Saturday, December 24, 2005

Virtually a Virtual Virtual Friend

At an NTT Commubications Group Expo, NTT introduced a virtual robot friend who can change identity. To the outside observer, the robot looks like a green rubber featureless dummy.

To the user, while wearing the HMD headset, the dummy takes on the apperance of a full-features robot person.

The communication dummy can take on the role of a distant friend or family member for full personal comunications.


Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Robots Save UK Factories

More state-of-the-art robot arms will soon be packing cheese in Lincolnshire, the UK, providing more evidence that robots may cut costs and provide a viable alternative to outsourcing for manufacturers.

Mitsubishi Electric Automation Systems said it was supplying a further two robots to a cheese packing factory in Lincolnshire.

The RV6SL six-axis robots, to be supplied and developed under contract by UK group TEC Manufacturing, are capable of working 16 hours per day for six days every week.

Tony Jones, TEC's managing director, said each robot could do the work of four people on a packaging line, enabling firms to cut costs and freeing workers up for other tasks in the dairy requiring human intelligence.

The firm said the robotic arms can work at speeds up to 9,500mm per second, and were happy packing and handling a range of different cheeses.

He said this trend might help to curb the flood of firms, including food and drink producers, switching production facilities from the UK to low cost countries, such as those in Eastern Europe.

There is also a US initiative, Save Your Factory sponsored by robot manufacturer FANUC Robotics America.

Robots raise food packing efficiency

Robot Contemplates 'Self' and 'Others'

Do you hear or fear or
Do I smash the mirror?

By Tracy Staedter, Discovery News
— A new robot can recognize the difference between a mirror image of itself and another robot that looks just like it.

This so-called mirror image cognition is based on artificial nerve cell groups built into the robot's computer brain that give it the ability to recognize itself and acknowledge others.

Under development by Junichi Takeno and a team of researchers at Meiji University in Japan, the robot represents a big step toward developing self-aware robots and in understanding and modeling human self-consciousness.

For example, two red diodes illuminate when the robot is performing behavior it considers its own, two green bulbs light up when the robot acknowledges behavior being performed by the other.

One blue LED flashes when the robot is both recognizing behavior in another robot and imitating it.

Imitation, said Takeno, is an act that requires both seeing a behavior in another and instantly transferring it to oneself and is the best evidence of consciousness.
Does this blinking light make me look fat?

When the self robot moved forward, stopped or backed up, the other robot did the same. The pattern of neurons firing and the subsequent flashes of blue light indicated that the self robot understood that the other robot was imitating its behavior.

via The Raw Feed
Discovery Channel :: News :: Robot Demonstrates Self Awareness

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Robot Border Planes Need Staff of Twenty

ABC News: Unmanned Border Planes Can Require a Crew of 20

Dec. 16, 2005 — The Office of Border Patrol is using a number of unmanned planes to patrol and track down immigrants crossing a portion of the Southwest border.

While this is a positive step toward using mobile technology, it is also an expensive one with some severe limitations when there is cloud cover and nasty weather, said Richard Skinner, Department of Homeland Security inspector general, in a report to be released at a congressional hearing this morning.
"UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] remain very costly to operate and require a significant amount of logistical support as well as specialized operator and maintenance training," Skinner said. "Operating one UAV requires a crew of up to 20 support personnel. OBP [Office of Border Patrol] officials mentioned that the cost to operate a UAV is more than double the cost of manned aircraft, and that the use of UAVs has resulted in fewer seizures."

Skinner said the Hermes UAV cost $1,351 per flight hour, and the Hunter UAV cost $923 per flight hour. The cost figures include operation and maintenance costs, and the salaries and benefits of the crew needed to keep them in the air. The UAVs can stay in the air for up to 20 hours at a time.

Skinner added that 90 percent of the responses to sensor alerts resulted in "false alarms" because the sensors were reacting to road traffic, trains and animals.

"Our analysis indicates that OBP agents are spending many hours investigating legitimate activity because the sensors cannot differentiate between illegal and legitimate events," Skinner said.

Since the spy cameras and sensors are not linked, a sensor alert does not automatically pan or tilt the camera in the direction of the triggered sensor so agents can see what is going on, he added.

