Saturday, July 30, 2005

Robots That Mediate Human-Human Interaction

Robots as avatars can be used to mediate relationships.
This project would be interesting to set up in locations in different parts of the world. The robots would allow users to create new relationships with people or other avatars in far away places.
Relationship robots.

R/V is an installation by Ryota Kuwakubo, which uses mobile robots equipped with LCD monitors, CCD cameras, microphones, and caterpillar wheels to transform participants' visual and auditory perception in a unique way.

This environment can transform our visual and auditory perception in a unique way, allowing participants to change the way they communicate with each other. Participants can not only use face-to-face communication but also "you-your robot-me" communication and "you-your robot-my robot-me" communication.

The robots, which move around on a "playground", can be controlled by participants using four console boxes. Images and sound captured by robots are sent back to corresponding control boxes. At the same time, the console boxes capture images and sound from participants and send them to robots. Participants can walk into the "playground" and directly interact with other robots as well.

we make money not art: R/V: Robots That Mediate Human-Human Interaction

Thursday, July 28, 2005

The Robotic Human Jaw

A robotic human jaw, under collaborative development by Massey University in New Zealnd, engineers, will have applications for both medical and food technological research.

The Massey team is now engaged in the construction of the robotic jaw, which will provide comprehensive data of the forces and movements applied in the chewing of food. during chewing of food.

Masters student Jozef-Sebastian Pap has designed the robot and the six actuators which drive the bottom jaw (the top half of the human jaw remains fixed).

The jaw is designed to be fitted with a variety of teeth, such as the sharp pointy teeth of a six year old or the blunter molars of an adult..

In the future it is intended to teach the robot to adaptively chew food. It may be made to make its own decisions on how to chew a new food product. If it loses a tooth, it will adjust its motion accordingly and the data collected, of chewing force and jaw movement, will reflect the changed situation.

Massey News Article - The robotic human jaw

Flying Robot Officers? Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

According to the US Air Force faced a bit of a quandry when it started using more of the FPASS (Force Protection Airborne Surveillance System) Desert Hawk flying robots.
Since World War II the Air Force has required pilots to be officers with a college education.
This requirement has applied equally to "flying" the larger UAV flying robots.

But the Desert Hawk is 32 inches long with a 52 inch wingspan. It is basically a souped-up hobby plane. (A very expensive one at $300,000 per system)

The Air Force required that the UAV's be made completely autonomous so that they would not have to spare so many officers to fly them. Today the unit, with on-board cameras and GPS navigation, is pre-programmed and let go. The ground crew, which launches the robot with a bungee chord, monitors the craft but technically does not 'pilot' it.

News about Air Force at's How to Make War.

Underwater Robot Lumberjack

Robot lumberjack dives to flooded forests

A chainsaw-wielding robotic submarine is roving beneath Lois Lake in British Columbia, Canada.

The submarine is chopping down a forest submerged decades ago when the valley flooded due to a hydroelectric dam. After it cuts the trees, they float to the surface, where they dry out and are sold to mills for use in furniture and construction.

Triton Logging of Vancouver, British Columbia, has been harvesting them for years by sending divers down with chainsaws and hoisting the waterlogged trunks to the surface. But diving is very slow and dangerous, so Triton has developed a remote-controlled sub to do the job.


Called the Sawfish, the 3-ton, 3.5-metre-long, yellow submersible has high-resolution cameras that an operator on the surface uses to guide it. After grasping the base of the tree in pincer-like arms, it attaches an inflatable flotation bag, which it fills from its compressed air supply. Finally, it uses its 1.5-metre chainsaw to cut the tree and lets go of the trunk, allowing the flotation bag to carry it to the surface for retrieval. Triton's president Chris Godsall said Sawfish can cut 36 trees in three or four hours, operating as far as 300 meters down.

ISA | Robot lumberjack dives to flooded forests

via RoboticsDaily


Wednesday, July 27, 2005

iRobot IPO

iRobot is the maker of home vacuum robot Roomba and recently announced wet-mop robot Scooba.

iRobot Corp. Files Registration Statement for Initial Public Offering

BURLINGTON, Mass. – July 27, 2005 – iRobot Corporation today announced that it has filed a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission for a proposed initial public offering of its common stock. iRobot is a leading global provider of robots that enable people to complete complex tasks in a better way. The number of shares to be offered and the price range for the offering have not yet been determined.

iRobot - Robots for the Real World : Press Release Detail


Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Chinese Spherical Robot

As usual, The People's Daily is very boastful but light on technical details. Here is their report on a new Chinese spherical robot.

