Archive for the ‘Podcast’ Category

July 26th, 2013

Robots: Outdoor Autonomous Systems

In this episode, we speak with Jonathan Roberts, research director of the Autonomous Systems Lab at the CSIRO ICT Centre in Brisbane Australia. Roberts leads a team of more than 45 scientists and engineers in wide variety of robotics and automation projects that feature flying, ground and underwater robots.

Jonathan Roberts
Jonathan Roberts is research director of Autonomous Systems Lab at CSIRO ICT Centre in Brisbane Outside CSIRO. His laboratory is developing automation technologies for applications in environmental monitoring, agriculture, mining, manufacturing, and for the energy sector. With research in field robotics and wireless sensor networks, his laboratory has produced new techniques for the autonomous control of machines, 3D perception and localisation, and for the setup and operation of large scale outdoor wireless sensor networks. These techniques are combined to produce novel solutions for industry.

In today’s episode we will touch on the following topics:

  • UAV Outback Challenge – an Australian UAV competition that features delivery and search and rescue missions.
  • Telepresence Robot – to help connect school kids and visitors in regional areas to the National Museum of Australia.
  • The Stealth Robot – for observing animals in their natural habitat.
  • StarBug AUV – an inexpensive, miniature autonomous underwater vehicle ideal for data collection and ecosystem surveys.
  • Robot Helicopter – an unmanned automatic helicopter designed to remotely inspect dangerous or hard to get to infrastructure such as powerlines, buildings and bridges.
  • Hexapod Robot – a multi-legged robot that can be used for monitoring and mapping uneven and unstructured terrain which can be difficult to navigate with wheeled robots.
  • Redirecting Manufacturing – a discussion on the future of manufacturing.

Jonathan Roberts is also Deputy Director of the Australian Research Centre for Aerospace Automation (ARCAA), Video Editor for the IEEE Robotics and Automation Magazine and a member of the editorial board of the International Journal of Field Robotics.

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December 28th, 2012

Robots: Autonomous Solutions - Transcript

In today’s episode we speak with Mel Torrie about work done at Autonomous Solutions, Inc. to make a large range of vehicles autonomous.

Mel Torrie
Mel Torrie is CEO and President of Autonomous Solutions, the company he founded in 2000 after his work at Utah State University (USU) managing robotics development programs for John Deere, the U.S. Department of Defense, and the U.S. Department of Energy. While at USU, he also received a Masters Degree in Electrical Engineering and worked on two NASA space shuttle payloads.

Autonomous Solutions, Inc. is a spin-off of the Center of Self Organizing and Intelligent Systems at USU. The company designs software and hardware solutions to make a wide variety of autonomous vehicles spanning industry, agriculture, and government/military applications. The technology developed allows for multi-vehicle command and control, mission planning, sensor fusion, obstacle detection and avoidance, tele-operation, and point-and-go ease of use.

Here is a video overview of the different types of autonomous solutions coming out of their company:

Torrie also tells us about challenges faced when translating results from research to the real world and creative solutions to autonomous control including attaching “dog-leashes” to control vehicle convoys.

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October 21st, 2011

Robots: Demonstrations at IROS

In today’s show, we hear about two demonstrations that caught our attention at the IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS). Péter Fankhauser from the ETHZ in Zurich tells us about the Rezero ballbot, a balancing robot that speeds around on a sphere. Mike Rubenstein from the Self-organizing Systems Research Group at Harvard then tells us about their efforts to make swarms of 1024 robots a reality with the kilobot project.

Péter Fankhauser

© Karl Hug Ringier AG


Péter Fankhauser is the leader of the Rezero ballbot project. The Rezero project was one of last year’s “Focus Projects” during which Bachelor students in Mechanical Engineering at ETHZ have the opportunity to develop a product from scratch. The project was supervised by Prof. Siegwart from the Autonomous Systems Laboratory. Rezero brought together eight future mechanical engineers, two electrical engineers studying at the ZHAW as well as Industrial Designers from ZHdK.

