IEEE Spectrum has info about a new autonomous lawnmower from the German company Bosch. Seems the only official info available at the moment is a Swedish press release but it appears the mower communicates with its docking station (and maybe GPS) allowing the unit to cut areas in ordered parallel lines rather than the chaotic back and forth paths you see from other sensor based robotic lawnmowers or vacuums. You will still have to install wire around the perimeter so the robot stay on the grass. The battery lasts 20 minutes per charge and resumes where it left of after a 90 minute charge.
The Fluid Mechanics Laboratory and the Swartz Lab at Brown University are in development of a biological inspired bat robot platform that aims to reproduce the amazing maneuverability of these flying mammals. Bats exhibit extraordinary flight capabilities that arise by virtue of a variety of unique mechanical features. These flying mammals have developed powerful muscles that provide the folding and extension of their wing-membrane during flight (morphing). The maneuverability is achieved by reproducing the flapping and morphing capabilities of their wing-skeleton structure. This structure is composed by several joints and a membrane that generates the required lift forces to fly. Each wing has 4 degrees of freedom: the shoulder has two, the elbow joint is actuated by Migamotors SMA-muscles, and the wrist is an under-actuated joint that moves as a function of the elbow. The robot morphology is alike in proportion compared to the biological counterpart (half the size): total wingspan: 50cm, humerus length: 5.5cm, and radius: 7cm. The total weight of the skeleton is 34g (including both wings). The morphing actuation mechanism attached to the humerus bone is based on smart muscles that provide elbow rotation. More info can be found on their research site here .
As the demand for human-like robots grows, the Uncanny Valley phenomenon will impact robot manufacturers and developers more and more. With populations aging in countries as diverse as China and the United Sates, roboticists will increasingly focus on social robots. They will ignore the Uncanny Valley at their own risk.
Smart Cameras Provide Additional Benefits to Auto ID Applications
Coupled with computers and software, plenoptic cameras can enable a robot to better navigate its environment with less confusion and work autonomously. Robotic sensors, using light filed technology, match up to the human sense of sight, serving as a robot's eyes, allowing the robot to get around in its surroundings.
Exceptional image quality, including the ability to transport this high-bandwidth video in real time, is absolutely essential to protecting our war fighters, as well as civilians who may be in harm's way.
ROSCon 2012 was held in St. Paul, Minnesota over the weekend. Willow Garage was showing off a prototype refresh of the TurtleBot. The biggest change is that the iRobot Create bases are being replaced by a new base designed by the South Korean company Yujin Robot. They are calling the new base Kobuki and it has a number of upgrades from the Create base. Changes include an odometry system, integrated gyroscope, large batteries, and access to all the hardware through a panel at the back of the base. Kobuki will also have the ability to use a self-charging dock that can feed power to both the base and the attached laptop make 24/7 operation possible. The Kobuki official site.
Honda Motor Co. unveiled the new UNI-CUB personal mobility device. UNI-CUB features Honda's proprietary balance control technology and the world's first omni-directional driving wheel system (Honda Omni Traction Drive System). The technology thrown into the making of UNI-CUB comes from Honda's research into the ASIMO robot. The UNI-CUB allows the rider to control speed, move in any direction, turn and stop, all simply by shifting his or her weight. Since the rider can freely move forward, backward, side-to-side and diagonally. Starting in June 2012, Honda will jointly conduct demonstration testing of UNI-CUB with Japan's National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation.
Working at extreme ocean depths presents a myriad of problems, which will still take years to overcome. To be truly successful, AUVs will have to be totally autonomous and free moving without the restraints of tethers. As we use up our resources on land, the oceans are the next frontier. The most important question is "How will ocean mining effect the environment?"
HyQ is a fully torque-controlled Hydraulically actuated Quadruped robot (pronounced [hai-kju:]) developed in the Department of Advanced Robotics at the IIT. HyQ is designed to move over rough terrain and perform highly dynamic tasks such as jumping and running with different gaits (up to 3-4m/s). To achieve the required high joint speeds and torques, a combination of hydraulic cylinders and electric motors are actuating the robot’s 12 active joints.
A Review of Regulations and Considerations for Increasing Sanitation in Food Manufacturing Facilities
The flexibility robots provide meets the wide variety and responsiveness required for the facility. With Seegrid robots they can train a new route and it can be operational within minutes. The robotic pallet trucks gave American Packaging the labor savings and safety solution they were looking for.
We are in the early stages of unmanned systems being used on the battlefield. While robots are being used in a growing number of missions, work continues on the research side to integrate new systems and capabilities to continually expand their value on the frontlines.
Travis Deyle at Hizook has some interesting info about Redwood Robotics, a Silicon Valley startup with backing from Willow Garage, Meka Robotics and SRI. The company has been in stealth mode for the past year but yesterday at an event in Menlo Park they announced the first real statement about their plans for the company. At the event Aaron Edsinger, who is CEO of Meka Robotics, said the goal of the new company would be: "To enable the personal and service robot markets through a new generation of robot arms that are simple to program, inexpensive, and safe to operate alongside people." Sounds like a smart plan. Be sure to read Deyle's full post over at Hizook.
The Artisans Asylum in Boston Massachusetts s a non-profit community craft studio. In their next robotics class their goals are fairly simple: build a car-sized two-person hexapod robot and ride it. What makes their plans different from the scribbling of every 12 year old who just found Japanese animation is that the guys teaching the class have worked on projects real projects like Boston Dynamics PETMAN, AlphaDog and BigDog. Hizook does a good job of summarizing what Artisans Asylum is and Stompy. The project is still in the conceptual stages but the team has a blog with some of the tests and presentations they've done so far.
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