Teresa Escrig

News and oppinion about Cognitive AI & Robotics

Archive for April, 2012

Service Robotics is still very much in its infancy


According to Innovation News Daily these are the Top 7 Useful Robots You Can Buy Right Now. You can read the explanation of each one of them here.











It’s very obvious that the service robotics field is very much in its infancy.  Basically toys (with the exception of the tele-presence robot), these represent what are currently considered, the top most useful robots. It is clear we can do much, much better.

The technology, is much more advanced, not only in the academic world but also in the industrial one, and can provide much more service to humanity. I guess it takes time to arrive to the market. Read the rest of this entry »

The Intelligence Revolution: Visions of the Future


Dr. Michio Kaku is a theoretical physicist, best-selling author, and popularizer of science. He’s the co-founder of string field theory (a branch of string theory), and continues Einstein’s search to unite the four fundamental forces of nature into one unified theory.

In this incredibly well done movie, he explains how Artificial Intelligence is affecting our lives now.  How our kids are spending more time in virtual worlds, such as “War of World Craft”,  than with their real friends. And how this will affect our lives in the near future.

It is an amazing review, of some of the scientific research that is taking place on the planet, related with Artificial Intelligence.

There is at least one thing that I do not agree with at all: that humans are going to have incorporated into their bodies more robotic parts than human parts in the near future.  To me, this final idea is nonsense.

It is nice to receive awards for scientific excellence

leave a comment

This is an article written in collaboration with one of my postdoctoral students at the U. Jaume I.

One of my research lines a few years ago, was to create a ‘General Model’ to describe the behavior of all qualitative models based on intervals, also named – “naming” qualitative models. “Naming” qualitative models are the ones that help us to express spatial-temporal concepts such as “That horse is really fast” (velocity); “That boy is really tall” (size); “My favorite restaurant is close” (distance).  The other way we reason with qualities is by comparing:  “The black horse is faster than the brown one”; “My son is taller than yours”; “The pizzeria is closer to the Thai restaurant”.

The basis of the qualitative reasoning process is defined very easily (in fact, it’s easier than it seems when you try to explain it with words, as I am doing).  If you have the relationship (any of the spatial-temporal concepts that you are interested in applying) between the object b and the reference system RS1, and we have the relationship between the object c and another reference system RS2, and object b is included into the RS2, the basic reasoning model will obtain the relationship between object c and RS1.  As an example: given two distances between three spatial objects, a , b and c, that is Dab and Dbc, we want to find the distance which is not initially given, i.e. Dac.

I can hear the voices of those asking… “and why is this important”?  “What is this useful for”?  The general model will allow us to create a unique algorithm to be able to represent and reason with all different spatial-temporal qualitative naming concepts.

We corrected this article so many times, that we finally obtained the Practical Applications of Agent and Multi-Agent Systems’ 2012 AWARD OF SCIENTIFIC EXCELLENCE.  Congratulations Esther!

If you want to read the whole article, paperDCAI-2012_red

Design of a robot for the elderly: aspect and functionalities

leave a comment

If you were going to design a companion robot, what would it look like?

What would it need to do?

What would they call it?

How would it change the life of the elderly?

I asked those questions to my colleges at the LinkedIn groups related with Artificial Intelligence and Robotics.

I will be posting their answer here. Thank you very much for all your contributions!  Keep an eye to it…

by Elad Inbar (LinkedIn Group: IEEE Robotics and Automation Society (IEEE RAS))

Check out this new movie… I think it will gove you many answers.


I post the trailer below: Frank Langella and Liv Tyler on their Sundance hit ‘Robot and Frank,’ about an elderly man living with a home health aid robot. (March 23)

Read the rest of this entry »

How robots create jobs

leave a comment

Service Robotics will ultimately create more highly skilled jobs – a good thing in an economy struggling to reinvent itself and a great way to spread the word that the ‘Service Robotics Revolution’ is here.

by Adil Shafi , President, ADVENOVATION, Inc.

