Evan Ackerman for IEEE Spectrum: In NASA's Space Robotics Challenge, participants had to command a virtual Valkyrie robot to perform a series of repair tasks in a simulated Mars base hit by a dust storm.
Ellen Huet for Bloomberg: A Silicon Valley startup is the guardian of the building blocks of robot life.
Erico Guizzo for IEEE Spectrum: We've seen how, over the last several years, open source software-platforms like the Robot Operating System (ROS), Gazebo, and OpenCV, among others-has played a huge role in helping researchers and companies build robots better and faster. Can the same thing happen with robot hardware?
Software start-up offers unique solution for high-risk robotics operations
Rethink Robotics announced Intera® 5, a first-of-its-kind software platform that connects everything from a single robot controller, extending the smart, flexible power of Rethink Robotics' Sawyer™ to the entire work cell and simplifying automation with unparalleled ease of deployment. Built on the backbone of the industry's best train-by-demonstration software that powers the world's fastest-to-deploy robots, Intera 5 is paving the way for connected manufacturing environments and helping companies build factories of the future. Intera 5 fundamentally changes the need for integration, making it substantially easier and more affordable, allowing manufacturers to deploy full work cell automation in a matter of hours, not weeks. Intera 5 is much more than the latest version of Rethink Robotics' software; it's a new way to approach automation that allows manufacturers to control the robots, orchestrate the work cell and collect data. Full Press Release:
Mary Jo Foley for All About Microsoft: In the early 2000s, Microsoft was all-in on robotics. By the middle of that decade, the company seemingly had all but abandoned the robotics space. But this may be the year that Microsoft may be ready to get back into robotics, on multiple fronts. When Microsoft founder Bill Gates was still involved in the day-to-day operations of the company, robotics was slated to be one of Microsoft's next big things. Microsoft built a programming model and framework for developers working on anything from Lego robots to industrial-scale robots. However, that product, "Microsoft Robotics Studio," never really went beyond the academic and hobbyist communities and the company's ambitions in this space withered. Cut to 2017. These days, the home for a good chunk of the Microsoft current robotics work is apparently in Microsoft Research (MSR) -- specifically in the AI + Research (AI+R) Group under executive vice president Harry Shum. (I say "apparently" here because Microsoft officials declined to answer any of my questions on the company's robotics initiatives.) Shum is known for his work in computer vision and graphics and has a Ph.D. in robotics from Carnegie Mellon. Cont'd...
Open Source Robotics and IoT Framework Releases Version 1.0
Phys.org: On the wall of Aaron Dollar's office is a poster for R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots), the 1920 Czech play that gave us the word "robot." The story ends with the nominal robots seizing control of the factory of their origin and then wiping out nearly all of humanity. Dollar, fortunately, has something more cheerful in mind for the future of human-robot relations. He sees them as helpers in our daily lives—performing tasks like setting the table or assisting with the assembly of your new bookcase. But getting to the point where robots can work in the unstructured environment of our homes (as opposed to industrial settings) would take a major technological leap and a massive coordination of efforts from roboticists around the globe. The living room has been called the last frontier for robots—but first, the robotics community needs some standards that everyone can agree on. Enter a suitcase-sized box containing 77 objects. It contains things like hammers, a cordless drill, a can of Spam and a nine-hole peg test. As ordinary as they may seem, these carefully curated household items could be the future of a new kind of standardization for robotics. Known as the Yale-CMU-Berkeley (YCB) Object and Model Set, the intent is to provide universal benchmarks for labs specializing in robotic manipulation and prosthetics around the world. Cont'd...
Charlotte Whistlecroft for DigitalSpy: If you think you're happy with your job, Madeline Gannon will definitely make you question your life, as this woman has managed to train giant robots to do things for her. Nope, we're not joking - the founder of the Madlab Research Studio created "big, monstrous, industrial robots" and then tamed then, and she even has a nickname to prove it: The Robot Whisperer. Which is all pretty impressive, if not terrifying, stuff. Speaking at the WIRED Next Generation event in London, Madeline passed on her robot-taming skills to the audience of 12-18 year olds and shared her passion for turning 6-foot-tall factory line robots into tools any human can communicate with. Cont'd...
