Roomba Co-inventor Announces New Robot

Joe Jones, a co-inventor of iRobot’s Roomba vacuum cleaning robot left iRobot to found Harvest Automation along with three other industry veterans. Their first product is a small wheeled robot that picks up potted plants and move them from place to place. For nurseries that grow or distribute ornamental plants these task are labor intensive and the growing demand makes finding the human labor required difficult. The robot is being tested now in a few nurseries and Wired has a more detailed article here.

Collective construction

A research project at Harvard aims to demonstrate an autonomous multi-robot systems capable of the construction of 3D structures. The hardware comprises a mobile robot and specialized passive blocks; the robot is able to manipulate blocks to build desired structures, and can maneuver on these structures as well as in unstructured environments. To illustrate the robot’s ability to perform complex tasks combining these functions, they demonstrate it autonomously building a ten-block structure significantly larger than itself. The full paper can be found here.

Smile Supplement Robot

From the video its hard to tell what technology is behind this robot but heres the Google translation of the press release:

Communication robots for the elderly

"Nodding Kabochan SMILE SUPPLEMENT ROBOT"

Launched mid-November!

Pumpkin is not nodding, communication robots for the elderly in the shape of a little boy.

The reaction of five sensors that are built, or nodding,

He makes a variety of chat depending on the season.

To take advantage of robot technology, the elderly, who also receive care, How to care for, and further engaged in the business who care, safe delivery and a smile will help to improve life.

 

ROSCon 2012

ROSCon 2012, the first ROS developer's conference is a weekend conference which will comprise of tech talks and tutorials that will introduce you to new ROS tools and libraries. The event takes place in St. Paul, Minnesota May 19-20, right after the 2012 IEEE international Conference on Robotics and Automation.

Xtion Pro Live

The Xtion Pro Live by ASUS is similar to Microsoft's Kinect hardware. The hardware includes a depth sensor, RGB camera and set of microphones. The device is aimed at development and is powered through the USB 2 connection rather than requiring an addition power connection like the Kinect. Its also slightly smaller than the Kinect.  I Heart Robotics has received one and they have additional information here.

Currently its only available for purchase directly from ASUS and is currently on backorder.

Boston Dynamics' Bipedal Robot

PETMAN is an anthropomorphic robot for testing chemical protection clothing. Unlike previous suit testers, which had to be supported mechanically and had a limited repertoire of motion, PETMAN will balance itself and move freely; walking, crawling and doing a variety of suit-stressing calisthenics during exposure to chemical warfare agents.

 

Objet260 Connex At WIRED 2011

Objet Ltd. with be demonstrating their newest 3D Printer at Wired Magazine's inaugural conference in London. The Objet260 Connex is able to use 60 different materials and it can simultaneously build 14 different materials into a single model part with a 16-micron print layer accuracy.

World's First Spherical Flying Machine

DigInfo.tv, a Tokyo-based website recently posted a video from a presentation by the Japan’s Ministry of Defense. The flying orb weighs 350 g, is 42 cm in diameter, and is made of commercially available parts costing a total of around US$1,400. The video below is from the public unveiling:

Odos Imaging 2+3D Sensor

Odos imaging's 1.3 mega­pixel 2+3D camera can capture accurate 3D images at 100 frames per second; allowing the system to capture very fast moving objects without degradation even in the brightest sunlight. Combining proprietary technology with conventional 2D image capture, an Odos imaging solution provides unambiguous 3D images at video rates from a single unit. Very short, intense pulses of invisible light are used to illuminate the scene. The high intensity of the pulse minimizes the effect of ambient light and allows for outdoor operation. These pulses are reflected by objects within the scene and are detected by the image sensor. Proprietary algorithms convert the detected pulses into a distance measurement. Simultaneously, a conventional 2D image of the scene is captured. Each pixel on the sensor provides both distance and intensity information. 

How Google's Self-Driving Car Works

IEEE Spectrum has an article explaining how Google's new autonomous vehicles project works. The article is based on a recent presentation that Sebastian Thrun and Chris Urmson gave at keynote speech at the IEEE International 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.

 

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.

 

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.

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