People's Daily Online -- China develops spherical robot

After years' arduous efforts, the research group led by Professor Sun Hanxu from Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications have developed China's first spherical robot to which the country enjoys intellectual property rights.

The robot, a project under the National Natural Science Foundation, has reached world advanced level and passed the appraisal by experts.

Beijing University, as asked by the appraisal panel, examined the robots and determined that the robot is unprecedented both at home and abroad.

The robot laboratory of Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications adopted a brand-new, highly effective means of internal drive, under which the robot can move smoothly in straight line and arc, climb on slope of 20 degrees and realize rotation.

Standing still, the robot can start moving in any direction. The kind of spherical robot has broad prospects for application not only in education, scientific research, field operation and civilian transport but also in anti-terrorism and other state-of-the-art fields.

People's Daily Online -- China develops spherical robot

Intelligent Painting Robot

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Develops Intelligent Painting Robot

Tokyo, Japan, Jul 25, 2005 (JCN Newswire via COMTEX) -- Mitsubishi Heavy Industries announced on July 25 the development of the MRP-5000/5100, a new-generation painting robot.

Co-developed with Anest Iwata, the robot is equipped with complex control functions required for high-grade painting, including rotating electrostatic guns and electrostatic controllers.
The robot also automatically calculates the ideal paint discharge amount and painting velocity, using data on types of paint used and film pressure.

Investor's Business Daily: Breaking News

Robot Bag Checker

Robot bag checks (Jennifer Foreshew, JULY 26, 2005)

THE artificial intelligence system used to monitor the Sydney Harbour Bridge will be adapted to create a robot capable of inspecting and removing suspicious luggage from public places.

Monash University and Sydney software provider iOmniscient will partner on the three-year project, which recently received a $171,000 grant from the Australian Research Council's Linkage Project.

The technology rescans video images until it finds when a suspicious item was first placed somewhere, and by whom.

The system then guides a luggage robot to the offending bag for probing.

Monash University Intelligent Robotics Research Centre director Ray Jarvis said a prototype robot was expected to be ready within 18 months.

The radio-teleoperated robot, which would include X-ray capabilities, sensors, cameras and laser range finders, would be for use in open spaces, especially airports, train stations and bus depots.

IOmniscient would contribute cash and in-kind support to the project, he said.

The company is working with the University of Technology, Sydney, to embed its technology in a chip.

It is also teaming with Curtin University of Technology to develop technology for recognising suspicious behaviour.

Australian IT - Robot bag checks (Jennifer Foreshew, JULY 26, 2005)

Jumping Robot

Robot Jumps, Tumbles, Rolls
By Tracy Staedter, Discovery News

The Leg-in-Rotor V, built by associate professor Hideyuki Tsukagoshi and his team at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, has wheels that allow it to roll over flat surfaces and a pneumatic cylinder leg that pops it up more than three feet over debris.

The Leg-in-Rotor consists of two wheels, two passive legs for stabilization and a pneumatic kicking cylinder. Two light sensors turn on when the device nears an obstacle and work together to estimate when and how high it should jump.

Leg-in Rotor V

If the object is less than about three feet tall, the pneumatic cylinder thrusts the ground directly beneath the vehicle, sending it up over the impediment. If the robot lands on its side, the cylinder kicks out to help right it.

Discovery Channel :: News :: Robot Jumps, Tumbles, Rolls

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Robots Provide Jobs and Training in Alabama

Rise of the machines
Donathan Prater / Staff writer

The automotive industry has become a major driving force behind Alabama’s job market.

In fact, a 2003 industry study by the Alabama Automotive Manufacturers Association found that more than 30,180 Alabamians were employed in the auto-manufacturing field in 2002. That number has since increased to just under 32,000, with even more growth projected.

Turning out workers with the skills to meet the growing demands of Alabama’s auto-manufacturing market is something Central Alabama Community College is literally “getting into gear” about.

The automation courses involve the use of robotic technology and training that area auto manufacturers are looking for, according to Mike Mann, technical division specialist and chair of the Alexander City campus.

Part of that robotic technology Mann is talking about is in the form of a robot called Comau.

Comau is simply the name of the Michigan-based company that designed the robot, but it’s the lessons the robot teaches students that Mann says are most important.

Mann says the purpose of the robot is to teach students how to manipulate robots to perform tasks such as picking up, moving and assembling objects ...

“It’s a very exciting time for the auto industry, but it can be difficult to find employees with the right skills,” Mann said. “The idea behind the robotics courses offered at CACC is to make these young men and women as marketable as quickly as possible.”

