The 10 Coolest Drones at the World's Biggest Robot War Games

David Hambling for Popular Mechanics:  Unmanned Warrior is the world's biggest robot war game, currently taking place for two weeks off the coast of Scotland. It was proposed by First Sea Lord Admiral George Zambellas to give airborne, surface, and underwater drones from various suppliers a chance to show off their prowess. Unmanned Warrior is part of Joint Warrior, an exercise involving 30 warships and submarines from 18 nations. But for the newly inaugurated robot portion, the U.S. is a strong presence, with teams from the Office of Naval Research (ONR). As robots continue packing increased capability in smaller, lower-cost packages, these exercises are a glimpse into the future of naval warfare. Of course, none of these drones are armed for these exercises. These Unmanned Warriors are not trusted to carry weapons—at least not yet. The first-ever Unmanned Warrior will wrap up on October 20.   Cont'd...

Robot Sews First Complete Garment

From Sewbo:   Sewbo Inc. on Thursday announced that it has achieved the long-sought goal of automated sewing, by using an industrial robot to sew together a T-shirt. This milestone represents the first time that a robot has been used to sew an entire article of clothing. Despite widespread use in other industries, automation has failed to find a place in apparel manufacturing due to robots’ inability to handle limp, flexible fabrics. Sewbo avoids these hurdles by temporarily stiffening fabrics, making it easy for conventional robots to build clothes as if they were made from sheet metal. Afterwards, the process is reversed to produce soft, fully assembled garments. “Our technology will allow manufacturers to create higher-quality clothing at lower costs in less time than ever before,” said Jonathan Zornow, the technology’s inventor. “Avoiding labor issues and shortening supply chains will help reduce the complexity and headaches surrounding today’s intricate global supply network. And digital manufacturing will revolutionize fashion, even down to how we buy our clothes by allowing easy and affordable customization for everyone.” Sewbo performed their feat using an off-the-shelf industrial robot, which they taught to operate a consumer sewing machine. Having successfully proved its core concept, Sewbo is now expanding its team and working towards commercializing its technology... ( company webpage , MIT article )

The First Autonomous, Entirely Soft Robot

From Leah Burrows and Harvard:   A team of Harvard University researchers with expertise in 3-D printing, mechanical engineering, and microfluidics has demonstrated the first autonomous, untethered, entirely soft robot. This small, 3-D-printed robot — nicknamed the “octobot” — could pave the way for a new generation of such machines... ...Through our hybrid assembly approach, we were able to 3-D print each of the functional components required within the soft robot body, including the fuel storage, power, and actuation, in a rapid manner,” said Lewis. “The octobot is a simple embodiment designed to demonstrate our integrated design and additive fabrication strategy for embedding autonomous functionality.”... (full article)  

See what this squishy octopus-inspired robot can do

The latest revolutionary robot isn’t the metallic, costly machine you’d expect: It’s squishy like Silly Putty, wireless, battery-less and made for pennies by a 3D printer. Meet Octobot. It looks like a tiny octopus and is designed to mimic that slithery creature to get through cracks and tight places, making it ideal as a rescue robot. A team at Harvard University has created a robot - actually about 300 of them, since they are so cheap to make - that is opposite of the common view of a robot. Soft, not hard. Flexibl,e not rigid. It’s not mechanical, nor electrical. It’s powered by fluids. The discovery is described, photographed and shown on video in the scientific journal Nature.   Cont'd...


Kelsey D. Atherton for Popular Science:  Flying machines are hard secrets to keep. By their very nature, they soar into the heavens, above the heads of those below. America's military tends to keep its secret planes secret by only flying them in vast swathes of empty desert, until they’re ready for public debut. But that’s not really an option for Amazon, which is testing delivery drones in the United Kingdom (while it attempts to weave its way through U.S. regulations). So where, exactly, are Amazon drones flying? A field eight miles south of Cambridge named “Worsted Lodge.” No, really. In a thorough photo-essay at Business Insider, reporter Sam Shead pinpoints and explores the site and the field, until turned away by a security guard.   Cont'd...

