Teresa Escrig

News and oppinion about Cognitive AI & Robotics

Archive for the ‘Cognitive Robots’ news’ Category

Cognitive Robots wishes you Merry Christmas

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Merry Christmas 2013

Google is buying several robotic companies. These are great news for the robotics industry!

2014 is going to be great! I can’t wait…

Merry Christmas! :-) Teresa

Written by Teresa Escrig

December 19th, 2013 at 7:28 pm

Autonomous scrubber machines: is the market ready for them?

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11.19.12Cognitive Robots’ first product was the incorporation of our Cognitive Brain for Service Robotics (R) into commercial scrubber machines. This allows any existing commercial scrubber machine to be easily transformed into an autonomous and intelligent robot, that cleans floors, without the need of a human operator.

Did you know that, the operator of a scrubber machine has to follow the same path/pattern every single time they clean an area? It’s true, because otherwise people would be able to perceive the lines of movement of the scrubber on the floors, which are not considered aesthetically pleasing. The main corridors of an airport or a supermarket need to be cleaned longitudinally.

This job is so boring that industrial scrubber machines are increasingly being destroyed by the operators earlier and earlier. Therefore, scrubber manufacturers have changed their machines to be cheaper and with less electronics, resulting in lower life expectancy for their product.  The downside of this, is that in the long-term, due to replacement costs, end-user’s will spend more money to service their clients.

We are now in the midst of a global debate that is exploring the question, “Are robots taking jobs away or providing jobs for people?”  In the current economic climate, we need to decide if we want to maintain the status quo to protect low-profile jobs; or embrace advances that allow us to become more competitive and effective in our jobs, promote learning new skills, and provide jobs where human creativity and intelligence are necessary.

What do we want?

Here it is the specification sheet of the autonomous scrubber machine that Cognitive Robots can provide: specification sheet scrubber machines

Is this product good enough to solve the problem of automatic cleaning?

Is the market ready for this?  What do you think?

How I fell in love with Robotics?

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International Women’s Day.

I received my PhD in Artificial Intelligence, in particular on cognitive models to simulate the way people think about space and time, to effectively move daily around their environment, without the use of any measurement tools. I applied those theoretical models to the movement of simulated robots through the streets of my hometown, Castellon, Spain. It was quite a theoretical thesis, and I really enjoyed working on it.

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAAfter I finished my PhD thesis, I went to a IJCAI (International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence) conference in Japan to present my research. The Robocup competition was going on at the same venue as the conference. For the first time, Sony was there presenting their cat and dog robot pets in a fiberglass showcase. The movements of those little robots were so well done, that I stood there looking at them in amazement for a very long time. I thought, “I want to be working with these robots”, “I want to include the technology that I just developed for my thesis to these robots”, “the best way for the robots to move through their environment is by using cognitive models, and I am going to make this happen”! Read the rest of this entry »

Cognitive Robots’ Cognitive Brain for Service Robotics has been successfully incorporated into Robosoft’s Kompai companion robot

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Last week the results of the ECHORD C-Brain experiment was presented at IROS’12 conference in Portugal.

The overall goal of the project is to enhance the Kompai companion robotic platform from Robosoft (picture on the left) with the Cognitive Brain for Service Robotics ® (CBRAIN) from Cognitive Robots (picture on the right). The existing functionalities of the KOMPAI platform will remain and be enhanced with the cognitive capabilities of the CBRAIN.

The original capabilities of the Kompai at the beginning of the project were:

  1. Autonomous navigation solution based on traditional techniques such as laser-based SLAM (Simultaneous Localization and Mapping).
  2. Linear Obstacle detection at the height of the laser.
  3. Advanced dialog: the robot can receive verbal commands and give verbal responses.

The initial limitations that where identify in the Kompai platform and were addressed in this project were:

  • No automatic map building. A technician needs to manually create the map of each new environment (half day of work). Every single time the layout of that home is changed, the technician needs to go back to the home to re-learn the map of the environment for the robot.
  • No 3D obstacle avoidance. The current sensor of the Kompai is a laser, which provide linear distance measurement of the obstacles at the height of the laser. Read the rest of this entry »

Robohub -news, views & everything robotic- launches its beta version

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Robohub launches its beta version and will start publicizing it September 26 at 9am EDT.

