NASA's new $1 million Space Robotics Challenge to prepare robots for Mars journey

Evan Ackerman for IEEE Spectrum:  Last year at the DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals, NASA announced a new challenge for humanoid robots: the Space Robotics Challenge (SRC), which will “prepare robots for the journey to Mars.” Just like the DRC, the first stage of the SRC will consist of a virtual challenge, run in the Gazebo simulator, followed up by a physical challenge using NASA’s R5 Valkyrie robots. As of yesterday, NASA has opened registration for the SRC, and we’ll take a look at the format of the competition, the challenges that teams will need to complete, and what they can take home for winning.   Cont'd...

As Intuitive Surgical Continues to Shine, Competitors Are Entering the Fray

The surgical robot device market was estimated to be $3.2 billion in 2014 and forecast to reach $20 billion by 2021 as next generation devices, systems and instruments are introduced to manage surgery through small ports in the body instead of large open wounds.

Pepper the 'emotional robot' makes its way to Silicon Valley

Lauren Goode for The Verge:  Pepper, the humanoid robot created by Aldebaran Robotics and SoftBank Mobile, is slowly making its way to the US — and it’s starting in Silicon Valley. The robot was seen in action this week at the b8ta store in Palo Alto, California, a gadget shop launched by former Nest employees. Pepper was on a demo loop at the store, so we weren’t able to fully interact with it. But the idea behind Pepper is that it’s supposed to interpret and respond to a variety of customer needs. Using a combination of 2D and 3D cameras in its eyes and mouth, plus four multi-directional microphones, Pepper is able to "read" four human emotions — happiness, joy, sadness, and anger — and respond accordingly. It rolls up to you, raises its hands in greeting when you introduce yourself, and turns its head toward you when you move or talk. It is toylike and adorable.   Cont'd...

RobotLAB - Robots that help to educate in the Classroom

Our programs are all-inclusive. We provide the robots, and a login to a learning portal with all the lessons, exercises, and the programming interface.

R&D Spending Expected to Spike in Robotics Industry Until 2020

Kagan Pittman for Engineering.com:  As Chinese companies move to expand their market share in industrial robotics, so too are companies in the West, with some of the biggest power-plays coming from R&D departments. A recent report by Technavio predicts that global R&D spending in the robotics industry will grow at a CAGR of more than 17 percent between 2016-2020. Technavio analysts cite the following factors as key drivers in the growth of R&D spending: A race for robotics patents Demand for lower system engineering and installation costs Growing demand for industrial robots from non-automotive industries The report’s analysis considers market trends across user segments including: defense, healthcare, automotive, domestic, food and beverage, electricals, electronics, oil and gas, textiles and packaging.  Cont'd...

Stanford's 'Jackrabbot' paves way for social robotics

Caitlin Ju for The Stanford Daily:  Stanford researchers in the Computational Vision and Geometry Lab have designed an autonomously navigating robot prototype that they say understands implicit social conventions and human behavior. Named “Jackrabbot” after the swift but cautious jackrabbit, the visually intelligent and socially amicable robot is able to maneuver crowds and pedestrian spaces. A white ball on wheels, the Jackrabbot is built on a Segway system and contains a computing unit and multiple sensors that acquire a 3-D structure of the surrounding environment. 360-degree cameras and GPS also enhance the robot’s navigation and detection capabilities. To interact smoothly in public settings, the robot has to know how to avoid someone in a natural way, how to yield the right-of-way and how to leave personal space, among other skills.   Cont'd...

Inside the Biorobotics Laboratory at the University of Washington

Robotic surgery has treated over 3 million patients

What IS an Encoder?

Encoders use different types of technologies to create a signal, including: mechanical, magnetic, resistive and optical - optical being the most common.

Raspberry Pi And MATLAB based 3D Scanner

Raspberry Pi serves as the main controller board for the setup, capturing the images using the Pi Camera, controlling the Line LASER diode and providing control signals to the EasyDriver (Stepper Motor Driver).

