Archive for the ‘Podcast’ Category

September 11th, 2009

Robots: Celebrating Invention

In this episode we have an exclusive interview with Dean Kamen, considered by some as the greatest inventor alive. He’s the father of the insulin pump, the Segway and the new Luke Arm prosthesis for amputees. To encourage creativity and to break the stereotypes attributed to scientists, Kamen created FIRST which is attracting kids from around the world to robotics competitions. Finally, in the spirit of invention, we want to know what you think is the best invention of all times. We’ll be giving away our favorite invention, some of Switzerland’s finest chocolate, to what we think is the most creative response. Be sure to post your thoughts in the forum!

Dean Kamen

robotics picture of great inventorDean Kamen is an inventor who changes lives. As a starting point for most of his ideas, there is a clear belief that some things just SHOULD exist. That’s why he didn’t even wait to finish college to invent the first wearable infusion pump, which rapidly gained acceptance from such diverse medical specialties as chemotherapy, neonatology and endocrinology. Based on this idea he created a company that went on to invent the first insulin pump for diabetics. After selling this company to Baxter International Corporation, he formed DEKA. Take the first two letters of his first and last name and you get the company facade for his crazy ideas.

Products rolling out of DEKA include the iBOT, an all-terrain electric wheelchair whose technology paved the way for the Segway, the Luke Arm prosthesis and systems to bring clean water and energy to people in need.

However, not only is Kamen inventing, he is also passionate about creating inventors through FIRST which is a framework for robotic competitions reaching 196’000 kids around the world from age 6 to high-school. The 17’594 teams participating are split into four categories with the Robotics Competition, Tech Challenge, two LEGO Leagues, and a league for young kids. Through these competitions, Kamen hopes to put the spotlight on scientists, turning them into public heroes and breaking stereotypes.

In this interview, Kamen tells us what a good idea is, talks about FIRST, and presents the technical details of his newest invention, the Luke Arm.

Win Swiss Chocolate!

In the spirit of creativity and invention, we’re wondering what you, our audience thinks is the world’s greatest invention! Let us know in the forum, for your chance to win a huge box of luxurious Swiss chocolate from one of Lausanne, Switzerland’s finest hand-crafted luxury chocolate makers, Blondel chocolate. Feel free to be creative, and add a picture or YouTube video to convince us that your favorite invention is definitely the best. And if any of you are inventors yourselves, the forum’s a great place to show us what you’re made of!

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Latest News:

As always, more information can be found in the Robots forums, this week including PlasmoBot, Korea’s Robotland and the latest on Pleo.
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March 27th, 2009

Robots: Learning with LEGO

In this episode we focus on engineering education at the elementary school level, and how robotics can play a key role in shaping the engineers of the future. We first speak with Chris Rogers, professor at Tufts University and developer of ROBOLAB, a framework for using LEGO Mindstorms sets to teach robotics in the classroom. We then speak with Liz Herron, the manager of the LEGO Education Center in Texas about her hands-on experience with kids and robots.

Chris Rogers

Chris Rogers is a professor of mechanical engineering at Tufts University in Massachusetts in the US. His research interests are broad, and he’s been seen studying fluid dynamics, the flight of insects and tele-robotics, but it’s his commitment to the engineering education of children that brought him on our show today.

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. Rogers tells us about the importance of science and engineering in the classroom, and how teachers can perhaps help shape the roboticists of tomorrow. He also talks a little about the LEGO NXT, the latest line of robotic kits from the company that can be seen in the video below:



Liz Herron

Liz Herron manages the first, and only, LEGO Education Center in the United States which serves the needs of children ages 3 – 12. The center focuses on math, science, and technology skills and offers several levels of robotics courses for children over the age of seven. With LEGO Mindstorms, they create nano-like robots to explore the human body, robot police dogs to help the community or robotic families. With imagination as a drive, the kids are actually learning about team work and engineering.

Herron has been in education for many years, teaching or supporting all elementary grades from pre-school through grade 6. Nominated for teacher of the year several times, her peers quickly honored her creative, innovative and passionate approach to education. Strong of this background, she’ll be telling us about her hands-on experience with the kids at the LEGO Education Center and the amazing solutions which they can whip-up.

