Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, recently announced that the car manufacturer will produce self-driving cars within three years. Nissan has announced that it will have a self-driving car available by 2020, Google has said it will do so by 2018. Over the past decade, the conversation around self-driving cars has evolved from futuristic police chase sequences in Minority Report to figuring out which auto manufacturer will be first to launch a commercially viable self-driving vehicle. Daimler AG, maker of Mercedes Benz, recently announced that an S-class sedan had completed a 62-mile journey in the streets of Germany without a driver. Audi’s self-driving car successfully navigated 156 turns of the 12-mile Hill Climb course in Colorado’s Pikes Peak. Car manufacturers see self-driving cars as a way to eliminate road deaths caused by human error, reduce traffic, and free up time spent commuting – but how do these vehicles work?
Mirobot is a robotics kit that’s designed to get kids more interested in technology, engineering and programming. Children solder and build it themselves, and then can use a drag-and-drop programming tool in their browser to get the robot to draw shapes and patterns.
In hospitals and nursing homes in Japan, disabled people are learning to walk again by wearing a robot suit. The suit ironically named HAL, for the Hybrid Assistive Limb, is strapped to one or both legs to help the patient regain mobility.
I say ironically because HAL is the Artificial Intelligence villain of science fiction. But the exoskeleton HAL is in fact far friendlier. It has been designed to support and expand the physical capabilities of its users, particularly people with physical disabilities.
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.
Tjin Van Der Zant helped found “Robocup at Home” in 2006, and since then the organization has spread to include a number of new locations everywhere from Brazil to Thailand. As a professor at the University of Groningen in the Cognitive Robotics Lab, and founder of a Robotics startup and machine learning startup – he’s pretty “involved” when it comes to robots – and it made me eager to pick his brain about the future of home robotics.
UPDATE: New video of a collaborative, cloud-based mapping experiment. Mapping is essential for mobile robots and a cornerstone of many more robotics applications that require a robot to interact with its physical environment. It is widely considered the most difficult perceptual problem in robotics, both from an algorithmic but also from a computational perspective. Mapping essentially requires solving a huge optimization problem over a large amount of images and their extracted features. This requires beefy computers and high-end graphics cards – resulting in power-hungry and expensive robots.
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.
The DelFly Explorer is the first flapping wing Micro Air Vehicle (MAV) that is able to fly with complete autonomy in unknown environments. Weighing just 20 grams and with a wingspan of 28cm, it is equipped with an onboard stereo vision system. The DelFly Explorer can perform an autonomous take-off, keep its height, and avoid obstacles for as long as its battery lasts (~9 minutes). All sensing and processing is performed on board, so no human or offboard computer is in the loop.
Generally, flying robots are programmed to avoid obstacles, which is far from easy in cluttered environments. At the Laboratory of Intelligent Systems, we think that flying robots should be able to physically interact with their surroundings. Take insects: they often collide with obstacles and continue flying afterwards. We thus designed GimBall, a flying robot that can collide with objects seamlessly. Thanks to a passively rotating spherical cage, it remains stable even after taking hits from all sides. This approach enables GimBall to fly in the most difficult places without complex sensors.
Kawasaki Heavy Industries has developed the world’s first all stainless steel robot with seven degrees of freedom.
It will be used in the drug discovery and pharmaceutical fields to automate experiments which use dangerous chemicals.
Due to its stainless steel body, it can be sterilized using Hydrogen Peroxide gas, for work in sterile environments.