Pepper the 'emotional robot' makes its way to Silicon Valley

Lauren Goode for The Verge:  Pepper, the humanoid robot created by Aldebaran Robotics and SoftBank Mobile, is slowly making its way to the US — and it’s starting in Silicon Valley. The robot was seen in action this week at the b8ta store in Palo Alto, California, a gadget shop launched by former Nest employees. Pepper was on a demo loop at the store, so we weren’t able to fully interact with it. But the idea behind Pepper is that it’s supposed to interpret and respond to a variety of customer needs. Using a combination of 2D and 3D cameras in its eyes and mouth, plus four multi-directional microphones, Pepper is able to "read" four human emotions — happiness, joy, sadness, and anger — and respond accordingly. It rolls up to you, raises its hands in greeting when you introduce yourself, and turns its head toward you when you move or talk. It is toylike and adorable.   Cont'd...

Insect-Sized Drone Will Spy On Terrorists

Source - Sky News:  An insect-sized spy drone with four flapping wings and four legs is set to become Britain's latest weapon in the war on terror. The Dragonfly drone fits in the palm of a hand and has four flapping wings and four legs. It can fly through the air with great agility, allowing it to penetrate buildings through open windows, and perch on surfaces to eavesdrop. It can detect incoming objects and buildings, meaning it can avoid obstacles at high speeds. It is one of a number of pieces of kit being developed by the Ministry of Defence as part of an innovation drive.   Cont'd...

A Large Dataset to Train Convolutional Networks for Disparity, Optical Flow, and Scene Flow Estimation

From Computer Vision Freiburg:   Recent work has shown that optical flow estimation can be formulated as a supervised learning task and can be successfully solved with convolutional networks. Training of the so-called FlowNet was enabled by a large synthetically generated dataset. The present paper extends the concept of optical flow estimation via convolutional networks to disparity and scene flow estimation. To this end, we propose three synthetic stereo video datasets with sufficient realism, variation, and size to successfully train large networks. Our datasets are the first large-scale datasets to enable training and evaluating scene flow methods. Besides the datasets, we present a convolutional network for real-time disparity estimation that provides state-of-the-art results. By combining a flow and disparity estimation network and training it jointly, we demonstrate the first scene flow estimation with a convolutional network. his video shows impressions from various parts of our dataset, as well as state-of-the-art realtime disparity estimation results produced by one of our new CNNs... (full paper)    

Siemens' World-record Electric Aircraft Motor Punches Above Its Weight

From Gizmag:   Researchers at Siemens have created a new prototype electric motor specifically designed for aircraft that weighs in at just 50 kg (110 lb) and is claimed to produce about 260 kW (348 hp) at just 2,500 RPM. With a quoted power five times greater than any comparable powerplant, the new motor promises enough grunt to get aircraft with take-off weights of up to 1,800 kg (2 ton) off the ground... ... As a result, the new aircraft electric drive system achieves a claimed weight-to-performance ratio of 5 kW per kilogram. This ratio is an exceptional figure – especially if compared to similarly powerful industrial electric motors used in heavy machinery that produce less than 1 kW per kilogram, or even to more efficient electric motors for vehicles that generate around 2 kW per kilogram... (full article)  

I, Snowbot

From New York Magazine:   Snowden’s body might be confined to Moscow, but the former NSA computer specialist has hacked a work-around: a robot. If he wants to make his physical presence felt in the United States, he can connect to a wheeled contraption called a BeamPro, a flat-screen monitor that stands atop a pair of legs, five-foot-two in all, with a camera that acts as a swiveling Cyclops eye. Inevitably, people call it the “Snowbot.” The avatar resides at the Manhattan offices of the ACLU, where it takes meetings and occasionally travels to speaking engagements. (You can Google pictures of the Snowbot posing with Sergey Brin at TED.) Undeniably, it’s a gimmick: a tool in the campaign to advance Snowden’s cause — and his case for clemency — by building his cultural and intellectual celebrity. But the technology is of real symbolic and practical use to Snowden, who hopes to prove that the internet can overcome the power of governments, the strictures of exile, and isolation... (full article)

