Archive for the ‘Podcast’ Category

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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Latest News:
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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July 2nd, 2010

Robots: R&D at iRobot

In this episode we look at the Research and Development (R&D) done at iRobot in the government field with lead roboticist Brian Yamauchi.

Brian Yamauchi

Brian Yamauchi is Lead Roboticisist at iRobot in Bedford, MA where he leads many of the government projects aimed at helping soldiers and first-response teams do their work.

During this interview, Yamauchi covers some of the developments done over the past 10 years, most of which are based on the PackBot robot. In particular, he’ll be telling us how they make these robots more robust and what sensors they’re using to increase autonomy, and even map out the world. One of these sensors, the ultra-wideband radar, was presented at this year’s ICRA conference in Alaska (paper).

Beyond the single PackBot, Yamauchi is now looking at how to make robots collaborate with examples in terrestrial and aerial robot team and mobile wireless transmitters for the quick deployment of communication networks.

Moreover, because many of the government robots developed at iRobot are being used in Iraq or Afghanistan, he’ll be telling us about the research in making good soldier-robot interactions and the ethics of military robots.

Finally, we’ll be learning more on the business of iRobot and the futuristic projects they’re working on such as the chembot and jambot projects that involve making soft and deformable robots (see video below).

Before working at iRobot, Yamauchi completed a PhD in Computer Science from Case Western Reserve University and worked at the Naval Research Laboratory (Washington, DC).

Poll

In this week’s episode we’ll be asking you about your take on the cross-fertilization between the military and robotics. Make sure you take the poll and debate in the comments section below or on our forum.

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Latest News:
For videos of this week’s Robots news, including the autonomous robot lifeguard and the sand swimming salamander robot, have a look at the Robots Forum.

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October 23rd, 2009

Robots: Slithering Creatures

In this episode we’ll be speaking about snake robots slithering through pipes, disaster areas and even your body. We first speak with expert Howie Choset from Carnegie Mellon University about the big-picture concerning these reptile-like machines. We then turn to Erik Kyrkjebø from SINTEF Applied Cybernetic in Norway for an in depth coverage of their pipe inspection snake robots.

Howie Choset

Howie Choset is an associate professor and the director of the BioRobotics Lab at Carnegie Mellon University where his research in path planning, motion planning and estimation have been used to control a range of snake-inspired robots. Choset tells us how snake robots can slither, slide, squeeze or climb into places that people, or even other types of robots can’t reach. He explains the basics of snake robot design and the mechanical challenges faced by robots that have so many degrees of freedom. He also talks about the multitude of different gaits a snake robot can use and how they are particularly suited for search and rescue, industrial inspection and even minimally-invasive surgery.

Choset and his robots are regularly featured in the media, such as the CNet report below:




Erik Kyrkjebø

Erik Kyrkjebø is Senior Researcher at the Applied Cybernetic departement at SINTEF in Norway which is the largest independent research organization in Scandinavia. SINTEF is focused on bridging the gap between academia and industry through very down to earth projects.

From the multi-robot coordination he studied during his PhD at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, he’s now gone to multi-link snake robots. The resulting PiKo robot developed at SINTEF is intended for pipe inspection tasks and can move up and down vertical pipes and negotiate corners.



Kyrkjebø discusses the specific technical details and challenges regarding the autonomy and locomotion of his slithering machines including batteries, wet environments, sensors and control. He also presents another snake robot developed at SINTEF that can fight fire. This Anna Konda is propelled using water and at the same can use the water to calm the flames.

So, will we soon be seeing snake robots climb into our bathroom?

Links:


Latest News:

For an excellent video explaining the workings of the Chembot as well as more information on Panasonic’s and Honda’s latest robotic creations, visit the Robots Forum!

View and post comments on this episode in the forum

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July 3rd, 2009

Robots: From Animals to Automation

In this episode we look at how FESTO, a worldwide leader in automation technology, has been copying nature to design bionic robots such as artificial penguins, manta-rays or jellyfish. Our first guest, Markus Fischer, is head of Corporate Design at FESTO and expert in transferring technology from biomimetic research to actual products such as grippers. Our second guest, Victor Zykov, finished his PhD and PostDoc at Cornell University in NY on modular robotics. His favorite modules, the Molecubes, are another example of transfer from a bio-inspired systems to FESTO.

