Archive for the ‘Podcast’ Category

October 24th, 2008

Robots: Jumping and Crawling in Millirobots

This episode concentrates on how to scale down robots to the size of our creepy crawly friends, insects. Sarah Bergbreiter tells us about the micromachining techniques required to build jumping robots at this small scale and the applications in sensor networks. Aaron Hoover then talks about his 6-legged crawling robot that is slowly approaching the cockroach in size and locomotion capability.

Sarah Bergbreiter

Sarah Bergbreiter is Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Maryland where she directs the Micro Robotics Lab.

With her vision of mobile sensor networks composed of large numbers of autonomous robots, Bergbreiter first started designing the CotsBots, built entirely from commercial off-the-shelf components. She then went to micro-sized robots which could be used in a non-invasive manner in their deploying environment. As a first step in her endeavor she contributed to Seth Hollar and Anita Flynn‘s walking microrobot and then went on to her own tiny jumping robots to achieve better mobility. To enable jumping, she demonstrated the quick release of a mechanical leg based on a silicon micro rubber band (see video here).

Finally, to avoid spending hours in a clean room, Bergbreiter is looking to develop fabrication techniques for the fast prototyping of novel robots, in particular with respect to challenges in scaling down robotic components for energy storage, actuation, power, sensing and control.

Aaron Hoover

Aaron Hoover is a research assistant in Prof. Ron Fearing’s lab at the University of California at Berkeley. His expertise lies in the use of novel manufacturing techniques based on smart composites, flexure joints and folding structures. Hoover’s efforts to mimic complex biological systems such as beetles that can run over a myriad of surfaces has culminated in the 2.4g RoACH hexapod robot. The RoACH is capable of crawling autonomously at 1 body length per second and can last for almost 10 minutes on a single charge. Check out a video of the RoACH in action!

Selkies

In the third quarter of the science fiction story “Selkies” by author Jack Graham, we meet researcher Sylvia Ochoa from the UN Marine Fisheries and follow Mangan in his endeavor to shark-proof his robot-seals. Don’t miss his other SciFi stories straight out of Cambridge MA on lonesomerobot.com, such as “arm” and “posthuman playground“.








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Visit the Robots forum for links, videos and discussions
about the wirelessly-powered robot swarm, the new robotic instrument which allows surgery on a beating heart and the iPhone’s robotic legs.

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August 29th, 2008

Robots: Bacteria-Propelled Microrobots

In this episode we look at bacteria-propelled microrobots which, in the future, could be used for sensing or drug delivery inside the liquid environments of the human body, such as the urinary tract, eyeball cavity, ear and cerebrospinal fluid. With Prof. Metin Sitti from Carnegie Mellon University, we’ll be hearing about the science and challenges behind harnessing living organisms to robots at the microscale. Gastroenterologist Dr. Mark Schattner then gives us his medical view on in-body robots and how they could by useful in his day-in, day-out tasks.

Metin Sitti

Prof. Metin Sitti is the director of the Nanorobotics Laboratory at the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Robotics Institute, Carnegie Mellon University, USA.

With all the micro and nano scale technologies swimming, crawling, running and climbing out of his lab, he’s become an expert at mimicking the physics of the tiny exhibited by natural systems such as climbing geckos, water-running lizards or water striders. Previously featured in a Talking Robots interview, these bio-inspired technologies have pushed the limits of today’s robot locomotion.



One of Sitti’s aims is now to miniaturize a robot to the microscale, so that it can in the future navigate in the human body for directed drug-delivery and sensing. However, instead of building the locomotion in hardware, he decided to attach a robot to an organism, which was already perfectly capable of flagellating through liquid: bacteria. In this episode we concentrate on Sitti’s latest developments in bacteria-propelled micro-robots and how they can be controlled by changing their chemical environment (see video1 and video2) .

In other related projects, Sitti is currently developing an endoscopic microcapsule which will be able to stick to a patient’s intestine on demand.

Mark Schattner

Dr. Mark Schattner is a gastroenterologist with a special interest in therapeutic endoscopy and specialized nutrition support for cancer patients at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.

