Thursday, May 31, 2007

Robot Creates M&M Art

Here is a patent application for a robot set-up to create an work of art with M&M candies or an 'arrangement of confectionary pieces.'

A user would design a pretty picture out of virtual confections on a touchscreen then the robot would arrange the treats accordingly.

Your drawing creates a sort of paint-by-number for the robot who fills it in with M&M's.

Then you eat it. (The artwork, not the robot.)

United States Patent Application: 0070110886

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

New Standard of Care for Robot-Assisted Therapy

HealthSouth Corporation (NYSE: HLS) and Motorika Ltd. announced today that the companies have signed an agreement to advance the application of robot technology in HealthSouth's inpatient rehabilitation hospitals.

Under the terms of the worldwide agreement, Motorika will have the exclusive license to market and sell the AutoAmbulator®, HealthSouth's robot-assisted gait therapy system and Healthsouth hospitals will install Motrika's Reo(TM) Go platform for robot- assisted arm therapy in at least 25 of its hospitals.

Motrika will also take over the manufacture, design, installation, maintenance, technical support, training and distribution of the AutoAmbulator.

"This agreement is a defining moment in applying robotic technology to benefit patients receiving therapy for neurological conditions," said Omer Einav, Motorika's founder and chief operating officer. "HealthSouth and Motorika will create a new standard of care for neurological patients, with an integrated full body solution that enables precise levels of functionally- oriented therapy to deliver better patient outcomes."

Part of the agreement also includes collaboration on the development of rehabiliataion robots for home use.

The AutoAmbulator® is a robot-assistance machine that allows patients with neurological conditions such as stroke, multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injury to replicate a normal walking pattern on a treadmill in a safe, efficient manner.

Reo Go(TM) is a robotic guide and modular handle, with software to customize exercise patterns and measure performance, to enhance and support the patient upper body rehabilitaion.

HealthSouth and Motorika Announce Agreement to Create New Standard of Care for Robot-Assisted Therapy: Financial News - Yahoo! Finance

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Control Devices With Your Thoughts

Hitachi's Advanced Research Lab has demonstrated a prototype of a portable non-invasive device to measure and record brain activity.

The device uses brain photo-topography to read the brain signals. Photo-topography uses near-infrared sensors to measure the change in blood flow in the brain.

The unit consists of a headband that weighs only 400 g (14 ounces) which holds 8 pairs of light source and detector pairs. The headband is connected to a 630 g electronics box that can be worn on a belt.
The data stays in communication via wireless LAN to a nearby computer for recording and analysis of the brain signals.

Although Hitachi has no specific plans to develop the unit as an interface to a thought-controlled robot, they have done experiments to drive a model train.

Hitachi expects that the dramatic reduction in size - from older versions that would fill a room - to a wearable device, will radically change how the brain measurements are used:
"Not just for medical applications, photo-topography technology will be more familiar to us. For example, this technology may be useful for health care application with observing a trend in everyday measurements," said Hitachi. The company also explains about some other application fields such as psychology, marketing and education."

They could not say when the device would be commercially available.

Hitachi Develops Portable Photo-topography Equipment for Measuring Brain Activities in Daily Life -- Tech-On!

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Robot Fence Shows Cows Where to Go

Robots not only take on unpleasant tasks but they can enhance and improve on human efforts.

Another farmer's helper robot: The Voyager robot fence from Lely.

The robot fence is an electrified fence that keeps your cows from running away, like any good fence. But this smart fence also occasionaly moves a few feet to give the cows fresh grass to graze. When they get to the end of the field, the robot fence can move the herd back to the beginning again to start all over. It gives the cows fresh ground and allows the field to recover.

According to the website:
"Frontal grazing by means of the Voyager is a method of intensive grazing management that allows livestock to continuously graze on fresh forage. Because the cows have a small strip of fresh pasture each time, the grass is well cropped and dosed, which not only makes the rumen function better, but also achieves a better proportional intake of protein and sugars."

Happy cows, better milk.

The fence consists of two 4-wheel skid-steer robots that keep the electrified line properly tensioned between them. Each robot is about 125 cm (4 feet) square, 215 cm (7 feet) tall and weighs 170 kg (375 lbs. They communicate through bluetooth so they can compensate for obstacles or unlevel ground.

The robots are powered by solar panels so they can operate autonomously. They are pre-programmed to optimize the forage. The farmer only needs to tell the robots how many square meters of new field per day and the robots calculate how far forward to move.


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Monday, May 28, 2007

Korean Home Robot

Another entry into the race for the perfect Korean home companion robot. This one is from Korean start-up KornTech.

Rogun is a 1-meter tall humanoid who can walk and communicate wirelessly with the Internet and cell phones. It is designed to play with kids and entertain them through a small video screen on his chest.

Through a cell phone the parents will be able to watch their kids and send commands to them and the robot.

KornTech says they have spent US $1 million developing the first unit. They will build more to order for $100,000 right now. In the future the plan to sell the cuties for as little as $5000.

Robot Keeps Home Safe(The Korea Times)

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US Military Wants Sky Stations

The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, DARPA, is soliciting proposals for research into aircraft that can stay aloft for more than 5 years.
The project, code-named VULTURE, is for heavier-than-air station that does not need to land. This is a request for early information but there are some restrictions on the design:
"The Government is not interested in approaches that use either radioactive energy sources or employs any form of buoyant flight for this application."
So, blimps need not apply.

What kind of system is allowed?
"The architectures selected and the specific approaches taken by the Offerors will determine the range of technical areas that are developed, including, but not limited to, environmental energy collection, high specific energy storage, extremely efficient propulsion systems, precision robotic refueling, autonomous materiel transfer, extremely efficient vehicle structural design, and mitigation of environmentally-induced loads."