Opelika-Auburn News | Rise of the machines

Friday, July 22, 2005

Robot Cockroaches Go Native

Mini robot mimics cockroaches
By Stefanie Olsen
Staff Writer, CNET

Scientists in Lausanne, Switzerland, have successfully infiltrated a colony of roaches with a micro robot that has enough intricacies to interact with the world's most resilient insect, according to a report published in the June issue of IEEE Robotics & Automation.

Called InsBot, for "insect-like robot," the mechanical bug mimics the insects' smell and movements to the point that the roaches have accepted it as their own. That feat helps scientists study mixed societies of animals and robots.

In their latest experiment, the miniature robot drew the group of insects from a darkly lighted den to a more lit location, despite the roaches' affinity for low lighting. The roaches followed InsBot for the companionship.

The experiment is part of a European project called Leurre, which is focused on the study of the intersection between biology and robotics. Scientists believe that if they can use robots to mimic and respond to animals then they could eventually control the animals' behavior.

Mini robot mimics cockroaches | CNET "Leurre"

InsBot design details

Labels: ,

CBS News Outs Killer Robot Dogs

(CBS) There's a new dog in town this week at the annual RoboCup championships in Japan. That's where robots of various shapes and sizes compete in soccer games. The U.S. favorite is a team from Carnegie Mellon University, which took a battery-driven robotic dog sold by Sony Corp., fed its souped-up brain new software and turned it into a competitive team player.

As CBS News Correspondent Jim Stewart reports, it even has a little victory dance after scoring a goal and pouts when it loses. They're just cute as all get-out, but this is where our story takes a turn, because Carnegie Mellon has been working with these puppies under a grant from the Defense Advanced Projects Agency, or DARPA, which wants to find a way to use similar robots on the battlefield.

DARPA, which always has its eye not so much on the current war as much as the next one, declined to talk about the project. But the aim seems clear: Can robots trained as team players - just as these can recognize one player from another - be retrained as scouts? Could they then even be fitted with weapons, like unmanned Predator surveillance aircraft, and become killers as well?

Thanks to CBS for exposing this evil plan. I thought the military was only spending $21 BILLION on battlefield robots. I did not know they were also training covert robot soccer dogs.

CBS News | Pentagon Goes To The Robotic Dogs | July 21, 2005�21:30:02

NASA and U of Maryland Dexterous Space Robotics Research

NASA GSFC (Goddard Space Flight Center) plans to award a cooperative research agreement on a sole source basis to the University of Maryland for research and technology development in the area of dexterous robotic manipulation for space applications. This cooperative agreement will establish a Space Robotics Institute...

NASA Presolicitation Notice: Dexterous Space Robotics Research | SpaceRef - Your Space Reference

Thursday, July 21, 2005



Giant robot arm designed to shake the humans like a can of paint.

See videos here

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Brewster Rockit

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Camel Jockey Robots Update

Robots ride camels in race

Remote-controlled robot jockeys have made their debut as camel riders in the United Arab Emirates, competing in a trial race after the Gulf Arab state tightened a ban on child jockeys.
Robots weighing up to 15kg were dressed in the clothes of human jockeys during the race held in the capital Abu Dhabi, which officials described as "successful", the WAM news agency reported.

Human trafficking

The UAE and neighbouring Qatar, which has also banned child camel jockeys and tested out the robotic substitutes, want to replace them with robot riders which receive orders from an instructor via a remote control system on the back of the camel.

UAE officials plan to order up to 10,000 robots from Asian countries at the cost of about $2000 each.

Rights groups have said that several thousand boys, some as young as four, work as jockeys in the lucrative sport in the oil-rich state.

Aljazeera.Net - Robots ride camels in race

More pictures

Earlier story

Aljazeera also reports on Japan's Eldercare robots.


Emotional Robot Lamp?

So maybe yoy think iCat is too cutesy. Or Nuvo is too much of a kiss ass.
Phillips has another idea for engaging conversational robots.
People do not really need realism in a robot. In fact, much like cartoons, sometimes the lack of detail is more engaging.
The principle of the Uncanny Valley described by Masahiro Mori describes our feelings when interacting with robots.
A pile of metal and wires is not very emtionally engaging or friendly. As the type of robot begins to look more human we begin to feel more comfortable with it. Until at some point the robot is very realistically human but not quite - just very creepy. (Maybe like Ripliee R1)
But then as the similarity improves more, to where the robot is almost undistinguishable from a real human, we are again at ease with it.

The creepy type of robot is said to fall into the Uncanny Valley.

