Teresa Escrig

News and oppinion about Cognitive AI & Robotics

Archive for the ‘artificial intelligence associated with a body’ tag

Is the long anticipated shift in robotics finally happening?

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Whew… with so many exciting things happening in the robotics field lately, I just couldn’t remain silent anymore…

kiva robots

Kiva robots carrying shelves in a warehouse.

We were all wowed by Amazon’s acquisition in 2012 of  Kiva Systems for $775 million.  Kiva’s clever self-propelled robots scoot around warehouses in a numeric control dance to retrieve and carry entire shelf-units of items to their proper packaging point.

In December 2013 and January 2014, Google bought 7 robotics companies investing an unknown amount of money.  The Internet giant and pioneer of self-driving cars is serious about a robot-filled future. However we don’t know much about the intent of Google with all these acquisitions. They’re all a part of the Google X division, which is top secret by definition. Most of these companies have closed down their websites and retreated into stealth mode. My guess is that they are grouping up to decide the direction they’ll take to serve Google’s goals.

The robotics team is led by Andy Rubin, who recently stepped down as head of Android.

Here there is a brief summary of all Google’s acquisitions (and a bunch of links to dig deeper):

Arm manipulator of Industrial Perception, Inc.

Arm manipulator of Industrial Perception, Inc.

The biped robot at Schaft, Inc.

The biped robot at Schaft, Inc.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Industrial Perception, Inc (IPI) – spun off of the Menlo Park robotics company Willow Garage.  They have a 3D vision-guided robot to be used in manufacturing and logistics.
  • Schaft Inc. The Japanese team that got its start at Tokyo University. They took the top prize at DARPA’s Robotics Challenge Trial with their bipedal robot.
  • Redwood Robotics – started as a joint venture between Meka Robotics, SRI International, and Willow Garage (IPI’s parent). Redwood wants to build the “next generation arm” for robots.
  • Meka Robotics – A very nice torso robot with very sophisticated hands in a mobile platform with wheels.

  • Bot & Dolly  – a design and engineering studio that specializes in automation, robotics, and filmmaking. They use robots to help film commercials and movies like Gravity.
  • Holomini – The only thing we know about them is that they are creators of high-tech wheels for omnidirectional motion.
Bot & Dolly arm with camera.

Bot & Dolly arm with camera.

 

Holomini's wheels.

Holomini’s wheels.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Boston Dynamics  – The most high-profile of all the robotic companies that Google has acquired so far. They have two main robots: ATLAS -the sophisticated humanoid robot and Cheetah, also called the BigDog that can reach 28 mph.
ATLAS robot from Boston Robotics.

ATLAS robot from Boston Robotics.

BigDog from Boston Robotics.

BigDog from Boston Robotics.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the middle of January 2014, Google acquired Nest for $3.2 billion dollars.

  • Nest  – is an automation startup whose product is a smoke and CO2 alarm that talks.

And at the end of January Google acquired DeepMind for more than $500 M (after having beaten out Facebook):

  • DeepMind – is an AI research company out of London founded by neuroscientist Demis Hassabis, Skype developer Jaan Tallin, and researcher Shane Leggthe.  They use the best techniques from machine learning and systems neuroscience to build powerful general-purpose learning algorithms.

In 2012 Google hired Ray Kurzweil to work on machine learning and language processing, to actually understand the content of the Web pages and provide a better way to rank them beside the number of times a web site is mentioned in other web sites. According to Dr. Kurzweil… you will be able to “ask it more complex questions that might be a whole paragraph… It might engage in a dialogue with you to find out what you need… It might come back in two months if it finds something useful.”

imperial college london robotics lab

The butler robot from the Imperial College London Robotics Lab

And now Sir James Dyson (the bagless vacuum cleaner inventor) is investing £5M in the Imperial College London to develop a new generation of “intelligent domestic robots” (an Iron Man’s style robot), with a further £3 million investment from various sources over the next five years.

