Robotic Palletizers Paint a Picture of Efficiency

Willingness to invest in future yields big dividends with 76% return on investment in first year.

How Google's Self-Driving Car Works

IEEE Spectrum has an article explaining how Google's new  autonom ous vehicles project works. The article is based on a recent presentation that  Sebastian Thrun and Chris Urmson gave at keynote speech at the  IEEE In ternational Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems . The article can be found here .

IROS 2011 Montage

The IEEE International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems took place a few weeks ago in San Francisco. Willow Garage put together a nice montage video of some of the robots on display. Enjoy.  

Lean Logistics: Goodyear's Automated Warehouse Puts Customers on Top

With the high number of SKUs, manual sorting capabilities had reached capacity, and Goodyear wanted to protect its workforce from the risk of injuries. It was also essential to have a Supply Chain Deployment strategy that offered real advantages to customers.

A Robot Playing Jenga

Torsten Kröger of Standford programmed a robot arm to play the block stacking game Jenga in order to demonstrate the potential of multi-sensor integration in industrial manipulation. The record height the robot was able to achieve was 28 stages, that is, ten additional stages consisting of 29 blocks that were put onto the top of the original tower.  

UCSD's Switchblade Robot

Introducing Coordinated Robotics Lab of University of California San Diego's Switchblade robot . The treads provide traction over a variety of terrain, but Switchblade has some another trick up its sleeve, each tread assembly can pivot relative to the central chassis. We can use this ability to change the center of mass and climb over obstacles. Using internal sensors, we can also balance on the end of the treads and stand upright. Video from the onboard camera is streamed to a remote computer for teleoperation. The control system is robust to external disturbances and the robot will return to its original position if knocked out of the way.

Autom Available For Pre-Order

Dr. Cory Kidd's Autom is a robotic personal weight loss coach. A person records their daily diet and exercise routine on the robot's touch screen and Autom gives them vocal encouragement and feedback. Below is the promotional video and more information here.  

Gantry Robots and the Case for Automation

Answering the call for smaller individual order volumes, greater product variety per order and significantly higher frequency in distribution, the RMT automated robotic layer and case picking system offers a robust alternative to manual or semi-automated case picking solutions. The additional benefits of automation as outlined above provide significant ROI, and a strong incentive for distribution centers to consider a scalable and fully automated no-fail gantry based case picking system as a viable option and the smart alternative to increasing manual and semi-automated operations to meet demand.

Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio 4 Beta Available For Download

  Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio 4 Beta is a freely available .NET-based programming environment for building robotics applications. It can be used by both professional and non-professional developers as well as hobbyists. Microsoft also released a  Reference Platform Design specification . Based on the reference platform Parallax.com is manufacturing a unit called Eddie which they will be shipping in October but is available for pre-order now here.

Giving Artificial Hands a Sense of Touch

One of the biggest challenges in prosthetic hand development is designing a method that would let prosthetic hands transmit haptic information — the sense of touch — to patients. Machine Design magazine has an article about Kinea Design's new approach that provides wearers with more sensory information, including contact pressure, friction, texture, and temperature. The full article can be read here.

"ROS (Robotic Operating Systems) Everywhere!" says Willow Garage's Steve Cousins

Yaskawa America's Motoman Robotics Division signed a collaboration agreement with the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) to port Willow Garage's ROS (Robotic Operating System) to the Motoman line of industrial robots.

Improvements To 3D Navigation Using Octomap And ROS

Armin Hornung made major improvements to the  OctoMap  3D mapping library. Scan insertions are now twice as fast as before for real-time map updates and tree traversals are now possible in a flexible and efficient manner using iterators. The new  ROS interface  provides conversions from most common ROS datatypes, and  Octomap server  was updated for incremental 3D mapping. Armin also worked on creating a dynamically updatable collision map for tabletop manipulation. The collider package uses OctoMap to provide map updates from laser and dense stereo sensors at a rate of about 10Hz. The complete summary is available here.

Using The Kinect As A 3D Scanner

“3D Scan 2.0″ is a project at Bergakademie Freiberg University that uses the Microsoft Kinect and a set of AR markers as a 3d scanner. Using the AR markers for positioning guides you move the Kinect camera around the object collecting point clouds that are then assembled into a solid mesh using Poisson Surface Reconstruction. Further information along with the source code is available at the project homepage.

Steerable Vibrobots

Hizook has a article featuring examples of robots that use simple vibration motors to achieve steerable motion.  The website is also looking into producing and selling a tiny (18mm long) IR  controlled steerable vibrobot origanlly designed by Naghi Sotoudeh. The article can be found here and be sure to leave them a comment if you would be interested in purchasing a Hizook robot.

New Cornell Research On Object Identification Within Enviroments

In Cornell's Personal Robotics Laboratory, a team led by Ashutosh Saxena, assistant professor of computer science, is teaching robots to manipulate objects and find their way around in new environments. The researchers trained a robot by giving it 24 office scenes and 28 home scenes in which they had labeled most objects. The computer examines such features as color, texture and what is nearby and decides what characteristics all objects with the same label have in common. In a new environment, it compares each segment of its scan with the objects in its memory and chooses the ones with the best fit.  

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