Phillips HDS is using the fact that missing detail may draw in the human and so their household manager robot, Dimi, looks like a modern lamp or something. The companion can feign empathy by positioning it's head along with it's tone of voice.

No, you're da man!

Expressing emotion like R2D2, sort of.

In Phillips Research magazine (PDF) they say that, "If all goes well, a robot in the home may become as common as a PC or TV—and as indispensable to daily living."

PokerProbot Wins Las Vegas Tourney

Robot wins Robot Tournament but looses to human...

Hoosier's robot is royal flush of poker world
By Bonnie Britton

Hilton Givens is flush with success after winning the 2005 World Poker Robot Championship in Las Vegas.

The 37-year-old car salesman and software developer from Lafayette also is $100,000 richer.

He was one of six invited contestants from around the world who took part in the competition. The "players" (software programs that play independently of their owners) are named Benbot, BlackShark, Catfish, gobot, HoldemMemory and PokerProbot (Givens' entry).

After his money match, it was on to an exhibition match "against the University of Alberta, Canada, with 14 years of poker research and supposedly the world's best robot (Poki-X), and I beat them," Givens said Monday.

Finally, Givens and his PokerProbot competed in a machine vs. man match with Phil Laak, a big-time human poker player nicknamed the Unabomber because he wears sunglasses and a hooded sweatshirt at the table.

"At the half break, we were seesawing back and forth. It took him about four hours to beat me."

Hoosier's robot is royal flush of poker world

PokerProbot Website

Korean Robot Round-up

SEOUL - With South Korean robot manufacturers vying to unveil new products in the second half of the year, intelligent robots represent a soon-to-be booming industry that could reach 30 trillion won (US$29.7 billion) by 2013 from the current 300 billion won.

Yujin Robotics is planning to release its ICLEBO-Q later this year, a robot-cleaner one step up from predecessor ICLEBO, South Korea's first commercial robot. Meanwhile, LG Electronics Co is back in business with its ROBOKING 2, another cleaning robot priced around 1 million won. The original went on sale two years ago for three times that price before sluggish sales forced LG to pull the plug.

At the high end of the market, veteran player Hanool Robotics is retailing its OTTORO model for 4 million won for consumers who like their robot to self-charge and navigate its way around the interior of their house independently.

IZI Robotics plans to release a robo-puppy in May 2006 that can download content from the Internet. Japan's Sony Corp introduced its puppy robot brand, Aibo, in 1999. Both will encounter competition from lower-priced DASATECH, which plans to jump into the fray for cute, if computer-like, canines next year.

But with some prodding by the government and its policies to buttress the new industry, the demand for personal robots is expected to rise rapidly.

Samsung unveiled 14 robots at an exhibition in Seoul last March and is currently developing a security model as part of the Ubiquitous Robot Companion project organized by the Information Ministry.

While companies like Daewoo Electronics are hesitant, however, saying they will decide in September on the commercial release of a cleaning robot, telecommunication giant KT gave an August date for its household helper managed via the company's wireless Internet service.

While common standards are essential to incorporate different robots with varying electronic devices into the same intelligent network, experts also clamor that they are needed to wipe out cheap models pumped out by countries like China that fail to meet basic criteria.
Reports have it that 10 cleaning robots are being sold on the mainland, most of them copies of well-established models that fall short of their South Korean counterparts in terms of core function.

The South Korean robot industry is in the process of establishing a common technical standard. KAIRA plans to decide a common scheme for network-based intelligent robots, as well as a common technical standard for robots for teenagers by the end of the year.

Asia Times Online :: Korea News and Korean Business and Economy, Pyongyang News

Boeing Creating Robot Brigade

TACOMA, Wash. -- Already, more than 600 workers at Boeing facilities in Kent are employed by the Army's biggest, most complicated acquisition project ever. And Kent is expected to get 100 more jobs by the end of next year because of the Army's Future Combat System.

At a media briefing Monday, project officials said the 700 jobs are a tenth of the total number of engineers, software developers and others across the country who are working on the project.

Boeing is leading a $21 billion program to develop dozens of technologies and a family of 18 vehicles and robots, sensors, computers and communications equipment that comprise the Future Combat System.

The Army won't field a full brigade built around the system until 2014. The number of troops in a full brigade can range between 3,600 soldiers and 4,000, said Fort Lewis spokesman Joe Hitt.

Over a 20-year period, the Army plans to buy 15 brigades' worth of the systems. That's about 700 vehicles per brigade.

Boeing officials say the program is on budget and on schedule.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Boeing project takes aim at wars of the future

FCS Videos

Info on FCS Software Project

Swedish Humanoid

Monday, July 18, 2005

RoboCup 2005 - RoboCup Report

Final Results from RoboCup 2005 are out.

