Is That Robot Thinking?

Presently, most robots are programmed to perform definite tasks and they perform them with absolute precision, but when precise movements are replaced with thoughtful movements, the robot will need to learn how to perform a task and then proceed. The robot will no longer be the precise machine that it was, but one that is prone to errors as we humans are.

Interview with Mitch Rosenberg, Rethink Robotics

This year, Rethink Robotics will offer a Software Development Kit that enables customers and third parties to develop unique task applications. As a result, Baxter will be more than just a robot, it will be a platform for third-party capability development-much like mobile phones and PCs are today.

Multi-application Robot Arm Is 'Child's Play' To Program

"Teaching the robot is child's play, both Julian and I taught ourselves within a day," Steve Blease continued. "The teach mode is ideal for establishing the basic approach and then it's just a question of fine-tuning for final positioning."

MoveIt! Software Framework for Motion Planning in ROS

From ROS.org: Willow Garage is proud to announce the initial release of MoveIt! : new software targeted at allowing you to build advanced applications integrating motion planning, kinematics, collision checking with grasping, manipulation, navigation, perception, and control. MoveIt! is robot agnostic software that can be quickly set up with your robot if a URDF representation of the robot is available. The MoveIt! Setup Assistant lets you configure MoveIt! for any robot, allowing you to visualize and interact with the robot model quickly. MoveIt! can incorporate both actual sensor data and simulated models to build an environment representation. Sensor information (3D) can be automatically integrated realtime in the representation of the world that MoveIt! maintains. CAD models can also be imported in the same world representation if desired. Collision-free motion planning, execution and monitoring are core capabilities that MoveIt! provides for any robot. MoveIt! updates its representation of the environment on the fly, enabling reactive motion planning and execution, which is essential for applications in human-robot collaborative environments. MoveIt! interfaces with controllers through a standard ROS interface, allowing for ease of inter-operability, i.e. the ability to use the same higher-level software with a variety of robots without needing to change code. MoveIt! is architected to be flexible, using a plugin architecture to allow users to integrate their own custom components while still providing out-of-the-box functionality using default implementations. Furthermore, the ROS communication and configuration layer of MoveIt! is separated from core computational components such as motion planning or collision checking, the latter components being provided separately as C++ libraries. Available here .

RIO (Raspberry IO) Card

Roboteq, Inc launched a kickstarter project named RIO (for Raspberry IO) and aimed at creating an intelligent I/O card that stacks over the $35 Raspberry PI Linux Single Board computer. Power for the PI from any DC source RIO includes a 3A DC/DC converter that may be connected to a 10V to 40V DC supply, and generates the 5V needed by the PI and the RIO cards. 21 I/O lines to Connect Just About Anything RIO provides a total of 8 digital outputs rated up to 1A and 30V max, which may also be used as digital inputs. The card includes 13 inputs, each of which can be configured as a digital input, 0-5V analog input with 12-bit resolution, or as a timer input. In the timer mode, the inputs can capture pulse width, frequency, quadrature encoder counts, or duty cycle. Most of the input pins can also be configured as PWM outputs for driving RC servos, or dimmable lights. Serial Connectivity and CAN Networking Two serial ports are present on the card. One is fully RS232 compliant with programmable baud rate up to 115200 bits/s for connection to motor controllers, scanners, PC or any other RS232 device. The second is RS485 compatible, enabling, among other things, DMX512 connectivity to light show equipement. Optionally, a 3rd serial port uses TTL levels for direct interface to non-buffered, non-inverted USARTs as these found on most microcontrollers, like the Arduino. A CAN bus interface is also present on the Rio card for connecting to CAN-compatible device, on a low cost twisted pair network at speeds up to 1Mbit/s. Full Kickstarter details here .

DARPA's Low Cost Hand Hardware

The ARM-H track of DARPA's Autonomous Robotic Manipulation (ARM) program focuses on development of robust, low-cost and dexterous robotic hand hardware. DARPA funded performers to design and build hand mechanisms that could replace the claw-like hands currently used on robots with hands incorporating 3-4 fingers and useable palms. The teams successfully produced hands that can be manufactured for as little as $3,000 per unit (in batches of 1,000 or more), down from the $50,000 cost of current technology. The new hands also incorporate sufficient dexterity to enable manipulation of objects in their fingers when controlled by a skilled operator.

RoboBees

Demonstration of the first controlled flight of an insect-sized robot is the culmination of more than a decade's work, led by researchers at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard. Half the size of a paperclip, weighing less than a tenth of a gram, the robot was inspired by the biology of a fly, with submillimeter-scale anatomy and two wafer-thin wings that flap almost invisibly, 120 times per second.

Applying Motion-capture Data From Animals To Quadruped Robots

IEEE Spectrum has a short article about how the Italian Institute of Technology and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology are using motion-capture from horses walking, trotting, etc and transferring it to the locomotion of their quadruped robots.

Interview With FAMU-FSU College of Engineering: RASC-AL Competition

In this exciting competition, undergraduate and graduate students are invited to create a multi-disciplinary team to build a planetary rover prototype and demonstrate its capabilities to perform a series of competitive tasks in field tests at the NASA Johnson Space Center's Rock Yard in June 2013.

Interview With University Of Nebraska: RASC-AL Competition

In this exciting competition, undergraduate and graduate students are invited to create a multi-disciplinary team to build a planetary rover prototype and demonstrate its capabilities to perform a series of competitive tasks in field tests at the NASA Johnson Space Center's Rock Yard in June 2013.

Interview With University of Utah, "RoboUtes": RASC-AL Competition

In this exciting competition, undergraduate and graduate students are invited to create a multi-disciplinary team to build a planetary rover prototype and demonstrate its capabilities to perform a series of competitive tasks in field tests at the NASA Johnson Space Center's Rock Yard in June 2013.

Interview With West Virginia University: RASC-AL Competition

In this exciting competition, undergraduate and graduate students are invited to create a multi-disciplinary team to build a planetary rover prototype and demonstrate its capabilities to perform a series of competitive tasks in field tests at the NASA Johnson Space Center's Rock Yard in June 2013.

Interview With Worcester Polytechnic Insitute, "Team Oryx": RASC-AL Competition

In this exciting competition, undergraduate and graduate students are invited to create a multi-disciplinary team to build a planetary rover prototype and demonstrate its capabilities to perform a series of competitive tasks in field tests at the NASA Johnson Space Center's Rock Yard in June 2013.

$45 BeagleBone Black Announced

Latest generation BeagleBone is up for sale today!

Inexpensive Tactile Sensors for Robotic Hands

TakkTile's technology leverages MEMS barometers to deliver 1-gram sensitivity for a fraction of the cost of existing systems, in a package durable enough it can survive being hit with a baseball bat. From original research paper: A new approach to the construction of tactile array sensors based on barometric pressure sensor chips and standard printed circuit boards. The chips include tightly integrated instrumentation amplifiers, analog to digital converters, pressure and temperature sensors, and control circuitry that provides excellent signal quality over standard digital bus interfaces. The resulting array electronics can be easily encapsulated with soft polymers to provide robust and compliant grasping surfaces for specific hand designs. The use of standard commercial-off-the-shelf technologies means that only basic electrical and mechanical skills are required to build effective tactile sensors for new applications. For $299 the TakkTile Starter Kit includes two TakkStrips cast in rubber and a Arduino Micro.

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