The Tiny Radar Chip Revolutionizing Gesture Recognition: Google ATAP's Project Soli

From All About Circuits:   Google ATAP is bringing touchless interfaces to the market using a miniaturized radar chip no bigger than a dime. This is Project Soli. Soli’s radar sensor is a marvel in many respects. For one thing, it solves a long-lived issue when it comes to gesture-recognition technology. Previous forays into the topic yielded almost-answers such as stereo cameras (which have difficulty understanding the overlap of fingers, e.g.) and capacitive touch sensing(which struggles to interpret motion in a 3D context). Google ATAP’s answer is radar. Radar is capable of interpreting objects’ position and motion even through other objects, making it perfect for developing a sensor that can be embedded in different kinds of devices like smartphones... (full article)

Hebocon World Championship 2016

HEBOCON is a robot contest for the technically ungifted. They held the first tournament in Tokyo in July 19,2014... (Facebook page)

Vyo Is a Fascinating and Unique Take on Social Domestic Robots

Evan Ackerman for IEEE Spectrum:   A group of researchers including Michal Luria, Guy Hoffman, Benny Megidish, Oren Zuckerman, Roberto Aimi, and Sung Park from IDC Herzliya, Cornell, and SK Telecom have developed a prototype social robot called Vyo. Vyo is “a personal assistant serving as a centralized interface for smart home devices.” Nothing new there, but what sets Vyo apart is how you interact with it: it combines non-anthropomorphic design with anthropomorphic expressiveness and a tactile object-based control system into a social robot that’s totally, adorably different. But is it practical?   Full Article:

​Forget self-driving cars: What about self-flying drones?

Tina Amirtha for Benelux:  In 2014, three software engineers decided to create a drone company in Wavre, Belgium, just outside Brussels. All were licensed pilots and trained in NATO security techniques. But rather than build drones themselves, they decided they would upgrade existing radio-controlled civilian drones with an ultra-secure software layer to allow the devices to fly autonomously. Their company, EagleEye Systems, would manufacture the onboard computer and design the software, while existing manufacturers would provide the drone body and sensors. Fast-forward to the end of March this year, when the company received a Section 333 exemption from the US Federal Aviation Administration to operate and sell its brand of autonomous drones in the US. The decision came amid expectations that the FAA will loosen its restrictions on legal drone operations and issue new rules to allow drones to fly above crowds.   Cont'd...

SUNSPRING by 32 Tesla K80 GPUs

From Ross Goodwin on Medium: To call the film above surreal would be a dramatic understatement. Watching it for the first time, I almost couldn’t believe what I was seeing—actors taking something without any objective meaning, and breathing semantic life into it with their emotion, inflection, and movement.  After further consideration, I realized that actors do this all the time. Take any obscure line of Shakespearean dialogue and consider that 99.5% of the audience who hears that line in 2016 would not understand its meaning if they read it in on paper. However, in a play, they do understand it based on its context and the actor’s delivery.  As Modern English speakers, when we watch Shakespeare, we rely on actors to imbue the dialogue with meaning. And that’s exactly what happened inSunspring, because the script itself has no objective meaning. On watching the film, many of my friends did not realize that the action descriptions as well as the dialogue were computer generated. After examining the output from the computer, the production team made an effort to choose only action descriptions that realistically could be filmed, although the sequences themselves remained bizarre and surreal... (medium article with technical details) Here is the stage direction that led to Middleditch’s character vomiting an eyeball early in the film: C (smiles) I don’t know anything about any of this. H (to Hauk, taking his eyes from his mouth) Then what? H2 There’s no answer.

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