaNova 2014

Grant Imahara graduated from the University of Southern California with a degree in electrical engineering. It was shortly after that Imahara was hired as an engineer at LucasFilms and Industrial Light & Magic, building and operating a number of visual effects, models and robots for popular films/film series (such as Star Wars, Galaxy Quest, Jurassic Park, Terminator, The Matrix and AI: Artificial Intelligence). Imahara also built the Energizer Bunny, for the battery company’s commercials, Deadblow robot on BattleBots and Jeff Peterson from The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. Imahara is perhaps best known as a presenter on Discovery Channel’s MythBusters, and is often seen making robots or robotic rigs needed to aid in the testing of various myths. Imahara appeared at Supanova 2014 promoting his casting as Mr. Sulu in the popular professional web-series Star Trek: Continues.

Richard McKenna
Richard-McKenna_220x220Richard McKenna is Chief Engineer at The Creature Technology Company. He joined CTC in 2010 and has worked on all of the major projects since that time, including How to Train Your Dragon; King Kong and the Sochi Olympic Mascots.  He has a Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) in Mechatronics, Robotics and Automation Engineering from Swinburne University and is certified as a “Chartered Professional Engineer” by Engineers Australia, registered on the National Professional Engineers Register (NPER). Prior to joining CTC, the majority of Richard’s time was spent in the defence industry, and he has also worked in special effects for film and television.


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May 7th, 2010

Robots: 50 Years of Robotics (Part 2)

Welcome to the second part of our 50th episode special! To celebrate 50 episodes of Robots, we’re doing a review of some of the greatest advances in robotics during the last 50 years, and predictions on what we can hope to see in the next half century. In last week’s episode we covered embodied AI, robot toys, androids, underwater robots, education robots and brain-machine interfaces.

In today’s episode we speak with Jean-Christophe Zufferey on flying robots, Dan Kara on the robotics market, Kristinn Thórisson on AI, Andrea Thomaz on human robot interactions, Terry Fong on space robotics and Richard Jones on nano robots.

Finally, don’t forget to check out all the new features of our website including episode browsing by topic, interviewee and tag or leaving comments under our blog posts or in the forum.

Jean-Christophe Zufferey

Jean-Christophe Zufferey is a researcher at the Laboratory of Intelligent Systems at the Swiss Federal Polytechnic in Lausanne, Switzerland, where he works on cutting-edge research in Micro Air Vehicles (MAVs). His latest advances have led him to create the startup SenseFly that specializes in small and safe autonomous flying systems for applications such as environmental monitoring and aerial photography.

Dan Kara

Dan Kara is President of Robotics Trends and the Robotics Business Review, which are web-portals and research firms specialized in the robotics markets. He’ll be telling us about the past products which have marked the minds and the future developments that will be gathering the buck in the future.

Kristinn R. Thórisson

Kristinn Thórisson is Associate Professor at the School of Computer Science, Reykjavik University in Iceland.  Active in the field of Artificial Intelligence for a couple decades, Thórisson is pioneering new approaches such as constructivist AI which he hopes will bring us towards more adaptive and complex artificial systems.

Andrea Thomaz

Andrea Thomaz is professor at Georgia Tech and the director of the Socially Intelligent Machines Research Laboratory. Lately, she’s been seen with her new humanoid Simon and his expressive traits. We were able to catch her at this year’s ICRA conference for a little chat on the past and future of human robot interactions.

Terry Fong

Terry Fong is the Director of the Intelligent Robotics Group at the NASA Ames Research Center. As an expert in space robotics, he’ll be telling us about robots leaving the solar system to explore our universe and how humans and robots will work together towards this endeavor.

Richard Jones

Richard Jones is the author of the book Soft Machines: nanotechnology and life and a blog on the subject also named Soft Machines. From the University of Sheffield in the UK, where he is Professor of Physics, Jones has been looking at how to make nanoscale robots which can eventually be used in the body for medical applications.


Latest News:

For more information on this episode’s news, including a video of Kumagai’s balancing BallIP robots, McGill’s rapid ice sculpture prototyping system, and Stanford’s perching UAV as well as more coverage from the ICRA 2010 conference, visit the Robots Forum.

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April 23rd, 2010

Robots: 50 Years of Robotics (Part 1)

Today we celebrate the 50th episode of ROBOTS!

For the occasion we speak with 12 scientists about the most remarkable developments in robotics over the last 50 years and their prediction for the next half-century. This 50th special is split into two episodes with the second half airing in two weeks.

Today we’ll be talking to Rolf Pfeifer on robotics in general, Mark Tilden robot toys, Hiroshi Ishiguro on androids, Oscar Schofield on underwater robots, Steve  Potter on brain machine interfaces and Chris Rogers on eduction robots. Our next episode will give you a snapshot view on nano robots, AI, flying robots, human robot interactions, robot business, and space robots.