Originally posted 04/04/2012 on Robotics Online

No army can stop an idea whose time has come ~ Victor Hugo

In 2011, the International Federation of Robotics commissioned a report on how robots create jobs. http://www.ifr.org/robots-create-jobs/. The findings report that, “One million industrial robots currently in operation have been directly responsible for the creation of close to three million jobs… A growth in robot use over the next five years will result in the creation of one million high quality jobs around the world.”

Further, the market research firm Metra Martech wrote, “In world terms three to five million jobs would not exist if automation and robotics had not been developed to enable cost effective production of millions of electronic products from Phones to PlayStations.” The report actually covers several markets in the automotive, electronics, food and beverage, plastics, chemicals and pharmaceutical industries and focuses on countries like Brazil, China, Germany, Japan, Republic of Korea and USA. The complete report is available at ifr.org .

Read more: http://roboticsonline.wordpress.com/2012/04/09/how-robots-create-jobs/

Artificial Intelligence: time to “invest in soft-robotics”

leave a comment

The increasingly popular field of soft robotics is set to have an enormous impact on the service and manufacturing industries. … The concept of ‘soft’ in robotics applies to multiple levels: literally soft to the touch – skin, tissue on body surface, muscles, tendons – soft as in natural movements in contrast to manufacturing robots or many walking robots, and soft as in safe interaction with humans. …

And there is no need to be concerned that automation will put people out of work – the reverse is true as jobs that would otherwise be outsourced to China can be protected. …  As John Dulchinos, the chief executive of Adept, the largest US-based manufacturer of industrial robots, argued in a recent interview, the US has lost several million jobs in manufacturing to China because they did not automate their production lines but outsourced them to cheap labor countries.  …  moving people from dull or unhealthy jobs to more interesting ones, according to Foxconn founder and chairman Terry Gou.

We expect soft robotics to have an enormous impact on the service robotics industry because we will share our living space with these machines, and we will closely interact and cooperate with them.

The European Commission is doing an outstanding job at supporting basic research and development in the area of robotics and related fields with the 7th framework programme, and in the future with Horizon 2020. Examples of soft robotics basic projects include ECHORD, the European Clearing House for Open Robotics Development, which has the aim of bringing industry and academia – basic research – together.

Cognitive Robots is leading one of the ECHORD research projects, C-Kompai. The objective of the project is to enhance the companion robot Kompai by Robosoft with the cognitive capabilities provided by the Cognitive Brain for Service Robotics of Cognitive Robots.

Read the full article by professor Rolf Pfeifer (11 April 2012) – deputy director of the Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research Robotics and director of the artificial intelligence laboratory at the University of Zurich-: http://www.publicserviceeurope.com/article/1772/time-to-wake-up-and-invest-heavily-in-robotics-technology

Cognitive Robots is collaborating with Robosoft to enhance Kompai companion robot’s capabilities

one comment

Our company Cognitive Robots in Spain, is collaborating with French company Robosoft to provide more intelligence to their Kompai companion robot for the elderly.

Since February 2011, Cognitive Robots and Robosoft have been working together to enhance the “intelligence” of the Kompai companion robotics platform.  The project is funded by the European Commission as part of a set of demonstrations, of the current capabilities of the robots (ECHORD Project called C-Kompai).

The Kompai’s capabilities prior to  incorporating our ‘ Cognitive Brain for Service Robotics’ into the platform is shown in the current GUI control panel.  The robot is controlled using a push button interface as well as voice commands.

The main functions that Robosoft asked Cognitive Robots to improve with the Cognitive Brain were:

  • Previously when a robot was purchased, the Robosoft technician needed to go to the elderly persons home and spend most of the day creating a map of the space that the robot would operate in.  Unfortunately, due to the maps limitations, the elderly couldn’t move any furniture around without the technician coming back again and remapping the environment.  This is a problem that remains in industrial applications as well.
  • Kompai had a limited perception of the plane provided by the laser sensor at a certain height. That was a big problem because any house could have plenty of obstacles that would remain unseen by Kompai.

