Archive for the ‘Podcast’ Category

June 26th, 2015

Robots: Robotic Rehabilitation and Biomimicry Environmental Monitoring - Transcript

In this episode, Ron Vanderkley speaks with Dr. Lei Cui from Curtin University about his team’s work on 3D printable hand orthosis for rehabilitation, a  task-oriented 4-DOF robotic device for upper-limb rehabilitation and a 3-DOF platform providing multi-directional perturbations for research into balance rehabilitation. They also discuss the fastest untethered robotic fish for river monitoring and an amphibious robot for monitoring the Swan-Canning River System.


A 3D Printable Parametric Hand Exoskeleton for Finger Rehabilitation

ComBot: a Compact Robot for Upper-Limb Rehabilitation

A 3-DOF Robotic Platform for Research into Multi-Directional Stance Perturbations

Curtin Robotic Fish

AmBot: A Bio-Inspired Amphibious Robot for Monitoring the Swan-Canning Estuary System


Lei Cui


Dr. Lei Cui completed his PhD degree in Mechanical Engineering in July 2010 from the Centre for Robotics Research, King’s College London (UK). He continued his employment as Postdoctoral Research Associate after graduation. In February 2011 he moved to the Robotics Institute, Carnegie Mellon University(US) and worked as Postdoctoral Fellow until July 2012. He joined the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Curtin University (AU) and was appointed Lecturer in Mechatronics, which he currently holds.



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July 26th, 2013

Robots: Outdoor Autonomous Systems

In this episode, we speak with Jonathan Roberts, research director of the Autonomous Systems Lab at the CSIRO ICT Centre in Brisbane Australia. Roberts leads a team of more than 45 scientists and engineers in wide variety of robotics and automation projects that feature flying, ground and underwater robots.

Jonathan Roberts
Jonathan Roberts is research director of Autonomous Systems Lab at CSIRO ICT Centre in Brisbane Outside CSIRO. His laboratory is developing automation technologies for applications in environmental monitoring, agriculture, mining, manufacturing, and for the energy sector. With research in field robotics and wireless sensor networks, his laboratory has produced new techniques for the autonomous control of machines, 3D perception and localisation, and for the setup and operation of large scale outdoor wireless sensor networks. These techniques are combined to produce novel solutions for industry.

In today’s episode we will touch on the following topics:

  • UAV Outback Challenge – an Australian UAV competition that features delivery and search and rescue missions.
  • Telepresence Robot – to help connect school kids and visitors in regional areas to the National Museum of Australia.
  • The Stealth Robot – for observing animals in their natural habitat.
  • StarBug AUV – an inexpensive, miniature autonomous underwater vehicle ideal for data collection and ecosystem surveys.
  • Robot Helicopter – an unmanned automatic helicopter designed to remotely inspect dangerous or hard to get to infrastructure such as powerlines, buildings and bridges.
  • Hexapod Robot – a multi-legged robot that can be used for monitoring and mapping uneven and unstructured terrain which can be difficult to navigate with wheeled robots.
  • Redirecting Manufacturing – a discussion on the future of manufacturing.

Jonathan Roberts is also Deputy Director of the Australian Research Centre for Aerospace Automation (ARCAA), Video Editor for the IEEE Robotics and Automation Magazine and a member of the editorial board of the International Journal of Field Robotics.


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June 14th, 2013

Robots: The OpenROV Project

In the episode, we speak with Eric Stackpole and David Lang from the OpenROV project about their challenge in developing Eric’s idea to find an easy way to explore a cave that was rumored to contain a sunken treasure near his home.

OpenROV (OPEN-source Remotely Operated Vehicle) is a telerobotic submarine built to make underwater exploration and education affordable. We will hear of their learning curve to turn a fun idea into a funded kick-starter project, on a shoestring budget and how they inspired the community to develop the project further. This has united the imagination of DYI beginners, amateurs, professional engineers and scientists from over 50 countries, with far more applications than were original conceded, from pollution monitoring to species identification in the Antarctica.

Eric Stackpole
Eric Stackpole is a Co-Founder of OpenROV and the original designer of the robot. He currently works part-time for NASA at the Ames Research Center and is finishing his masters thesis in mechatronics at Santa Clara University. Eric has always been an enthusiast of  exploration technology, from building a telerobot to attend classes in college to lugging ham radios up mountains during backpacking trips.

