DARPA Robotics Challenge Trials Live Broadcast

The DRC Trials are happening today and tomorrow (December 20-21, 2013) at the Homestead-Miami Speedway. Teams will attempt to guide their robots through eight individual, physical tasks that test mobility, manipulation, dexterity, perception, and operator control mechanisms; You can watch the live stream here.

The Factory-in-a-Day Project

From  Factory-in-a-Day's page : Small and medium-sized enterprises in Europe mostly refrain from using advanced robot technology. The EU-project Factory-in-a-Day aims to change this by developing a robotic system that can be set up and made operational in 24 hours and is flexible, leasable and cheap. The project has a budget of 11 million euros for four years, 7.9 million of which will be funded by the European Union as part of the FP7 programme ‘Factory of the Future’. The international consortium comprises 16 partners and the coordinating university is Delft University of Technology (TU Delft). The project will start on 8 October 2013 with a formal kick- off meeting in Delft. Within 24 hours The Factory-in-a-Day-project will provide a solution to these problems: a robot that can be set up and operational in 24 hours. SME companies can use the robot for a specific job and their staff can learn how to work closely together with the robot and thus optimize their production. “With the technological and organizational innovations of the Factory-in-a-Day project, we hope to fundamentally change the ways in which robots are used in the manufacturing world”, says project coordinator Martijn Wisse, Associate Professor at TU Delft. How does it work? What will such an installation day look like? First of all, before the robot is actually taken to the SME premises, a system integrator analyzes which steps in the process can be taken over by the robot. In most cases the repetitive work is done by the robot while the human worker carries out the more flexible, accurate tasks and deals with problem- solving. Customer-specific hardware-components are 3D-printed and installed on the grippers of the robot. The robot is then brought to the factory and set up, and any auxiliary components such as cameras are also set up in the unaltered production facilities. The robot will be connected to the machinery software through a brand-independent software system. After that, the robot is taught how to perform his set of tasks, for example how to grasp an object. Therefore, the operator will physically interact with the robot. A set of predefined skills will be available, rather like Apps for smart phones. Finally, the robot is operational and the human co-workers receive their training -- all in just 24 hours.

Google Puts Money on Robots, Using the Man Behind Android

New York Times: Over the last half-year, Google has quietly acquired seven technology companies in an effort to create a new generation of robots. And the engineer heading the effort is Andy Rubin, the man who built Google’s Android software into the world’s dominant force in smartphones.... ( full article )

Dynamic Probabilistic Volumetric Models

From Ali Osman Ulusoy, Octavian Biris, Joseph Mundy of Brown University: This paper presents a probabilistic volumetric frame- work for image based modeling of general dynamic 3-d scenes. The framework is targeted towards high quality modeling of complex scenes evolving over thousands of frames. Extensive storage and computational resources are required in processing large scale space-time (4-d) data. Existing methods typically store separate 3-d models at each time step and do not address such limitations. A novel 4-d representation is proposed that adaptively subdivides in space and time to explain the appearance of 3-d dynamic surfaces. This representation is shown to achieve compres- sion of 4-d data and provide efficient spatio-temporal pro- cessing. Theadvancesoftheproposedframeworkisdemon- strated on standard datasets using free-viewpoint video and 3-d tracking applications.... ( full paper )

Trainable Arduiono Arm

From Navic209's youtube channel:   Inspired by the Baxter robot, this arm can be trained to move with your own hands. Once the train button is pressed, you move the arm and gripper as needed while the Arduino stores the positions in EEPROM. After that the arm will replay the motion as needed.   Youtube channel Source on Github Additional projects

PrimeSense Reportedly Aquired By Apple

According to AllThingsD Apple is in the process of buying PrimeSense. PrimeSense is the company that developed and licensed the hardware and chip design used in the original Kinect. This could have an effect on several low cost depth cameras including the ASUS Xtion which uses  PrimeSense  hardware  or the $200 developer camera sold directly from PrimeSense . Their online store is still open but who know for how long.