Introduces high performance Sawyer robot with software development kit
Mark Bergen for Bloomberg: Google published research this week detailing how its software enables robots to learn from one another. To demonstrate, the company’s scientists showed videos featuring robotic arms whirling inside its labs. Google’s robotics group built those machines and wanted to sell them to manufacturers, warehouse operators and others. However, executives at Google parent Alphabet Inc. nixed the plan because it failed Chief Executive Officer Larry Page’s "toothbrush test," a requirement that the company only ship products used daily by billions of people, according to people familiar with the situation. Cont'd...
CADE METZ for WIRED: HANNS TAPPEINER TYPES a few lines of code into his laptop and hits “return.” A tiny robot sits beside the laptop, looking like one of those anthropomorphic automobiles that show up in Pixar’s Cars movies. Almost instantly, it wakes up, rolls down the table, and counts to four. This is Cozmo—an artificially intelligent toy robot unveiled late last month by San Francisco startup Anki—and Tappeiner, one of the company’s founders, is programming the little automaton to do new things. The programs are simple—he also teaches Cozmo to stack blocks—but they’re supposed to be simple. Tappeiner is using Anki’s newly unveiled software development kit—an SDK, in coder parlance—that he says even the greenest of coders can use to tweak the behavior of the toy robot. And that’s a big deal, at least according to Anki. The company claims the SDK is the first of its kind: a kit that lets anyone program such an intelligent robot, a robot that recognizes faces and navigates new environments and even mimics emotions. With the kit, Tappeiner says, “we’re trying to advance the field of robotics.” He compares the move to Apple letting people build apps for the iPhone. Cont'd...
OpenConnect Shortlisted for "20 Most Promising Robotics Solution Providers 2016" Ranking by CIOReview
OpenConnect was chosen among the 20 Most Promising Robotics Solution Providers 2016
Graham Templeton for ExtremeTech: Google’s artificial intelligence researchers are starting to have to code around their own code, writing patches that limit a robot’s abilities so that it continues to develop down the path desired by the researchers — not by the robot itself. It’s the beginning of a long-term trend in robotics and AI in general: once we’ve put in all this work to increase the insight of an artificial intelligence, how can we make sure that insight will only be applied in the ways we would like? That’s why researchers from Google’s DeepMind and the Future of Humanity Institute have published a paper outlining a software “killswitch” they claim can stop those instances of learning that could make an AI less useful — or, in the future, less safe. It’s really less a killswitch than a blind spot, removing from the AI the ability to learn the wrong lessons. Cont'd...
Jason Baker for OpenSource: Open source isn't just changing the way we interact with the world, it's changing the way the world interacts back with us. Case in point: open source robotics. Robots are playing an increasing role in our world, and while we perhaps haven't reached the utopian future with robotic housekeepers imagined for us in the Jetsons, robotics are making advances in fields that fifty years ago would have been completely unimaginable. While undoubtedly manufacturing has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of the robot renaissance, we are seeing robots enter the mainstream as well. Many of us have robots that clean our floors, clear our gutters, mow our grass, and more. And now, with the advances of self driving cars, drones, and other transport technologies, the line between what is a robot and what is a vehicle is steadily blurring. But let's be honest: a lot of us have an interest in robotics simply because it's fun! And the good news is you don't need to be an electrical engineer to enjoy robotics as a hobby. Fortunately, there are a number of open source projects out there that can help even the most novice beginner get started. Full Article:
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KINGSTAR Soft PLC - Replace Your PLC with an EtherCAT-enabled Soft PLC for Real-Time Motion Control and Machine Vision
The top machine builders are switching from proprietary hardware-based PLCs, like Allen-Bradley, TwinCAT, Mitsubishi and KEYENCE, to open standards-based EtherCAT-enabled software PLCs on IPCs. KINGSTAR provides a fully-featured and integrated software PLC based on an open and accessible RTOS. KINGSTAR Soft PLC also includes add-on or third-party components for motion control and machine vision that are managed by a rich user interface for C++ programmers and non-developers alike.