"The Hermes will be used by border patrol as a force multiplier, patrolling pre-designated areas looking for activity or for discretely monitoring and tracking existing situations. This will allow the CBP to concentrate its available resources to address those threats or suspicious activities identified by the UAV. In addition, having the airborne "eye in the sky" will increase the situational awareness and safety to personnel on the ground by providing them with real time intelligence and operational feedback regarding suspect activity.
Built by the Israeli company Elbit/Silver Arrow, the Hermes 450, even with a price tag of $2 million per UAV, provides low-cost, low-risk surveillance and monitoring information."

ws: Unmanned Border Planes Can Require a Crew of 20

Labels: ,

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Robots Screen Bacteria and Fungi

A new robotic system also provides useful data for genetic engineering.

Despite the automation of many routine laboratory tasks, types of analysis still requires a great deal of manual input. Especially when working with pathogens that present a risk to human health, strict safety precautions have to be observed during sample preparation. This is not the case with "Mirob", a new robotic system for rapid microbial analysis.
Working autonomously, the robot extracts the samples under the guidance of a camera and image processing software, and transfer them to the mass spectrometer. An important aspect of the continuous process is material flow control, as Oliver Lange of the Fraunhofer Institute for Factory Operation and Automation IFF in Magdeburg explains.

The engineering side of the Mirob project was also handled in Magdeburg, by local companies engelke engineering art and Symacon GmbH. Another project partner was Proteome Factory AG. The first robotic system was recently sent to biotech firm Anagnostec for testing. Marketing is due to start soon.

Robotic microbial protein analysis

Party Clean-up Maid


USA Today reports that Stanford University researchers are working on a robot to clean up after a big party. According to the article the robot would take a picture of the room before the party then use that information to put everything back in place the next morning.
Picture from Van Eaton Galleries

The scoop is from Sebastian Thrun, director of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab. Maybe this is how they are spending the $2 million they just won in the DARPA Grand Challenge race with their rolling robot Stanley.
They still have not cleaned up after the victory party.

Friday, December 16, 2005

QRIO Struts His Stuff

Not to be outdone by his big uncle Asimo, Qrio made a big splash in Tokyo yesterday. Fresh off his MTV hit video and boasting about his recent upgrades Qrio worked the crowds.

He was seen break dancing and grinding his hips (or the area of his body where hips would be, if he had hips) while he flirted with the ladies in the crowd.

He wiggled his fingers and flexed his re-engineered arms as he correctly identified colored blocks to the delight of the women in the audience.

Qrio's got not just the dance moves but he now sports a third eye. Is he seeing the infrared spectrum 'cuz he looks hot, hot, hot!

Look for some of the other pop robots to be adding more eyes when they see the bright future this superstar is looking at.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Robot Saves World From Nuclear Annihilation

...affectionately renamed "Mighty Mouse"

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A Sandia National Laboratories robot recently withstood enough radiation to kill 40 men in freeing a stuck radiation source — the size of a restaurant salt shaker — at a White Sands Missile Range lab so that the cylinder could be safely returned to its insulated base.

The robot, for its successful efforts, was unofficially dubbed M2 for the cartoon character “Mighty Mouse.”

The operation — carried out by the robot and a joint task force of White Sands and Sandia RAP (Radiation Assistance Program) team members — ended 21 days of warning lights flashing and horns blaring at the 3,000-square-foot Department of Defense lab in Southern New Mexico.

What happened...
Alarms were blaring, warning lights flashing, and personnel were monitoring the stricken site around the clock in late October at the White Sands’ Gamma Irradiation Facility. Gamma rays from the cobalt-60 it contained could kill a man in half a minute. Its radiation field was too deadly for a human, even in a protective suit, to get near enough to free it.

...the lab was shut down. It had to be manned around the clock to be sure no security guard wandered into the harmless-appearing area; meanwhile, the continually flashing lights and honking alarms set peoples’ teeth on edge. (In case the guard did not notice the alarms?)

Within 24 hours, the Range’s management decided instead to call the local NNSA RAP team — the Radiological Assistance Program — headquartered at Sandia National Labs.

...the team made the trip to White Sands, where reality — as it often does — proved more complex than the dry run had led the RAP group to anticipate.

