What Robots and AI Learned in 2015

By Will Knight for MIT Technology Review:  The  robots didn’t really take over in 2015, but at times it felt as if that might be where we’re headed. There were signs that machines will soon take over manual work that currently requires human skill. Early in the year details emerged of a contest organized by Amazon to help robots do more work inside its vast product fulfillment centers. The Amazon Picking challenge, as the event was called, was held at a prominent robotics conference later in the year. Teams competed for a $25,000 prize by designing a robot to identify and grasp items from one of Amazon’s storage shelves as quickly as possible (the winner picked and packed 10 items in 20 minutes). This might seem a trivial task for human workers, but figuring out how to grasp different objects arranged haphazardly on shelves in a real warehouse is still a formidable challenge for robot-kind.   Cont'd...

Robots Learning Judo Techniques to Fall Down Without Exploding

By Evan Ackerman for IEEE Spectrum:  The best and worst part of the DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals waswatching all of those huge expensive humanoids topple over in a series of epic faceplants. Faceplants are called faceplants because you’re planting your face into the ground as a means of breaking your fall, which usually also breaks your face, among other things. This tends to happen when you’re unprepared for falling, which with most robots, is 100 percent of the time. Now researchers at Georgia Tech want to teach humanoid robots to fall more safely with techniques adapted from judo, which might protect them enough to actually be able to get up again. Falling safely (or, as safely as you can), assuming that you have very little control over the nature of your fall, is all about controlling exactly when and how your body crashes down. During a fall, your body is busy converting potential energy to kinetic energy, all of which has to go somewhere when you hit the ground. If your face hits the ground first, then that’s where all the energy goes at once, but if you can manage to contact the ground with a bunch of different parts of your body at different times on the way down, the energy will be spread out. Ideally, the energy gets spread out to the point where each individual impact doesn’t do enough damage to hurt you in a permanent sort of way.  Cont'd...

euRathlon 2015 Challenge

Sixth day of euRathlon 2015 - euRathlon 2015 Grand Challenge - Part 2 25 September 2015, Piombino, Italy. View euRathlon 2015 Grand Challenge - Part 1. Day Five View euRathlon 2015 Challenge: Two-domain Scenarios. Day Four. View euRathlon 2015 Challenge: Two Domain Trials - Day Th ree View euRathlon 2015 Challenge: Single Domain Trials - Day Two View euRathlon 2015 Challenge: Single-domain trials - Day One

Toyota hires robotics expert for AI push

Richard Waters for FT.com:  Toyota has hired the top robotics expert from the US defence department’s research arm and promised $50m in extra funding for artificial intelligence research, as it steps up the race between the world’s biggest carmakers to pioneer new forms of computer-assisted driving. However, the Japanese carmaker maintained on Friday that completely driverless cars were still years away, and that AI and robotics would have a more complex effect on the relationship between humans and their vehicles than Google’s experiments with “robot cars” suggest. Gill Pratt, who stepped down recently from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa), will move to Silicon Valley to head Toyota’s robotics efforts, the company said. Darpa played a key role in stimulating interest in driverless cars with a competition in 2005 — the leader of the winning entry, Sebastian Thrun, who was then a professor at Stanford University, went on to found Google’s driverless car programme.   Cont'd...

CRAFT Program Aims for Affordable Designer Circuits that Do More with Less Power

Many systems could benefit from advances of the sort that CRAFT seeks to catalyze.

Materials Science: Advancing the Next Revolution of "Stuff"

For millennia, materials have mattered-so much so that entire eras have been named for them.

Join DARPA to Envision the World of 2030

The physics of harnessing light to see around corners …

What is the DARPA Robotics Challenge?

To make robots useful to first responders, they must be able to pick up and use a tool, turn a valve, and climb a ladder or stairs. The DRC is necessary to find ways where robots can be helpful in keeping humans out of danger.

DARPA to Explore Possible Futures at "Wait, What?" Forum

"Wait, What? A Future Technology Forum," to be held September 9th through 11th in St. Louis

Sporting Velodyne's 3D LiDAR Sensor, NASA/JPL's 'RoboSimian' Competes in 2015 DARPA Robotics Challenge

Industry-Leading HDL-32E Sensor Also Deployed on Boston Dynamics' SPOT; Helps Robots 'See' Danger Lurking in the Aftermath of a Disaster

Why Robots and Humans Struggled with DARPA's Challenge

Will Knight for MIT Technology Review:  When some of the world’s most advanced rescue robots are foiled by nothing more complex than a doorknob, you get a good sense of the challenge of making our homes and workplaces more automated. At the DARPA Robotics Challenge, a contest held over the weekend in California, two dozen extremely sophisticated robots did their best to perform a series of tasks on an outdoor course, including turning a valve, climbing some steps, and opening a door (see “A Transformer Wins DARPA’s $2 Million Robotics Challenge”). Although a couple of robots managed to complete the course, others grasped thin air, walked into walls, or simply toppled over as if overcome with the sheer impossibility of it all. At the same time, efforts by human controllers to help the robots through their tasks may offer clues as to how human-machine collaboration could be deployed in various other settings. “I think this is an opportunity for everybody to see how hard robotics really is,” says Mark Raibert, founder of Boston Dynamics, now owned by Google, which produced an extremely sophisticated humanoid robot called Atlas.   Cont'd...

DARPA Robotics Challenge Results

Taking first place and the $2 million in prize money that goes with it is Team Kaist of Daejeon, Republic of Korea, and its robot DRC-Hubo

Three Teams Take Top Honors at DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals

"May the best robot win" has been a frequently uttered phrase throughout the DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals, held this Friday and Saturday at the Fairplex in Pomona, California.

Watch DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals Live Online

25 teams compete on a disaster-simulated course, and one winning robot will take home $2 million. CuriosityStream will bring you top of the line coverage of the event. Get up close with the robots, meet the brains behind the technology - and explore the past, present, and future of robots with our new lineup of Science/Technology programming. Join CuriosityStream and DARPA as we discover which robot will save the day!

Worcester Polytechnic Institute to Compete in DARPA Robotics Challenge June 5-6, 2015

DARPA competition puts robots from 24 international teams through difficult tasks of mobility and manipulation; ultimate goal is to develop robots able to help humans in disasters.

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