Here are the first place winners:

Smal Size League


Middle Size League
EIGEN Keio Univ

Eigen Team

4-Legged League
GermanTeam 2005

Humanoid League
Best Humanoid: Team Osaka

Team Osaka

Robot Rescue
Toin Pelican

Many other categories can be seen here:
RoboCup 2005 - RoboCup Report

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Sisyphus Robot Condemned to Tie Necktie

Here is a robot created to demonstrate how to tie and untie a necktie.
So that's what it does.
Over and over. What a life

...dramatically [and cruelly] demonstrates how engineering principles and methods can be used to solve unusual problems not normally associated with technology.

The "brains" of the machine consists of the sequence of number pairs that determines which motor moves how far...

Video clip here...
ASME - Why Knot? Exhibit

Friday, July 15, 2005

What's For Dinner, iCat?


Phillips iCat companion robot is a platform for studying the human-appliance interface.
The iCat is programmed with OPPR, Open Platform for Personal Robotics, and a library of emotional response expressions.

The goal is to understand the complex user interface of humans for home appliances such as the air-conditioner, refrigerator, washer and dryer.
Perhaps we will see our house managed by a plastic-looking yellow cat who also sympathizes with our problems or plays chess.

Phillips Robotics

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Roboking Vacuum Robot

LG Electronics has released a new player in the home vacuum market, Roboking.

The retail price for the new automatic vacuum cleaner, which looks similar to Electrolux's Trilobite models, is set at 1.49 million won (US$1,435), LG Electronics said.

"Vacuum-cleaning robots will soon emerge as a must-have household good like refrigerators and washing machines," said Kang Shin-ik, vice president of LG's domestic marketing division.


Yahoo news

Robots to Drive Toyota to Success?

Motley Fool believes that robots at Toyota will dominate the expanding world market...

Riding Robots to Riches July 12, 2005

Ordinarily, when you think of a "rule breaker" company -- one showing spectacular growth based on a novel idea that changes the way the world does business -- you think small.

And yet, for all its size, Toyota has a history of thinking like a start-up, of breaking the rules. It wasn't so long ago that the Big Three automakers had the world convinced that hybrid gas-electric automobiles were unworkable, uneconomical, that "the consumer demand just isn't there." But Toyota defied that common wisdom and dared to sell a hybrid car to the consumer market.

"But why stop there?" thought Toyota. It was so much fun crushing Honda the first time, let's do it again. According to a recent report in Japan's Asahi newspaper, Toyota is now taking aim at its Japanese rival in the robot space. While Honda may have won the "cute" vote with its famed ASIMO droid, Toyota now looks like the odds-on favorite to commercialize humanoid robots.

Toyota Partner Teases Asimo

Toyota Takes Aim at Home Robots

Riding Robots to Riches [ Commentary] July 12, 2005

NYTimes Reviews Nuvo Pet Robot

The $6000, 18 inch tall robot was reviewed by the NY Times.
Although the title of the article says, "The Robot Housekeeper Arrives," the little robot does not do any housework.
When it was first released earlier this year it was sold as a remote sentry to watch your house and spy on your kids and report back via cell phone.
This reporter found it to be more of a companion than an avatar.
He did not mention the loud motor noises that earlier reviewers noticed.

I, Roommate: The Robot Housekeeper Arrives - New York Times
Published: July 14, 2005

A breakthrough of sorts came in April, when ZMP Inc., a company based in Tokyo, released Nuvo, a robot designed to be a helpmate and home companion. (Nuvo sells for about $6,000.)

...I said, "Nuvo, how are you?"

It tilted to the left, and raised one arm to greet me. It shook my hand and winked with one of the lights in its little head. My life hasn't really been the same since.

After a day or so, I came to think of Nuvo as having the same kind of annoying mannerisms as my past roommates. If I stirred coffee too loudly, for example, it would dance or lift its hand to say hello.
[Evidently the reporter has had some rather odd roomates in the past.]

NUVO - from NYT

I, Roommate: The Robot Housekeeper Arrives - New York Times

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

18 Foot Tall Robot Exoskeleton For Sale on EBay

The 18-foot-tall giant in steelworker Carlos Owens' Alaska backyard isn't quite up to smashing Volkswagens--or taking the kind of pounding footsteps that might strike fear into the heart of an enemy.

EBay Link
New on eBay: 18-foot, flame-fisted 'mech' | CNET

RoboCup 2005 Osaka, Japan

RoboCup 2005 opens today in Osaka, Japan.