Fisrt attempt...By this time an hour and a half had gone by...Phil had estimated that the robot could remain ambulatory in the radiation field for only 50 minutes, and in fact the robot’s lower portion was no longer responding to commands.

When they returned the next morning, however, the robot again would not start.

The third day...they attached special tips to the end of its gripper. This time M2 succeeded. A blast of air then, and the radiation source at long last was blown back to its storage position.

Long story short...
“The warning lights and horns that could be heard for miles away finally stopped after 21 straight days of annoying personnel at White Sands,”

'Mighty Mouse' robot frees stuck radiation source

Robots Explore Amazon Rain Forest

Robots Roam Where Humans Can't Go in Brazil's Amazon
Written by Nielmar de Oliveira

In an area of approximately 370 square kilometers (143 square miles) of Amazon rain forest and in the midst of communities that in many cases lack even electricity, five robots help gather data on the region, facilitating decisions and data analysis on one of the world's most sophisticated and wide-ranging ecosystems.

The robots are part of the Cognitus Project (Cognitive Tool for the Amazon), one of the three components of the Piatam Project (Potential Impacts and Environmental Risks of the Petroleum and Gas Industry in the Amazon), developed together by the Federal University of Amazonas and Petrobras.

The Hybrid Environmental Robot is "Equipped with a combination of mechanical, electrical, computational, and communication systems, the Hybrid Environmental Robot will be a forward unit for men in areas of the Amazon Rain Forest that are still inaccessible to human presence."

Similar to a remote-controlled toy car, the robot was tested in the Solimes River and succeeded in crossing the current and the mangrove swamps, among other obstacles. Ten robots are expected to be in operation by the end of 2006.

Brazil News 24/7 - Nothing But Brazil - Brazzil Magazine - Fresh news daily - English-language Magazine on Brazilian Culture

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

New Zealand University Adds Robot Degree

News | Victoria University of Wellington

The University is launching a new major in electronic and computer systems engineering in the Master of Science programme to be led by New Zealand robotic expert, Associate Professor Dale Carnegie.

While Victoria has offered some robotics courses in the past, mechatronics is a new field that combines mechanical, electronic and software engineering with sensors, physics, mathematics, marketing and design.

Drawing on the resources of the Schools of Chemical & Physical Sciences, Mathematics, Statistics & Computer Science and Design, the programme, which begins next year, includes a blend of courses on artificial intelligence, mechatronics, software engineering, physics and mathematics, with hands on work in making robotic devices.

Associate Professor Carnegie says the future of robotics is in mechatronics and the creation of autonomous robots that do not need human intervention to carry out their work.

The creation of autonomous robots is a potential new industry for New Zealand, he says. “We will never be able to compete against the massive robotic manufacturers in Japan and Taiwan, but we can create robots to carry out repetitive but varied manual tasks in niche industries. The potential is simply unlimited. My students have already made robots that can autonomously move through a farm, checking pasture quality. Such robots could be used to move through a forest, assessing the size and number of trees ready to be felled. One day they might even carry out the logging as robotic lumberjacks.”

News | Victoria University of Wellington

UK Launches Robot Lab

The University of the West of England (UWE) and the University of Bristol have joined forces to create the dynamic partnership that will form Bristol Robotics Laboratories (BRL). The multi-million pound investment will be based at the Bristol Business Park and is due to open in 2006.

Lord Sainsbury, the UK’s Science and Innovation Minister, endorsed the new development by saying: "Robotics will have a significant social and economic impact in the 21st Century. The new laboratory will provide the focus for cutting edge collaboration between UK industry and universities in this rapidly evolving technology. Investment in new facilities such as this will help contribute to making the UK the best place in the world for science and innovation."

Professor David May from the University of Bristol added: “Robotics in the 21st century must embrace new materials and technologies, and draw upon a whole range of disciplines such as neuroscience, psychology, material science, microbiology, as well as computer science and engineering – in fact it is difficult to find a scientific discipline that will not be included!.”

BRL Mission:
Our mission is to understand the science, engineering and social role of robotics and embedded intelligence. Our multidisciplinary approach aims to create autonomous devices capable of working independently, with each other, or with us in our human society.

