Archive for the ‘Podcast’ Category

February 25th, 2011

Robots: Telepresence

In today’s show we’ll have a look at the next killer application in robotics, telepresence. The idea is simple, instead of planning a bothersome phone or video conference meeting with all your colleagues, you communicate through a telepresence robot that can move around your workplace while you stay at home. Our first guest, Jean-Christophe Baillie, is the CEO of Gostai which just commercialized the Jazz robots this year. Our second guest, Trevor Blackwell, presents his company’s Anybots.

Jean-Christophe Baillie

Jean-Christophe Baillie received a PhD in Artificial Intelligence from University of Paris 6 and the Sony Computer Science Lab and then founded the Cognitive Robotics Lab in ENSTA/ParisTech. He is now the CEO of Gostai, father of the URBI software platform which was the subject of a previous episode.

Today he tells us about his company’s move to hardware. Building on their knowhow in robot software, and after two years of working in the dark, they just released their Jazz telepresence series. The series includes the “Jazz Connect” robot for mobile telepresence, the “Jazz Icon” for entertainment & events and the “Jazz Security” for surveillance. The head can be embedded with an LCD screen or two round LED eyes.

Finally, Baillie tells us about his hopes for telepresence, what the market looks like, the importance of design when making personal avatars and his ideas for the future.

Trevor Blackwell

Trevor Blackwell is the founder and CEO of Anybots Inc., a Silicon Valley startup developing telepresence robots. He holds a PhD in Computer Science from Harvard and then became a principal at Viaweb specialized in e-commerce software, later acquired by Yahoo. He’s also the inventor of all sorts of vehicles that balance in a way similar to the Segway, including a two-wheeled balancing scooter and the self-balancing Eunicycle which only has one wheel.

Blackwell presents his Anybots, two wheeled balancing telepresence robots that have been seen in local cafes ordering scones. He addresses questions regarding WiFi dependency, design, and tells us how these robots are typically being used in the work place. Finally, he mentions the future where telepresence robots well be able to do more than just communicate.

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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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June 4th, 2010

Robots: Online Human-Robot Interactions

Today’s episode was recorded at the Personal Robots Group at the MIT Media Lab in the middle of some beautifully expressive robots such as the Huggable, Tofu and Leonardo. There, we had a chance to speak with Sonia Chernova about the Mars Escape online game that is being used to learn about how humans and robots can work in teams. We then speak with Kenton Williams about the technical aspects behind one of their most expressive robots, Nexi.

Sonia Chernova

Sonia Chernova received her PhD from CMU, where she worked with Manuela Veloso (see Robots interview).

She is now working as a post-doc at the Personal Robots Group at the MIT Media Lab , directed by Cynthia Breazeal (see Talking Robots interview). At MIT, she’s looking at how to create robots that are able to assist and work with humans in a natural, predictable and robust way by gathering data through a new online game dubbed Mars Escape in a world premiere at using the Internet to study human-robot interactions. Anyone can participate in this experiment by taking on the role of a robot or an astronaut in an attempt to escape from their oxygen-deprived Mars-base without leaving anything important behind. Give it a try!

Using the data from thousands of players, Chernova will look at how to use the dialogs and actions performed online to generate a computational behavior model for each player. This model will then be tested online and then implemented in the Nexi Robot in a physical replica of the Mars Escape game that will be set-up in the Boston Museum of Science.

Finally, Chernova will be joining Worcester Polytechnic Institute as an Assistant Professor of Robotics Engineering in the fall of 2010.

Kenton Williams

Kenton Williams is expert in the bolts and nuts of Nexi. As a Mechanical Engineer, he will be telling us about the technical aspects and challenges behind the robot and his thesis on making Nexi learn physics!

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Latest News:
For more information on this episode’s news, including videos of Anybots’ and Willow Garage’s telepresence robots and more information on Microsoft’s surprising move, visit the Robots Forum.

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May 21st, 2010

Robots: The Nao Humanoid

Today’s episode was recorded at ICRA in Anchorage Alaska, one of the major conferences in robotics with a 1575 head count and 857 papers. At the robot exhibit, we met with the Vice President in Engineering of French-based company Aldebaran, Luc Degaudenzi and with his colleague Cédric Vaudel who is the Sales Manager for North America. Aldebaran makes the Nao humanoid robot which has been seen at Robocup, showing off his soccer skills. We also talk with Nao in our first ever interview of a robot! Nao will be presenting himself and his version of Star Wars.

