Archive for the ‘Podcast’ Category

January 30th, 2009

Robots: Human-Robot Love

In this episode we look at a subject that doesn’t always come to mind when you think of robots: love and relationships. Our first guest David Levy is the author of the book Love and Sex with Robots which has received wide media attention in the past year because it predicts that humans and robots will soon engage in genuine relationships, both physical and emotional.

We then speak to robot anthropologist Kathleen Richardson from Cambridge about her review of Levy’s book and her take on the meaning and likeliness of human-robot couples.

David Levy

David Levy is best known for his many years as a Scottish International Master of Chess, but it’s his recent doctoral thesis entitled “Intimate Relationships with Artificial Partners” at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands that has been getting him extensive media coverage lately. In an unusual combination of psychology, sociology and robotics Levy studied the dynamics of sex and relationships between humans and robots.
Levy tells us about his belief that robots will soon become a ubiquitous part of our society, and it will be common for people to have relationships and even marry their robotic partners. He explains the dynamics of relationships and sex as he sees them, and how they can be extended to relations with artificial partners or robots as they become more advanced and life-like. Finally he tells us in his own words what he hopes that people take away from his latest book Love and Sex with Robots.

Kathleen Richardson


Kathleen Richardson recently completed her doctoral studies in the department of social anthropology at the University of Cambridge during which she conducted fieldwork in robotic labs at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Her thesis, “Annihilating Difference? Robots and Building Design at MIT”, examined the breakdown of boundaries between humans and non-humans through a study of robots. She has also given several talks on human-robot relationships and her work has been featured in the New York Times.

She’ll be presenting her review of David Levy’s book “Love + Sex with Robots” and will tell us why genuine love relationships between humans and robots are mostly unfounded speculations grounded in science fiction fantasies. She also discusses the attachment that humans can feel for “things” and the ambiguities that might raise.

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Latest News:

For a video of the net launching security robot, a video of the MDS robot Nexi, and more on the functioning of the MCMS micro-grippers have a look at our forum!

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January 16th, 2009

Robots: Industrial Robots in Research

In this episode we talk to Raúl Ordóñez about his new Motoman Robotics Lab at the University of Dayton and the research he plans to do with his high profile industrial robots.

Raúl Ordóñez

Raúl Ordóñez is the director of the Nonlinear Control Lab and the newly created Motoman Robotics Lab at the University of Dayton in Ohio.

The Motoman Lab houses six state-of-the-art industrial robots, including a seven-axis, actuator-driven IA20 robot; a 15-axis, actuator-driven and human-like dual-arm DIA10 robot; a four-axis YS450 high-speed SCARA robot; two six-axis HP3 articulated robots and one HP3C six-axis, articulated robot with a compact controller.

Using these industrial robots, he will be looking to study visual servoing which would allow robots to control their movements based on visual feedback derived from cameras and maybe achieve tasks such as pole-balancing or even juggling. Such closed-loop control could lead to novel applications for the industry and robots that are able to perform in changing environments.

However, whenever the researchers have their backs turned, the robots come to life to perform multi-robot dances on the music of the Star Wars Movie or the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies.



More generally, Ordóñez has been studying nonlinear control systems over the years, using several different test-beds including robot arms, helicopters, table top mobile robots and humanoids. He’ll be explaining what makes these systems non-linear and how this research allowed him to spend eight weeks this summer in the Boeing Welliver fellowship program, working on the control of planes.

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Latest News:

For a summary of new robots at this year’s CES, a high-speed video of the flight of the .23 g ornithopter, and more information on the new exoskeleton have a look at our robot forum.

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December 19th, 2008

Robots: Robot Toys

In the spirit of the holiday season, today’s episode is all about robots as toys. We speak to Mark Tilden, robot designer at WowWee Robotics, about designing robots for children, and what he thinks that scientists and researchers can learn from the toy industry. We are also holding a contest to give away his latest creation, the Femisapien, to one of our listeners, so read all about it below.

Mark Tilden

Mark Tilden is a true robotics lover, having built thousands of robots of all shapes and sizes in the last few decades. During the first part of his career he pioneered BEAM robotics (which stands for Biology, Electronics, Aesthetics, and Mechanics), a philosophy of building robots based on simple analog circuits and control instead of highly-complex systems, leading to low-cost and efficient systems. His bio-inspired bots manage to walk, crawl, roll or shake in complex environments using only a few transistors and basic sensors.

After working at the University of Waterloo in Canada and subsequently at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, Tilden’s research eventually evolved into toy design when he was hired as a consultant for WowWee robotics in Hong Kong. His RoboSapien humanoid robot was controlled using only 28 transistors, and has sold in the millions. In our interview Tilden tells us about the difference between robotics in scientific research and in the toy industry. He also speaks about his latest creation, the Femisapien, and how he hopes to interest young girls in the field of robotics.

