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.

Quality Control and Error Prevention in Food Packaging

Having a wrong label on a can of food, or a wrong lid on a cup of margarine, could have serious consequences to the manufacturer and the retailer, as well as the consumer. An automatic identification solution using 1D and 2D barcodes is a reliable way to improve quality control in the food packaging process, ensure safety and to avoid human errors.

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 .

Growing a Language, by Guy Steele

A 1998 presentation by computer scientist Guy Steele, co-designer of the Scheme programming language. If you are at all interested in computer language design and theory you owe it to yourself to watch at least the first 10 minutes of the video. It might be the "Sixth Sense" of computer language design presentations.

Disney's 'Physical Face Cloning'

Disney Research released info on research they've been doing for simulating, and fabricating synthetic skin for an animatronics character that mimics the face of a given subject and its expressions. The process starts with measuring the elastic properties of a material used to manufacture synthetic soft tissue. Given these measurements they use physics-based simulation to predict the behavior of a face when it is driven by the underlying robotic actuation. Next, we capture 3D facial expressions for a given target subject.

Future Concepts and the ExoHand

Festo's ExoHand is an exoskeleton that can be worn like a glove, combining smart features invented by the engineers with the smart and flexible solutions from nature. The fingers can be actively moved and their strength amplified; the operator's hand movements are registered and transmitted to the robotic hand in real time.

Our Ongoing OpenCV Resource

Here are several educational resources to help you learn about OpenCV (Open Source Computer Vision Library)

Autonomous Mobile Robots

ADAM AMRs mimic human behavior. In a textbook example of lean manufacturing, ADAM is designed to predictably and instantaneously react to the electronic request of the machines for service, delivering what the production cell wants in the exact time and quantity it wants, connecting islands of automation for optimal efficiency.

Robotic Integration For Assisted Movement

Powered exoskeletons have the potential to change battlefield technology forever. Paraplegic patients may leverage new technologies to walk again. Future exoskeletons will better integrate with humans, blurring the line between man and machine.

Industrial Robots with Image Processing in the Photovoltaic Industry

A 'seeing' robot can flexibly pick up, recognize and measure wafers, solar cells and even whole modules and then place the gripped objects with great precision and speed.

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