Archive for the ‘Podcast’ Category

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!


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.


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!


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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April 23rd, 2010

Robots: 50 Years of Robotics (Part 1)

Today we celebrate the 50th episode of ROBOTS!

For the occasion we speak with 12 scientists about the most remarkable developments in robotics over the last 50 years and their prediction for the next half-century. This 50th special is split into two episodes with the second half airing in two weeks.

Today we’ll be talking to Rolf Pfeifer on robotics in general, Mark Tilden robot toys, Hiroshi Ishiguro on androids, Oscar Schofield on underwater robots, Steve  Potter on brain machine interfaces and Chris Rogers on eduction robots. Our next episode will give you a snapshot view on nano robots, AI, flying robots, human robot interactions, robot business, and space robots.

We’ve also upgraded our website so that you can easily browse through episodes by topic, interviewee, tag or just listen to one of our favorites, so have a look!

You can interact with the ROBOTS community by leaving comments directly under episode posts or on our new sleek forum. To do both, just log-in once in the top bar of the website.

Rolf Pfeifer

Rolf Pfeifer is Professor at the University of Zurich where he directs the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. He pioneered a new approach to artificial intelligence (“New AI”), which emphasizes the role of embodiment and argues that thought is not independent of the body, but tightly constrained, and at the same time enabled by it.

Mark Tilden

Mark Tilden is a famous robot inventor who builds new robots on a daily basis. He pioneered a philosophy for making simple and reactive robots and tagged it BEAM robotics (which stands for Biology, Electronics, Aesthetics, and Mechanics). Lately, Tilden has been making famous products such as the Robosapien and Femisapien robots at WowWee.

Hiroshi Ishiguro

Hiroshi Ishiguro is professor at Osaka University in Japan where he directs the Intelligent Robotics Laboratory. Ishiguro is most know for his near-real Androids which closely resemble human models, including himself, his daughter and a famous news anchor. Geminoid F, his latest model, was recently featured in the blogosphere.

Oscar Schofield

Oscar Schofield is Professor of Bio-Optical Oceanography at the Rutgers Coastal Ocean Observation Lab or COOL lab at Rutgers University.

Schofield is an expert in underwater robots, taking part in recent projects such as the Scarlet Knight glider which crossed the Atlantic Ocean fully autonomously while dodging fishing nets, strong currents and even the occasional shark.

Steve Potter

Steve Potter is the Director of the Potter Group which is part of the Laboratory for NeuroEngineering, a collective research unit shared between Emory University and the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Having interfaced robots to in-vitro neurons, Potter talks about the field of brain-machine interfaces and its potential impact in medicine and neuroscience

Chris Rogers

Chris Rogers is a professor of mechanical engineering at Tufts University in the US.

As director of the Center for Engineering Education Outreach, Rogers tours the elementary schools of the world trying to bring engineering and robotics to young children. He has also worked with LEGO to develop ROBOLAB, a robotic approach to learning science and math.


Latest News:

For more information on this episode’s news, including videos of the PR2 robot folding towels and Honda’s U3-X robot and links to the MIT Personal Robotics group’s Mars Escape game, have a look at the Robots Forum.

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January 1st, 2010

Robots: New Year’s Special

For this special episode, we’ll be speaking with three people who made it into Christine’s news section for a debriefing on why their robot was such a breakthrough and what they see coming up in 2010. Our first interview is with Cecilia Lashi, the co-coordinator of the Octopus European project that made the news with their soft bio-mimetic robotic octopus arm. Our second guest, Carl Morgan, is from the hobbyist community. He presents Joules, the sleek silver humanoid that rides behind your tandem bike and does all the pedaling. Finally, we speak with Carson Reynolds who is professor at the University of Tokyo, he’ll be telling us about his high-speed robotic hand with incredible dexterity.

Cecilia Laschi

Assistant Professor Cecilia Lashi joins us from the ARTS Lab at the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna in Pisa, Italy, where her group takes inspiration from the sea surrounding them when creating robots. Their European Octopus project which they coordinate aims at developing soft robotic arms inspired by octopus muscles to create a robot with nearly infinite degrees of freedom. Laschi discusses their preliminary achievements with their latest robotic octopus arm that was featured in Robots news and her hopes for the future of soft robotics.

Carl Morgan

Carl Morgan was featured in the news this year for his elegant Joules robot that he developed in response to a bet with his pro-cyclist son. From his workshop in the basement, this retired electrical engineer built a kinetic sculpture which has the power to push a tandem bike and its rider up a hill with elegance and style. With more and more hobbyists diving into the bolts and nuts of robotics, he tells us how he hopes more and more people will be picking up their screwdriver in 2010.

Carson Reynolds
Our final guest brings us to japan which has attracted a large portion of this year’s news. Assistant professor Carson Reynolds from the Ishikawa Komuro Laboratory in Tokyo tells us about their work in high-speed visual servoing and their robot hand that can grasp a grain of rice with a tweezer or dynamically catch a flying mobile phone. He is hoping to see more high-speed control in the year to come, with dynamic systems approaching and even surpassing the speed and dexterity of human reflexes.


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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.


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.

View and post comments on this episode in the forum

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