Nao

Listen in to our podcast where Nao will present himself and tell us a story in our first interview ever with a robot!

Nao has four microphones fitted into his head and a voice recognition and analysis system. He can also express himself by reading out any file stored locally in his storage space or captured from a web site of RSS flow. Nao sees by means of two CMOS 640 x 480 cameras, which can capture up to 30 images per second. He can react to touch by means of a capacitive sensor placed on the top of his head. Finally, Nao can communicate through infrared senders/receivers or also by logging on to your local network via Wi-Fi.

Luc Degaudenzi

Luc Degaudenzi is director of research and development at Aldebaran Robotics where he manages a crowd of around 40 people working on electronics, mechatronics and fun software for the Nao robot. Before working at Aldebaran, Degaudenzi worked in the mobile phone sector as technical and program director at Matra, Alcatel and Sony Ericsson. He’ll be telling us about the Nao platform, its possibilities and its first kicks at Robocup.

Cédric Vaudel

Cédric Vaudel is North America Sales Manager at Aldebaran Robotics.

After working for IBM for several years, he decided to take part in the robolution. Now, he coordinates business priorities and strategy deployment of Aldebaran Robotics in the whole region of America. He’ll be telling us about the origins of the name Nao and where he thinks the Humanoid market will be going in the future!

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Latest News:

For more information on this episode’s news, including a video of ABB’s robot drummer as well as details on the promising echolocation device for robots and the 4 nanometer robot, visit the Robots Forum.

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May 7th, 2010

Robots: 50 Years of Robotics (Part 2)

Welcome to the second part of our 50th episode special! To celebrate 50 episodes of Robots, we’re doing a review of some of the greatest advances in robotics during the last 50 years, and predictions on what we can hope to see in the next half century. In last week’s episode we covered embodied AI, robot toys, androids, underwater robots, education robots and brain-machine interfaces.

In today’s episode we speak with Jean-Christophe Zufferey on flying robots, Dan Kara on the robotics market, Kristinn Thórisson on AI, Andrea Thomaz on human robot interactions, Terry Fong on space robotics and Richard Jones on nano robots.

Finally, don’t forget to check out all the new features of our website including episode browsing by topic, interviewee and tag or leaving comments under our blog posts or in the forum.

Jean-Christophe Zufferey

Jean-Christophe Zufferey is a researcher at the Laboratory of Intelligent Systems at the Swiss Federal Polytechnic in Lausanne, Switzerland, where he works on cutting-edge research in Micro Air Vehicles (MAVs). His latest advances have led him to create the startup SenseFly that specializes in small and safe autonomous flying systems for applications such as environmental monitoring and aerial photography.

Dan Kara

Dan Kara is President of Robotics Trends and the Robotics Business Review, which are web-portals and research firms specialized in the robotics markets. He’ll be telling us about the past products which have marked the minds and the future developments that will be gathering the buck in the future.

Kristinn R. Thórisson

Kristinn Thórisson is Associate Professor at the School of Computer Science, Reykjavik University in Iceland.  Active in the field of Artificial Intelligence for a couple decades, Thórisson is pioneering new approaches such as constructivist AI which he hopes will bring us towards more adaptive and complex artificial systems.

Andrea Thomaz

Andrea Thomaz is professor at Georgia Tech and the director of the Socially Intelligent Machines Research Laboratory. Lately, she’s been seen with her new humanoid Simon and his expressive traits. We were able to catch her at this year’s ICRA conference for a little chat on the past and future of human robot interactions.

Terry Fong

Terry Fong is the Director of the Intelligent Robotics Group at the NASA Ames Research Center. As an expert in space robotics, he’ll be telling us about robots leaving the solar system to explore our universe and how humans and robots will work together towards this endeavor.

Richard Jones

Richard Jones is the author of the book Soft Machines: nanotechnology and life and a blog on the subject also named Soft Machines. From the University of Sheffield in the UK, where he is Professor of Physics, Jones has been looking at how to make nanoscale robots which can eventually be used in the body for medical applications.

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Latest News:

For more information on this episode’s news, including a video of Kumagai’s balancing BallIP robots, McGill’s rapid ice sculpture prototyping system, and Stanford’s perching UAV as well as more coverage from the ICRA 2010 conference, visit the Robots Forum.

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