Tag Archives: design

Robot Roundup – March 1, 2012

Biomimetic Robotic Fish
Robot fish may one day help to save living ones.

Shopping around for your next robot chef? Thinking about getting a little exercise with a virtual workout partner? Maybe you’re planning on taking your autonomous auto out for a spin, or searching for ways to lead wildlife to safety in the wake of a natural disaster?

As the following summaries show, scientists are working overtime to help make each of those visions a reality.

Swishy Robot Fools School – http://www.poly.edu/press-release/2012/03/01/what-makes-robot-fish-attractive-hint-its-moves

Researchers at New York University’s Polytechnic Institute (NYU-Poly) are exploring ways robots might help to guide wildlife away from environmental disasters and human-created dangers in the future. Their findings show that biomimetic robotic fish can actually assume leadership roles, which is described in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.

The paper reports that live fish in the experiments appear to “follow in the wake of the biomimetic robot fish, taking advantage of the energy savings generated by the robot.”

These experiments may open up new channels for us to explore the possibilities for robotic interactions with live animals — an area that is largely untapped. By looking to nature to guide our design, and creating robots that tap into animals’ natural cues, we may be able to influence collective animal behavior to aid environmental conservation and disaster recovery efforts.” 

— Maurizio Porfiri, associate professor of mechanical engineering, Polytechnic Institute of New York University

Robot Innovations for Everyday Life in the Future http://www.kit.edu/visit/pi_2012_8981.php

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and  the FZI Research Center for Information Technology are presenting innovations for everyday life in the future at CeBIT, the trade fair that showcases digital IT and telecommunications solutions, which will run from March 6 to 10, 2012, in Hanover, Germany. The innovations from KIT and FZI include a humanoid kitchen robot that will move around and the interactive HoLLiE service robot.

Kitchen Robot Learns by Watching

In addition to recognizing objects and grasping them with just the right amount of pressure, ARMAR, a humanoid robot, can negotiate its environment, understands and executes commands independently, and even learns by watching humans.

ARMAR - Robot
ARMAR can understand and execute commands independently and even learns by watching humans.

Even if you don’t understand German, the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5x1G0nkSd9w is entertaining to watch.

Service Robot Interacts Intuitively

HoLLiE (House of Living Labs intelligent Escort) will show how it intuitively interacts with people at CeBIT. The system is designed to provide those who need care with food, medicine, and interactive entertainment.

Thanks to a modern 3D sensor system, HoLLiE can understand the body movement of its counterpart. In the scenario presented, HoLLiE asks its counterpart to do some sports together in order to remain in good shape. This function may be of therapeutic value to elderly people or people in need of care, but also serve to entertain everybody regardless of age.”

— Press Release, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

Smart Intersections for Autonomous Vehicles – http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-02/uota-csd021312.php

After building an autonomous car with his students, Peter Stone of The University of Texas at Austin has turned his attention to research on autonomous intersection management.

A future where sitting in the backseat of the car reading our newspaper while it drives us effortlessly through city streets and intersections is not that far away. Computers can already fly a passenger jet much like a trained human pilot, but people still face the dangerous task of driving automobiles. Vehicles are being developed that will be able to handle most of the driving tasks themselves. But once autonomous vehicles become popular, we need to coordinate those vehicles on the streets”

— Peter Stone, professor of computer science, The University of Texas, Austin

© Tony Leininger and IT for Good 2012. See sidebar for full copyright notice.


Take a Guided Tour of the Universe

Powers of Ten
… “amazing visualization of the universe” is a must see for anyone with even the slightest affinity for planetariums or microscopes …

Fans of Charles and Ray Eames won’t want to miss this one. Scale of the Universe 2 is an eye-opening take on the powers-of-ten concept that the mid-century design team pioneered. Fortunately for us, this version capitalizes on the powers of some pretty standard digital technology to let viewers take the wheel, so to speak.

In Scale of the Universe 2, 14-year old twins Cary Huang and Michael Huang have created an annotated tour of both inner and outer space. It’s a must see for anyone with even the slightest affinity for planetariums or microscopes.

