Archive for the ‘Podcast’ Category

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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June 17th, 2011

Robots: Schunk Manipulators

In this episode we speak with Henrik Schunk, Managing Partner of SCHUNK GmbH & Co. KG and Chairman of EUnited Robotics.

Henrik Schunk

Henrik Schunk is managing partner of SCHUNK GmbH & Co. KG, family run business out of Germany with over 1800 employees and presence in 50 countries. As such, he is responsible for the Business Unit Automation and the cross-divisional departments Sales, Marketing, Continuous Improvement and IT. SCHUNK is one of the leaders in clamping and gripping technology featuring more than 10’000 specialized products.

In this episode, we look at recent developments in gripping technology, challenges that still remain after over 70 years of development, and the need for task-adapted systems and high-end products including anthropomorphic robotic hands.

Henrik Schunk also discusses his hopes for service robotics as one of the main areas of development in automation. To drive the field forward, his company organizes the SCHUNK Expert Days that bring together some of the main actors in service robotics. He also presents his view on European Robotics as Chairman of EUnited Robotics.

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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 11th, 2011

Robots: Future Manipulators

In today’s show we’ll be talking about futuristic manipulators that look nothing like the typical industrial robot arms you’ve seen in factories. Our first guest, Heinrich Jaeger from the University of Chicago tells us about the soft universal gripper that was published in PNAS. Our second guest, Andrzej Grzesiak, presents the bio-inspired manipulator he created with Festo and that won the German Future prize last year.

Heinrich Jaeger

Heinrich Jaeger is Professor of Physics at the University of Chicago where he explores how particles can interact to form soft or highly condensed matter. The jamming phenomenon they base their work on can be observed in your every day life with a bag of coffee. When the coffee bag is closed, it is rock hard because the coffee grains are jammed. When you open it, the grains are able to flow and the bag becomes soft.

As part of an interdisciplinary team with chemists, roboticist and the company iRobot, he is now thinking of ways he could use jamming technology to create soft robots. One of the first ones developed, the JamBot, was covered in a previous episode.

Jaeger focuses on the use of jamming to create a universal gripper that can manipulate objects of varying shape and size. A video below shows the gripper in action. The results of this work were published in PNAS.


Andrzej Grzesiak

Andrzej Grzesiak is the head of the Additive Technologies and Printing research group at Fraunhofer IPA. The group studies 3D printing and product design and engineering. Beside his activities at Fraunhofer IPA, Grzesiak is the coordinator of the Fraunhofer Additive Manufacturing Alliance including 10 Fraunhofer Institutes.

Last year he won the German Future Prize 2010 along with Festo for his bio-inspired manipulator that looks like an elephant trunk and grips using a mechanism inspired from the tail fin of fish briefly covered in a previous episode. The robot is made of plastic instead of the usual bolts and screws, is light weight and compliant. This makes it safe for humans and opens the way towards new types of human-robot interactions in factories.

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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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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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