Robohub main focus is to provide high-quality information about robotics to the general public.

I am proud to announce that I am contributing to this organization with this blog.

Written by Teresa Escrig

September 27th, 2012 at 6:58 pm

AISOY1 II, a programmable inexpensive robot with emotions

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By , September 19, 2012

Spanish start-up Aisoy Robotics is marketing a new robot that, while it may look similar to the famous Furby, is actually a fully programmable research and development platform.

The Aisoy1 II robot comes with a variety of sensors (touch, light, position, temperature, and camera), microphone and speaker, RGB LEDs in its body, and a 70 mini-LED matrix display (for animated lips). Four servos control the robot’s neck rotation, eyelids, and eyebrows. The platform doesn’t move.

The package includes a dialogue system for speech recognition and synthesis, as well as computer vision software for stuff like face and object recognition, all running on the Linux operating system. The company claims even complete novices can take advantage of these functions without having to learn how to code thanks to DIA, its visual programming tool. The program runs in HTML5 compatible browsers, allowing you to select nodes that control the robot’s various sensors and behaviors.

Read more >

Aisoy 1 II includes a dialogue system for speech recognition and synthesis, as well as com...As the Thymio II, a specific non-standard programming language is against the robotic community efforts for standardization. However, the fact that is HTML5 compatible contributes to the creation of the Robotics App Economy.

The most important feature of Aisoy1 II, which is not mentioned in the previous article, is its emotional motor, a very interesting AI feature at the service of developers for a very low price. As their creators said: ” humans would not take decisions without emotions”. This emotional motor can be a key factor for development of the robotic industry.

Very cute little and inexpensive robots that can help to promote robotics education at schools and colleges.

Thymio II, a new educational robot with a non-standard language programming

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Very nice promotional video of Thymio II, the new educational robotic platform from the Swiss research institute EPFL (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne/Swiss Federal Institute of Technology).

Thymio II is a new educational robot designed by Swiss research institute EPFLThymio II is available now, at a price of 99 Swiss francs (US$106).

Wheels can  be connected to user-supplied moving parts such as arms, propellers, winches, or just about anything else.

It also features a microphone and speaker, a 3-axis accelerometer, five proximity sensors, two ground sensors, a temperature sensor, and 39 LEDs which allow its body to illuminate in different colors.

It can accept programming via a USB connection (which is also used to charge its lithium-polymer battery) or a memory card slot. Programming is created using EPFL’s robotics-specific ASEBA language. This is a drawback considering the robotic community efforts for standardization with the Robotics Operating System (ROS).

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The new Toyota’s Human Support Robot (HSR) is able to change size of body and arm

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Toyota's Human Support Robot

By . September 22, 2012

Toyota has unveiled a new assistant robot designed to help the disabled live more independently. Called the Human Support Robot (HSR), it represents the latest initiative in Toyota’s Partner Robot program and is intended to help out around the home by fetching things, opening curtains, and picking up objects that have fallen to the floor.

The HSR can be controlled using a simple graphical user interface via tablet PC. HSR has also an arm of 2.5 feet length and gripper. When not in use, the robot’s single arm is designed to fold in tightly to reduce its body’s overall diameter to just 14.5 inches

The robot has a telescopic body, which gives it a height of 2.7 to 4.3 feet.

The robot appears to have both a Prosense (Microsoft Kinect) sensor and stereo cameras in its head, which would allow it to sense depth and visually identify people and objects.

Expected price of the robot is unknown, but given that Japanese public health insurance will cover 90% of associated costs (a law designed specifically for robot technology that was passed recently), it seems HSR will have a decent shot at becoming a real consumer product, though it may take another couple of years of development.

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Reproducing the APP ECONOMY syndrome in the Robotics industry

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The Robotics Industry is definitely taking off. Many new corporations are being created in the area than ever before. According to a November 2011 report from the market research firm Metra Martech, the robotics industry will create one million new jobs over the next five years. Many organizations report that they are actually having trouble finding enough quality employees. We’re going to see more manufacturing come back to the United States, where robots will help us better control quality and intellectual property [1]. Service applications for robotics are growing faster in the United States than elsewhere but the competition is growing, spurred on by heavy investment in countries like South Korea [1].