He gives us his medical view on how robots could in the future be useful to ensure non-invasive diagnosis and treatment for his patients with concrete applications and examples. Interestingly, the barriers in getting these robots out of the labs and into the clinics are not so much ethical, but just like any other new medical technology, the lengthy pipeline to prove its safeness and usefulness in human beings.

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Check out the Robots Forum for pictures, links, videos and some ongoing discussion for this episode’s news, including the first rat-brain robot, the flying and ground based robot teams in the UK’s Grand Challenge as well as the ESA’s new Mars rover.

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June 20th, 2008

Robots: A Robot Fly at Harvard and at the MoMA - Transcript

This episode features an interview with Robert Wood about his micro-robotic fly, as well as a talk with the curator of design at the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan.

Rob Wood

Rob Wood's Robot fly

Professor Robert Wood is the founder and director of the Harvard Microrobotics Lab at Harvard University. He initially started out at Ron Fearing‘s Biomimetic Lab at Berkley working on the Micromechanical Flying Insect (MFI) project (see Talking Robots interview). Strong of his experience with designing the tiny, he went on to build his own microscale robots for aerial, terrestrial, and aquatic environments. His recent article in IEEE Spectrum Magazine, “Fly, Robot Fly” describes the first flight of his tethered fly:

« It began when I took a stick-thin winged robot, not much larger than a fingertip, and anchored it between two taut wires, rather like a miniature space shuttle tethered to a launchpad. Next I switched on the external power supply. Within milliseconds the carbon-fiber wings, 15 millimeters long, began to whip forward and back 120 times per second, flapping and twisting just like an actual insect’s wings. The fly shot straight upward on the track laid out by the wires. As far as I know, this was the first flight of an insect-size robot. »



Now that the micromechanical structure has proven it has sufficient thrust to actually lift the robot off the ground, the questions focus on how to power the robot insect and what sensors and control could allow it to perform its intended long term applications, namely search and rescue, hazardous environment exploration, environmental monitoring, and reconnaissance.

Wood also gives us some insight on how Biology has been driving his research and how he hopes to be able to return the favor by using his platform to study flies in nature.

Chaotic flight controlled, robot insect swarms, tech-driving miniaturization… let’s wait and see.

Paola Antonelli

Rob Wood’s robotic fly was featured as part of an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City entitled Design and the Elastic Mind. We had a talk with Paola Antonelli, the curator of the Department of Architecture and Design at MoMA, about the role of design in helping people cope with momentous changes in science and technology. How will designers help people adapt as robots become ubiquitous in our daily lives? How does our experience in nature affect the design of future robotic systems? Paola takes us through a brief tour of a designer’s perspective of science and technology.

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Visit the Robots Forum for links and discussions about
iRobot’s “Seaglider” underwater robot, the DARPA contract awarded to iRobot for the Chembot, the sale of the autonomous car “Odin” and EMA the robotic girlfriend mentioned in the podcast.

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February 29th, 2008

Talking Robots Podcast LogoTalking Robots: BioMicroRobots
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In this episode we interview Brad Nelson who is the Professor of Robotics and Intelligent Systems at ETH Zürich. At the root of BioMicroRobotics, Nelson has designed microrobots for retinal surgery applications. Pushing the principle of “embodiment” to the extreme, he’s by embedding the intelligence of his robot within their physical body. In the end, their shape, material and physical properties allow them to interact with the environment and subsequently harvest energy, perform sensing, and navigate through the human body. Using similar principles, Nelson’s lab won the 2007 RoboCup Nanogram Competition, the first year the event was held. The goal was to use autonomous microrobots smaller than 300µm to perform a series of soccer related tasks.

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October 26th, 2007

Talking Robots Podcast LogoTalking Robots: Millirobots
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In this episode we talk to Ron Fearing who is the director of the Biomimetic Millisystem Laboratory at UC Berkeley in California. He presents the state of the art in aerial insect-size flapping robots with the Micromechanical Flying Insect (MFI) project and the challenges in designing millisystems, from autonomy and control in turbulent environments to hardware. Thanks to his know-how with the “tiny” he’s also been designing tools and kits for the rapid-prototyping of miniature robots of all types which might one-day be used in high-school science classes, or is it art?

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