Archive for the ‘Podcast’ Category

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.

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RED teaching robot, Hanson and Byrne’s singing robot and the iRobot Negotiator presented in the podcast.

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June 20th, 2008

Robots: A Robot Fly at Harvard and at the MoMA - Transcript

This episode features an interview with Robert Wood about his micro-robotic fly, as well as a talk with the curator of design at the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan.

Rob Wood

Rob Wood's Robot fly

Professor Robert Wood is the founder and director of the Harvard Microrobotics Lab at Harvard University. He initially started out at Ron Fearing‘s Biomimetic Lab at Berkley working on the Micromechanical Flying Insect (MFI) project (see Talking Robots interview). Strong of his experience with designing the tiny, he went on to build his own microscale robots for aerial, terrestrial, and aquatic environments. His recent article in IEEE Spectrum Magazine, “Fly, Robot Fly” describes the first flight of his tethered fly:

« It began when I took a stick-thin winged robot, not much larger than a fingertip, and anchored it between two taut wires, rather like a miniature space shuttle tethered to a launchpad. Next I switched on the external power supply. Within milliseconds the carbon-fiber wings, 15 millimeters long, began to whip forward and back 120 times per second, flapping and twisting just like an actual insect’s wings. The fly shot straight upward on the track laid out by the wires. As far as I know, this was the first flight of an insect-size robot. »



Now that the micromechanical structure has proven it has sufficient thrust to actually lift the robot off the ground, the questions focus on how to power the robot insect and what sensors and control could allow it to perform its intended long term applications, namely search and rescue, hazardous environment exploration, environmental monitoring, and reconnaissance.

Wood also gives us some insight on how Biology has been driving his research and how he hopes to be able to return the favor by using his platform to study flies in nature.

Chaotic flight controlled, robot insect swarms, tech-driving miniaturization… let’s wait and see.

Paola Antonelli

Rob Wood’s robotic fly was featured as part of an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City entitled Design and the Elastic Mind. We had a talk with Paola Antonelli, the curator of the Department of Architecture and Design at MoMA, about the role of design in helping people cope with momentous changes in science and technology. How will designers help people adapt as robots become ubiquitous in our daily lives? How does our experience in nature affect the design of future robotic systems? Paola takes us through a brief tour of a designer’s perspective of science and technology.

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iRobot’s “Seaglider” underwater robot, the DARPA contract awarded to iRobot for the Chembot, the sale of the autonomous car “Odin” and EMA the robotic girlfriend mentioned in the podcast.

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February 1st, 2008

Talking Robots Podcast LogoTalking Robots: Search and Rescue Robots
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In this podcast we interview Robin Murphy who is a founder and international leader in both rescue robotics and human-robot interaction, and was recognized by TIME Magazine in 2004 as an innovator in artificial intelligence. As the Director of the Center for Robot-Assisted Search and Rescue (CRASAR) at the University of South Florida she was the first to introduce ground, air, and sea robots to disaster response, participating in the World Trade Center disaster (2001), La Conchita, CA, mudslides (2005), Hurricanes Charley (2004), Dennis (2005), Katrina (2005), and Wilma (2005), and the Newmont Midas (2007) and Crandall Canyon (2007) mine disasters.

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October 26th, 2007

Talking Robots Podcast LogoTalking Robots: Millirobots
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In this episode we talk to Ron Fearing who is the director of the Biomimetic Millisystem Laboratory at UC Berkeley in California. He presents the state of the art in aerial insect-size flapping robots with the Micromechanical Flying Insect (MFI) project and the challenges in designing millisystems, from autonomy and control in turbulent environments to hardware. Thanks to his know-how with the “tiny” he’s also been designing tools and kits for the rapid-prototyping of miniature robots of all types which might one-day be used in high-school science classes, or is it art?

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September 28th, 2007

Talking Robots Podcast LogoTalking Robots: Bionic Design
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In this episode we interview Rudolf Bannasch from the Technical University in Berlin, Germany. Thanks to his background in biology, his many trips to the poles and his know-how in engineering, he’s been able to pinpoint the principles found in nature which can provide the basis for novel solutions to everyday technical problems. With his bio-inspiration as a drive, he’s creating new products through his startup Evologics and encouraging bionic design through European networks.

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