Big acquisitions and investments are taken place in this industry. Examples are the significant investment in Aldebaran Robotics, and the more spectacular acquisition of Kiva Systems by Amazon for $750 M. The case of Kiva Systems is very remarkable because Amazon is one of the main players of the Cloud Computing industry and their ultimate goal is to have fully automated logistics for retail sells. Kiva Systems provide a scalable, very reliable robotics solution to transport items in a warehouse. At this moment, the only time where a person is touching an item is to grab it from the shelf that is brought to him and place it in the box to send it out. Amazon is now making investigations to acquire a company expert on grasping / arm manipulators to automated the last piece of the system. Soon we will be able to buy the book we want, from our iPad or iPhone (or similar) and see in our screen how a robot is finding our book, transporting it to the door of the warehouse where an arm manipulator is placing it in our box. We will receive the book the same day or the day after, depending on the distance from the warehouse to our home. This is a successful story that it is happening while we speak.

However, there are many other robotic companies struggling to arrive to the market. Although robotics is a very hot topic, robots still need to have “more intelligence”, the software needs to be hardware independent and reusable, and the components need to be less expensive, so that the balance between price and benefits goes by far to the side of the benefits.

A comparable example in our recent history has been the iPhone: “too expensive, nobody would buy it”, said the competition, and they were wrong. Now everybody “have to have” a smartphone, the benefits have override the cost. Most people do not think about the cost, they only think about the amount of benefits they are going to get from it.

The great advantage of a smartphone is that it provides so many tools in a single, readily available, relatively inexpensive package.

Almost a million apps have been created for the iPhone, iPad and Android alone, greatly augmenting the usefulness of mobile devices [1]. Want to play games, track your workouts, write music? There are a plethora of apps to choose from, many of them free. This analysis—conducted for TechNet by Dr. Michael Mandel of South Mountain Economics, LLC—shows that the App Economy now is responsible for roughly 466,000 jobs in the United States in the last four years, since 2007 when the iPhone was introduced. This total includes jobs at ‘pure’ app firms such as Zynga, a San Francisco-based maker of Facebook game apps that went public in December 2011. App Economy employment also includes app-related jobs at large companies such as Electronic Arts, Amazon, and AT&T, as well as app ‘infrastructure’ jobs at core firms such as Google, Apple, and Facebook. In additional, the App Economy total includes employment spillovers to the rest of the economy. Our results also suggest that the App Economy is still growing at a rapid clip, which shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.

In order to provide users with a wider range of engaging experiences, social networks and mobile operating systems have opened their platforms to developers, transforming the creation, distribution and consumption of digital content. We refer to this as the “App Economy.” In the App Economy, developers can create applications accessing unique features of the platforms, distribute applications digitally to a broad audience and regularly update existing applications”

The App Economy is only one way technology creates jobs. As explained here there is other ways in which robots create jobs.

The combination of ease of development and ease of delivery makes possible a stunning variety of apps.

Our claim is that this App Economy phenomenon in the mobile industry can be reproduced again in the robotic industry to help that industry take off.

In order to do so, we need to provide in the robotics world the same breeding ground as it exists for mobile platforms: ease of development and ease of delivery.

We need to assign capital to do it!

References:

[1] Mandel, M., “Where the Jobs Are: The App Economy”, TechNet 2012.

Cloud Robotics: benefits to adopt, drawbacks to solve

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For us humans, with our non-upgradeable, offline meat brains, the possibility of acquiring new skills by connecting our heads to a computer network is still science fiction. It is a reality for robots.

Cloud Robotics can allow the robot to access vast amounts of processing power, data and offload compute-intensive tasks like image processing and voice recognition and even download new skills instantly, Matrix-style.

There is an excellent post at ieee spectrum about Cloud Robotics that I absolute recommend to read for those who want to know what is next in the Robotics world.

Here are the benefits I see by using Cloud-enable robots: Read the rest of this entry »