Markus Fischer

Markus Fischer is the head of the Bionic Learning Network project at FESTO, one of the world’s leaders in automation, with thousands of employees around the world and products ranging from solenoids, valves, and cylinders to integrated automation solutions. Recently, FESTO has been exploring the world of mobile robotics, with stunning demonstrators such as the AquaPenguin, AquaRay, AirJelly and many more.

However, creating artificial systems is not the final goal, and Fischer has been looking to identify bionic principles which can be applied to the world of automation in new-generation products. A fulfillment of this endeavor can be found in thier Bionic Tripod which has grippers functioning following the same principles as the AquaPenguins. The concept is based on the Fin Ray® effect by which a fin, when pressed, actually wraps around the point of pressure rather than the intuitive opposite.

Finally, FESTO is also looking at collective robotic systems for inspiration in creating adaptable, robust and flexible systems for the industry.



Victor Zykov

Victor Zykov completed his PhD and PostDoc at Cornell University in NY under the supervision of Hod Lipson. Over the years, he’s been looking to create self-repairing and self-reproducing robots resulting in publications in Science and Nature.

Zykov explains the principles of modular robotics and presents one of his favorite building blocks, the Molecube. Molecubes are cubic like modules that are cheap to fabricate and easy to use for newbie roboticists with an online framework at www.molecubes.org. From the labs at Cornell, the Molecubes found their way to FESTO as educational robots. He tells us why modular robotics is of interest to FESTO in building up adaptable factories of the future.

Victor Zykov is now On-Deck Systems Head at the Kite Assist Institute in California.



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Latest News:

To learn more about the autonomous shrapnel removing robot, prediction for the personal robotics market and for the most eery version of “Happy Birthday” you’ve ever heard, have a look at the Robots Forum.

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June 5th, 2009

Robots: Autonomous City Explorer

Today marks Robots’ 1-year anniversary, so

Happy Birthday Robots!!

In today’s show we talk about a fresh and unique project coming from the Technical University of Munich under the supervision of Prof. Martin Buss. The Autonomous City Explorer or ACE, is a fridge-sized robot whose mission is to get around the city of Munich, but instead of using GPS or an in-built map, the ACE asks pedestrians for directions! Armed with stereo-vision cameras, a touch screen, and an inquisitive personality, ACE roams the city of Munich in search of Marienplatz, one of the city’s downtown pedestrian squares.

Our first guest and one of the leaders of the ACE project, Dirk Wollherr, tells us about the design and goals of the ACE robot. Our second guest, Astrid Weiss from the University of Salzburg, tells us about the sociological aspects of human-robot interaction and what it takes to make a robot that people actually want to communicate with and help find its way.



Dirk Wollherr

Dirk Wollherr is a senior researcher at the Technical University of Munich. Along with Kolja Kühnlenz, he’s in charge of the technical aspects of the ACE robot, including the sensors used for navigation and interaction with passerbys and the algorithms used to analyze gestures of human beings. Wollherr describes the intricacies of making a robot understand what humans perceive so naturally, such as pointing in the direction of a target. He also talks about the navigational challenges involved in traversing busy streets and ever-changing environments.


Astrid Weiss

Astrid Weiss is PhD student at the HCI & Usability Unit of the ICT&S Center at the University of Salzburg where she studies Human Robot Interactions under the supervision of Prof. Manfred Tscheligi. With her background in sociology, she’s become an expert in analyzing the impact of humanoid-like robots on society, their acceptance by humans and how usable they are. She was present during the ACE tests in Munich, interviewing people who helped the robot and getting their first impressions. She’ll be telling us why humans help the robot, and what are the important features and limitations of the current interactions with passerbys. Weiss is currently engaged in the EU-project ROBOT@CWE which aims at investigating concepts needed for humans and robots to work together in various environments.

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Latest News:

You can find many pictures of this year’s Maker Faire along with more information on the Dustbot and the Roadmap for US Robotics in the Robots Forum.

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