NASA's Free Flying Robot Challenge

From NASA, Google's Project Tango, and Top Coders: Welcome to the NASA Free Flying Robot Mission Patch & Naming Challenge sponsored by the NASA Tournament Lab!  In 2017, NASA is aiming to launch a robot that will be used on-board the International Space Station (ISS). The robot has been tentatively called the “Free Flying Robot”. Not that catchy, right?  So here’s where NASA needs your help – we need the Topcoder community to help design a custom mission patch AND develop a name for the Free Flying Robot.  So what is a Free Flying Robot? It’s a robot that is capable of functioning autonomously, but can also be controlled by a flight crew on-board the ISS or from Earth. It can conduct zero gravity robotics experiments, carry mobile sensors such as an RFID reader for logging inventory & inspect items using a built in camera  Currently on the ISS there are robotic devices called  “ SPHERES ”  (Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites), and the new Free Flyer Robot program is being seen as a step forward in the use of robotic devices in spaceflight... ( submission form )  

Robotics Design, Synthesis and Processing

The total process of building a robot is first to identify a need, then defining the problem that must be overcome to accomplish the need.

In Haptics, Machines Imitate Life

Enter the discipline of haptics, which involves using robotics with sophisticated feedback and controls to simulate a tactile experience for the user.

Deep Learning for Detecting Robotic Grasps

From Ian Lenz, Honglak Lee, Ashutosh Saxena: Abstract We consider the problem of detecting robotic grasps in an RGB-D view of a scene containing objects. In this work, we apply a deep learning approach to solve this problem, which avoids time-consuming hand-design of features. This presents two main challenges. First, we need to evaluate a huge number of candidate grasps. In order to make detection fast and robust, we present a two-step cascaded system with two deep networks, where the top detections from the first are re-evaluated by the second. The first network has fewer features, is faster to run, and can effectively prune out unlikely candidate grasps. The second, with more features, is slower but has to run only on the top few detections. Second, we need to handle multimodal inputs effectively, for which we present a method that applies structured regularization on the weights based on multimodal group regularization. We show that our method improves performance on an RGBD robotic grasping dataset, and can be used to successfully execute grasps on two different robotic platforms... ( homepage ) ( full pdf paper )

3 Robotics Related Kickstarters And Crazyflie 2

Crowd Funding Projects include - CONTROLLINO PLC: First open programmable Open-Source PLC (Arduino-Compatible) / Scrobby Solar: Keeping your solar panels clean! / IR-LOCK: infrared target tracking for Drones & DIY Robotics

Collaborative Robot Development

Since the operator can work in the robot's workspace even when the robot is still in motion at full speed, there is much more collaboration between the operator and robot.

FPV Forest Quad Racing

From french quad racing association  Airgonay :    

Piezo Motors Power MRI Robot

Combining magnetic field immunity with high precision motion over inches of travel, piezo "leg" motors walk the line.

Soft Robotics Toolkit

From Harvard Biodesign Lab: The Soft Robotics Toolkit is a collection of shared resources to support the design, fabrication, modeling, characterization, and control of soft robotic devices. The toolkit was developed as part of educational research being undertaken in the Harvard Biodesign Lab. The ultimate aim of the toolkit is to advance the field of soft robotics by allowing designers and researchers to build upon each other’s work. The toolkit includes an open source fluidic control board, detailed design documentation describing a wide range of soft robotic components (including actuators and sensors), and related files that can be downloaded and used in the design, manufacture, and operation of soft robots. In combination with low material costs and increasingly accessible rapid prototyping technologies such as 3D printers, laser cutters, and CNC mills, the toolkit enables soft robotic components to be produced easily and affordably... ( project's homepage )

Gyro-Stabilized Turrets Provide Real Time Imaging

Lightweight, high-efficiency servomotors stabilize and position sensor turrets on unmanned aerial vehicles.

Robot Octopus Takes to the Sea

From Evan Ackerman at IEEE Spectrum: The video below has four parts to it: the first shows the difference between the robotic octopus swimming with just flexible arms, and swimming with just flexible arms in addition to a web. The most obvious difference is the speed: just over 100 millimeters per second with arms only, and up to 180 mm/s (or 0.5 body lengths per second) with the web. This is a significant increase, obviously, but what's more important is the overall cost of transport (CoT), which is a measure of the efficiency of the robot (specifically, the ratio of the energy put in over the resulting speed). The CoT for the arms-only version is 0.85, whereas the web drops that down to 0.62. So yeah, having that web in there is better in almost every way... ( cont'd )

Filling Without Spilling

Watching a form-fill-seal machine in operation is rather fascinating. It looks so easy, but the precision technology needed to ensure that bag after bag is being filled without breaking, or its intended content being misdirected and wasted, is far from simple.

Nixie: The First Wearable Camera That Can Fly

From Nixie's homepage: Nixie is a tiny wearable camera on a wrist band. The wrist straps unfold to create a quadcopter that flies, takes photos or video, then comes back to you... ( cont'd )

Robotmaster Software Is Used To Create An Automated Way Of Producing Custom Orthotics Using Milling Robots

Our simplified working procedure imports the unique patient 3D model into a preprogrammed production design strategy that takes account of all the pertinent milling and robot articulation data.

How To Tell When A Robot Has Written You A Letter

From Clive Thompson: A few weeks ago I got duped by a robot. In the mail. I was sifting through my dead-tree postal mail and tossing junk in the recycling bin. Nearly everything that arrives in my mailbox is junk, so I was tossing, tossing, tossing … until suddenly, whoops: A hand-addressed letter. This looked legit, so I ripped it open — only to find it was an oily invitation to take out a second mortgage on my home. I’d been fooled... ( cont'd )

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