Robot That Copies Artist's Exact Strokes To Replicate A Painting In 3D

From the Instapainting Blog: Over the past three weeks I’ve been working on a robotic painter to research the area of mechanical artwork reproduction and automated picture to painting creation for  Instapainting.com  and the print store e-commerce platform  A Manufactory . The initial prototype was built in about 3 weeks, and currently does mechnical reproductions. The AI painting mode which will paint a photograph will follow in the next post (putting some finishing touches on it)... ...The current prototype operates on 3 dimensions: X, Y, and a Z axis for pen pressure from the Wacom tablet. The artist can control the motion from a Wacom tablet and, for the most part, it’s lag-free. Every stroke is recorded so that it can be played back. You can see both the intitial painting and the playback in the video below... ( full post )

Why being able to 3-D print glass objects is such a big deal

By Dominic Basulto for the Washington Post:  Researchers at MIT have just unveiled the ability to 3-D-print beautiful glass objects. While humanity has been forming, blowing and molding glass objects for more than 4,500 years, this is the first time that a 3-D printer has been used to process glass from a molten state to an annealed product. Obviously, there are some purely aesthetic applications here, as in the potential for epic blown glass art. Think museum-worthy glass objects worthy of Dale Chihuly. In fact, the MIT team — a collaborative team of researchers that includes the MIT Media Lab’s Mediated Matter group, the MIT Glass Lab and MIT’s Mechanical Engineering Department — plan to display a few of their beautiful objects at an upcoming exhibition at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in 2016.  But the applications go beyond just beautiful new designs that might be created via 3-D printers one day. As the MIT research team points out in a forthcoming paper for the journal 3-D Printing and Additive Manufacturing, “As designers learn to utilize this new freedom in glass manufacturing it is expected that a whole range of novel applications will be discovered.” That’s the real future potential of glass 3-D printing — the ability to create objects and applications that do not exist today.   Cont'd...

Here comes the drone backlash

Mike Elgan for Computer World:  Consumer drone technology is barely taking off, and already a harsh public backlash is growing. Your typical garden variety consumer drone is lightweight, battery operated, has four propellers and is controlled by a smartphone. Most have cameras and beam back live video, which can be recorded for posterity. Some have high-quality HD cameras on them, and from that high vantage point can take stunning photos and videos. Drones are fun. They're exciting. They're accessible. But increasingly, they're becoming unacceptable. I'm sensing a growing backlash, a kind of social media pitchfork mob against drones and drone fans. It's only a matter of time, and not much time, before it will be politically incorrect to express any kind of enthusiasm for drones in polite company. I fear that many are about to embark on an "everybody knows drones are bad" mentality that will suppress the nascent industry and spoil this innovative and exhilarating technology. Here's what's driving the coming backlash:   Cont'd...

Autonomous Drifting

From AMREL: You know how the stuntmen make fast cars drift in action movies? Have you ever wanted to make a remote-controlled toy car drift like that? Of course you have.  If there ever were awards for endeavors that sound silly, but is actually technically interesting, then the folks at MIT’s Aerospace Controls Lab would surely be nominated. Unmanned systems are rarely fully autonomous.  Instead, researchers are pursuing “sliding” autonomy, i.e. an operator retains control, while some behaviors are made autonomous. Aerospace Controls Lab decided to teach a remote-control toy car how to autonomously drift. They started by running their learning algorithm through simulations.  Information from these simulations was transferred to performance modifiers. When the car was run through its drifting actions in reality, the algorithm was constantly modified. The result is a car that can maintain drifting in a full circle even when salt is added to the floor, or another vehicle interferes with it.  

