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This Week’s Robot Video Round-Up

Robots For Humanity

Willow Garage and Georgia Tech’s Healthcare Robotics Lab are working with Henry Evans, who is a mute quadriplegic after suffering a stroke, and his wife Jane.  They’re developing new control interfaces for their PR2 robot, such as head-tracking, so that Henry can do simple things we take for granted like scratching an itch or shaving.  This work began only recently, after he and his wife caught a demonstration of the PR2 on CNN by Travis Deyle (roboticist and fellow blogger over at Hizook) and Dr. Charlie Kemp from Georgia Tech’s lab.  You can learn more about the demonstration, which took place less than a year ago, at Hizook.

Obviously this is just the beginning, but I can see a day when we will have brain-machine interfaces with enough precision to allow for very precise control of a robot such as the PR2.  To list a couple examples, Honda’s ASIMO has been controlled with such a device, and a monkey with electrodes implanted in its brain could control a robotic arm to feed itself.

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[source: Willow Garage Video @ YouTube]

How To Hurt Humanoid Robots

Researchers at AIST (Sebastien Lengagne, Abderrahmane Kheddar, and Eiichi Yoshida) continue to work on new uses for the resident HRP-2 Promet humanoid robot.  This time, the robot walks with a stiff knee to help study the effects of leg disease on human motion.  Similar research is being done at Waseda University’s Takanishi Laboratory with the WABIAN R2 humanoid.

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[source: Lengagne2583 @ YouTube]

EMYS (EMotive headY System)

Here comes another expressive robotic head, but this one uses a new strategy that cuts the head into three sections or layers.  Developed by researchers at the Wroclaw University of Technology in Poland, the head was originally going to be used to study computer vision.  Now it is used for human-robot interaction, and is capable of showing 9 emotional states by moving its eyes, eyelids, and the different sections of its head.  It’s an odd design, and I’m not convinced that it works as well as more conventional heads.  It does have a certain cartoonish charm, though, as it wouldn’t look out of place in an animated film.

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[source: Robotic Head EMYS] via [Robot Living]

Robots in Advertising

There’s no question that Japan loves its giant robots and its instant ramen noodles, so why not combine the two?  I’m pretty sure this isn’t the first time such a mash-up has happened, and I daresay it won’t be the last.  The Gundam statue has come to life and ditched that impractical beam saber in favor of a truck-sized tea pot, ready to make a very large bowl of noodles.  Now if only Bandai could build a working Gundam of that size, and not just a fancy statue – but I suppose we’ll have to wait until Gundam’s 50th anniversary (at least) for that to happen.

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via [Henkyo's Tumblr]

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