Christmas Contest: Win a WowWee FemiSapien

Guess what our Femisapien did on her first weekend in Switzerland for a chance to win one! Answers can be posted on our forum as a description, video, drawing or picture until Thursday the 1st of January noon (GMT). The closest guess wins and the most creative posts will be encouraged. A short video will be posted on the 2nd of January to reveal the winner and the correct answer.






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Further reading:


Latest News:

Further information on the robots mentioned in this episode on the Robots robot forum, including robot actors, dancers and performers around the world, a web version of the “Japan: Robot Nation” show, and a list of our favorite last minute robot Christmas presents as well as other recommendations for the holiday season around the web.

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December 5th, 2008

Robots: Robot Musicians

This episode focuses on robot musicians, starting with our first guest Gil Weinberg who is the Director of Music Technology at Georgia Tech. With his wooden robot drummer Haile, he’s been evolving a new beat for the future of music. Our second guest, Atsuo Takanishi describes the Waseda Flutist, a robot that mimics human lungs, vocal chords, and lips to accurately play the flute.

Gil Weinberg

Prof. Gil Weinberg is the Director of Music Technology at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where his research has been bridging the musical and scientific worlds. From his PhD on, he’s been investigating the use of technology to expand musical expression, creativity, and learning and then bringing his ideas to the public with concerts, museum exhibitions and festivals. His most well know projects include the Beatbugs, electronic percussion instruments which when networked can allow newbie musicians, and even children, to collaborate and create living tunes. In another project, he’s working to create an Accessible Aquarium for the visually impaired to perceive the dynamics of life in a fish tank through auditory cues.

In this episode we concentrate on his latest compositions in music technology, Haile the robot drummer and Shimon the Marimba player.
Haile has also been touring the world, playing with human teachers and even evolving its own beats to reach robotic improvisation. Haile, is esthetically elegant with its wooden structure and can play faster than a human at a rate of 15 HZ.



Finally, Weinberg gives us his view on robot-musician interactions and the possible opening of a new music genre.

Atsuo Takanishi

Prof. Atsuo Takanishi has been designing robots for decades. From robots meant to help the medical industry, such as the Oral Rehabilitation Robot or the Clinical Jaw Movement Training Robot, to bio-mimetic robots such as the Emotion Expression Humanoid Robot or the Rat Robot, Takanishi’s lab excels in designing advanced and feature-rich platforms.

Takanishi Lab’s 15-year foray into musical robots has yielded the Anthropomorphic Flutist Robot, a robot capable of playing the flute at the level of an intermediate human flutist. Now in it’s 4th version, the robot mimics many of the mechanisms used by humans to play the flute, such as 3DOF lips, a vibrato and a complex mechanical tongue capable of advanced flute techniques such as the double tonguing technique. Check out the video below:



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Latest News:

Visit the Robots Forum for links and discussions about
Evolution Robotics, iRobot’s Warrior 700 and the ethics of military robotics presented in the podcast.

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November 7th, 2008

Robots: Androids, Human Presence and the Uncanny Valley

This episode covers android science and human-robot interactions with expert Hiroshi Ishiguro from Osaka. After the interview we feature the last installment of Jack Graham’s Selkies story, as well as a poll on the future of Androids.

Hiroshi Ishiguro

Hiroshi Ishiguro is Professor of the Department of Adaptive Machine Systems, and the group leader of the Intelligent Robotics Laboratory at Osaka University.

If you’ve ever seen an Android robot in the news, it probably came out of the Intelligent Robotics Laboratory. Starting from the robotic replicate of his then 5 year old daughter, Prof. Ishiguro then went on to model a female android after Ayako Fujii, the NHK news announcer. Finally, his latest robot Geminoid, which is a close copy of himself, is able to replace its creator in lectures and interviews.

His robots are highly actuated to give them human like facial expressions and reflexes. However, because the AI needed to interact in a human-like manner is not always advanced enough, Prof. Ishiguro has been looking to partially teleoperate his robots. Another approach investigated is to make his robots autonomous by having them perceive and react to their world thanks to networks of cameras and microphones.

Using these robots as a tool, Prof. Ishiguro has been exploring the field of Android Science, which looks at both the appearance and behavior of humanoid robots and their impact on human robot interactions. In particular, he is looking to verify the existence of the uncanny valley and to explore how to make androids which sufficiently resemble humans to be likable. On the more philosophical side, his androids open the door to understanding what human presence really means.

Survey

What is your take on androids? Will androids ever become indistinguishable from humans, both in looks and behaviour? Will they become unrecognizable like the Cylons from Battlestar Galactica, or remain awkward like Data from Star Trek? Take the poll on the Robots forum!




Selkies

In this last installment of the Jack Graham’s Selkies story Mangan sets his Selkies free with a new schooling algorithm in a sea full of sharks. Will this new generation of robotic swimmers escape the jaws of the sharks? Tune in to find out…

Links:


Latest News:

As always, you can find more info on the robots mentioned in this episode on the robot forum, including what may be your future robot
housemaid
, Australia’s anti IED robot SPIKER as well as videos and a slideshow of 25 years of CMU’s Field Robotics Center.

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