Auro Robotics: Driverless Shuttles for In-campus Travel

From Techcrunch: Y Combinator-backed Auro Robotics is currently testing their driverless shuttle system at several universities, and is actually beginning to deploy shuttles on the campus of Santa Clara University. The company is also planning to expand to other markets like amusement parks, retirement communities and small islands, with some projects in those spaces already set to take off “in the later part of this year.” Auro has chosen to focus on these small, contained environments largely because they are controlled by private corporations, and thus are not subject to the heavy government regulation that Google and other companies are stuck behind with their driverless cars... ( full article ) From Auro Robotics: How does it work Auro Prime uses latest technology to ensure safe navigation even on busy roads. The vehicle is equipped with Lasers, camera, Radar and GPS providing it complete 360 degree vision under all environment situations. The shuttles relies on a prior 3D map of the environment, which is created once in the lifetime at the beginning. In all subsequent runs, it uses this 3D map to localise itself and interpret road topography. Passengers can input their destinations through a simple to use touch screen mounted on the vehicle, or through their mobile app. The underlying software automatically figures out the optimum high-level route to reach safely to the destination... ( more info )    

Seahorse Tails Could Inspire New Generation Of Robots

From Michael Porter at Clemson University: Seahorse tails are organized into square prisms surrounded by bony plates that are connected by joints.  Many other creatures, ranging from New World monkeys to rodents, have cylindrical tails. Researchers wanted to know whether the square-prism shape gives seahorse tails a functional advantage. To find out, the team created a 3D-printed model that mimicked the square prism of a seahorse tail and a hypothetical version that was cylindrical. Then researchers whacked the models with a rubber mallet and twisted and bent them. Researchers found that the square prototype was stiffer, stronger and more resilient than the circular one when crushed. The square prototype was about half as able to twist, a restriction that could prevent damage to the seahorse and give it better control when it grabs things. Both prototypes could bend about 90 degrees, although the cylindrical version was slightly less restricted... (cont'd)

CyPhy LVL 1 Drone

From CyPhy LVL 1 Drone Kickstarter: Our drone never tilts, allowing it to snap perfect pictures and stable video every time. By eliminating tilting, the drone handles intuitively, with an unrivaled out-of-the-box experience. Thanks to its special shape, our LVL 1 simplifies aerial photography. There’s no complex, expensive stabilization mount or vulnerable camera. You’ll take stunning pictures with ease. CyPhy Works, founded by iRobot co-founder Helen Greiner, has been making tethered drones for industrial application. These drones were designed to fly 24/7 in all types of wind and weather. While Dr. Kenneth Sebesta was optimizing our drones’ hovering, he came up with a breakthrough. He realized that with just the right twist angle of the arms and a precise amount of added dihedral — plus a lot more fancy math — we could achieve level flight for the first time on a multi-rotor drone... $495 ( Kickstarter )

Fetch Robotics' Fetch & Freight

From Fetch Robotics (the core team from Unbounded Robotics/all former employees of Willow Garage): The Fetch Robotics’ system is comprised of a mobile base (called Freight) and an advanced mobile manipulator (called Fetch). Fetch and Freight can also use a charging dock for autonomous continuous operations; allowing the robots to charge when needed and then continue on with their tasks. In addition, the system includes accompanying software to support the robots and integrate with the warehouse environment. Both robots are built upon the open source robot operating system, ROS. Fetch  is an advanced mobile manipulator, including features such as: Telescoping spine with variable height from 1.09 to 1.491 meters Capacity to lift approximately 6 kgs. 3D RGB Depth Sensor Back-Drivable 7DOF Arm Modular Gripper Interface Head Expansion Mount Points Pan-Tilt Head Differential Drive ROS-Enabled Freight  is a modular base, used separately or in conjunction with Fetch. Features include: Base Expansion Mount Points Payload support of approximately 68 kgs. 2D Laser Scanner Stereo Speaker Computer Access Panel Run-Stop ROS-Enabled ( full press release )

Planting Trees With Drones

From The Independent: A drone start-up is going to counter industrial scale deforestation using industrial scale reforestation. BioCarbon Engineering wants to use drones for good, using the technology to seed up to one billion trees a year, all without having to set foot on the ground... ( cont'd ) ( projects website )  

NHL Goal Celebration Hack With A Hue Light Show And Real Time Machine Learning

From François Maillet: In Montréal this time of year, the city literally stops and everyone starts talking, thinking and dreaming about a single thing: the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Even most of those who don’t normally care the least bit about hockey transform into die hard fans of theMontréal Canadiens, or the Habs like we also call them. Below is a Youtube clip of the epic goal celebration hack in action. In a single sentence, I trained a machine learning model to detect in real-time that a goal was just scored by the Habs based on the live audio feed of a game and to trigger a light show using Philips hues in my living room... ( full article )