The interdisciplinary team developed the ballbot, a robot that balances and drives around on a ball. Using a single ball instead of wheels allows the robot to move spontaneously in any direction, fit into tight spaces, and achieve high speeds. The robot was often seen zipping through the hallways at IROS earlier this month.

Fankhauser tells us about his learning experience, challenges in working in large crossdisciplinary teams, the secret behind the ballbot capabilities and the future steps in making the ballbot a commercial reailty.

Mike Rubenstein

Mike Rubenstein is a postdoctoral researcher from the Self-organizing Systems Research Group at Harvard. In an effort to make large swarms of robots a reality, he’s been building 1024 coin-sized robots dubbed kilobots. Challenges include making the robots low-cost and easy to assemble, recharge, reprogram and control. The final system is made with only $14 worth of parts, takes 5 minutes to assemble and can be operated in less than a minute. The open source release of all the electronics and assembly documents is expected near the end of this year.

After bording a plane with 100+ robots, Rubenstein was able to demonstrate the system at IROS.

In the future, Rubenstein hopes to implement his thesis work on “Self-assembly and self-healing for robotic collectives” on the kilobots. An example of such a system is show in the video below.

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July 15th, 2011

Robots: Demining and Defusing

In this episode we speak with Frédéric Guerne, director of Digger DTR, and with Paul Bosscher, chief robotics engineer at Harris Corp., about robots which assist us in demining land-mine fields and defusing IEDs.

Frederic Guerne

Frederic Guerne is passionate about building machines. An engineer by training, he spent several years building motors for Sonceboz SA. In 1994, he became ardently aware of land-mine problems. Convinced to help eradicate land-mines, he joined Prof. Nicoud at the EPFL, who was at the time working on state-of-the-art demining technologies. For two years, they worked on the detection of mines, until one day Frederic Guerne was contacted by the founder of the Swiss Foundation for Mine Action. This meeting led to the creation of Digger, which is now a major, non-profit demining company based in Switzerland. In our interview, we will talk about the process of demining, Digger’s D-2 and D-3 demining robots, and also about the challenges of running a non-profit based humanitarian company.

Paul Bosscher

Paul Bosscher is a chief robotics engineer at the Government Communication System Division at Harris Corp. in the USA. Dr. Bosscher received the B.S. degree in mechanical and electrical engineering from Calvin College, Grand Rapids, MI, in 2001, and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in mechanical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), Atlanta, in 2003 and 2004, respectively.
Before joining Harris Corp., Dr. Bosscher was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Ohio University, Athens.
In our interview, we talk about the unmanned ground vehicle he is currently developing together with his team at Harris Corp., with the goal of providing the intuitive dexterous manipulation capabilities necessary to surgically defeat IEDs remotely.

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November 5th, 2010

Robots: Autonomous Vehicles

In today’s episode we take a deeper look at what’s behind the hype over autonomous vehicles, and talk to two experts in the field, Alberto Broggi, leader of the Vislab Intercontinental Vehicle Challenge, and Raul Rojas, leader of the Made in Germany autonomous vehicle project.

Alberto Broggi

Alberto BroggiAlberto Broggi is the Director of the Artificial Vision and Intelligent Systems Lab at the University of Parma.

His main milestones are the ARGO Project (a 2000+ km test done on Italian highways back in 1998 in which the ARGO vehicle drove itself autonomously) and the setup of the Terramax vehicle who reached the finish line of the DARPA Grand Challenge 2005. The Vislab Intercontinental Vehicle Challenge was accomplished when the vehicle expedition recently reached Shanghai on October 28th after crossing two continents in a journey more than 3 months long.

Raúl Rojas

Raúl Rojas is a professor of Computer Science and Mathematics at the Free University of Berlin and a renowned specialist in artificial neural networks.

The FU-Fighters, football-playing robots he helped build, were world champions in 2004 and 2005. He formerly lead an autonomous car project called Spirit of Berlin and is now leading the development of the Made in Germany car, a spin-off project of the AutoNOMOS Project. Although most of his current research and teaching revolves around artificial intelligence and its applications, he holds academic degrees in mathematics and economics.

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For more information on this week’s news, including pictures and videos of the two new robotic grippers, have a look at the Robots Forum.

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