Teresa Escrig

News and oppinion about Cognitive AI & Robotics

Archive for the ‘Cognitive Brain’ tag

Willow Garage’ s PR2 robot giving the disable independence

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Great job from Willow Garage. This is a nice example of the utility of robots in the near future. PR2 is too expensive to be acquired by a regular disable citizen, but you get the idea…

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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 »

Hanson Robokind unveils latest version of its Zeno humanoid robot

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by August 2, 2012

Built by Hanson Robotics, Zeno’s open-platform software allows for custom tinkering by the purchaser, but the robot is currently programmed for a number of functions as well as speaking 26 languages. In the video, it asserts that it can carry on “conversations” and show “compassion.” It can also “deliver education curricula,” provide autism treatment therapy and can answer questions. It demonstrated the last of these by fielding spoken questions on astronomy, sports and films.

Zeno will be joined by a “female” counterpart called Alice in August of 2012. Neither, however, will be selling for the US$300 that Hanson had hoped for five years ago. Though no price has been set, current Hanson RoboKind robots are valued on its website at up to US$16,750. However, the company is still keen on breaking into the mass market and plans to roll out smaller, cheaper “cousins” for Zeno sometime in 2013.

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There is a huge amount of work done in this platform. Congratulations to the team. This platform brings robotics closer to the public.

 

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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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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Why Amazon acquired Kiva?

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by Mark P. Mills, 3/23/2012

Amazon’s enormous, automated and well-organized warehouses are the stuff of legend, as are their path-breaking joint ventures with vendors, repair operations and UPS shipping. Still, physical order fulfillment reportedly costs nearly 9 percent of their $40 billion in global revenues.

Amazon was amongst the first to build data centers at Cloud scale – a scale that Google engineers labeled “warehouse scale computing.”   But to disrupt traditional retail Amazon had to do more than create a customer-friendly Web interface for their warehouse-scale computers.  They had to solve the old-fashioned physical warehouse problem in order to distribute the objects they sold.

Enter Kiva’s robots, and their inevitable progeny; the logical connection between the cyber and physical worlds. Think of Kiva bots as the hands and feet of the Cloud. They are not autonomous Star-Trek-like agents, but are wirelessly connected to and controlled by the Cloud in real-time.

When you tap “place your order” on your iPad’s touch-screen you are literally reaching through the Cloud to become one with Kiva to grab a box in the warehouse. Such robots are practical today because of a confluence of enabling technologies; cheap and powerful processing and communications, advanced electro-motive power, and clever software. All this is the domain of computing and square in Amazon’s wheelhouse.

Amazon needs to own Kiva for the same reason they own computing.

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Automated robotic warehousing is a hot investment focus

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Amazon just acquired Kiva Systems for $775 million and now Permira, a European private equity firm, announced that it was acquiring Intelligrated for an amount in excess of $500 million! The deal is expected to close after the summer.

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