Demo Software To Visualize, Calibrate and Process Kinect Cameras Output

Kinect RGBDemo and the Nestk Library by Nicolas Burrus aim at providing a simple toolkit to start playing with Kinect data and develop standalone computer vision programs without the hassle of integrating existing libraries. 

The 0.6 release includes two new demos, an interactive program to calibrate multiple RGBD cameras, and a one shot 3D model acquisition of objects lying on a table based on PCL table top detector.

Current features include:

  • Grab kinect images and visualize / replay them
  • Support for libfreenect and OpenNI/Nite backends
  • Extract skeleton data / hand point position (Nite backend)
  • Integration with OpenCV and PCL
  • Multiple Kinect support and calibration
  • Calibrate the camera to get point clouds in metric space (libfreenect)
  • Export to meshlab/blender using .ply files
  • Demo of 3D scene reconstruction using a freehand Kinect
  • Demo of people detection and localization
  • Demo of gesture recognition and skeleton tracking using Nite
  • Demo of 3D model estimation of objects lying on a table (based on PCL table top object detector)
  • Demo of multiple kinect calibration
  • Linux, MacOSX and Windows support

 

 

 

Inside The Innards of a Nuclear Reactor

The robotic inspector looks like nothing more than a small metallic cannonball. There are no propellers or rudders, or any obvious mechanism on its surface to power the robot through an underwater environment. A robot outfitted with external thrusters or propellers would easily lodge in a reactor’s intricate structures, including sensor probes, networks of pipes and joints.

As the robot navigates a pipe system, the onboard camera takes images along the pipe’s interior. The original plan was to retrieve the robot and examine the images afterward. But now the MIT project director and his students are working to equip the robot with wireless underwater communications, using laser optics to transmit images in real time across distances of up to 100 meters. 

Top Ten Robot Limbs

MAKE Magazine has a selection of ten of the most interesting robotic limbs from the archives. Including a robot sorts over 400 pancakes per minute.

Bilibot: A $1200 Dollar Robot Built Around The Microsoft Kinect Sensor

The Bilibot Project started at MIT through the exploration of what could be done with the new Microsoft Kinect sensor. Besides being a great sensor for gesture technology, the Kinect is a powerful robotic sensor - so much so that robotics laboratories at universities across the world are replacing their $5000 sensors with the $150 Kinect! The Bilibot project takes advantage of this new technological breakthrough to provide a research quality robot at a hobby robot's price.
 
For $1,200.00 you get:
  • an iRobot Create
  • a Kinect (modified to run off of a battery)
  • a computer running all the nessecary open source software
  • a small robot arm that uses geared motors, and can lift objects weighting up to 3 lbs
  • and all the mounting hardware, , wiring and electronics needed to put it all together.
 
They also have a promotion where they'll send you back $350 if you buy a BiliBot and program it to do something new and interesting and make the source available to the rest of the BiliBot community.
 

Lumenlab's micRo-CNC


 
Lumenlab's micRo-CNC is a precision fabrication system that is small enough to fit on a desktop and light enough to take anywhere. micRo is a unique system which can be used for both additive (printing) and subtractive (milling, cutting) fabrication. It is a precise, modular tool which allows you to create complex objects out of wood, metal, and plastic. 
 
 

Using robots for packaging, sorting and labeling.

RobotWorx has an article up that showcases various available robots that can aid in packaging and sorting tasks. Motoman's has a series of dual arm robots extremely well-suited for packing applications. Dual-arm robots are extremely precise and dexterous, offering human-like assembly capabilities. The arms can be programmed to work collaboratively or separately. The Fanuc M-1iA Robot (pictured above) is a lightweight and compact robot that is capable of sorting very small items and placing those items in packaging.

Automating Distribution

Using hundreds of autonomous mobile robots and sophisticated control software, the Kiva Mobile-robotic Fulfillment System enables extremely fast cycle times with reduced labor requirements, from receiving to picking to shipping - all without conveyor. IEEE Spectrum has a great article and video of the robots in action.
 

Using The Open Source Micro Controller Arduino In Design

Firefly is a set of comprehensive software tools dedicated to bridging the gap between Grasshopper (a free visual parametric modelling plug-in for Rhino) and the Arduino micro-controller. This allows designers to tweak, experiment and control in realtime various elements of design with cheap and widely available devices like Nintendo's Wii Nunchuk controller or Parallax's PING ultrasonic sensor which provides a very low-cost and easy method of distance measurement.

Robofold: Using Robotics And Generative Software To Bend Sheet Metal!

Gregory Epps uses standard industrial robots to build complex and accurate forms out of sheet metal. The forming is achieved by folding sheet metal along curved crease lines.

Robofold At Workd\Robofold At Work

Using the Grasshopper generative CAD software alongside Kangaroo, physics simulation software, Gregory is able to build objects not possible with other methods of sheet metal manipulation.

