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Tag : Raffaello D’Andrea


Robohub is an online platform that brings together leading communicators in robotics research, start-ups, business, and education from around the world.
by   -   July 3, 2014

Fotokite_Sergei_Lupashin
Although I am amazed with UAVs and their versatility, I must admit that having a flying camera zoom by – and zoom in on me – can be intimidating. Not because the drone has a camera, but because I don’t always know who is behind that camera. If the drone operator were immediately identifiable, however, I would have no problem. That is exactly the issue Fotokite tries to solve.


by   -   March 4, 2014

Drone-Failsafe-Algorithm

UPDATE 04/03/2014:

In this video update, we show that a quadrocopter can be safely piloted by hand after a motor fails, without the aid of a motion capture system. This follows our previous video, where we demonstrated how a complete propeller failure can be automatically detected, and that a quadrocopter can still maintain stable flight despite the complete loss of a propeller. 


by   -   February 28, 2014

TED_James_Davidson9

Photo credit: James Davidson.

In this 4th interview of our four-part ECHORD series, conducted last June, Sascha Griffiths from TUM talks to Raffaello D’Andrea, Professor of Dynamic Systems and Control at ETH Zurich and technical co-founder of Kiva Systems. The series explores success stories and common obstacles in industry-academia collaborations in the field of robotics, and examines the differences  between these collaborations in the US, Europe and Asia.


by and   -   December 20, 2013

new_cubli

Update: New video of final robot! My colleagues at the Institute for Dynamic Systems and Control at ETH Zurich have created a small robotic cube that can autonomously jump up and balance on any one of its corners.



by   -   June 11, 2013

TED_James_Davidson6

Raffaello D’Andrea demos his quadrotor “athletes” at TED Global 2013.
Update with the full video below

Check out live tweets, amazing photos, TED blog posts and awesome video coverage of the session Those Flying Things at this year’s TED Global, featuring the work of automation and controls expert Raffaello D’Andrea, and drone ecologist Lian Pin Koh. We will be adding new material here as it becomes available, so check back soon. Photo credit: James Duncan Davidson.


by and   -   June 11, 2013

With reporting and photos by Dario Brescianini and Mark Mueller and timelapse video by  James Duncan Davidson.TED_Raff_quad

Raffaello D’Andrea juggles quadrotors at TED Global 2013.

A quadrocopter swoops through the air to serve a glass of water without spilling a drop. Another gets two of its propellers cut off, yet still easily flies across the arena. ”It looks like magic!” says ETH Zurich‘s Raffaello D’Andrea, but it took a lot of research, hard work and planning to bring this ‘magic trick’ to TED Global.




by   -   May 3, 2013

How do you like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do!

Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert L. Stephenson


by   -   April 15, 2013

To coincide with Robohub’s Jobs Focus, we asked our panelists to weigh in on the role that robots play in the wider economy, and whether this is a good thing or a bad thing for employment numbers. Here’s what they have to say:

John-DulchinosJohn Dulchinos feature article: “The great equalizer: How robotics frees manufacturers from consolidating in low-wage nations”

These days it is hard to read an article about the future of robots that does not include a reference to jobs. As a pure roboticist, I object to the constant connection between the two, but as a concerned citizen I think it is a worthwhile discussion …

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Raffaello-DAndrea.jpgRaffaello D’Andrea on “Do robots kill jobs?”

There is no doubt that robots, and automation in general, replace humans in the work-force: all productivity-enhancing tools, by definition, result in a decrease in the number of man-hours required to perform a given task …

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Mark Tilden
Mark Tilden on “Do robots kill jobs?”

Robots do kill jobs but they’re crappy jobs, so good riddance.  If you’ve ever had a job you were desperate for the money, but immediately regretted after you got it, then you know what I mean. …

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We hope you will join the discussion. Feel free to post your comment below.

See all the posts in Robohub’s Jobs Focus →


by   -   April 14, 2013

There is no doubt that robots, and automation in general, replace humans in the work-force: all productivity-enhancing tools, by definition, result in a decrease in the number of man-hours required to perform a given task. 

This Robotics By Invitation contribution is part of Robohub’s Jobs Focus.

There may be some regional effects that result in an immediate increase in jobs (for example, setting up a new manufacturing plant and hiring workers to maintain the machines), but the global effect is indisputable: overall, robots replace human workers.

What is also true, however, is that robots create jobs as well.  This is simply Economics 101: there is a redistribution of labor from low skilled jobs – what robots can do now, and the foreseeable future – to higher skilled jobs. An analogy from the North Carolina Department of Agriculture: “In 1790, 93% of the population of the United States was rural, most of them farmers. By 1990, only 200 years later, barely 2% of our population are farmers.”  What is also true is that there are many more software engineers now than there were in 1790; or mechanics; or physiotherapists; or professional athletes; or artists.

So the debate about robots replacing human workers is, for the most part, a tired and old one; just replace the word ‘robot’ with any productivity-enhancing tool or development. And as long as the process is gradual, one can reasonably argue that society benefits as a whole.

