Festo BionicANTs and eMotionButterflies

From Festo Bionic: With the bionic butterflies, for the first time Festo combines the ultralight construction of artificial insects with collision-free flying behaviour in a collective. For coordination purposes, the eMotionButterflies make use of a guidance and monitoring system, which could be used in the networked factory of the future... ( additional info ) Like their natural role models, the BionicANTs work together under clear rules. They communicate with each other and coordinate their actions and movements among each other. The artificial ants thus demonstrate how autonomous individual components can solve a complex task together working as an overall networked system... ( additional info )

What You Wanted To Know About AI

Run down of the state of AI from FastML: Let’s take a look at how advanced we are, really. Two representative and well known examples of the current state of the art are: Automatic image annotation using a combination of convolutional and recurrent neural networks DeepMind’s deep reinforcement learning for playing Atari games ( cont'd at FastML )

Runt Rover Robot Kits from Actobotics

From Servocity:  Simply mount your electronics using our innovative multi-board mounts that are compatible with a variety of micro-controllers; such as Raspberry Pi, Arduino and the SparkFun Redboard. The Runt Rovers™ are perfect for beginning light programming and educational applications... ( Servocity available options )

Robotnik's Mobile Manipulator RB-1

From Smashing Robotics: Spanish company Robotnik introduced earlier this week their very own RB-1 mobile manipulator. The robot is designed for indoor use in household as well as professional environments, and is brought to life by using well known Dynamixel Pro series servo actuators which add up to 13 degrees of freedom (DOF), depending on variant. It is well suited for remote manipulation or human assistance applications and can be fully autonomous or manually controlled... ( full article ) ( datasheet )

Beating Super Hexagon With Computer Vision

Two great examples of using Computer Vision to beat Super Hexagon. Super Hexagon is a really hard game. The goal of Super Hexagon is to control a small triangle which circles around a central hexagon (which occasionally collapses into a pentagon or square in the hexagon and hyper hexagon difficulty) attempting to avoid contact with incoming "walls".  First example from Valentin Trimaille's Super Hexagon bot: Ray Casting Wall Detection The point is that a bot for this game makes a really nice image processing project to start learning OpenCV: simple shapes but lots of human disturbing effects, fast-paced game meaning real-time is required, very simple controls: rotate CW or CCW... ( full article ) Second example from Shaun LeBron's  Super Hexagon Unwrapper: This project is written in Python. It employs Computer Vision algorithms provided by SimpleCV to establish a reference frame in the image. Then it warps (or "unwraps") the image based on that reference frame, using OpenGL fragment shaders... ( github code ) ( full explanation )

Proposed FAA Commercial UAS Rules

From IEEE Spectrum: Unmanned aircraft must weigh less than 55 lbs. (25 kg). Visual line-of-sight (VLOS) only; the unmanned aircraft must remain within VLOS of the operator or visual observer. At all times the small unmanned aircraft must remain close enough to the operator for the operator to be capable of seeing the aircraft with vision unaided by any device other than corrective lenses. Small unmanned aircraft may not operate over any persons not directly involved in the operation. Daylight-only operations (official sunrise to official sunset, local time). Must yield right-of-way to other aircraft, manned or unmanned. May use visual observer (VO) but not required. First-person view camera cannot satisfy “see-and-avoid” requirement but can be used as long as requirement is satisfied in other ways. Maximum airspeed of 100 mph (87 knots). Maximum altitude of 500 feet above ground level... (full article)

ReWalk Robotics Hopes to Raise $50M in IPO

From Boston Herald: A company with U.S. headquarters in Marlborough that was recently awarded FDA approval to sell its robotic exoskeletons for paraplegics plans to raise $50 million in an IPO this week, possibly on Friday. Israeli-based ReWalk Robotics is planning to sell 3.5 million shares for between $14 and $16 each, which puts it at the low end of the 13 local health care companies which have gone public since the beginning of the year, more than any other year in history. Most of those have been biotech companies, however, making ReWalk the first robotics-focused company to do so in at least a couple of years... ( cont'd )

REMUS SharkCam: The Hunter and the Hunted

From Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution's Vimeo page: In 2013, a team from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution took a specially equipped REMUS "SharkCam" underwater vehicle to Guadalupe Island in Mexico to film great white sharks in the wild. They captured more than they bargained for. Additional article in  Oceanus Magazine.


From JIBO's Indiegogo campaign: Friendly, helpful and intelligent. From social robotics pioneer Dr. Cynthia Breazeal.

A Robot Valet Will Park Your Car at This German Airport

Last week, Düsseldorf airport (DUS) introduced robot valets to take the hassle out of parking for travelers. Travelers can leave their cars at the arrival level of the ParkingPLUS structure. As they leave, they confirm on a touch-screen that no one is in the car. The robot valet, nicknamed "Ray," takes it from there. The robot measures the vehicle, picks it up with a forklift-like system, and takes it to the back area, where it will position it in one of the 249 parking spots reserved for automated valets. The machine is capable of carrying standard cars weighing up to 3.31 tons. The robot valet is even connected to the airport's flight data system, and by checking customer trip data with the database, Ray knows when the customer will return for the vehicle. A traveler can note any itinerary changes in a parking app, which is available for iOS and Android.


From travelbydrone.com: We want to give you the chance to discover the world from the perspective of drones. The video footage of the area you are most interested in is as accessible as never before. On this site, everyone can share YouTube videos and add the corresponding location. It will appear on the map with a pin where the video footage has been recorded. After submitting a request to share a video, a dedicated team will review the material before validating the request. As soon as the request has been validated, the shared video will be visible on the map... ( Travel By Drone search page )

Response by Ray Kurzweil to the announcement of chatbot passing the Turing test

From Ray Kurzweil's blog: In my 2004 book The Singularity Is Near, I anticipated that there would be premature announcements of this kind: The Singularity Is Near, page 295 | Turing was carefully imprecise in setting the rules for his test, and significant literature has been devoted to the subtleties of establishing the exact procedures for determining how to assess when the Turing test has been passed. In 2002 I negotiated the rules for a Turing test wager with Mitch Kapor on the Long Now website... ( cont'd )

Robot Orders a Scone in Mountain View, California

Using the Anybot QB Avatar to order a scone from Red Rock Coffee in Mountain View, CA.

North American Robotics Market Sets New Records in 2012

The North American robotics market has recorded its strongest year ever in 2012, according to new statistics from Robotic Industries Association (RIA), the industry's trade group. A total of 22,598 robots valued at $1.48 billion were sold to companies in North America in 2012, beating the previous record of 19,337 robots sold in 2011. When sales by North American robot suppliers to companies outside North America are included, the totals are 25,557 robots valued at $1.66 billion. Compared to 2011, North American orders were up 17% in units and 27% in dollars. "The Automotive industry has continued to be the strongest driver of the North American robotics market," said Alex Shikany, Director of Market Analysis for RIA. "Robots sold to automotive OEMs in North America jumped 47% over a then record-setting 2011, while robots sold to automotive component suppliers increased 21%," he noted. Sales were also up in metalworking industries (+12%) and life sciences/pharmaceuticals (+3%). In terms of applications, increases were seen in assembly (+40%), spot welding (+37%), arc welding (+24%), coating & dispensing (+13%), and material handling (+3%). The fourth quarter of 2012 was the strongest quarter ever recorded by RIA (the association began reporting data in 1984) in terms of units ordered, with 6,235 robots sold to North American companies. The fourth quarter was up nine percent in units and 21% in dollars over the same period in 2011.

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