Teresa Escrig

News and oppinion about Cognitive AI & Robotics

Archive for the ‘News on AI & Robotics’ Category

Sasuke and Love, two robot nurses to help caregivers with their job

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ROBOHELPER SASUKE, a robot lifter,  and ROBOHELPER LOVE, a bodily waste removal system, are two devices created to help caregivers in their daily tasks. They were designed with the help of Toshiyuki Kita, who is known for creating the look of Sharp’s AQUOS TVs and Mitsubishi’s failed yellow household robot Wakamaru.

ROBOHELPER SASUKE helps lift a person into and out of bed using servo motors. The device has two rods connected by a sling that slides under the body. The sling is made of a special material and can accommodate a weight of 264 lbs (120 kg). Furthermore the arms can rotate up to 60 degrees, which allows the patient to comfortably transfer from a prone position to a sitting position.

ROBOHELPER LOVE – is an an automatic bodily waste disposal unit aimed at making bedpans a thing of the past. A cup wraps around the patient’s waist, fitted with sensors that automatically detect the presence of fluid and/or stool. The waste is quickly suctioned away into a holding tank, followed by a cleansing wash using room temperature water. The cup itself can be washed and sterilized automatically at the station. It can operate for up to 12 hours without supervision, making it ideal for overnight use.

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Written by Teresa Escrig

October 2nd, 2012 at 6:39 pm

Shoal, the robo-fish that monitors oxygen levels and salinity of waters north of Spain

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By , October 1, 2012

A five foot long (1.5 meter) robo-fish prototype that monitors oxygen levels and salinity is currently being tested in waters north of Spain as part of the EU-funded Shoal Consortium project.

The idea is to have real-time monitoring of pollution, so that if someone is dumping chemicals or something is leaking, it can be detected straight away, find out what is causing the problem and put a stop to it.

Traditional robots use propellers or thrusters for propulsion, however Shoal robot-fish uses the fin of a fish to propel itself through the water.

The Shoal robot-fish costs US$32,000, and it operates for just eight hours before needing to be charged. However, there’s no doubt that if this problem can be overcome (with, perhaps, some sort of underwater charging station) the robo-fish will find homes in coastal waters around the world.

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FURO – the new service robot from Future Robot who mimics human expressions

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FUROs, the new service robot from Korean robotics startup Future Robot can be defined as a hybrid between a smartphone and a smart machine.

According to Korea IT Times, the FURO interactive robot can provide a variety of services “by reading users’ intentions in different situations” by observing users’ movement, face and voice, and then conveying the “matched dialogue, facial expression, movement and necessary information.”

One buyer from Brazil, who ordered over 100 FUROs, came up with new business model – mobile (moving) advertisements. As FURO moves around in airports or exhibitions, they said, the back screens which are remotely operated can be utilized for advertisements while the front screen performs ordinary information services.

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Written by Teresa Escrig

September 28th, 2012 at 9:00 pm

Baxter, the new Arm Manipulator with behavioral robotics from Rethink Robotics

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This is the company and the robot that Amazon has been contemplating to acquire to provide a complete automatic solution for the retail industry. The last piece of the puzzle after Amazon’s Kiva acquisition for $775 M.

By , September 18, 2012

Baxter, the first product of Rethink Robotics, an ambitious start-up company in a revived manufacturing district, is a significant bet that robots in the future will work directly with humans in the workplace.

Here in a brick factory that was once one of the first electrified manufacturing sites in New England, Rodney A. Brooks, the legendary roboticist who is Rethink’s founder, proves its safety by placing his head in the path of Baxter’s arm while it moves objects on an assembly line.

The $22,000 robot that Rethink will begin selling in October is the clearest evidence yet that robotics is more than a laboratory curiosity or a tool only for large companies with vast amounts of capital.

Baxter will come equipped with a library of simple tasks or behaviors.

Rethink itself has made a significant effort to design a robot that mimics biological systems. The concept is called behavioral robotics, a design approach that was pioneered by Dr. Brooks in the 1990s and was used by NASA to build an early generation of vehicles that explored Mars.

Dr. Brooks first proposed the idea in 1989 in a paper titled “Fast, Cheap and Out of Control: A Robot Invasion of the Solar System.” Rather than sending a costly system that had a traditional and expensive artificial intelligence based control system, fleets of inexpensive systems could explore like insects. It helped lead to Sojourner, an early Mars vehicle.

The next generation of robots will increasingly function as assistants to human workers, freeing them for functions like planning, design and troubleshooting.

Rethink’s strategy calls for the robot to double as a “platform,” a computerized system that other developers can add both hardware devices and software applications for particular purposes. It is based on open-source software efforts — including the Robot Operating System, or ROS, developed by the Silicon Valley company Willow Garage, and a separate project called OpenCV, or Open Source Computer Vision Library.

