From Anibit: We have adapted a graphical programming environment for the Arduino known as "Blocklyduino" to be tailored to Pololu's 3Pi Robot Platform. Blocklyduino is itself an adaptation of Blockly, a software package for developers to create graphical programming environments. All of this is heavily inspired by Scratch and the MIT App inventor. If you are not familiar with those tools and watch to teach kids about programming, you really should check the out. Graphical Programming is a great introduction to programming for kids. and the Pololu 3Pi is a low cost, ready-made robot that kids love. As part part of our mission at Anibit to inspire and educate about robotics, we felt the need to bring the two together... ( Anibit link )
I see three exciting and significant trends taking place right now that I think will begin to gain some very real traction in 2015.
From DARPA: The teams using the DARPA-developed Atlas robot got their first look at the newly upgraded system during a technical shakeout the week of January 12th in Waltham, Mass. The upgraded Atlas is 75 percent new—only the lower legs and feet were carried over from the original design. Lighter materials allowed for inclusion of a battery and a new pump system with only a modest increase in overall weight; the upgraded robot is 6-foot-2 (1.88 meters) and weighs 345 pounds (156.5 kilograms). The most significant changes are to the robot’s power supply and pump. Atlas will now carry an onboard 3.7-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack, with the potential for one hour of “mixed mission” operation that includes walking, standing, use of tools, and other movements. This will drive a new variable-pressure pump that allows for more efficient operation... ( full details )
Automate 2015 gets going in March and the once every 2 year Tradeshow is perhaps the biggest and most important Manufacturing show in North America.
Job loss was on everyone's mind. Results showed that the opposite took place. Higher quality led to more orders and an increase in the number of jobs.
Voxel8 announces its dual-head printer that prints thermoplastics and highly conductive silver inks together.
From Nvidia's CES press conference: The DRIVE PX platform is based on the NVIDIA® Tegra® X1 processor, enabling smarter, more sophisticated advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and paving the way for the autonomous car. Tegra X1 delivers an astonishing 1.3 gigapixels/second throughput – enough to handle 12 two-Megapixel cameras at frame rates up to 60 fps for some cameras. It is equipped with 10 GB of DRAM memory and combines surround Computer Vision (CV) technology, extensive deep learning training, and over-the-air updates to transform how cars see, think, and learn. DEEP LEARNING COMPUTER VISION Conventional ADAS technology today can detect some objects, do basic classification, alert the driver, and in some cases, stop the vehicle. DRIVE PX takes this to the next level with the ability to differentiate an ambulance from a delivery truck or a parked car from one about to pull into traffic. The system can now inform the driver, not just get their attention with a warning. The car is not just sensing, but interpreting what is taking place around it—an essential capability for auto-piloted driving... ( more info )
From Empire Robotics: The VERSABALL is a squishy balloon membrane full of loose sub-millimeter particles. The soft ball gripper easily conforms around a wide range of target object shapes and sizes. Using a process known as “granular jamming”, air is quickly sucked out of the ball, which vacuum-packs the particles and hardens the gripper around the object to hold and lift it. The object releases when the ball is re-inflated. VERSABALL comes in multiple head shapes and sizes that use the same pneumatic base... ( Empire Robotics' site )
EVB: Replace the brain of your LEGO® EV3 with BeagleBone / X PlusOne: Your Ultimate Hover + Speed Aerial Camera Drone / The ProtoCam+: An easy way to build projects and prototypes around your Raspberry Pi Camera Module with your A+ and B+ Raspberry Pi / Tektyte: LogIT Specialised Circuit Testers
From Yezhou Yang, Yi Li, Cornelia Fermuller and Yiannis Aloimonos: In order to advance action generation and creation in robots beyond simple learned schemas we need computational tools that allow us to automatically interpret and represent human actions. This paper presents a system that learns manipulation action plans by processing unconstrained videos from the World Wide Web. Its goal is to robustly generate the sequence of atomic actions of seen longer actions in video in order to acquire knowledge for robots. The lower level of the system consists of two convolutional neural network (CNN) based recognition modules, one for classifying the hand grasp type and the other for object recognition. The higher level is a probabilistic manipulation action grammar based parsing module that aims at generating visual sentences for robot manipulation. The list of the grasping types. Experiments conducted on a publicly available unconstrained video dataset show that the system is able to learn manipulation actions by “watching” unconstrained videos with high accuracy.... ( article at Kurzweilai.net ) ( original paper )
The list of top stories in robotics for 2014 is a story of "MORE": MORE uses of and for robots; MORE serious discussions about robots; MORE robots in unusual places; MORE news in the financial press; MORE funding, acquisitions and IPOs; and MORE choices.
Robots are proving to be flexible tools for aircraft manufacturing and assembly. Their full potential however can be limited by the challenges of programming a robot in a CAD/CAM environment. Software that integrates offline programming, simulation, code generation, and path optimization makes the process seamless and error-free.
Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Robotic Arts and ABB Robotics join forces to debut groundbreaking RoboScreen® entertainment system.
Winter break homework from John Carmack. Gamasutra reprint article "In-depth: Functional programming in C++": A large fraction of the flaws in software development are due to programmers not fully understanding all the possible states their code may execute in. In a multithreaded environment, the lack of understanding and the resulting problems are greatly amplified, almost to the point of panic if you are paying attention. Programming in a functional style makes the state presented to your code explicit, which makes it much easier to reason about, and, in a completely pure system, makes thread race conditions impossible... ( full article ) Also "Lessons to learn from Oculus development team when using the “Modern C++” approach": Modern C++ doesn’t imply necessarly the overuse of templates Andrei Alexandrescu says about the Modern C++ design: "Modern C++ Design defines and systematically uses generic components - highly flexible design artifacts that are mixable and matchable to obtain rich behaviors with a small, orthogonal body of code." Modern C++ has a close relation with generic programming; probably it’s the reason that makes many developers neglect the modern C++ approach. They think that the code will be mostly implemented as templates, which makes the code difficult to read and maintain. In the SDK, the templates represent only 20% of all types defined and most of them are related to the technical layer... ( full article )
From MODLAB (The modular robotics laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania): We derive thrust, roll, and pitch authority from a single propeller and single motor through an underactuated mechanism embedded in the rotor itself. This allows new types of conventionally-capable micro air vehicles which only require two motors for practical control. This contrasts with the many servos and linkages of conventional helicopters or the many drive motors found in quadrotors... ( cont'd )
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