More than 300 teams from 31 countries will be competing in various soccer and rescue contests.

The RoboCup Federation proposed the ultimate goal of the RoboCup Initiative to be stated as follows: "By 2050, a team of fully autonomous humanoid robot soccer players shall win a soccer game, complying with the official FIFA rules, against the winner of the most recent World Cup of Human Soccer."

There are also small-size and four-legged competitions.

Go here to keep up on the latest scores:
RoboCup 2005 Osaka, Japan

Companies Join to Create Aerospace Industry Robots

"We believe robotic and sensor technology is at a crossover point, and can now supplement traditional hard tooled manufacturing in a wide range of high tolerance aerospace applications," noted Mike Beaupre, director new markets for KUKA Robotics Corporation.

KUKA Robotics Corporation, a leading global manufacturer of industrial robots, today announced it has joined forces with five other automation companies to develop new flexible manufacturing processes for the aerospace industry.

Joining KUKA Robotics in the consortium is
Composite Systems of Arnold, CA who will be responsible for the overall program management and systems integration;
Programming Plus of New Berlin, WI experts in CAD/CAM integration;
New River Kinematics of Williamsburg, VA experts in sensor integration;
Faro Technologies of Lake Mary, FL, experts in laser registration systems;
EOA Systems of Carrollton, TX, experts in automated robotic drilling tools; and
Weber Screwdrivers of Yorktown Heights, NY experts in automated screw feeding and fastening systems.

The consortium's initial focus will be on airframes and aerospace structures for commercial aircraft.

KUKA Robotics USA

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Qrio Fast Pitch in DC

QRIO , a pint-sized entertainment robot from Sony, threw out the first pitch of the Nationals-Mets game at RFK Stadium last night. (7/6)

Sony spokeswoman Shoko Yanagisawa told The Post yesterday that the two-foot-tall QRIO -- which stands for "Quest for Curiosity" -- is the first and only humanoid robot that can pitch.

Built to be a companion, QRIO can perform dances from different cultures, recognize faces, understand more than 65,000 words in Japanese and get up after falling down. (Not that he falls down much since rehab)

QRIO threw a fastball straight into the catcher's mitt: "It was," Yanagisawa said, "a huge crowd-pleaser."

Yanagisawa was silent on the rumors that Qrio was in Washington for meetings with congressmen on behalf of the robot lobby.

Qrio has been seen out with the jet-set since he got kicked out of nursery school.


"First Ever" Robot pitch at Major League Baseball - non-humanoid

Eyes for Low-Cost Factory Robots

Pint-sized Assemblers

Tabletop robots are becoming increasingly common, doing everything from driving fasteners and dispensing adhesives to creating solder joints in the electronics sector.

According to Vladimir Siroky, president of I&J Fisnar Inc. (Fair Lawn, NJ), there are a number of reasons for this trend, not the least of which is cost.
“We have units for under $5,000,” he says. “Now a job shop of two people can afford [robotics]. Even a hobbyist making trinkets can afford it these days.”

Another reason for the growth in the small robot market is increased capability.

according to John Dulchinos, vice president and general manager of robotics for Adept Technology Inc. (Livermore, CA), in many cases vision is an “integral part” of what small robots do.

Thomas Rougeux, sales manager for Visumatic Industrial Products Inc. (Lexington, KY), agrees.
In addition to locating holes, his company’s systems can perform inspections and create a permanent records of their work.

“Plan, do, check,” says Peter Cavallo, sales manager for Denso Robotics (Long Beach, CA), summing up his company’s philosophy when it comes to its robots. “We’ve made sure that any of the products we introduce can work with vision.”

Pint-sized Assemblers

Low-Cost Robots Ready to Take Over

Stand Watch For Security Robots

Robotics operating system vendor Frontline Robotics and mobile robot hardware creator White Box Robotics in May merged to develop a bare-bones platform that could bring the cost of such embedded security robots down into the $10,000 range by November.

Today, robots with similar features cost $40,000 to $60,000, said Tom Burick, founder and president of White Box Robotics.

The U.N. Economic Commission and the International Federation of Robotics believe that revenue from this robotics segment will reach $5.2 billion this year, with the number of units increasing tenfold, mainly due to reduced costs.

DoDAAM Systems, a systems integration company in Korea that has already developed commercial-class security systems for airports based on the Frontline software, says it is evaluating the new hardware prototype and will eventually develop indoor security robots that use the technology.

The companies also have been approached by an insurance company interested in placing some of the mobile units in elder-care facilities to ensure the quality of care. About 3,000 robots based on 914 PC-BOT should be available from White Box and its partners by year-end 2005, Burick said.

