Archive for the ‘Podcast’ Category

September 18th, 2015

Robots: TechBridgeWorld - Transcript

In this episode, Audrow Nash interviews M. Bernardine Dias, Associate Research Professor at the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, about TechBridgeWorld. TechBridgeWorld in an organization, founded by Dias, that develops technology to help serve developing communities.

This interview focuses on a device that helps the blind learn to write. A demo video is below.



TechBridgeWorld would like to acknowledge the Qatar National Research Fund (NPRP #30-6-7-91), the Fetzer Institute, and individual donors for making this work possible.


M. Bernardine Dias

DiasMBM. Bernardine Dias is an Associate Research Professor in the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Computer Science. She is also the Founder and Director of the TechBridgeWorld research group at CMU. Her research expertise are in technology for developing communities, assistive technology, and autonomous team coordination. Dr. Dias is a native of Sri Lanka. Her career goal is innovating means of developing and disseminating suitable and sustainable technology for empowering underserved communities. She is a strong supporter and mentor for women in science and technology.



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September 4th, 2015

Robots: Fotokite Phi - Transcript

In this episode, Audrow Nash speaks with Sergei Lupashin about Perspective Robotics upcoming flying camera, the Fotokite Phi.

The Phi is a rotor-craft unmanned aerial vehicle, called a quadrocopter, that a user controls with a retractable leash. As the quadrocopter flies, it keeps tension on the leash; this tension allows it to determine where it is in space with respect to the user holding the leash. Because the Phi figures out where it is from the leash, it can follow the user without a vision system or GPS. Lupashin says that the leash also allows users to learn to fly the Phi in a short time and that it provides a natural way of controlling the quadrocopter.

For easy transport, the four arms with propellers of the Phi can be folded up so that it can fit in a large-thermos-size cylinder.

Perspective Robotics is running an Indiegogo campaign to fund production of the Fotokite Phi. The campaign’s video is below.



Sergei Lupashin


Sergei Lupashin is the founder of Perspective Robotics, the Swiss company behind the Fotokite. Previous to that he worked in aerospace and participated in robotics competitions such as the DARPA Grand+Urban Challenges (autonomous cars). He was chief architect for the ETH Flying Machine Arena, where he enjoyed torturing little quadrocopters until they learned to do flips. He holds a BS in Elec & Comp Engineering from Cornell, an MSc + PhD in Mechanical Engineering from ETH Zurich (topic: aerial robotics) and is a TED Fellow. Sergei is passionate about building devices that are usable and useful in the real world.



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November 16th, 2012

Robots: Digital Cultures

In today’s episode we speak with Chris Chesher about how he views the emergence of robotics. He brings a new and interesting perspective as his approach mixes science and technology studies, media studies and ethnography in an effort to understand robotic technologies and everyday-life.

Chris Chesher

Dr Chris Chesher is Senior Lecturer in Digital Cultures working with cultures of contemporary robotics, in association with the Center for Social Robotics at the Australian Center for Field Robotics, University of Sydney Australia. His background is in studies on Media, communications, and interdisciplinary studies. His research interests center around the disruptive effects of technology, such as robotics, on society.

He also writes a blog called FollowingRobots.


Read the story about Georgia Tech’s robotic dragonfly on Robohub.

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September 21st, 2012

Robots: BEAM Robotics - Transcript

In today’s episode we speak with Mark Tilden, about the history before WowWee‘s RoboSapien and FemiSapien and about his belief that bottom up BEAM robotics (which stands for Biology, Electronics, Aesthetics, and Mechanics) is essential in creating low cost, competent, robust and flexible robots.

Mark Tilden
Mark Tilden is a true robotics lover, having built thousands of robots of all shapes and sizes in the last few decades. During the first part of his career he pioneered BEAM robotics, a philosophy of building robots based on simple analog circuits and control instead of highly-complex systems, leading to low-cost and efficient systems. His bio-inspired bots manage to walk, crawl, roll or shake in complex environments using only a few transistors and basic sensors.

After working at the University of Waterloo in Canada and subsequently at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, Tilden’s research eventually evolved into toy design when he was hired as a consultant for WowWee robotics in Hong Kong. His RoboSapien humanoid robot was controlled using only 28 transistors, and has sold in the millions. We covered his work at WowWee in a previous version of the podcast about Robot Toys.

In this episode, Tilden gives us an intriguing glimpse into the future. He is currently working on taking the basic BEAM technology in his toy robots and adapting them to perform useful tasks. Using flexible robots, rather than many dedicated systems, is a powerful concept but it also brings with it some tough requirements ranging from look and feel to battery life and safety. He sums up the requirements nicely when saying “your robot has to perform its task quietly, elegantly and in conjunction with you”.

And if you are into picking things apart and building new things, the BEAM technology and RoboSapien and FemiSapien are definitely your thing. They are actually meant to be disassembled and the components are all labeled and documented so that you can use them for many things.


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February 10th, 2012

Robots: Senseable Robots

In today’s episode we look at some of the work done by the Senseable City Lab. We’ll be talking to Carlo Ratti, the director of the Lab, about two of the Lab’s many projects – namely Flyfire and Seaswarm.

Carlo Ratti

An architect and engineer by training, Carlo Ratti practices in Italy and teaches at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he directs the Senseable City Lab. He graduated from the Politecnico di Torino and the École Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées in Paris, and later earned his MPhil and PhD at the University of Cambridge, UK.

As well as being a regular contributor to the architecture magazine Domus and the Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore, Carlo has written for the BBC, La Stampa, Scientific American and The New York Times. His work has been exhibited worldwide at venues such as the Venice Biennale, the Design Museum Barcelona, the Science Museum in London, GAFTA in San Francisco and The Museum of Modern Art in New York. His Digital Water Pavilion at the 2008 World Expo was hailed by Time Magazine as one of the ‘Best Inventions of the Year’. Carlo was recently a presenter at TED 2011 and is serving as a member of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council for Urban Management. He is also a program director at the Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design in Moscow and a curator of the 2012 BMW Guggenheim Pavilion in Berlin.

Carlo founded the Senseable City Lab in 2004 within the City Design and Development group at the Department of Urban Studies and Planning, in collaboration with the MIT Media Lab. The Lab’s mission is to creatively intervene and investigate the interface between people, technologies and the city. Whilst fostering interdisciplinary, the Lab’s work draws on diverse fields such as urban planning, architecture, design, engineering, computer science, natural sciences and economics to capture the full nature of urban problems and deliver research and applications that empower citizens to make choices that result in a more liveable urban condition.


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