Automatic refueling, long-life batteries, solar powered, wind powered, very long-term glider, floating cities... lots of things would work.

Is the lack of such a platform due to missing technology or because no one has tried it before?

Get your ideas together quickly. DARPA has scheduled an Industry Day for June 7 to explain their goals in detail.

Solicitation Number: SN07-38

UK Coppers Test Sky Spy

Police in Merseyside,UK are testing an unmanned flying robot to help control the population. The BBC reports that the machine will be used "mainly for tackling anti-social behaviour and public disorder."

The unit is a small 2 pound vertical takeoff helicopter with four blades. It can have visible and infrared cameras. It can be programmed to follow a course using GPS or controlled remotely by a police officer on the ground.

The ground person watches the action from the sky high robot's point of view through video glasses display.

The robot is very quiet so you may not even know you are being watched. But it only flies for 20 minutes.

There is no word on when it will be fitted with weapons.

BBC NEWS | England | Merseyside | Pilotless police drone takes off

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Robot Hall of Fame Inductees 2007

the Robot Hall of Fame at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh has announced four new inductees into the Robot Hall of Fame.
This years inductees include one robot from fiction and 3 real life milestone-setting robot creations.

The inductees are:

Lt. Cmdr. Data
from Star Trek: The Next Generation.
""Data played a pivotal role on questions of robot 'right to life' matters and human/machine philosophies," said juror Ray Jarvis, director of the Intelligent Robotics Research Centre at the Australian National University."

Raibert Hopper
Invented by Marc Raibert at CMU and MIT.
"The one-legged Hopper was ideal for studying dynamic balance because it could not stand still, but had to keep moving to stay upright. "The Raibert Hopper was the visionary effort that set the entire field of robotic locomotion in motion." The lessons learned with the Hopper proved central for biped, quadruped and even hexapod running. Raibert is now president of the robotics firm he founded, Boston Dynamics."

NavLab 5

"NavLab 5's crowning achievement was "No Hands Across America," a 1995 cross-country tour on which it did 98 percent of the driving. "This was the first time that any autonomous vehicle had traversed so much different terrain," said juror Chuck Thorpe"

LEGO Mindstorms
""This kit did more to take creative robotics to the masses than just about any other retail product," said juror Illah Nourbakhsh, associate professor in Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Institute.
Juror Joanna Haas, director of Pittsburgh's Carnegie Science Center, agrees. "LEGO has made robotics truly accessible to a broad audience — children and adults alike — and the Mindstorms sub-brand supports wildly popular play and learning in homes, classrooms and museums all around the world.""
Buy LEGO Mindstorms NXT

May 15: Carnegie Mellon Adds Four More 'Bots to Robot Hall of Fame - Carnegie Mellon University

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Home MadeTreasure Hunting Robot

A man in Wiltshire, UK has converted a toy truck into a remote controlled metal detector to help him find lost treasures in the countryside.

His invention was inspired by stories of techniques to find old land mines and a bad back that prevents him from sweeping the ground with a manual metal detector.

He has worked to perfect his device for 7 years and estimates that he has spent 2000 British pounds (US $3800).
It includes a metal detector and camera to send images back to the control unit.

The robot is not only easier to use but more effective than handheld devices.

He says he has found hundreds of old coins and relics. One of his finds, a Medieval Pilgrims badge, is now in a museum.

John Invents Treasure Hunting Robot (from Wiltshire Times)

Monday, May 21, 2007

Duct Diving Robot Wins Award

A robot named Wizard, designed to crawl through air conditioning ducts to clean, look for leaks and apply special coating was honored by the UK's Knowledge Transfer Partnerships as the Best Engineering Excellence for 2007.

The honor goes to Breval Technical Services and Bell College who cooperated to develop the service robot.

Breval (a subsidiary of Spice plc on London exchange) has spent three years developing the Wizard robot which is in testing phase with customers now.

The robot uses 8 wheels to drive through ventilation ducts. The company thinks that the Wizard will be able to reduce maintenance costs and extend the life of ducting for their customers.

Nice use of a robot. It does a nasty dirty job and also improves our ability to work inside small ducts.

Bell College News

ACR-News: Wizard the AC robot works magic on judges

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Underwater Robot Recovers Over 500,000 Silver And Gold Coins

Odyssey Marine Exploration (OTC:OMR) announced last week that they had recovered over 500,000 coins from a colonial period shipwreck.

They are keeping the location of the site, code named "Black Swan" secret until they have completed their salvage operations.

The find is worth at least US $500,000,000 based on an estimated average value of the coins, some in "dazzling mint state" condition, at US $1000 each. The estimate is considered preliminary because only 6000 of the half million coins have been inspected.

The remotely operated diver Zeus has allowed the salvage team to use "diligently followed archaeological protocols" to ensure that they get the best historical value from the sites. However, Odyssey claims that they have still not been able to determine the identity of the ships.
The Zeus is capable of diving to 2500 m (8200 ft). It weighs 8 tons in air with 8 thrusters and 2 seven function manipulator arms. It is connected to the surface through a fiber optic umbilical for telemetry and high-definition video.

The treasure, they say, was recovered from "beyond the territorial waters or legal jurisdiction of any country," but they still expect other claims on the booty.

I think, technically, it all belongs to the robot, since he was the one who made the recovery possible, but it will be shared with he investors in the company.

Odyssey's Latest Shipwreck Find Yields Over 500,000 Silver And Gold Coins - Press Release

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