Teresa Escrig

News and oppinion about Cognitive AI & Robotics

Archive for July, 2012

RP-VITA, the new iRobot Telepresence robot doctor

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By , July 26, 2012

iRobot and InTouch Health are working under a partnership and joint development and licensing agreement to develop the RP-VITA, which will allow doctors and other health specialists to not only visit patients remotely, but to robotically navigate through wards, access patient records and even carry out examinations.

The RP-VITA is a combination of iRobot’s Robot Ava mobile robotics platform and the InTouch Telemedicine System. This produces what the partners refer to as a an “expandable telemedicine technology platform.”

It’s controlled by a simple iPad interface and has an enhanced autonomous navigation capability. That means it can be sent where needed with a single click. Using its Obstacle Detection Obstacle Avoidance (ODOA) system, the robot can proceed to its location on its own, navigating the hospital quickly, safely and accurately.

The robot allows doctors and staff real-time access to important clinical data from the patient’s online files, but it also can transmit live information by means of its built-in electronic stethoscope or by linking to diagnostic devices such as otoscopes and ultrasound machines.

The RP-VITA is being unveiled to the public at the InTouch Health 7th Annual Clinical Innovations Forum (July 26-28, 2012) in Santa Barbara, CA.

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Cognitive Robots includes Common-Sense Knowledge and Reasoning into their Robotics and Computer Vision solutions

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Representation, reasoning and learning are the basic principles of human intelligence. The emulation of human intelligence has been the aim of Artificial Intelligence since its origins in 1956.

In fact, converting raw data into information (data in the context of other data) and hence into knowledge (information in the context of other information), is critical for understanding activities, behaviors, and in general the world we try to model. Both in the Robotics and the Computer Vision areas we try to model the real world where the humans are operating.

The type of knowledge that Robotics and Computer Vision need to obtain is Common Sense Knowledge. Contra intuitively, common sense knowledge is more difficult to model than expert knowledge, which can be quite easily modeled by expert systems (a more or less closed research area since the 70s).

Both in Robotics and Computer Vision areas, Probabilistic and Bayesian models have historically been used as the way to represent, reason and learn from the world. These methods have provided very good initial results. The problem is that they have never been scalable. That is why there is no commercial intelligent robot that has the full ability to serve people yet. Although there exist many preliminary solutions including artificial vision, the percentage of false positives or negatives are still too high to consider it as completely reliable, and therefore artificial vision is still an open research area.

The problems detected in the probabilistic approaches have been twofold: Read the rest of this entry »

This Little Robot Could Totally Transform The Way Humanity Shops

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by Jill Krasny  Jul. 20, 2012

AndyVision Future of Retail Project at Carnegie Mellon University. This project involves in-store digital signage for customers to browse the store’s 3D planograms, as well as an autonomous store-operations robot to assist in inventory management, including out-of-stock detection.

AndyVision manages inventory, but his influence might go farther than that, reports Motherboard’s Adam Clark Estes. Researchers say the lightweight, red-hoodied robot was built to “transform the shopping experience.”

Here, Estes explains how the “mechanized messenger” works:

“With the help of a video camera and an onboard computer that combines image-processing with machine learning algorithms, it can patrol the aisles counting stock and scanning for misplaced items … The data from the inventory scans are all sent to a large touchscreen, where customers can browse through what’s available in the store.”

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MIT creates intelligent car co-pilot that only interferes if you’re about to crash

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By on July 13, 2012

Mechanical engineers and roboticists working at MIT have developed an intelligent automobile co-pilot that sits in the background and only interferes if you’re about to have an accident. If you fall asleep, for example, the co-pilot activates and keeps you on the road until you wake up again.