Security Pipeline | Stand Watch For Security Robots


Friday, July 08, 2005

Robot Takeover at WalMart Denied

Why so nervous about robots, Wal-Mart?

After an executive at Frontline Robotics informed me that Wal-Mart is eyeing robot technology, I called Wal-Mart for confirmation.

Wal-Mart representative Christi Gallagher, the company's spokeswoman on supply chain and technology issues, took my call. She also happens to be the media point person on labor relations and employment litigation.

As soon as I mentioned robots, Gallagher seemed eager to end the call. "We are not looking into robots in any way, shape or form," she said abruptly.

As I noted in today's story, the company's attorneys took a particular interest in an eWeek report in May about a robot Wal-Mart is apparently testing in a Utah store.

Wal-Mart's lawyers called the university after it learned of the story, and a university representative then retracted earlier statements about Wal-Mart's interest...

So why is Wal-Mart so touchy about robots?
My hunch is that Wal-Mart's interest in robots goes far beyond helping...

Why so nervous about robots, Wal-Mart? | | CNET

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Fujitsu Humanoid Updated

Fujitsu Automation
announced the release of HOAP-III. A new improved version of HOAP-II.

According to CNET the HOAP (Humanoid for Open Architecture Platform), is about 2 feet tall. It runs a version of LINUX on a Pentium computer and can communicate wirelessly. It can respond to sound or visual cues.

So far, it will be sold to universities and research groups. (I guess it's really smart!) They did not give the price.

Korean Home Robots by 2008

Home Application Robots to Debut in 2008
By Kim Tae-gyu

Smart home robots will be a part of our lives in a couple of years, according to Chonnam National University professor Park Jong-oh.

``We plan to form a project team early next year of robotics researchers in Cholla Province and make an alliance with private robot makers. We aim to introduce the multifunction household robots in 2008,’’ he said.

Park’s team plans to add various robotic capabilities, such as movement and intelligence, to conventional home appliances.

Park showed a glimpse of the new-concept robot, an all-in-one model named THARO, which has many functions including an air cleaner, TV and a water purifier in a single platform.

Just what I always needed, a water purifier in my robot TV.

The Korea Times : Home Application Robots to Debut in 2008

More on Korean Robots...
Korean Internet robots
Koreans fend off Japanese robot invasion
Korean Robots will rule the world

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Toy Truck Becomes Military Helper

Engineers from the Air Force Research Laboratory Materials and Manufacturing Directorate have rapidly prototyped, developed, and delivered low-cost expendable robots to disable and dispose of improvised explosive devices.

The BomBot is a modified 4x4 remote controlled truck that has been equipped with a pan and tilt camera and a charge dispenser. The robot can reach speeds of 30 to 35 miles an hour.

"IEDs, or improvised explosive devices, are key instruments of terror that conform to no set rules or standards; the construction is left entirely to the imagination and ingenuity of the evildoer," Walt M. Waltz, Air Force Research Laboratory's Airbase Technologies Division Robotics Research Group Leader said.

When an IED is identified, rarely do EOD personnel attempt to dispose of these explosives by hand. Instead, they approach them remotely, sometimes dispatching robots costing $110,000 to $140,000 to disable or detonate the packages.

Many of the current systems are large, must be transported on a Humvee or by trailer, and move at speeds of just a few miles an hour.

Event Showcases Soldier Technology to Senators - U.S. Department of Defense Transformation Story

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Robotic Gym to Automate Rehab

Robotic Ankle machine follows robot arm to help stroke survivors recover...

MIT develops Anklebot for stroke patients

Clinical trials have already shown that an MIT robotic arm can help stroke patients regain movement faster. Now MIT pioneers in the field of robotic therapy are hoping a robotic gym full of machines targeted at different parts of the body will significantly improve stroke patients' movement in arms, wrists, hands, legs and ankles.

To that end the researchers have created a new Anklebot, and on July 1, MIT and the Baltimore Veterans Administration Medical Center will establish a Center of Excellence on Task-Oriented Exercise and Robotics in Neurological Diseases to further such work on lower extremity movement.

"This heralds a transition of therapeutic robotics from research to practice, similar to when computers went from being specialized number-crunchers for engineering and science to the ubiquitous consumer appliances for word-processing and presentation that we use today," said MIT Professor Neville Hogan, a principal investigator in the work who holds appointments in mechanical engineering and brain and cognitive sciences.

