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Celebrating 25 Years of Field Robotics

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Carnegie Mellon University celebrates 25 years of field robotics with fascinating video lectures, freely available to the public via webcast.

Field robotics are for many reasons quite interesting, not the least of which because they must be practical! Don’t know which videos you might be interested in watching? Here’s a handy list describing their subjects. The presentations are streamable or downloadable from CMU’s website (files are between 150-250 MB each, and will require a flash player to view).




Taipei International Robot Show 2009

p19bTIROS runs from August 5th ~ 9th at the World Trade Center’s Nankang Exhibition Hall, where 91 companies and institutions are displaying their industrial manufacturing and service robots.  Other activities are robot competitions and panels where researchers can discuss their work.  The “Experience Robots” section is the only area open to children in the show. In this section, kids can play with different robots and participate in DIY activities and educational courses.

GeStream presented the latest version of their record-setting BeRobot, known as the World’s Smallest Humanoid Robot in Production (Guinness Book of World Records).  The new version cuts out joints in the legs and arms which makes it even smaller (9 cm) compared to the last one (15 cm).  However, by simply removing servos in the legs and arms the robot is now even less capable than it was before.  The BeRobot is also quite expensive given its capabilities (and compared to Takara Tomy’s I-Sobot) at a price of around $360 USD (ouch).  Videos of some of the robots after the break.

[source: China Post]

Kwangwoon University’s Ro-bits bust a groove

Robits-RoboOneKwangwoon University of South Korea has developed their own hobby-kit style humanoid robots.  The students had some fun with their creations by hauling them around town for impromptu dance performances, and put the following video together.  Not that they didn’t have reason to celebrate: the Ro-bits competed at Robo-One in Japan earlier this year and went home with the championship, which is enough to make even the most hardened metallic gladiator want to get jiggy.  The Ro-bits also made an appearance at a a summer youth camp where they led swimming students in a round of exercises.

[source: Kwangwoon U.]

• SILO4

SILO4-headerCSIC’s SILO4, developed circa 1999 and tested through to 2003, is a quadrupedal walking robot.  Originally designed for R&D and education in gait generation, the robot was used primarily by institutions in Spain and France.  The central housing unit is a 31x30x30cm aluminum cube which houses all of the internal electronics, and weighs 18kg.  The legs are based on an insect-type configuration, which allows it to easily change direction.  The robot’s motion was tested using the Yobotics simulation software.

The SILO4 would be replaced by the SILO6, which is a hexapod type robot.

・CSIC SILO4 site (EN)

Evolta sets New World Record at Le Mans 24hours!

Yesterday (August 5th) Evolta set another record officiated by the Guinness Book of World Records, for “The longest distance covered by a battery-operated remote-controlled model car“. 23.726 km (14.74 miles) to be exact – on 2 AA batteries!

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Many pictures after the break, but still waiting on video of the event…

NEC holds PaPeRo Workshop at Osaka’s “Robot Showroom”

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NEC held a PaPeRo workshop at Osaka’s “Robot Showroom” (August 4th ~ 9th), where a select group of kids got hands-on experience with the robot and its user-friendly programming software developed with the MIT Media Lab. Color-coded “scratch cards” were on hand with illustrations of sample programs (written on the back of each card) that were used to program short skits where PaPeRo sang a song, or performed dance-like motions.  The kids were divided into teams and had only 20 minutes to come up with a story and program it into the robot before presenting it to everyone.

Toshiba’s semi-autonomous shopping cart, guide

photo_8Toshiba and its subsidiary Toshibatec developed a pair of robots to assist elderly or disadvantaged shoppers, which they demonstrated during June’s ROBOMEC 2009 (Robotics Mechatronics Conference). The “Guidance robot” can guide you to the cashier or specific items (by product name) while the “Cart robot” carries your groceries for you. Using a system of 10 cameras throughout the store, the robots self-localize and maintain maps of the store and the contents of its aisles to dynamically generate the best paths and avoid running into other shoppers.

The “Guidance robot” has an omni-directional camera atop its “head” as well as front-mounted stereo cameras, ultrasonic sensors, and a laser range finder. Shoppers register themselves through the touch-screen interface, prompting the robot to record their individual shape and texture information (such as clothing) using its stereo cameras. This allows the robot to follow a specific person in a crowded environment. The touch-screen interface also provides information on goods and special sales.

• AIBO ERS-220

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The AIBO ERS-220 debuted in November 2001 (available also as an upgrade kit for the ERS-210).  With its multicolored 21 LED-laden head and antennae, this AIBO’s canine ancestry is barely recognizable.  The camera, which is normally hidden in the nose in other models, is prominently featured like the eye of a cyclops.  One of its most unusual features is its retractable head light, which pops up when it gets “excited”.  It could also understand 75 voice commands (as opposed to the ERS-210’s 50).  It’s not the most cuddly thing, but if high-tech is what you’re after then the ERS-220 delivers.  As they did with the ERS-110, SONY commissioned a famous artist to design it, this time getting Shoji Kawamori to do the honors.