AGROBOT: Strawberry Harvesters

From AGROBOT: AGB® manages a set of robotic manipulators able to locate and identify your strawberries, selecting them based on their size and degree of ripeness. This system analyzes your fruit one by one, and it is responsible for ordering cutting movements that guarantee accuracy, smoothness, and sensitivity in the strawberry treatment. The fruit, picked with the strictest hygiene conditions, is driven by our FlexConveyor System to the packaging area. Select the ripeness you would pick up. AGvision ® is an artificial vision system that identifies your fruit with maximum accuracy and consistency. Its advanced technology, implement in real time a protocol for morphological and color analysis which systematically return the ripeness of the fruit, discriminating exclusively those strawberries which meets the quality standards previously set by the farmer... ( more details )

Rethinks New Robot: Sawyer

From Rethink: Introducing Sawyer – the revolutionary new high performance collaborative robot designed to execute machine tending, circuit board testing and other precise tasks that are impractical to automate with industrial robots.  Smaller Footprint, Longer Reach Smaller and lighter weight than Baxter, and with 7 DOF and a 1026 mm reach, Sawyer can maneuver into the tight spaces and varied alignments of work cells designed for humans. International Availability With a base price of $29,000, Sawyer will initially be available in North America, Europe, China and Japan, with limited availability beginning in mid-2015. Intera 3 Like Baxter, Sawyer is powered by the industry’s best and most intuitive software platform, Intera.  It features the same iconic “face” screen (with a refreshed and even more expressive design) that helps it communicate with co-workers, along with the train-by-demonstration user interface that revolutionized how robots can be deployed on factory floors.  Sawyer runs on the same version of Intera as Baxter, and will continue to evolve and improve with regular upgrades... (more details)   (more about Intera software)  

Star Wars' BB-8

From the new Star Wars:

NASA's Modular Robotic Vehicle (MRV)

From NASA at the Johnson Space Center:

3D Robotics' Solo

From 3D Robotics: Today 3DR announced Solo, an all-in-one personal drone whose ease of use and powerful new features kick off a new aerial age. With computing power unmatched in the industry—from two integrated Linux computers, one on the craft and one in the controller—Solo delivers several world-first technologies, such as unfettered in-flight access to GoPro controls, including wireless HD streaming straight to mobile devices, and effortless computer-assisted Smart Shot flight features that allow even new pilots to capture professional aerial video from day one. Computer-assisted cinematography Solo’s intelligence unlocks powerful and one-of-a-kind computer-assisted Smart Shots (patent pending). Just set up the exact shot you want in real time, then tap “play” on the app and Solo will execute it with a level of precision and a soft touch that even seasoned cinema pilots can’t match. And with a list of Smart Shots to choose from, the perfect shot is always just a few taps away. Cable cam and Orbit allow you to create a known and safe flight path along a virtual track in space, freeing you to shift your focus to getting the shot you want; or simply hit “play” and let Solo fly itself while simultaneously working the camera for you, as smooth and even as an expert cameraman. Follow mode lets you go completely hands-free, while Solo keeps up with your every move. Solo also features a one-touch aerial Selfie for a dramatic and customizable establishing Smart Shot of you and your surroundings. It’s all in service of Solo’s guiding principle: Get the shot. Every time. Stream HD GoPro video to mobile devices or through HDMI Solo is the world’s first drone to wirelessly deliver HD video from your GoPro to your iOS or Android mobile device, at ranges of up to half a mile. Solo’s controller has HDMI output for live HD broadcast—to FPV goggles, high-quality field monitors, Jumbotrons at live events, even news vans—and with a staggeringly low video latency your live video is immediate and fluid for an “in-the-moment” feel. For instant social sharing of your aerial videos, you can even record the live video stream directly from the mobile app to your device’s camera roll... ( full details )

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