Hermano Igo Krebs, co-principal investigator and a principal research scientist in mechanical engineering, said, "It appears that we are at the cusp of a revolution in the way rehabilitation medicine is practiced, and therapeutic robotics is at center stage.

The researchers have also been creating other machines focusing on different parts of the body. These include one for the spatial movements of the shoulder and elbow, one for the wrist and one for the hand. "We've seen hints that generalization [from one machine] is limited, and to deliver optimal therapy clinicians need a gym of robots," said Krebs

MIT develops Anklebot for stroke patients - MIT News Office

Robots Improve Surgery Results

"We've found the robotic operation to be more precise than conventional surgery, and it allows a patient to return to normal activities much more quickly, with a shorter hospital stay. We also found a reduced use of pain medications after robotic surgery, with fewer complications," said Dr. John F. Boggess, gynecological oncologist, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at UNC's School of Medicine and a member of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

In robotic-assisted surgery, the da Vinci robot is an extension of the surgeon's hands in a way not previously possible with minimally invasive surgery via laparoscopy, he said.

The robot is a better tool and an improved instrument compared to what has been used previously, said Dr. Eric M. Wallen, assistant professor of urologic surgery, director of urologic laparoscopy at UNC Hospitals and a UNC Lineberger member.

"I expect that over the next decade, RALRP will become the most common surgery performed for patients with prostate cancer. The robot improves the view that the surgeon has, and its instruments have more flexibility to perform the delicate nerve sparing and sewing parts of the procedure," he said.

Patients, in turn, recover quickly and are able to resume their normal life within days of major surgery instead of months, Boggess said.

"The robot provides the laparoscopic surgeon with a degree of precision and safety not achievable with traditional surgery or laparoscopy and will redefine abdominal/pelvic surgery for the next generation of surgeons," he added.

UNC News Release
Surgical Robot 'Scrubs In' At UNC, May Be More Precise Than Conventional Surgery


Software to Integrate Robot Army

Darpa has delivered the first version of standards for Common Operating System, COS, for the Joint Unmanned Combat Air Systems, J-UCAS.

The existing menagerie of military flying robots all speak different languages. This new common operating system will link the machines with one protocol.
According to the J-UCAS website, the software is not an operating system in the sense of DOS or UNIX. It is used more to integrate the many sensors and weapons into a single mission force:
"The Common Operating System encompasses all the software and the algorithms that provide for command and control, communications management, mission planning, much of the interactive autonomy, the human systems interface and the many other qualities associated with each of these. "

"In summary, the Common Operating System enables the autonomous capabilities of J-UCAS in its accomplishment of mission objectives."

The software was developed with Boeing and Northrop Grumman.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Robot DJ Keeps the Party ON!

Juke Bot Robot - Kuka Kicks it

The Juke Bot is a pair of Kuka industrial robots; each is surrounded by a set of platters (you know, vinyl LPs). The two bots act independently, deftly grasping an LP, and then bringing it to a platform with a phonograph needle. Delicately, the robot presses the LP against the needle and begins to rotate it forward and backward, creating a unique performance sound.

And don't confuse it with those virtual software juke bots - this is a five foot tall mixmaster.

Juke Bot Robot - Kuka Kicks It: Science Fiction in the News

Other Kuka Robot: Explosion Proof Arm

Poker Robots Ready to Take on the Pro's

Poker professionals face the ultimate challenge: how to bluff a robot

For Paul Maxfield, one of several thousands of Britons who have flown to Las Vegas to compete, the outcome is a foregone conclusion. "Poker isn't just gambling, it's psychological warfare," he says. "For the best in the world it will be no contest. A master poker player will win over a bot every time. Against a poor or average player, the bot will triumph. Poker is about psyching out your opponent, getting under his skin, using your skills to know when he is bluffing."

Running in tandem with the tournament, over the next two weeks, for human players will be another for robots, or "bots" as they are known. And when a winner in each series emerges, each more than $2 million richer, they will play each other.

Mr Maxfield should know. Last year he went to the world series in the hope of winning a few games and came home £1.7 million richer as runner-up. If he takes the title this year, he will take on the bot. "I've played them before," he says. "There are many ways to beat them. They might be becoming more sophisticated, but they are nowhere near the stage of human cunning."

Telegraph | News | Poker professionals face the ultimate challenge: how to bluff a robot

Sword Fighting Robot Trainer Korea

The Manufacturing & Mechatronics Lab of Seoul National University led by Prof. Young-Bong Bang unveiled MUSA, a robot made for the practice of Kendo, or Japanese fencing after one and a half year of development.

MUSA is 163cm tall and weighs 70kg, moving like human beings to be a partner for Kendo practitioners.