Archive for the ‘Podcast’ Category

May 20th, 2011

Robots: Blended Reality

In today’s episode we meet with Natalie Freed, David Robert and Adam Setapen from Cynthia Breazeal’s Personal Robots Group at the MIT Media Lab. They’ll be telling us about the Playtime Computing System, a playground where kids can interact with the physical world and its virtual extension.

The playground looks like a dream-like play-area with objects kids can interact with, including a robot that looks like an alphabet block and can be decorated with letters, shapes and even a mustache. The physical playground is surrounded by an engaging virtual world projected on a set of screens. Robot characters can seamlessly transition from the real world to the virtual world by entering a portal (which is basically a robot garage). Since anything is possible in the virtual world, robots can gain new capabilities, such as flying, and kids can rearrange the world or add their own virtual objects to the mix using a Creation Station. The children’s behavior is tracked using 3D motion capture as well as other sensors such as cameras and audio inputs.

The playground brings a whole new dimension to the idea of play, getting kids off the couch, engaging in creative activity that could bring them to a virtual cafe in France to learn french or allow them to build a whole new world to share with other kids around the world. In the interview, David, Adam and Natalie tell us what they learned from experiments with the Playtime Computing System, the fun anecdotes that come-up when working with kids, and the future of interactive media.

So when do we get one of these at home?

Natalie Freed

Natalie Freed finished her Masters in Computer Science at Arizona State University with a concentration in Arts, Media, and Engineering. She joined the MIT Media lab last summer as a graduate student and has since been interested in studying human-robot interactions with kids.

David Robert

David Robert has a decade of expertise in the film industry working as a Technical Director and Animator. Over the years he’s consulted and worked with the world’s top animation studios including PIXAR, Dreamworks, LucasArts, ILM and Disney Imagineering. He also taught at The Academy of Art, Walt Disney Feature Animation, Pixar University and gave lectures around the world. He’s currently doing a PhD at the Personal Robots group as a first step in showing that the “future of animation is off the screen”.

Adam Setapen

Adam Setapen has a Masters in Computer Science from the University of Texas at Austin and a strong background in AI. He joined the Personal Robots Group as a graduate student with the hope of developing robots for children that support long term interaction.

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April 22nd, 2011

Robots: European Robotics (Part 1)

The European Robotics Forum, jointly organized by the European Robotics Technology Platform (EUROP) and the European Robotics Research Network (EURON), was hosted this year on April 6-8, in Västerås, Sweden by Robotdalen. Thanks to an invitation by EUnited Robotics, we got a chance to be there and talk to some of Europe’s major players in the field, from both industry and research.

Today’s episode is the first of a two part feature on the event, in which we talk to Jessica Karlsson from Robotdalen, Ola Svanström from ABB Robotics and Professor Moshe Shoham, founder of Mazor Robotics.

Jessica Karlsson

Jessica Karlsson is the Communications Manager for Robotdalen, the host of this year’s European Robotics Forum. Robotdalen represents a Swedish initiative aimed at enabling commercial success of new ideas and research in robotics. It is currently focused on three areas: field robotics, industrial robotics and technology for independent life. Jessica explains the vision of the initiative and gives some examples of success stories in each of their target domains.

Ola Svanström

Ola Svanström is the Head of Product Management for ABB Robotics, a leading supplier of industrial robot solutions. He talks to us about ABB‘s activities in the field of robotics, the current state of the robotics market and the importance of human-robot interaction research for future robotic applications.

Moshe Shoham

Professor Moshe Shoham is the head of the Robotics Laboratory at Technion, Israel’s Institute of Technology. His main research focus is on medical robots. He talks to us about two medical robotic systems. The first one, SpineAssist, is a robotic guidance system which enables surgeons to perform safer and more accurate spine surgeries. It is commercialized by Mazor Robotics, a company he founded and is currently CTO of. He then talks about ViRob, a micro-robot currently in development, that will be able to crawl into hard to access parts of the human body and deliver pharmaceutical payloads or drag a micro-catheter in a minimally invasive way.

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March 25th, 2011

Robots: Mind Control

In today’s episode we look at a novel way to interact with your robot: through mind control. Raul Rojas returns to our show to talk about how his AutoNOMOS team used brain waves to give commands to their autonomous vehicle, MadeInGermany. We then talk to Geoffrey Mackeller, CTO of Emotiv Systems, the producer of the EEG headset used as an interface for this project.

Raul Rojas

Raul Rojas from the Artificial Intelligence Group of the Free University of Berlin, joins us for a second time on our podcast to talk about BrainDriver, a project in which they used a commercially available EEG interface called the Emotiv EPOC to interpret bioelectric signals as patterns associated with directions. These patterns are then used to send inputs to the drive-by-wire system of the MadeInGermany autonomous vehicle.

Geoffrey Mackellar

Geoff Mackellar, CTO and Research Manager of Emotiv Systems, talks to us about their innovative low-cost wireless EEG headset, the Emotiv EPOC. He gives us some insight into the sensing platform and the training process and also tells us about the different applications that can be approached through such an interface.

A couple of impressive demos can be found here and here.

Links:

http://www.emotiv.com/
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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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