Bristol University - Robotics lab

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Slimy Robot Slug

Mark Peplow

A robotic snail that can climb smooth vertical walls and traverse ceilings has oozed into action.

The mechanical mollusc was developed by a team of engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, led by Anette Hosoi. They built the robot to test out mathematical models of how snails move and stay stuck to surfaces, but they also hope that robotic snails might one day find a use in the real world.

...the artificial gastropod has five movable segments lined up on its underside. One by one, each of these sections moves forwards along a track on the robot's body. After all five have advanced, the body itself slides forward, returning the segments to their original positions.

The team tested out their snail on a tilting platform, covered with a 1.5-millimetre-thick layer of slime made from Laponite, a type of clay that forms a clear, sticky gel when mixed with water.
The secret to this gravity-defying stunt is apparently to keep the snail as light as possible (just 31.6 grams), while ensuring that the Laponite has just the right stickiness. They publish their findings in the November issue of Physics of Fluids.

news @�-�Who wants a slugbot?�-�Robotic snail takes ceilings in its stride.

100,000 Koreans to Work for Robots by 2013

Seoul set to expand robotics market to W100tr by 2020

The plan envisions Korea accounting for 15 percent of the global robotics market by 2013 with a total production sales volume of 30 trillion won and annual export shipments of $20 billion. The industry will create 100,000 more jobs in the robotics sector, the government said.

These and other decisions were made yesterday at a meeting of the National Science and Technology Council, presided over by Science and Technology Minister Oh Myung.

The council said the intelligent robotics industry will get strategic support to become the backbone of the government-led "Next-generation Growth Engines" program, which is intended to develop key technologies that could feed the nation in the future.

The government's concept of intelligent robots calls for robots based on information technology. These robots are also called "ubiquitous robotic companions" as they will be network-based to provide necessary services anytime, anywhere.

The Korea Herald : The Nation's No.1 English Newspaper

Korea chooses robot spokesman
Robots Enable Life Revolution
Korea Plans for Robot in Every Home
Korea Builds Robot Army
Korea Limits Japanese Robots


ASIMO Completes Rehab: Next Stop Hollywood?

Asimo emerged from rehab with new skills and a new outlook on life. Citing "exhaustion" and possibly a prescription drug habit, Asimo retreated to the ol' R&D labs for an upgrade.

A spokesperson for the robot star reports that, "the new ASIMO achieves the enhanced ability to act in sync with people – for example, walking with a person while holding hands."

"In addition, the running capability is dramatically improved, with ASIMO now capable of running at a speed of 6km/hour and of running in a circular pattern." After the near miss in Paris, we all know Asimo can use more running speed.

Honda reports that Asimo is now "a truly useful humanoid robot which possesses both intelligence and physical capabilities at a high level." They hope one day their efforts "will further enable ASIMO to make comprehensive judgments based on various situations."

Asimo dancing. Okay! Don't hurt yourself!

Do those "various situations" include a music video for the hunchback of Honda? Very doubtful! Although reportedly "by using the force (kinesthetic) sensor, ASIMO can hold the hand of the person and move in sync with them. " He still dances like a white frat boy. So far he has not shown the moves of his shrimpy Sony cousin, Qrio.

But with his other enhancements like " maneuvering by taking flexible actions such as slowing down or changing directions" and his new improved ability to run straight or in circles, we may be seeing the birth of the next action star.

Move over Arnold!

Honda Worldwide | December 13, 2005 "Honda Debuts New ASIMO"

Monday, December 12, 2005

Spider Robots In Space

Robotic 'spiders' could be the key to building large-scale structures in space, according to ESA's Advanced Concepts Team. The tiny mechanical spiders would inch their way across large nets of fabric in space performing small tasks or lining up to create an antenna or some other structure.

The concept is known as a Furoshiki satellite after the Japanese word for a cloth used to wrap up possessions. It could revolutionise satellite-based applications such as telecommunications, navigation and Earth observation using radars, by providing cost effective large antennas in space that can be launched on relatively small rockets.

The Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is planning to test a Furoshiki spacecraft in January 2006. Assisted by ESA's Advanced Concepts Team, it has chosen the robotics institute of the Vienna University of Technology to develop the small robots. The Vienna team is led by Prof. Kopacek, who is known for his world championship victories in robot soccer!