“Just when you thought the age of the Flash-based web animation had come and gone check out this amazing visualization of the universe, created by 14-year old Cary Huang, with the technical assistance of his twin brother, Michael. It lets you zoom through objects of any scale, starting with the Planck length and going all the way up to the whole observable universe.”

— Josh Rothman, Boston Globe

For those unfamiliar with the classic 1968 film, it’s easy to find online: simply search for “eames powers of ten video.”


© Tony Leininger and IT for Good 2012. See sidebar for full copyright notice.

3-D Printed Robotic Dinosaurs

Infographic details dinosaur 3-D printing process (click to download).

Drexel University researchers are using 3-D printing and robotics technologies to study prehistoric life. The combined technologies are allowing the researchers to create scale models for testing hypotheses about the ways ancient animals moved.

Technology in paleontology hasn’t changed in about 150 years. We use shovels and pickaxes and burlap and plaster. It hasn’t changed — until right now.”

— Dr. Kenneth Lacovara, associate professor, College of Arts and Sciences, Drexel

Using current 3-D printer technology, a scaled-down model of a dinosaur bone or other fossil can be rapidly prototyped. In addition to allowing researchers to model and test hypotheses about movement and behavior, the 3-D printing allows paleontologists to create unlimited real-size facsimiles for museums more efficiently than traditional casting methods allow, and it can be used to produce educational models.

Learn more at http://www.drexel.edu/now/news-media/releases/archive/2012/February/3D-Printing-Technology-Robotic-Dinosaurs/

© Tony Leininger and IT for Good 2012. See sidebar for full copyright notice.

Robots Redux

February 16, 2012, was an historic day for human–robot relations with the first handshake between a human and robot in space. It was also a good day for rounding up the latest news from the world of robotics.

The following are some robot-related news highlights from the last two weeks:

Human and Humanoid Robot Shake Hands in Space

“The first human-humanoid handshake in space. For the record, it was a firm handshake. Quite an impressive robot.”

—Daniel Burbank, commander, International Space Station

Researchers find social robots require astute tuning to improve acceptability by the human mind

“How we interact with embodied machines is different than how we interact with a computer, cell phone or other intelligent devices. We need to understand those differences so we can leverage what is important.”

—Professor Maja Matarić, director, University of Southern California Center for Robotics and Embedded Systems

A robot sketches portraits

“We attach great importance to the artistic look of the drawings that results, but on the other hand, we have also equipped the robot with an automatic system that enables it to carry out all of the steps itself. With this installation, we have created an interface between art, science and technology.”

—Martina Richter, Fraunhofer Institute for Optronics, System Technologies and Image Exploitation

In new mass-production technique, robotic insects spring to life

“Our new techniques allow us to use any material including polymers, metals, ceramics, and composites. The ability to incorporate any type and number of material layers, along with integrated electronics, means that we can generate full systems in any three-dimensional shape. We’ve also demonstrated that we can create self-assembling devices by including pre-stressed materials.”

—Rob Wood, Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering, Harvard

Local high school robotics teams take da Vinci for a spin

“I thought it would be more difficult, but the depth perception … after a couple seconds of doing it, it’s easy to grasp.”

—Isaiah Rodriguez, a junior at Smithtown East who took the da Vinci Surgical System for a “test drive”

New system allows robots to continuously map their environment

“There are also a lot of military applications, like mapping a bunker or cave network to enable a quick exit or re-entry when needed. Or a HazMat team could enter a biological or chemical weapons site and quickly map it on foot, while marking any hazardous spots or objects for handling by a remediation team coming later. These teams wear so much equipment that time is of the essence, making efficient mapping and navigation critical.”

—Seth Teller, head of the Robotics, Vision and Sensor Networks group, MIT

Drones, in-home robots, and military machines pose several questions

“Of course robots can deceive, play, kill, and work for us—they’re designed in our image. And the reflection they cast back triggers some soul-searching, forcing us to take a hard look at what we’re doing and where we’re going.”

—Patrick Lin, Ph.D in Slate

© Tony Leininger and IT for Good 2012. See sidebar for full copyright notice.