Archive for the ‘Podcast’ Category

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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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?

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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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