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Further reading:


Latest News:

For more information and discussion on this week’s news, including videos of the first robot super model “walking” the catwalk, research on the biomimetic robotic octopus arm as well as the new type of artificial muscle visit the Robots Forum.

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January 2nd, 2009

Robots: 2008 New Year’s Special

For our New Year’s episode, we’ll be giving you an overview of the trends in robotics for 2008 and an insight into next year’s developments with five experts in robotics from different backgrounds and continents. We speak with Dan Kara from Robotics Trends about the robot marketplace, Terry Fong from the NASA Ames Research Center, Dario Floreano from the EPFL, Steve Rainwater from robots.net and Minoru Asada from Osaka University.

Dan Kara

Dan Kara is the president and co-founder of Robotics Trends, a US based company specialized in the burgeoning personal, service and mobile robotics market. His company has been working over the years to compile a business image of robotics and inform through their webportal.

Terry Fong

Terry Fong is the Director of the Intelligent Robotics Group at the NASA Ames Research Center. 2008 was a busy year in space robotics with several missions sending back loads of scientific data from Mars.

Dario Floreano

Dario Floreano is the director of the Laboratory of Intelligent Systems at the EPFL in Lausanne Switzerland where he focuses on taking inspiration from biology to design swarming, evolving and flying robots as well as researching how biological societies can evolve to communicate and cooperate.

Steven Rainwater

Steven Rainwater is one of the founding editors of robots.net, and was previously featured in a Robots episode on the robot blogosphere. His specialty is hobbyist robotics, and he tells us about the latest products that you can find in your local hobby shop.

Minoru Asada

Minoru Asada is the director of the Asada Lab at Osaka University and the director of the Asada Synergistic Intelligence Project. He is also greatly involved in the Robotcup Federation.

Christmas Contest Winner

In our last episode, we asked you to guess what our WowWee Femisapien did on her first weekend in Switzerland for a chance to win one. Well, you most likely won’t be surprised to learn that she took advantage of the excellent snow in December to go down a few slopes with her newly learned ski moves and her personal coaches here at ROBOTS (video coming soon).

Congratulations to Erin at robotgrrl.com for her excellent animation and correct guess!

Links:


Latest News:

Instead of our traditional news item we made a short year-end review of the biggest news items of 2008 in our forum. Let us know what was your biggest news of 2008!

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December 19th, 2008

Robots: Robot Toys

In the spirit of the holiday season, today’s episode is all about robots as toys. We speak to Mark Tilden, robot designer at WowWee Robotics, about designing robots for children, and what he thinks that scientists and researchers can learn from the toy industry. We are also holding a contest to give away his latest creation, the Femisapien, to one of our listeners, so read all about it below.

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 (which stands for Biology, Electronics, Aesthetics, and Mechanics), 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. In our interview Tilden tells us about the difference between robotics in scientific research and in the toy industry. He also speaks about his latest creation, the Femisapien, and how he hopes to interest young girls in the field of robotics.

Christmas Contest: Win a WowWee FemiSapien

Guess what our Femisapien did on her first weekend in Switzerland for a chance to win one! Answers can be posted on our forum as a description, video, drawing or picture until Thursday the 1st of January noon (GMT). The closest guess wins and the most creative posts will be encouraged. A short video will be posted on the 2nd of January to reveal the winner and the correct answer.






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Further reading:


Latest News:

Further information on the robots mentioned in this episode on the Robots robot forum, including robot actors, dancers and performers around the world, a web version of the “Japan: Robot Nation” show, and a list of our favorite last minute robot Christmas presents as well as other recommendations for the holiday season around the web.

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January 18th, 2008

Talking Robots Podcast LogoTalking Robots: Autonomous Robots
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In this interview we talk to Roland Siegwart who is Full Professor at the Autonomous Systems Lab at the ETH Zurich. Based on his experience with the 18 robots he’s created, he shares his know-how on autonomous robotics and the research which is being done on robot navigation/localization and mapping.

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