David Lang
David Lang is a Co-Founder of OpenROV. He also writes the Zero to Maker column for the MAKE blog, where he chronicles his crash-course into the maker world. Prior to underwater robots, David managed OCSC Sailing in Berkeley where he helped hundreds of students learn to sail and led sailing adventures around the world.


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June 1st, 2012

Robots: Robotic Fish and Mannequins

In today’s episode we talk to Maarja Kruusmaa about robotic fish and the robotic mannequin they are developing at, alongside with Diana Saarva, the COO of

Maarja Kruusmaa

Professor Maarja Kruusmaa is the head of the TUT Center for Biorobotics in Estonia and the R&D Director of She accomplished her PhD in 2002 in Computer Engineering in Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden, before becoming professor in 2008 at Tallinn University of Technology in Estonia.

She is now involved in the FILOSE, robotic fish locomotion and sensing project, whose team attempts to build robots that mimic how fish react and adapt to the water flow around them. In the first part of the interview Professor Kruusmaa talks about why they are using a novel, soft and compliant body approach for robotic fish rather than the more common linked chain. She describes how this embodiment helps reduce the computational load and how it allows them to make a simpler and cheaper robot that is more reliable than a more rigid version would be. We also hear about opportunities that come from sensing and adapting to the flow and the advantages of robotic fish compared to conventional UAVs, before talking about possible applications, such as underwater archeology.

Professor Kruusmaa is the R&D Director of since 2009, working alongside COO Diana Saarva. They have created a virtual fitting room which enables users to virtually try on clothes before buying them, with the help of shape-shifting robotic mannequins which can grow from slim to muscular in just a few moments. This allows buyers to enter their measurements and see what clothes would look like on them. robotic mannequin

In the second part of the interview, Professor Kruusmaa and Diana Saarva talk about the idea. It is particularly interesting to hear about how they developed the cooperation between the technology/research side and the entrepreneurs/business side.

Diana Saarva

Diana Saarva and the mannequin

Diana Saarva joined in September 2009, and became the COO in 2011. She is responsible for supervising and coordinating all client operations and developing new business development.


Thanks David!

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January 13th, 2012

Robots: From Reasearch to Industry in the AUV Market

Today David Lane from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh talks about his journey from research to business and back. He talks about how he got started in offshore work and robotics research and how that led him to develop new smarts for existing hardware. David shares his personal view on how the Thunderbirds, diving and the space race contributed to his focus on underwater technology. He also discusses his research on autonomous underwater vehicles, involving software architecture for decision making as well as complex sensors for understanding the world around you and underwater communication.
Further, David shares his experience of starting the company SeeByte, including the important first customer acquisition. In developing a working commercial solution, bridging the gap between where the university stops and industry starts, was an essential component.

David in the Ocean Systems Laboratory

David in the Ocean Systems Laboratory

David Lane

David Lane graduated in 1980 with a BSc in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, and again in 1986 with a PhD in Underwater Robotics. In 1979 he worked offshore in the North Sea as diver/maintainer for British Oceanics Ltd, and from 1980-82 as a Development Engineer at Ferranti Ltd. From 1982 he held a series of research and academic appointments, culminating in a Professorial Chair at Heriot-Watt University in 1998. In 2001 he founded SeeByte Ltd and as CEO until 2010 led the company’s organic evolution from startup to a multi-million dollar organization. He is now at the Ocean Systems Laboratory.

His technical interests are in autonomous systems, sensor processing and underwater robotics. Over a 30 year period he has published widely in the scientific literature, making contributions in underwater vehicle control, servoing, docking and obstacle avoidance. He has developed flexible actuator sensing and control technology for novel robot gripper and biomimetic underwater propulsion applications. In sensor processing, he has led projects applying novel signal processing and data fusion methods using sonar and video systems to marine science and mine countermeasures detection and visualization. He has also led work on robot architecture, autonomous planning and SLAM navigation, culminating in practical automated systems working offshore performing inspection, repair and maintenance.

This interview focuses a lot on the business side of robotics and Davids journey from research to industry and back.


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