We’ve also upgraded our website so that you can easily browse through episodes by topic, interviewee, tag or just listen to one of our favorites, so have a look!

You can interact with the ROBOTS community by leaving comments directly under episode posts or on our new sleek forum. To do both, just log-in once in the top bar of the website.

Rolf Pfeifer

Rolf Pfeifer is Professor at the University of Zurich where he directs the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. He pioneered a new approach to artificial intelligence (“New AI”), which emphasizes the role of embodiment and argues that thought is not independent of the body, but tightly constrained, and at the same time enabled by it.

Mark Tilden

Mark Tilden is a famous robot inventor who builds new robots on a daily basis. He pioneered a philosophy for making simple and reactive robots and tagged it BEAM robotics (which stands for Biology, Electronics, Aesthetics, and Mechanics). Lately, Tilden has been making famous products such as the Robosapien and Femisapien robots at WowWee.

Hiroshi Ishiguro

Hiroshi Ishiguro is professor at Osaka University in Japan where he directs the Intelligent Robotics Laboratory. Ishiguro is most know for his near-real Androids which closely resemble human models, including himself, his daughter and a famous news anchor. Geminoid F, his latest model, was recently featured in the blogosphere.

Oscar Schofield

Oscar Schofield is Professor of Bio-Optical Oceanography at the Rutgers Coastal Ocean Observation Lab or COOL lab at Rutgers University.

Schofield is an expert in underwater robots, taking part in recent projects such as the Scarlet Knight glider which crossed the Atlantic Ocean fully autonomously while dodging fishing nets, strong currents and even the occasional shark.

Steve Potter

Steve Potter is the Director of the Potter Group which is part of the Laboratory for NeuroEngineering, a collective research unit shared between Emory University and the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Having interfaced robots to in-vitro neurons, Potter talks about the field of brain-machine interfaces and its potential impact in medicine and neuroscience

Chris Rogers

Chris Rogers is a professor of mechanical engineering at Tufts University in the US.

As director of the Center for Engineering Education Outreach, Rogers tours the elementary schools of the world trying to bring engineering and robotics to young children. He has also worked with LEGO to develop ROBOLAB, a robotic approach to learning science and math.


Latest News:

For more information on this episode’s news, including videos of the PR2 robot folding towels and Honda’s U3-X robot and links to the MIT Personal Robotics group’s Mars Escape game, have a look at the Robots Forum.

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June 19th, 2009

Robots: Celebrity Robots Brought to Life

In today’s episode we speak with celebrity robot maker Fred Barton who is best known as ROBOTMAN. As an expert in the Sci-Fi genre, he’ll be giving us an overview of robots in the cinema from the first shoots to today with a special emphasis on his all time favorite, Robby the Robot from the 1956 Forbidden Planet. Finally, tell us who your favorite movie robot is for a chance to win a Sci-Fi DVD or Bluray of your choice!

Fred Barton

As a teenager in highschool, Fred Barton decided he needed to have his own full size version of Robby the Robot from the Forbidden Planet. After home-making all the parts he ended-up with his first celebrity robot and went on to restoring the original Robby movie prop. However, it is only in 1996 that he decided to make a living out of his childhood passion and build robot collectibles for museums and our fellow enthusiasts. His Hollywood company, Fred Barton Productions, is the exclusive manufacturer and licensee for some of the best known movie robots including Robby. He’s built many other life-size computerized replicas including those of the original Star Wars Trilogy droids R2-D2 and C-3PO, Robot Model B9 from Lost in Space, Gort from The Day the Earth Stood Still, Maria from Metropolis, the Target Earth robot, T2-Endoskeleton.

More generally, Fred Barton has become an expert in the Sci-Fi movie genre and is involved in many of the robot movies coming out of Hollywood. He is a member of the jury of the Robot Hall of Fame and his protegee, Robby, is a 2004 inductee.

Contest: Who’s your Favorite Celebrity Robot

Most of us robotics fans are Sci-Fi lovers, diving into futuristic stories for inspiration. That’s why we want to give you a chance to win your favorite Sci-Fi DVD or bluray. Just let us know, here on the forum, who your favorite movie robot is and motivate it with text, pictures, movie snippets or nothing. The winner will be the one who proves to be the most assiduous Sci-Fi lover. The competition will be open until the 2nd of July 2009.

Tell us who your favorite movie robot is here.


Latest News:

More information on and videos of Israel military’s new snake robot, Tokyo’s International Food Machinery and Technology Expo and Willow Garage’s PR2 in our forum.

View and post comments on this episode in the forum

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