The Robofold webpage is here and Gregory also has another site that discusses topics related to CAD and generative design.

You can also watch a video of the robots assembling the chair pictured here.

European Garment Industry Research Project "Leapfrog IP"

Leapfrog IP is a group research project with partners from the European clothing and textiles industries, technology companies and academia. The goal of the project was to transform the European clothing sector into a technology and knowledge based industry to give European clothing manufacturing a competitive advantage in an industry where low cost labor countries dominate.

Transforming The European Clothing Industry

The project has ended and the results of the project are available here or on their YouTube channel here.

Obama Pushes High Tech Partnership to Fix Manufacturing Woes

Joking that "one of my responsibilities as commander-in-chief is to keep an eye on robots," President Obama on Friday announced a new public-private sector partnership that will be tasked with driving "a renaissance of American manufacturing." In a speech at Carnegie Mellon University's National Robotics Engineering Center in Pittsburgh, Pa., Obama laid out plans for the "Advanced Manufacturing Partnership" (AMP) . According to the president, the group will bring together top engineering universities, beginning with Carnegie Mellon, Stanford, University of California-Berkeley, Georgia Institute of Technology, MIT and the University of Michigan, and leading U.S. manufacturers including Johnson & Johnson, Honeywell, Caterpillar, Northrop Grumman and Corning. Led by Susan Hockfield, President of MIT, and Andrew Liveris, the CEO of Dow Chemical, a White House press release explained AMP will work across sectors to "create high quality manufacturing jobs and enhance our global competitiveness." The release noted that the partnership will "leverage existing programs and proposals" and invest more than $500 million to jumpstart the effort.

U.S. Military To Keep Robotic Edge in Face of $400 Billion Cuts

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense William Lynn said the U.S. will maintain its lead in unmanned robotic technology in the face of a $400 billion reduction in defense spending. "Robotics and unmanned technology is a key future" for the U.S. military, Lynn said in Paris today ahead of this year's Air Show. The Pentagon will also seek to maintain a lead in cyber security and the capability to strike long-range targets using a combination of missiles, aircraft and electronic attack, he said at briefing. The Pentagon is reviewing its long-range spending plans to meet President Barack Obama's goal of reducing spending over 12 years to help cut the U.S. deficit. Outgoing Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Leon Panetta, his successor, have said all defense programs are under review. "No country with a weak economy is going to be strong militarily," Lynn said. "So, it's a strategic imperative that we tackle the budget deficit" including ways to reduce defense spending. Still, there are some areas of emerging military strength the U.S. will try to preserve, including unmanned robotic technologies, because it's not clear "the exact shape they will take, or the precise advantages they will confer" Lynn said in prepared remarks that he plans to deliver at a dinner organized by the U.S. Aerospace Industries Association.

Kinect Hackers Are Changing the Future of Robotics

For 25 years, the field of robotics has been bedeviled by a fundamental problem: If a robot is to move through the world, it needs to be able to create a map of its environment and understand its place within it. Roboticists have developed tools to accomplish this task, known as simultaneous localization and mapping, or SLAM. But the sensors required to build that map have traditionally been either expensive and bulky or cheap and inaccurate. On November 4, a solution was discovered-in a videogame. That's the day Microsoft released the Kinect for Xbox 360, a $150 add-on that allows players to direct the action in a game simply by moving their bodies. Most of the world focused on the controller-free interface, but roboticists saw something else entirely: an affordable, lightweight camera that could capture 3-D images in real time. Within weeks of the device's release, YouTube was filled with videos of Kinect-enabled robots. A group from UC Berkeley strapped a Kinect to a quadrotor-a small helicopter with four propellers-enabling it to fly autonomously around a room. A couple of students at the University of Bundeswehr Munich attached a Kinect to a robotic car and sent it through an obstacle course.

Japan's Decline as a Robotics Superpower: Lessons From Fukushima

Robots were a major force in the automation drive that made Japan the most competitive nation in manufacturing in the 1980s. That glory seems to have faded in recent decades, and Japanese robotics are no exception.

American Robot James and German Robot Rosie Hook Up, Make Bavarian Sausage Breakfast Together

Once upon a time, a charming American robot called James met a striking German bot by the name of Rosie. They liked each other, so they moved in together. Now they spend their days taking long walks in the lab and doing other things that robots do.  James is a PR2 robot, built by U.S. robotics firm Willow Garage, and it traveled to Germany as part of the PR2 Beta Program, an effort to popularize personal robots. At the Technical University Munich (TUM), James was introduced to Rosie, a dual-arm robot with a curvy figure and four eyes. Their courtship was at first a bit mechanical, but they soon found many things in common: Both run ROS (Robot Operating System), use Hokuyo laser scanners and Kinect 3D sensors, and have omnidirectional mobile bases. On a recent spring morning, James and Rosie were seen together cooking the traditional Weisswurst Frühstück, a Bavarian sausage breakfast.

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