Like other autonomous and semi-autonomous solutions, the MIT co-pilot [research paper] uses an on-board camera and laser rangefinder to identify obstacles. These obstacles are then combined with various data points — such as the driver’s performance, and the car’s speed, stability, and physical characteristics — to create constraints. The co-pilot stays completely silent unless you come close to breaking one of these constraints — which might be as simple as a car in front braking quickly, or as complex as taking a corner too quickly. When this happens, a ton of robotics under the hood take over, only passing back control to the driver when the car is safe.

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More light about why Amazon acquired Kiva

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In this brilliant TED talk, Kiva‘s CEO, Mick Mountz, explains how they revolutionized the way warehouses pack and ship their inventory by using robots, mobile shelving, and algorithms based on complexity theory. What used to take hours of tedious tasks is transformed into fun, 15-minute, click-to-ship order processing.

Kiva’s CEO, Mick Mountz, had a front row seat when internet pioneer Weban failed to deliver online fulfillment services in a cost effective manner.

The system is absolutely brilliant and effective. That is a very good reason for Kiva System being acquired by Amazon for $775 M.

Can you imagine how it could be if the robots would not need to have wires to direct their trajectory under the floor? That is the next step for automation which will require intelligence.

Comments:

by Dan Kara (LinkedIn): Robotics Trends International Network

Kiva Acquisition Has Huge Implications for Businesses and Society

Teresa, I analyzed the Kiva purchase for Robotics Business Review (www.roboticsbusinessreview.com). It is important to note that Kiva Systems is not the only robotics company that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has exhibited interest in. Bezos Expeditions, the firm that manages the personal investments of Bezos, participated in equity rounds for Rethink Robotics (formally Heartland Robotics), the Boston based start-up founded by Rod Brooks, noted roboticist and co-founder of iRobot. Rethink, I believe, is developing a class of low cost, dexterous robotic systems capable of working directly with humans.

For all of the billions that Amazon has invested in automating its fulfillment processes, it is still dependent on large numbers of people to get the job done. The Kiva system succeeds largely because it reduces the number of humans that must traverse the distribution center collecting products to ship. But what if the model was extended even further, to include the humans who actually “pick” individual items out of the robotically delivered storage containers? In theory, a dexterous robotic system capable of fine manipulation and using vision in combination with touch sensors (much like its human “picker” counterpart) could perform the last, unautomated leg of the Kiva fulfillment process.

Kiva MPS represents a paradigm shift in the way in which ecommerce companies go about fulfilling orders. The long term ramifications of the purchase are not clear, but in the end Amazon could become an architecture provider for ebusiness order fulfillment (own the architecture, win the war). It could also develop fulfillment and distribution centers that for all purposes contain no people. Furthermore, it would make the holy grail of “same day shipping” possible. That’s more than a paradigm shift, it is a seismic change and one with profound implications for businesses and society.

by Thomas Ciesielka (LinkedIn): Robotics Trends International Network

Dan, You are spot on. Robotics, in this configuration, will lead the way for economic revitalization and evolution. Combining it with a “cognitive brain” that Teresa has championed, is the future.

Autonomous Underwater robots – another very active market area for robotics

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With the ultimate goal of designing completely autonomous robots that can navigate and map cloudy underwater environments without any prior knowledge of the environment and detect mines as small as 10 cm in diameter, researchers at HoverGroup (MIT) have came up with algorithms to program a robot called the Hovering Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (HAUV).

To provide a detailed sweep of a ship’s hull, the researchers took a two-stage approach. Firstly, the robot is programmed to swim in a square around the ship’s hull at a safe distance of 10 meters (33 ft), using its sonar camera to gather data that is used to produce a grainy point cloud. Although a ship’s large propeller can be identified at this low resolution, it isn’t detailed enough to make out a small mine.

Additionally, the point cloud may not necessarily tell the robot where a ship’s structure begins and ends – a problem if it wants to avoid colliding with a ship’s propellers. To generate a three-dimensional, “watertight” mesh model of the ship, the researchers translated this point cloud into a solid structure by adapting computer-graphics algorithms to the sonar data.