The experiment will be launched in a compact configuration aboard a Japanese sounding rocket. Once in space, the mother satellite will deploy three 'daughters'. These will pull out a woven net into a triangle, leaving the mother satellite at the centre. Once the net is deployed, two palm-sized robots will 'crawl' along the net into prearranged positions.

To do this, the team have created a cunning system of wheels for the robots that can grip both sides of the fabric in order to not loose the net when there is no gravity.

ESA Portal - Spider robots and the space web

Hopping Robot Balls May Conquer Mars

One of the projects that received Phase II funding from NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts, NAIC, earlier this year was a collaboration between Dr. Penelope Boston and Dr. Steven Dubowsky to develop "hopping microbots" capable of exploring hazardous terrain, including underground caves. If the project pans out, hopping microbots may some day be sent to search for life below the surface of Mars.

Dr. Boston describes the robots as, "robotic units that were small, very numerous (hence expendable), largely autonomous, and that had the mobility that was needed for getting into rugged terrains. Based on Dr. Dubowsky's ongoing work with artificial-muscle-activated robotic motion, we came up with the idea of many, many, tiny little spheres, about the size of tennis balls, that essentially hop, almost like Mexican jumping beans. They store up muscle energy, so to speak, and then they boink themselves off in various directions. That's how they move."

The robots would act as a swarm by coordinating their activities amongst themselves and sharing duties.

Dr. Boston goes on to assure us that the robots would not be armed to prevent them from taking over the world in a mad hopping-ball-robot coup:
"And since we're not going to mount them with any weapons capability - they're going to be very benign - the worst that I can imagine happening is mission failure, where they decide to troop off somewhere else and do something else. But we've had mission failures before. We'll have them in the future. I guess that's a possibility."

Exploring Caves with Hopping Microbots :: Astrobiology Magazine

Part 2 of Astrobiology interview with Dr. Boston

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Inconvenient Robot Babies Teach Birth Control

High-tech baby simulators give Fairfax County students a taste of being a young parent.
by Brian McNeill

"It's just way too much responsibility," said Cardenas, a student at Annandale High School who had to take time off from her part-time job at Lake Accotink to care for a robotic infant.
"You can't do the things you want to do, people stare at you wherever you go," she said. "It's just hard. I can't even take care of myself right now. How am I going to take care of a baby?"

Cardenas is one of 29 young women enrolled in Annandale's Parenting and Child Development class, which uses the simulators — called "Baby Think It Over" — to give a realistic taste of parenthood.

The simulators, which are realistic in both weight and appearance, emit recorded infant sounds when they are hungry, need to be changed, sleeping, or simply being fussy.
The simulators, which weigh between 6 and 8 pounds, record just about everything. If a student fails to support the baby's head when picking it up, it will take note of the improper handling. If the student drops the simulator, the teacher will know come grade time.

The simulators, designed by the Wisconsin-based company Realityworks, cost the school system $422 a piece. They are intended to show the importance of family and to portray potentially unromantic consequences of sex.
Now through December 31st, receive $100 for each older model Baby you trade in toward the purchase of a new RealCare Baby II!
"The students take the babies home over the weekend and have to provide it with around-the-clock care," said Sandy Thompson, a Family and Consumer Sciences teacher at Annandale. "At the end of the weekend, they're all tired because none of the girls got any sleep. I tell them, 'How would you like to deal with this for three years? You've only had it for three days."
"These kids need to see that children are not convenient," she said.

PRIOR TO THE USE of the robot baby simulators, Fairfax County teachers had students care for either a sack of flour or an egg.

Robot Babies Teach Teens Childcare - The County Line - Connection Newspapers

Friday, December 09, 2005

Bomb Chaser Robot From India

A robot that can sniff out bombs
Express News Service

Displayed for public viewing for the first time, the robot has been developed by a team of 10 engineers over the past three years and promises to drastically cut down troop loss in urban warfare.

The remotely operated vehicle (ROV-II) — its controller unit works from 500 meters — is equipped with four cameras and an extendable arm that can be used to pick up suspicious objects or defuse bombs.