Dyson remains frustrated at his prototypes’ inability to navigate simple household obstacles after working on a robotic vacuum cleaner  to go along with his company’s famous bagless line for as long as a decade. Indeed, even the greatest Roomba finds itself at a loss under a tangle of dining room chairs, and would shrug its shoulders when faced with a flight of stairs.”

Is the tide finally turning in robotics?

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 »

Human aspect robots can either by repulsive or the base for cute service robots

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A new android infant has been born thanks to the University of California San Diego’s Machine Perception Lab. The lab received funding from the National Science Foundation to contract Kokoro Co. Ltd. and Hanson Robotics, two companies that specialize in building lifelike animatronics and androids, to build a replicant based on a one year old baby. The resulting robot, which has been a couple of years in development, has finally been completed – and you can watch it smile and make cute faces.

With high definition cameras in the eyes, Diego San sees people, gestures, expressions, and uses AI modeled on human babies, to learn from people, the way that a baby hypothetically would. The facial expressions are important to establish a relationship, and communicate intuitively to people. As much a work of art as technology and science, this represents a step forward in the development of emotionally relevant robotics, building on previous work of David Hanson with the Machine Perception Lab such as the emotionally responsive Einstein shown at TED in 2009 (here another video).

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In 1970, the robotics professor Masahiro Mori coined the term uncanny valley, a hypothesis in the field of robotics and 3D computer animation, which holds that when human replicas look and act almost, but not perfectly, like actual human beings, it causes a response of revulsion among human observers. The “valley” refers to the dip in a graph of the comfort level of humans as a function of a robot‘s human likeness. The hypothesis has been linked to Ernst Jentsch‘s concept of “the uncanny” identified in a 1906 essay, “On the Psychology of the Uncanny” Jentsch’s conception was elaborated by Sigmund Freud in a 1919 essay entitled “The Uncanny” (“Das Unheimliche“).

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What I would say is that basic research is done to be used in a myriad of ways, so that can serve humans best.

And certainly this very advanced research in robotic expressions can help us to be closer to something as cute as Gumdrop, the 27-year old Bulgarian robot-actress.

 

What are the benefits of Artificial Intelligence in Robotics?

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Happy New Year to all!  It’s been a while since my last post. Too busy. Now, I’m back.

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Robotics is not only a research field within artificial intelligence, but a field of application, one where all areas of artificial intelligence can be tested and integrated into a final result.

Amazing humanoid robots exhibit elegant and smooth motion capable of walking, running, and going up and down stairs.  They use their hands to protect themselves when falling, and to get up afterward.  They’re an example of the tremendous financial and human capital that is being devoted to research and development in the field of electronics, control and the design of robots.

Very often, the behavior of these robots contains a fixed number of pre-programmed instructions that are repeated regardless of  any changes in the environment. These robots have no autonomy, nor adaptation, to the changing environment, and therefore do not show intelligent behavior. We are amazed by the technology they provide, which is fantastic! But we can not infer that, because the robots are physically so realistic and the movements so precise and gentle, that they are able to do what we (people) do. Read the rest of this entry »

Amazing examples of the variety of uses of service robotics

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By Ann R. Thryft 11/12/2012

Service robots often mean robots that assist the elderly, or help with the rehabilitation of medical patients. But the range of services that robots can perform is extremely broad.

From a robotic fish that uses artificial intelligence to detect and identify pollution in seawater created by SHOAL,

 

 

 

 

 

 

To a telepresence PatrolBot which will let disabled police officers and military veterans serve as distance patrol officers, filling a gap in both the lack of patrol staff, and the lack of available jobs for disabled vets and officers, developed by Florida International University. Read the rest of this entry »

Fiona, a community robotic project to create an artificial mind

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Adele Robotics has launched Fiona, a project for the robotics community to create an artificial mind.

This is another example of Cloud Robotics and reproducing the Apps economy for the robotics industry, the future of robotics.

Congratulations Adele!

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 »

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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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.

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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.

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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