Once the robot has a solid structure to work with, the robot moves onto the second stage. This sees the robot programmed to swim closer to the ship, with the idea of covering every point in the mesh at spaces of 10 centimeters apart.

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US Navy is also developing autonomous underwater hull-cleaning robots. The Robotic Hull Bio-inspired Underwater Grooming tool, or Hull BUG, is being developed by the US Office of Naval Research (ONR) and SeaRobotics.

The Hull BUG has four wheels, and attaches itself to the underside of ships using a negative pressure device that creates a vortex between the BUG and the hull. Much like a robotic vacuum cleaner, lawnmower or floor cleaner, the idea is that once it’s put in place, it can set about getting the job done without any outside control.

Onboard sensors allow it to steer around obstacles, and a fluorometer lets it detect biofilm, the goop in which barnacles and other greeblies settle. Once it detects biofilm, powerful brushes on its underside are activated, and the film is scrubbed off. In this way, it is intended more for the prevention of barnacles, than for their removal. Initial tests have shown it to be very effective.

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A next step for the autonomous cars- Instincts are important to reproduce the perfection of a human race car driver

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Autonomous cars can help people to drive when necessary.

Whatch this TED talk where Chris Gerdes (Director, Center for Automotive Research at Stanford (CARS)) reveals how he and his team are developing robotic race cars that can drive at 150 mph while avoiding every possible accident. And yet, in studying the brainwaves of professional racing drivers, Gerdes says he has gained a new appreciation for the instincts of professional drivers.

Instincts as well as common sense knowledge have always been the most difficult knowledge to capture by Artificial Intelligence. That has been the job of the team of  Cognitive Robots for over 20 years. The results are included in its Cognitive Brain for Service Robotics, which is able to capture commonsense knowledge by qualitative representation and reasoning.

Written by Teresa Escrig

July 13th, 2012 at 7:11 pm

Global Personal and Professional Service Robotics market (2012 – 2017)

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by James Parker, 7/11/2012

The global service robotics market in 2011 was worth $18.38 billion. This market is valued at $20.73 billion in 2012 and expected to reach $46.18 billion by 2017 at an estimated CAGR of 17.4% from 2012 to 2017.

The market is driven by factors like:

  • Ageing population,
  • Value enhancement by robots,
  • Increasing grants and funds by governments,
  • Increasing venture capital investments in service robotics companies,
  • Enhancements in complementary technologies and
  • Integration of robotics with mobile technologies, other smart products, and appliances.

The key market players in service robotics industry are:

  • HONDA MOTORS (Japan)
  • IRobot (USA)
  • AB Electrolux (Sweden)
  • SONY (Japan)
  • Fujitsu (Japan)
  • Toyota (Japan)
  • Yujin Robot (South Korea)

You can find the full service robotics market research report in the next link. It is not free, but we can already see very important information here.

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Skippy is an internet-controlled robot that skips stones across a pond

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We are going to be amazed of the number and variety of applications that people will came up with in service robotics…

Look at this video of Skippy, an internet-controlled robot that skips stones across a pond.

By , July 11, 2012

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Biologically accurate robotic legs get the gait right

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Very impressive video of the biologically accurate robotic legs in action.

By , July 10, 2012

The machine comprises simplified versions of the human neural, musculoskeletal and sensory feedback systems.

The robotic legs are unique in that they are controlled by a crude equivalent of the central pattern generator (CPG) – a neural network located in the spinal cord at the abdominal level and responsible for generating rhythmic muscle signals. These signals are modulated by the CPG as it gathers information from different body parts responding to external stimuli. As a result, we are able to walk without ever giving the activity much thought.

The most basic form of a CPG is called a half center and is made up of two neurons rhythmically alternating in producing a signal. An artificial version of a half center produces signals and gathers feedback from sensors in the robotic limbs, such as load sensors that notice when the angle of the walking surface has shifted.

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