The ROV uses an inbuilt X-ray scanner to detect explosive devices in any suspicious object like a suitcase or a bag. An onboard water jet, which can fire a stream capable of piercing a suitcase cover or half an inch of plywood, is then used to defuse the bomb.

The ROV is also designed for carrying out nuclear, biological and chemical reconnaissance and can even monitor the contamination levels using its sensors and detectors.

Right now, ROV I is undergoing stringent tests at the R&D Establishment in Dighi.

Defence Research and Developmentg Organisation DRDO

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Robot Music Videos

Thanks to robots dreams for reminding us that Qrio is not the first robot to try it in the music video business.
A few years ago open-source Pino made a hot video with jpop star Utada Hikaru.
(That's the real Pino not the toy Pino-DX)

Direct link to Can You Keep A Secret video.
(G-rated with mild robosexual content)

A ROBOT's DREAMS - Robosapien, Roboraptor, Robopet, Micromouse, Mindstorms, and other cool robot adventures: Pino Was A Pop Star

Algorithm Improves Robot Vision


This week Stanford computer scientists will unveil a machine vision algorithm that gives robots the ability to approximate distances from single still images.

"Many people have said that depth estimation from a single monocular image is impossible," says computer science Assistant Professor Andrew Ng, who will present a paper on his research at the Neural Information Processing Systems Conference in Vancouver Dec. 5-8. "I think this work shows that in practical problems, monocular depth estimation not only works well, but can also be very useful."

Stanley, the Stanford robot car that drove a desert course in the DARPA Grand Challenge this past October, used lasers and radar as well as a video camera to scan the road ahead. Using the work of Ng and his students, robots that are too small to carry many sensors or that must be built cheaply could navigate with just one video camera. In fact, using a simplified version of the algorithm, Ng has enabled a radio-controlled car to drive autonomously for several minutes through a cluttered, wooded area before crashing.

To give robots depth perception, Ng and graduate students Ashutosh Saxena and Sung H. Chung designed software capable of learning to spot certain depth cues in still images. The cues include variations in texture (surfaces that appear detailed are more likely to be close), edges (lines that appear to be converging, such as the sides of a path, indicate increasing distance) and haze (objects that appear hazy are likely farther).

A robot moving at 20 miles per hour and judging distances from video frames 10 times a second has ample time to adjust its path even with this uncertainty. Ng points out that compared to traditional stereo vision algorithms—ones that use two cameras and triangulation to infer depth—the new software was able to reliably detect obstacles five to 10 times farther away.

New algorithm improves robot vision

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Light Weight Arm

SCHUNK and amtec robotics present the LWA light-weight arm with PowerCube technology. The weight-optimized structure of the arm is basically achieved by the use of the latest carbon fiber materials, which also ensure high rigidity.

The human-like 7 DOF light-weight arm is extremely versatile for numerous applications, and is suitable for the most varied fields in robotics.

Amtec robotics offers various possible combinations as standard, depending on the requirements of the application: from the servo-electric pan-tilt unit through the 2-finger parallel gripper to the force-moment sensor FTC or servo-electric gripping hand SGH.

The light-weight arm can also be battery-operated. Control is done directly via PC or notebook (PCI or USB interface) – an external robot controller is not required.

News release

Humanoid Einstein Head Robot To Rep for Korea

I really don't make this stuff up.

Yoo Jae-woong, director of the Korean Overseas Information Service (KOIS), said Monday (Dec. 5) that Albert Hubo, who embodies IT Korea, was selected as a new hero of the campaign for Dynamic Korea.

The robot, topped with a head modeled after scientist Albert Einstein, was developed by a team led by professor Oh Joon-ho of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST). He walks, talks, shows emotions much as humans do.

Publicity of "Dynamic Korea-Albert Hubo" appeared in the December edition of the English-language Monthly magazine Korea Policy Review that came out Monday and will make appearances in major publications in and out of the country and in places like the Incheon International Airport.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Robotics Pioneer Says Research is Misdirected

By Deborah Cameron

Behind those flirting eyes and underneath that weird stuff that might be skin is the future, so they think, in robot land. Who do they think they're fooling?

Certainly not Joe Engelberger, the father of modern robotics, who emerged exasperated from a visit to the international robot show in Tokyo to stick a prong right into the circuitry of the Japanese industry.