That will make it possible for independent developers to extend the system in directions that Rethink hasn’t considered, much in the same way the original Apple II computer had slots for additional peripheral cards.

“We will publish an interface for the end of the wrist,” Dr. Brooks said. That will mean that while Baxter comes with a simple hand, or “end effector,” it will be able to adapt the system with more complex and capable hands that will be able to perform tasks that require greater dexterity.

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Human-Computer (or Robot) interface through Rough Sketches

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A team from Rhode Island’s Brown University and the Technical University of Berlin have created software that analyzes users’ crude, cartoony sketches, and figures out what it is that they’re trying to draw.

To develop the system, the researchers started with a database made up of 250 categories of annotated photographs. Then, using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk crowd-sourcing service, they hired people to make rough sketches of objects from each of those categories. The resulting 20,000 sketches were then subjected to recognition and machine learning algorithms, in order to teach the system what general sort of sketches could be attributed to which categories. After seeing numerous examples of how various people drew a rabbit, for instance, it would learn that combinations of specific shapes usually meant “rabbit.”

Check out the video showing the performance of the application. It is amazing! This technology has a broad and very deep implication in many areas, robotics is just one.

The research  is  available online, together with a library of sample sketches, and other materials. The team is currently considering a ‘Pictionary’ type open source game to expand the systems’ drawing reference library.

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Robots Bring Jobs Back to the US

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The rise of robotic automation in the manufacturing and packaging industry is often blamed for the steep job losses in U.S. manufacturing, along with the rampant outsourcing of labor to cheaper workforces. But a real look at the facts and stats show that things just aren’t that cut and dry.

Check out our infographic below and you’ll see the many ways in which robotics and the reshoring initiative can help increase manufacturing employment in the U.S. From providing improved safety measures in dangerous jobs, to introducing higher-paying, specialized positions that workers can be trained to fill, to laying out the true pros and cons of offshore outsourcing, this infographic sheds some light on the “other side” of the story.


Robots And Automation Bring Jobs Back To The U.S.

Written by Teresa Escrig

September 17th, 2012 at 11:38 pm

Towards the Robot Apps revolution: Controlling a small robot from a Windows 8 App

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I love examples of how to do things. We learn so much from examples!

In this case the example shows both how you can use C# skills to build robots, and also how flexible the new Windows Store app model is when it comes to communicating with remote devices.

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TOSY releases dancing robot

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Very sweet! The nice faces of the kids in the back compensate the ugly face of the dancing robot!

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Written by Teresa Escrig

September 6th, 2012 at 11:28 pm

Cheetah Robot sets a new robotic land speed record

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In its current version, Cheetah is powered by an off-board hydraulic pump with a boom-like device keeping it centered on the treadmill. DARPA says improved control algorithms and a more powerful pump were responsible for the increase in speeds since the robot set its previous record.

Being developed and tested by Boston Dynamics under DARPA’s Maximum Mobility and Manipulation (M3) program, Cheetah is being designed to perform in emergency response, humanitarian assistance and military missions. With such applications certain to involve rough terrain, DARPA intends to test a prototype on natural terrain next year.

By , September 6, 2012

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Written by Teresa Escrig

September 6th, 2012 at 7:42 pm

Will elderly embrace robot health care?

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By THOMAS ROGERS, 08/20/2012

“Full robots with arms are still very expensive,” says Ashutosh Saxena, a professor in the department of computer science at Cornell, “but they are getting cheaper by the day.” He predicts that armless robots — capable of communicating verbally with the elderly and observing them in case of accidents — will hit the market within the next five years.

There’s just one hiccup: the elderly themselves.

Despite manufacturers’ hopes, robotic technology has proven to be alienating for many older people — even, the BBC reports, in Japan, a country with an intense, long-term love of all things robotic.

Alexander Libin, scientific director of simulation and education research at Medstar Health Research Institute, argues that one of the biggest challenges is that the elderly need to be able to communicate easily with them. Although many robots (and mobile phones) can now recognize voice commands, nonverbal cues pose a much bigger challenge. Libin, who has worked extensively on robot-patient interaction, believes that touch-sensitive technology — like the one used by Paro, the therapeutic seal robot — will play a large role in making robots palatable to seniors.

“The Japanese want robots to be like them,” says Libin, noting Japan’s long tradition of treating inanimate objects like living beings. In the United States, we’re more comfortable treating machines as machines. “We want things we can control.”

The path toward robot acceptance may also require  patience. Like other forms of social change, robot acceptance may simply require one generation to replace the previous one.

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