By Gary Robbins for the San Diego Union Tribune: UC San Diego is creating a robotics institute that will develop machines that can interpret everything from subtle facial expressions to walking styles to size up what people are thinking, doing and feeling.
The “See-Think-Do” technology is largely meant to anticipate and fulfill people’s everyday needs, especially the soaring number of older Americans who want to live out their lives in their own homes.
Engineers envision robots that are so good at sizing up people, places and situations that they could help evacuate crowds from dangerous areas and pick through the rubble of an earthquake to look for survivors.
The newly created Contextual Robotics Institute will be formally announced on Friday when some of the nation’s top scientists meet at UC San Diego to discuss the future of robotics. The campus has already lined up support from such San Diego companies as Qualcomm, which needs new markets for its computer chips, and Northrop Grumman, which develops unmanned aerial vehicles.
“Our plan is to do the research and development that’s needed to realize robots of the future — robots that are safe, useful and autonomous in any environment,” said Albert Pisano, dean of UC San Diego’s Jacobs School of Engineering. Cont'd...
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Suryansh Chandra claims the affordable robotic arm his company Automata is developing could lead to robots becoming as ubiquitous as desktop 3D printers.
"Today, every design studio has a 3D printer," Chandra says. "Soon, we hope to get to the point where every design studio has a robotic arm."
Chandra founded Automata together with Mostafa Elsayed five months ago, after they became frustrated by the expense and complexity of industrial robots while working at the research division at Zaha Hadid Architects.
"If you're out to get a robot today, you'd have to spend 50 or 60 thousand dollars," Chandra explains. "Our goal is to democratise robotics through a low cost hardware platform and easy to use software."
Automata's first product is a plastic six-axis robotic arm called Eva, which weighs 2.3 kilograms and will cost $3,000 (£2,000).
"Unlike industrial robots that are heavy and expensive, Eva is low cost and lightweight," Chandra says. "She can pick up 750 grams when fully outstretched and about a kilogram in a more recessed position." Cont'd...
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