"These are toys that are being made," he said during an "oh heaven help me" plea to an audience of scientists and industry representatives in Tokyo this week.

"Nothing serious. Just stunts. There are dogs, dolls, faces that contort and are supposed to express emotion on a robot."

Mr Engelberger, an American, founded the world's first company making industrial robots in 1961 and became a specialist maker of robots for hospitals.

It was, he said, pointless, expensive and unnecessary for Japan, which today makes three-quarters of the world's robots, to tinker with trivial inventions such as robotic house sitters that rang to say there was a burglary going on.

It made more sense to use the formidable amount of research it had already done on personal robot technology to apply it to machines made for tasks that actually needed doing.

Such as robots that could be told by elderly or infirm people to fetch a book from a shelf or find the TV remote or get a beer from the fridge.

So why isn't more work being done? Mainly, Mr Engelberger thinks, it's because everyone is immersed in needless research and companies are distracted by the uneconomic quest for the humanoid, which he derides as toy making.

Robot, kindly bring me a beer from the fridge - Technology -

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Robots replace workers on the wharves

Patrick Corporation has been testing robotic container carriers - or straddlers - at one wharf in its Port of Brisbane operation for the past two years, but yesterday Mr Corrigan opened all three of Patrick's Brisbane wharves to be operated by the robots.

Other waterfronts will be modelled on Brisbane, with the most noticeable feature being that they are completely off limits to humans. If a person enters the fenced area, a series of lasers will trigger an alert.

This means not only fewer people employed on the waterfront, but also greater efficiency, because the driverless container straddlers can move within millimetres of one another without slowing down or crashing.

Previously, about 40 per cent of Patrick's 80-strong workforce at the Port of Brisbane were straddler drivers.

The AutoStrad (automated straddle carrier) technology is the result of more than nine years research, development and piloting and is the world's first 'free-ranging' automated straddle system.

The automated 10-metre high, 65-tonne straddle carriers are fitted with sophisticated motion control and navigation systems which allow them to operate unmanned - moving and stacking containers from the quay, into holding yards, onto vehicles, and back to quay cranes with pin-point accuracy.

Mr Corrigan said there was clearly enormous potential to sell the AutoStrad technology globally.
"The AutoStrad offers a very long list of significant benefits from 24-hour operation, more efficient use of sometimes limited portside land, greatly improved workplace safety, and a range of other cost-savings which will be attractive to terminal operators around the world.

webcams of quay

The Courier-Mail: Robots replace workers on the wharves [02dec05]

Robot Clerk Offers Shoppers Guidance

According to Japan Today, the supermarket store chain Aeon has started using robot clerks on a trial basis.

The Enon robot can greet the customers and give them suggestions. It proudly carries a display on its chest to give full details.

"The 130-cm-tall robot, co-developed by Fujitsu Frontech Ltd and Fujitsu Laboratories Ltd, started reception duties "as a shop clerk" at Aeon's shopping center in Yachiyo, Chiba Prefecture, east of Tokyo, the retailer said. Projecting moving images on its breast display panel, the robot can explain new products, while providing guidance to various corners and sections of the store."

In the past, Walmart has denied that they will use robots in their stores.

Assembly robot with 2 arms

Industrial robotmaker Yaskawa Electric Corporation has introduced a new two-armed robot for industrial applications.

The Motoman-DA20 is about the size of a human torso so it can be dropped into assembly jobs previously performed by humans.

It looks like NASA's Robonaut but without a head.

Both robots have the common design goal of the ability to take on human tasks without changing the tooling.

via wmmna

Construction Robot to Kung Fu Master

From International Robot Exhibition...

The 5-foot tall humanoid robot, HRP-2, was designed for construction work but has also taken up martial arts. It was meant to test interactions between robots and humans in the workplace. Maybe the humans finally got to him.

The bridge builder Kawada Industries demonstrated the new skills of of their tin worker at the expo.

HRP-2 may be available for any other activity you can imagine. According to the Kawada website, "Kawada Industries will start renting HRP-2 as a humanoid robot R&D platform. Internal API for HRP-2 is expected to be open to the public and its users will be able to develop their own software. It is anticipated that HRP-2s will greatly enhance humanoid robot technology research activities."

Check out some movies...