Cognitive Robots proposed to include two new features:

  • The robot would vacuum the house.
  • To include a more dynamic and proactive behaviour by the robot, than merely waiting to be called to do something.

The Kompai’s capabilities after the Cognitive Brain is fully incorporated will be:

  • Automatic map creation.  Any furniture can be moved around without any technical assistance.
  • 3D obstacle detection using the Kinect sensor
  • ‘Autonomous vacuum cleaner’ capability
  • Proactive behaviour: Kompai will engage actions and interaction with the elderly.

These enhanced capabilities are summarized with the addition of the following three new buttons to the GUI control panel.

The scope of this particular project doesn’t go further, but we’re curious to learn your thoughts on how the behaviour of the Kompai could be further enhanced?

Comments are welcome to contribute to the development of the companion robots industry!

New Applications for Mobile Robots

leave a comment

This article explores the potential for autonomous robots.  Manufacturing arm manipulator robots, which have been successfully incorporated by industry for the last century, repeat actions and do not adapt to environmental changes. Autonomous robots, need to include a higher level of intelligence, to be able to interact with humans in changing environments, where uncertainty exists. Most of the current autonomous applications, still do not incorporate this existing and available technology. The following is an excellent article that reviews the most important current applications for autonomous robots. Enjoy!

by Bennett Brumson , Contributing Editor
Robotic Industries Association
Posted 04/05/2012

Mobility promises to be the next frontier in flexible robotics. While fixed robots will always have a place in manufacturing, augmenting traditional robots with mobile robots promises additional flexibility to end-users in new applications. These applications include medical and surgical uses, personal assistance, security, warehouse and distribution applications, as well as ocean and space exploration.

Read more: http://www.robotics.org/content-detail.cfm/Industrial-Robotics-Feature-Article/New-Applications-for-Mobile-Robots/content_id/3362

Artificial intelligence beat the world champions at TV general knowledge quiz show Jeopardy

leave a comment

Another significant event in Artificial Intelligence research: an Artificial Intelligence program has beat the world champions in televisions general knowledge quiz show ‘Jeopardy’.
Back in 1999, IBM’s supercomputer ‘Deep Blue’ beat the reigning world chess champion Gary Kasparov.

Slowly but progressively, with 51 years and many man-hours of research effort, the results are not very impressive.

I agree with the comment that Stanford U. ’emeritus professor’ Edward Feigenbaum said to me last year: “It is not that AI is so difficult that it can not be solved by humans, the problem is humans”.  The way research has been imposed on professors – you need to have a certain amount of publications a year to “measure” your production – has worked against going after the big problems, even when the solutions don’t arrive immediately. We are “forced” to choose a research area where we can reach publication requirements.  Sad but true.  I wish we could choose research goals without results expectations and obligations, so we could break the status quo to reach quantum leaps. It would help human progression.

The following is a very interesting video showing a big advance in the artificial reproduction of the human body. Some AI researchers, as professor Marcus du Sautoy is telling us in this video, believe that the study of intelligence in the same shape of a human body will help us to understand more intelligence.  I don’t see the relevance in this thinking.  We can provide the same intelligence to different body shapes.  And we can also have intelligence without a body.

2 April 2012 by BBC News Technology
Is it possible to create true artificial intelligence and, if so, how close are we to doing so, asks mathematician Professor Marcus du Sautoy.

It was while I was making my last BBC TV series, The Code, that I bumped into a neuroscientist I knew.

“Have you heard the news about Watson?” he asked me.

I wasn’t quite sure what he was referring to. A new release of Sherlock Holmes? I looked confused.

“Watson beat the world champions at Jeopardy last night,” he added.

Jeopardy is an American television quiz show which tests general knowledge. But I could not understand why a professor of the brain was interested in it.

But then he revealed that Watson was not a person, but a computer…

Full article: http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-17547694