Archive for the ‘Podcast’ Category

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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Latest News:

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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August 1st, 2008

Robots: The Robot Blogosphere

In this week’s episode we speak with two robot passionates who have been bringing you news and views on robotics through their blogs. We first speak to Steven Rainwater from Texas who is a founding editor of robots.net, a news website on robotics. We then go to Boston where Mikell Taylor talked to Sabine about the IEEE Spectrum Automaton blog and her work at Bluefin Robotics Corporation on Autonomous Underwater Vehicles.

Steven Rainwater

Steven Rainwater is one of the founding editors of robots.net, one of the longest-running news sites devoted primarily to robotics on the web. Along with two other robot obsessives from the Dallas Personal Robotics Group, he has been actively running this online community since 2001.

Rainwater takes us on a journey into the history of the hobbyist robotics community, starting in the days of BBS before the internet had a chance to make a foothold. He then tells us about his experiences in the hobbyist community, and some of his worries about the future of the field. Will hobbyist robotics continue expanding, or will it disappear with the arrival of the Roomba? He may have the answer.

Mikell Taylor

Mikell Taylor’s passion for robots has had her blogging away on the IEEE Spectrum Automaton blog. Comfortably seated in her Boston kitchen, she presents her expert insight on robotics in the media, her view on what to look for in the future and why consumer robots have a special place in her interests.

Besides scanning the web for robot scoops, Taylor is a system engineer at the Bluefin Robotics Corporation where she works on sensor ridden autonomous underwater vehicles for the military, commercial purposes or….treasure hunting! She gives us a behind the scene overview of what these missile-like robots have been doing in the great blue and the challenges to overcome in navigation, control and designing hardware which will work under loads of water pressure.

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Latest News:

Visit the Robots Forum for links and discussions about the
Delfly Micro, Microsoft’s Receptionist of the Future and WowWee’s latest robot cubs presented 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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September 28th, 2007

Talking Robots Podcast LogoTalking Robots: Bionic Design
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In this episode we interview Rudolf Bannasch from the Technical University in Berlin, Germany. Thanks to his background in biology, his many trips to the poles and his know-how in engineering, he’s been able to pinpoint the principles found in nature which can provide the basis for novel solutions to everyday technical problems. With his bio-inspiration as a drive, he’s creating new products through his startup Evologics and encouraging bionic design through European networks.

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March 16th, 2007

Talking Robots Podcast LogoTalking Robots: Salamander Robot
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In this episode we interview Auke Ijspeert on his amphibious salamander robot. He explains how central pattern generators are a powerful tool to link simple high-level commands to complex patterns of locomotion including gait changes, and how they are used in his robot.

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