IROS 2012 Videos

Robot locomotion with continuum limbs (courtesy of IEEE Spectrum):   RoboBee (courtesy of Harvard University and IEEE Spectrum):   Robot builds ramp by randomly flinging 3,600 toothpicks (courtesy of IEEE Spectrum):   People tracking on RGB-D people dataset (courtesy of IASLABResearch):

IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems

This week the International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems is taking place Vila Moura, Algarve, Portugal. We'll be posting all the big news as it comes. The full IROS2012 schedule is available here .

Espresso Book Machine

The Espresso Book Machine makes a perfect-bound paperback book virtually identical to the publisher’s original in a matter of minutes. The user chooses a digital file via the EspressNet software system, either at the physical EBM, or remotely via the Internet (users can also bring their own files in person: on CD’s, flash drives, etc.). The EBM uses PDF files for the book block and the cover. A high-speed Xerox 4112 Copier/Printer prints the pages of the book – the book block. The printer uses standard US letter-size (8.5” x 11”) or A4 paper stock. A high-speed Xerox 4112 Copier/Printer prints the pages of the book – the book block. The printer uses standard US letter-size (8.5” x 11”) or A4 paper stock. A rotating wheel applies a thin layer of heat-activated glue over the milled edge. The clamp then moves the book block down to the cover, which waits on the binding table. The EBM uses special pneumatics and clamps to press the cover against the spine and around the book block. This produces a traditional “perfect-bound” book.

Magneto-Inductive Communication: Interview with Steve Parsons, Ultra Electronics

To validate and demonstrate our Through-the-Earth capability, we developed a full-duplex MI Modem (MIM-1000) and installed it on a Pioneer 3-AT R&D robot. Initial field trials were carried out at an abandoned coal mine in Nova Scotia, Canada, where we successfully demonstrated the robot - we call her "Maggie" - being driven and maneuvered remotely by an operator located on the mine's surface with Maggie located in an underground mine shaft separated by over 100 feet of geological overburden.

Cars Are The New UGVs

Will today's developers of military UGVs be tomorrow's manufacturers of autonomous civilian cars? Probably not. However, it is clear that the technologies developed for one will be adapted for another.

Interview With Martin Buehler, Vice President of Logistics Solutions, Vecna Medical

Hospitals, clinics, providers and other end users should engage with the robot vendor closely and early on as a partner. Among other things, this allows both parties to identify the highest value applications, some of which may not have been apparent at the outset.

Human Support Robot From Toyota

Toyota Motor Corporation has developed a human support robot (HSR) prototype to assist independent home living for persons with limited arm or leg mobility. Aiming to improve quality of life, Toyota has developed the HSR prototype in cooperation with the Japan Service Dog Association to identify the needs and desires of individuals with limited limb mobility, and developed functions focused around picking up dropped objects, retrieving items, and communicating with family members and caregivers. In 2011, TMC conducted in-home trials using the robot with individuals with limb disabilities in cooperation with the Foundation for Yokohama Rehabilitation Service and incorporated user feedback into development.

Stack Exchange Teams Up With US Patent Office To Crowd Source Prior Art

The new  America Invents Act came into effect on September 16, it lets ordinary people provide feedback on patent applications. The US Patent Office and the question/answer resource Stack Exchange are teaming up to create AskPatents . AskPatents allows allows anyone to participate in the patent examination process. Joel Spolsky, co-founder of Stack Exchange: "Ask Patents is a collaborative effort, neatly tagged by keywords and classification, and searchable by patent application number. It is inspired by a research project called Peer To Patent, run out of New York Law School. That pilot project, created by Professor Beth Noveck, proved very successful at identifying prior art that the USPTO wouldn’t otherwise have known about. Citizen volunteers and other interested parties will be able to ask about applications that they think are suspicious. Others can answer, identifying possible prior art, and using our upvote/downvote feature to rate any examples of prior art that other people found. The USPTO, complying with the new law, will also provide an online system for submitting prior art. We’re also integrating with Google Patent Search, so every patent application on Google will include a link to discussion on Stack Exchange. Google has also implemented an algorithmic prior art search utility that will be helpful to site participants. On Ask Patents, participants can also ask and answer questions about the nuances of patent law or about specific patent applications. Collectively, we’re building a crowd-sourced worldwide detective agency to track down and obliterate bogus patent applications. Over time, we hope that the Patent Stack Exchange will mitigate the problems caused by rampant patent trolling. It’s not a complete fix, but it’s a good start."

