Archive for the ‘misc. robots’ Category

Group to create cityscape with human-like robots

February 26, 2007

iRobot 

An ambitious three-year European project called Ubiquitous Networking Robotics in Urban Settings (URUS) wants to create human-like robots that will roam city streets delivering goods and services, and serve as robo-cops to patrol areas for suspicious activity.

URUS will design and develop a robotic cityscape that accommodates wirelessly networked robots that autonomously perform tasks which may be too complex, time-consuming or too expensive to perform by humans.

European ancient cities are becoming difficult places to live due to noise, pollution, lack of quality facilities and security. The average age of people living in large European cities also is growing and in a short period of time there will be a large community of elderly people.

The program’s lead researchers will first demonstrate the networked robot system in a pedestrian area in Barcelona when the project is near completion.  Until then, researchers are working with a European consortium to perfect the technologies.

The project will create 10 unique robots capable of different tasks based on individual motion capabilities and types of sensors on board.  Most of the robots will interact with people, so researchers will design the robots with an intelligent robot head that is capable of human-like expression.

Will we see I Robot’s Sonny in the not-so-distant future?

Cited article:  Face of the Future

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Emotion robots learn from people

February 23, 2007

iRobot

The BBC reports making robots that interact with people emotionally is the goal of a European project led British scientists.

Feelix Growing is a research project involving six countries, and 25 roboticists, developmental psychologists and neuroscientists.  Co-ordinator Dr Lola Canamero said the aim was to build robots that “learn from humans and respond in a socially and emotionally appropriate manner”.

Fame finds robot plow inventor

February 20, 2007

The Daily Item article on all the media attention surrounding Herdy-Gerdy, a remote-controlled snow-plowing robot built by Bill Lauver, of Middleburg, Pennsylvania.

Lauver has given countless interviews, and may appear on David Letterman’s show.  Lauver noted that during every interview he’s given he has been asked if he plans on patenting the robot or selling them.

At this point, his response is simply: “It’s in the works.”

‘Junior’ to compete in Urban Challenge

February 18, 2007

Stanford Junior simulation

Stanford University’s “Junior,” the successor to Stanley, will compete in November’s Urban Challenge, a city road race of artificial intelligence.  The car will do the driving, no one else.

Junior is still in the development phase, but the robot is already far ahead of its parent in terms of technology. (Stanford Racing Team plans to begin its testing phase in March.) Junior has to be smarter if it is to meet the stiff challenge of navigating city streets alongside other vehicles, including other robotic contestants and human-driven cars from DARPA.

Junior must have much more sophisticated sensors that can “see” the world in a 360-degree view and process that data in as close to real time as possible.

Sick of driving? This robot car takes the wheel

February 16, 2007

CNN Money looks at the latest technology involved with self-driving cars, with a special spotlight on Stanley, the winner of the DARPA Grand Challenge and contestant in this year’s Urban Challenge.  Excellent article and overview.

Sebastian Thrun, who helped create Stanley, says a fully automated highway is possible by 2025.  

World’s first amphibious robot has successful sea trials

February 8, 2007

Escorting the robot at 20 feet

AQUA, the world’s first amphibious robot, made a fruitful trip to Barbados last month.   The robot has visited the island the last four years, and is progressing extremely well. 

The McGill University robot recently performed depth testing to 120 feet, reef mapping without disturbing the environment and basic sign language.

AQUA can be used in numerous ways, ranging from ocean exploration to diver rescue.  But Gregory Dudek, director of the McGill Research Center for Intelligent Machines, said he wants the bot to someday check the health of coral reefs.  They want AQUA to be a marine biologist.

“Marine biologists spend many hours underwater assessing the health of coral reefs,” Dudek said. “We realized that AQUA had great potential to assist with this kind of environmental monitoring.”

AQUA can dive deeper than most scuba divers, will not run out of air and does not get cold or tired.   

Unlike most underwater vehicles, AQUA does not use thrusters for propulsion; instead, it uses six paddles, which act as control surfaces during swimming and as legs while walking.  The bot can walk along the shore, swim along the surface in open water, or walk on the bottom of the ocean. 

AQUA is now autonomous as well.  After making measurements at a particular location, the robot can return home autonomously. Later, the robot can independently return to the site to collect additional data.

References:
McGill Reporter
Computer magazine

Suicide prevention demands GM pull robot ad

February 8, 2007

Detroit News reports the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention today demanded that General Motors Corp. pull its Super Bowl commercial depicting a former factory robot leaping off a bridge in a dream sequence.

The New York organization called the ad offensive and potentially dangerous, and wants the Detroit automaker to stop running the commercial on television and to remove it from its Web site.

“The General Motors ad is insensitive to the tens of millions of people who have lost loved ones to suicide,” said Robert Gebbia, executive director of the foundation. “The ad also suggests a troubling and potentially dangerous message that suicide is a logical and rational decision should one experience failure or lose their job.”

‘Lonely’ robot hits nerve

February 7, 2007

Lansing State Journal in Michigan, USA, reports that General Motor’s Super Bowl commercial involving the lonely robot is getting decidedly mixed reviews.

Some people loved the ad for its inventiveness and humor. But in an era when domestic auto companies are reducing the size of their work force by tens of thousands, others said, it’s insensitive to laugh at unemployed auto workers.

The suicide thing was a little tacky as well.

Not Your Grandma’s Robot

February 5, 2007

Harvard Crimson article on Harvard assistant professor Robert J. Wood, who is hoping to develop small and light robots that can hover in the air on a fly’s wings. The robots could be used on rescue missions to save lives.

The faux insects, named Micro Air Vehicles (MAVs), even physically resemble insects, weighing less than a paperclip with a two- to three-centimeter wingspan.  The project’s initial goal was to create a small device capable of sustained autonomous flight.

Local robot’s sad Super Bowl story

January 31, 2007

Detroit News article on a lovable but clumsy robot who will get the boot from General Motors Corp. in the company’s upcoming Super Bowl commercial.

The 60-second spot, called “The Robot,” features a small robot working on the assembly line at the Grand River Assembly plant, where part of the ad was filmed.

The robot, an oddly-cute digital creation capable of contorting its nuts and bolts into human expressions, mistakenly drops a screw while working on the line making Cadillacs.

Quirky commercial, but it shows that robots are truly going mainstream.