University of Surrey presents a roadmap of space robotics

ABIGAIL BEALL FOR MAILONLINE:  Many people spend their childhood peering up into the vast expanse of the sky, dreaming of growing up to become an astronaut.  But these dreams could be dashed as the idea of people venturing into space will one day become a distant memory, according to a report published today.  Robots will eventually have enough capabilities to replace humans and other animals on space missions, experts have said.  Many missions involving humans in space are dangerous and expensive.  But for years robots have been sent to places humans could not venture, like the rovers venturing to the edges of our solar system.  According to European Space Agency (Esa) Astronaut Roberto Vittori, who launched a paper on space robotics and autonomous systems, robots can help carry out these dangerous missions.   Cont'd...

The Third Offset Must Update Asimov's Laws of Robotics

JG Randall for The National Interest:  Things tend to happen in threes. An unlikely triumvirate on the surface, it would appear that Asimov’s laws on robotics and the UN Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) will outflank the Third Offset—the nation’s search for its next silver bullet in war fighting is robotics—knowing that many nations will agree on moral grounds. These nations will reject Asimov based on semantics, and though the debate might be perceived as strictly academic, or even rhetorical, it is worth discussing for the sake of a good cautionary tale. Because, whether we like it or not, killer bots are coming to a theater of operation near you. Before we get deep in the weeds, let’s get some clarity. First, let’s outline Asimov’s robotic laws. The Three Laws of Robotics are a set of rules devised by the science fiction author Isaac Asimov. They were introduced in his 1942 short story “Runaround,” although they had been foreshadowed in earlier stories.   Cont'd...

Artificial muscle for soft robotics: Low voltage, high hopes

Phys.org:  Soft robots do a lot of things well but they're not exactly known for their speed. The artificial muscles that move soft robots, called actuators, tend to rely on hydraulics or pneumatics, which are slow to respond and difficult to store. Dielectric elastomers, soft materials that have good insulating properties, could offer an alternative to pneumatic actuators but they currently require complex and inefficient circuitry to deliver high voltage as well as rigid components to maintain their form—both of which defeat the purpose of a soft robot. Now, researchers at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have developed a dielectric elastomer with a broad range of motion that requires relatively low voltage and no rigid components. They published their work recently in Advanced Materials.   Cont'd...

Robot Vision vs Computer Vision: What's the Difference?

Unlike pure Computer Vision research, Robot Vision must incorporate aspects of robotics into its techniques and algorithms, such as kinematics, reference frame calibration and the robot's ability to physically affect the environment.

Anki To Release Game-changing Cozmo SDK

For developers interested in lower-level control of Cozmo, the SDK provides direct access to low-level controls such as driving the robot's treads, moving the head and lift, displaying bitmaps on his screen, reading accelerometer and gyroscope data, processing images from his camera, and communicating with the power cubes (lights, accelerometer, tap detection).

Robotics Gone Wild: 8 Animal-Inspired Machines

Thomas Claburn for InformationWeek:  Among programmers, there's a principle called DRY, which stands for "Don't repeat yourself." It's an attempt to avoid writing code that duplicates the function of other code. DRY embodies the same resistance to needless repetition as the more common idiom, "Don't reinvent the wheel." Among those making robots, a group that includes software and hardware engineers attempts to adhere to these principles, as can be seen in designs that borrow from nature, from the evolved forms of life on Earth. Biomimicry and bioinspired design provide a way to avoid reinventing the wheel. The biological systems of living things have been honed through eons of Darwinian user testing. Borrowing aspects of animal physiology isn't the only option or necessarily the best option for robot designers. For some purposes, something new may be necessary. For others, biomechanically systems can't be easily duplicated.   Cont'd...

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Maplesoft - Free Whitepaper: Developing a Robot Model using System-Level Design

Maplesoft - Free Whitepaper: Developing a Robot Model using System-Level Design

This paper uses NAO, the humanoid robot from Aldebaran Systems, to demonstrate how MapleSim can be used to develop a robot model, and how the model can be further analyzed using the symbolic computation engine within Maple.