Rethink Robotics releases Baxter, its Manufacturing robot

Baxter, is six feet tall, 300 pounds, and a robot. For a hulking machine, Baxter is remarkably expressive. A pair of eyes on the screen that serves as a face stare down as the robot picks up plastic components, look concerned when it makes a mistake, and direct its glance at its next task when one is finished. It's cute. But the real point of these expressions is that they let workers nearby know instantly if Baxter is performing appropriately, and they provide clues to what it is about to do next. Even more amazing, when Baxter is done with one task, a fellow worker can simply show the robot how to start another. "Almost anyone, literally, can in very short order be shown how to program it," says Chris Budnick, president of Vanguard Plastics. "It's a matter of a couple of minutes." Baxter is the first of a new generation of smarter, more adaptive industrial robots. Conventional industrial robots are expensive to program, incapable of handling even small deviations in their environment, and so dangerous that they have to be physically separated from human workers by cages. So even as robotics have become commonplace in the automotive and pharmaceutical industries, they remain impractical in many other types of manufacturing. Baxter, however, can be programmed more easily than a Tivo and can deftly respond to a toppled-over part or shifted table. And it is so safe that Baxter's developer, Rethink Robotics, which loaned Baxter to Vanguard Plastics, believes it can work seamlessly alongside its human coworkers.

A nose is a nose, or is it?

An electronic nose has a gas-sensor array sampling system and a signal processor coupled to a recognition system, where the sampling system moves vapor laden air into the sensor array. It could even work similar to a passive smoke detector.

Galil DMC-4080 Helps Guide Remote Controlled Vehicle Used in Hyper-Realistic Military Training

STOPS engineers found the native Galil programming language easy-to-use, which helped enable them to incorporate several safety routines into the operating system. For example, whenever the controller does not receive a data stream, it goes into a fail-safe routine that brings the vehicle to a stop.

Two Different Approaches to Spawn Robotics - One Common Thread

Sometimes a company is founded because it stumbles upon a niche that it can fill better than any other company. Such a company is RE2 (Robotics Engineering Excellence). Founded by Jorgen Pedersen as a contract engineering house to fill a need for unmanned systems engineering expertise within Carnegie Mellon's National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC), RE2 now provides mobile manipulation systems for defense and safety.

New AlphaDog Field Testing Footage

New footage of AlphaDog, the DARPA Legged Squad Support System (LS3) originally designed by Boston Dynamics. The goal of the LS3 program is to demonstrate that a legged robot can unburden dismounted squad members by carrying their gear, autonomously following them through rugged terrain, and interpreting verbal and visual commands.

QBotix Solar Tracking System

From todays press release: QBotix today unveiled the QBotix Tracking System™ (QTS), a comprehensive dual-axis tracking system that employs rugged, intelligent and mobile robots to dynamically operate solar power plants and maximize energy output. The solar panels are installed on QBotix designed mounting systems that don't have any individual motors and are optimized for cost, strength, durability and installation simplicity. The robots travel on a track and adjust each mounting system to optimally face the sun in succession. Each robot replaces hundreds of individual motors and controllers found on conventional tracking systems. The embedded intelligence and data communication capabilities of each autonomous robot optimize power plant performance and enables detailed operational knowledge at an unprecedented level. QTS is now available for commercial deployments.  

Fearful Symmetry

Video of artist Ruairi Glynn's glowing tetrahedron robot exhibit from Tate Modern in London. Fearful Symmetry at Tate Tanks - teaser from Ruairi Glynn on Vimeo .

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Industrial Robotics - Featured Product

Midwest Motion Products Inc - “GRA52” Right Angled Gearmotor System

Midwest Motion Products Inc - "GRA52" Right Angled Gearmotor System

Midwest Motion Products Inc., based in Howard Lake, Minnesota, is pleased to announce the release of the new "GRA52" Right Angled Gearmotor System. This new 1:1 Right Angled Gearbox allows for significantly increased versatility, and design whose geometry allows for the unit to be mounted in tight spaces. We employ our Standard Brushed or Brushless DC Motors and Planetary Gearheads to complete the new R/A Design. Features/Benefits: Cost effective design - as low as $250*, Very Versatile - Output Ratios ranging from 3.7:1 to 2076:1, Fully Reversible Design, Readily available - Samples can be built from Stock Material, High Volume capacity.