Triquad

IEEE Spectrum: As cool as quadrotors are, in most cases they're simply not as good as helicopters. Because of the way they're designed (with four small rotors instead of one big one), they're less powerful, less efficient, and less maneuverable. The power and efficiency issues come from the fact that one big rotor generates more lift per aircraft footprint than four small rotors, and as for maneuverability, a helicopter that can alter rotor pitch instantly will always outmaneuver a quadrotor that can only control blade speed. Seriously, try doing this with a quadrotor. So, the thing that quadrotors have going for them is that they're simple. Helicopters have complex main rotor heads, with shafts and bearings and linkages all over the place, while quadrotors just have four motors and that's it. The University of Queensland researchers came up with a "Y4" configuration that aims to take all the good bits of helicopters and make them as simple as quadrotors. I'm just going to start calling this new design a triquad. Keep in mind that this is still a quadrotor: it just had things shifted around a little bit. Almost all of the triquad's lift comes from its big main fixed-pitch rotor, located at the center of the "Y" (pictured below). The three little fixed-pitch rotors in the "Y" configuration are angled (at a fixed 45 degrees) to provide counter-torque (which they do slightly more efficiently than a helicopter tail rotor) along with pitch and roll control. Here's how the control works... cont'd at IEEE Spectrum Follow up discussions: DIY Drones post and discussion. Hackernews post.

Complete videos from the IROS 2013 workshop: "Understanding Robotics and Public Opinion Workshop From IROS 2013"

Robohub.org article with all videos or straight youtube playlist link .

littleBits

littleBits : littleBits makes an opensource library of electronic modules that snap together with tiny magnets for prototyping, learning, and fun. What is littleBits? from littleBits on Vimeo .

New Video of ACM-R5H Snake Robot

HiBot : The new ACM-R5H swimming in a new pool. It is fully customizable in its colors (fins and body) and in the electronics that may be fitted in the front and rear unit. The robot length can be also easily changed by adding or removing units, in this case it is a version of 6 active joints.

Fuelmatics Automatic Refueling System

S4A: Scratch modification for Arduino

S4A: Scratch for Arduino (S4A) is a modified version of Scratch , ready to interact with Arduino boards. Supported boards S4A works with Arduino Diecimila, Duemilanove and Uno. Other boards haven't been tested, but they may also work. Connectivity Components have to be connected in a particular way. S4A allows for 6 analog inputs (analog pins), 2 digital inputs (digital pins 2 and 3), 3 analog outputs (digital pins 5, 6 and 9), 3 digital outputs (pins 10, 11 and 13) and 4 special outputs to connect Parallax continuous rotation servomotors (digital pins 4, 7, 8 and 12). You can manage a board wirelessly by attaching an RF module to it, such as Xbee. S4A allows you to control as many boards as USB ports you have. Compatibility S4A is backwards compatible with Scratch, so you can open Scratch projects in it. However, you won't be able to share your projects on the Scratch community website because doing so goes against the Scratch terms of use. Take in account that this compatibility doesn't work both ways, so you won't be able to open an S4A project from within the original Scratch. Using a PicoBoard along with an Arduino board is also supported... cont'd

The Poppy Project

The Poppy Project : OPEN SOURCE Both software and hardware are available under an open source licence for academics, artists and geeks. EASY TO REPAIR AND DUPLICATE Poppy only uses off-the-shelf components (motors and electronics) and limbs that can be printed with regular 3D printing services. OPTIMIZED FOR BIPED LOCOMOTION Poppy’s body has a morphology modeling human skeleton: bended legs, multi-articulated trunk, soft body. This increases robustness, agility and stability during the walking. AFFORDABLE The overall materials needed to build your own Poppy robot costs around 7500€ ($10500, including motors, electronics and 3D printed parts). We hope the community will find ways to build and use even cheaper solutions.

Introducing UBR-1

Introducing UBR-1 from Unbounded Robotics on Vimeo .

UBR-1 Robot From Unbounded Robotics Revolutionizes Affordable Mobile Manipulation

Unbounded has been working in stealth mode for the past year, but our best guess was that they were developing a low-cost mobile manipulator for research and education: something like a PR2, except (we were hoping) significantly cheaper. Today, Unbounded is unveiling UBR-1, a shiny new human-scale one-armed robot designed to completely revolutionize the market for research and education robotics and beyond, for just a tiny fraction of the cost of similar platforms. UBR-1 is a 13-DoF mobile robot that includes a 7-DoF arm. It navigates with a laser scanner in its base, and uses a PrimeSense 3D sensor in its head for perception. Thanks to a torso lift, the robot can pick objects up off the floor, and put them onto tables and countertops. It's got a beefy computer in the torso, along with two big fat batteries that'll keep it running for up to 5 hours continuously, or up to 10 if it's not moving around too much, and you can get a charging dock so that you never have to plug it in. UBR-1 runs ROS, and comes out of the box with the ability to navigate and interact with objects. And (arguably) the most important spec of all is that UBR-1 starts at just $35,000, which is wicked cheap for a robot this capable.

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