But the question does have merit, because human workers are at an artificial disadvantage relative to their robot counterparts, and the culprit is artificially low interest rates.  Large companies such as Procter and Gamble can issue 10 year corporate bonds that have astronomically low yields of 2.3%.  With money so cheap, productivity tools – such as robots – that would not be economically viable under normal interest rates and yields are now a bargain.  Why should a company ‘rent’ labor (a human worker) when it can ‘buy’ it (a robot)?  Have we not seen this storyline before?

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See all the posts in Robohub’s Jobs Focus →

 

[Photo credit: Petr Kratochvil.]


by   -   March 13, 2013

How will robots shape the future of war?  I don’t know. I think that the more important question, however, is: what role should robots have in warfare?

In my answer I have tried (as much as is humanly possible) to put myself in the role of an alien dispassionately analyzing the situation.  And when I do, I keep returning to the following conclusion: the best possible outcome for humanity would be for robots to not play any part (with the possible exception of purely defensive roles such as defusing mines) in warfare whatsoever.

If I were an alien, this is what I would first observe:

  1. The ability for the average human to create tools that can harm others is rapidly increasing. This is especially the case for robots and intelligent machines: sensors, actuators, computing platforms, power systems, and other enabling technologies are continually becoming less expensive, more powerful, and more widely available. The result is that increasingly large numbers of people are becoming capable of delivering payloads accurately and over great distances.
  2. The knowledge required to create robots, intelligent machines, and the algorithms that bring them to life are widely accessible and impossible to suppress; knowledge wants to be free in the same way that entropy wants to increase.
  3. Humans have an incredibly strong sense of fairness, and their own research supports this. One of their greatest triumphs as a species is their ability to channel traits such as tribalism, aggression, and competitiveness – the same traits that lead to warfare – to a benign medium that results in their great joy and entertainment, not to mention a significant economic activity: organized sports. Central to this incredible accomplishment is the establishment of well-defined rules and regulations that strive to ensure a fair competition.

And this is what I would then conclude:

Dominant powers are being seduced by the advantages that robots can bring to the battlefield.  In the short term, this is a perfectly rational strategy. In the long term, however, this leads to an arms race. Even though a dominant power may be able to maintain its lead by continually developing robotic weapons, the capabilities of its adversaries, while inferior, will co-develop and eventually reach levels that will allow them to inflict catastrophic damage. 

Furthermore, asymmetric warfare insidiously erodes the sense of fairness outlined in point 3, with detrimental consequences for both sides.  The losing side is disenfranchised, which coupled with points 1 and 2 above, is extremely destabilizing. The winning side loses its moral compass and the fabric that holds its society together begins to unravel, leading to home-grown disenfranchisement and destabilization there as well. 

The net result of this robotic arms race will be a high-volatility stalemate, with dangerous weapons available to the masses and a lack of social restraint to prevent their indiscriminate use.    

If I were an alien, and thus immune to personal and economic factors that could influence my impartiality (such as having a loved one in combat, or being employed by a weapons dealer or manufacturer), I could only conclude that humanity would greatly benefit from imposing strict and far-reaching bans on the use of robotic technology in warfare.

As a human, not only am I skeptical that this will happen, I admit that my personal views are situation dependent: if my daughter were in combat, I wouldn’t care about asymmetry or fairness, I would want her to be as safe as possible. I don’t think that this makes me a hypocrite, it just makes me human.

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by   -   February 21, 2013

Quadrotors_Juggling_4

Two of the most challenging problems tackled with quadrocopters so far are balancing an inverted pendulum and juggling balls. My colleagues at ETH Zurich’s Flying Machine Arena have now combined the two.


by   -   February 15, 2013

The best way to commercialize robotics research is to make better connections between academics and entrepreneurs.  Academics venturing out into the business world tend to have a “hammer looking for a nail” mentality, and often lack an appreciation of the skills and real-world experience that entrepreneurs and business-minded folks bring to the table. Likewise, most entrepreneurs cannot accurately estimate the complexity of the underlying technology … they do not know what is hard to do and what is not. Nor should they be blamed for this: speaking as an academic, I must admit that distinguishing between what is easy and what is difficult to achieve is not usually the focus of our publications, web pages or videos. So how do we bridge this gap?  Two ideas:

  1. Continue to fund robotics competitions.  Not only is this a great way to educate researchers on how to build real systems, but the approaches adopted by the winning teams are highly correlated to what is feasible with today’s technology. Also, the challenges these teams encounter in a one-year competition cycle are similar to those faced by a young startup in its first year of existence. This funding approach could be expanded to include team projects that create large-scale public installations because, like startups, they too must be reliable and robust to succeed in a public, real-world context.  Finally, one must also make sure that entrepreneurs know about these competitions and team projects, and that they have the right incentives to attend.
  2. Provide funding that allows freshly-minted PhDs to transition from fundamental research to applied research with a specific business focus, and at the same time provide support from business mentors and entrepreneurs.  A pre-startup phase, if you will. This not only brings the research closer to application, but it also gives individuals an appreciation of what it takes to commercialize their research, without the immediacy and constraints of being a startup.  A good example of this kind of funding scheme is the Pioneer Fellowships program established at ETH Zurich.

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