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Research & Innovation

by   -   June 15, 2017
Prof Andrew Davison from Imperial College presents at the Event-based Vision Workshop

It was a hectic but interesting week at the 2017 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation in Singapore. Here’s a brief recap of some of my observations and experiences.

by   -   June 12, 2017

FIRST (For Recognition and Inspiration of Science and Technology) is a robotics program for students from K-12, and I was in the last division, FRC. The program is about more than introducing students to STEM and giving them hands-on experience, it’s about helping students to grow and have positive impacts by recognizing community service efforts, celebrating good values, developing soft skills, and guiding students to pursue higher education.

by   -   June 9, 2017

In 2016, the European Union co-funded 17 new robotics projects from the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for research and innovation. 16 of these resulted from the robotics work programme, and 1 project resulted from the Societal Challenges part of Horizon 2020. The robotics work programme implements the robotics strategy developed by SPARC, the Public-Private Partnership for Robotics in Europe (see the Strategic Research Agenda). 

Spotmini by Boston Dynamics. Source: Boston Dynamics/YouTube

In a long-awaited transaction, The New York Times Dealbook announced that SoftBank was buying Boston Dynamics from Alphabet (Google). Also included in the deal is the Japanese startup Schaft. Acquisition details were not disclosed.

Lecturer Steffen Pfiffner of University of Weingarten in Germany is teaching ROS to 26 students at the same time at a very fast pace. His students, all of them within the Master on Computer Science of University of Weingarten, use only a web browser. They connect to a web page containing the lessons, a ROS development environment and several ROS based simulated robots. Using the browser, Pfiffner and his colleague Benjamin Stähle, are able to teach how to program with ROS quickly and to many students. This is what Robot Ignite Academy is made for.

Mori pictured in a hand as scale

The fields of modular and origami robotics have become increasingly popular in recent years, with both approaches presenting particular benefits, as well as limitations, to the end user. Christoph Belke and Jamie Paik from RRL, EPFL and NCCR Robotics have recently proposed an elegant new solution that integrates both types of robotics in order to overcome their individual limitations: Mori, a modular origami robot.

by   -   June 8, 2017
Image: ICRA 2017

ICRA, the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, is an annual academic conference covering advances in robotics. It is one of the premier conferences in its field. This year, I was invited to attend to its 2017 edition in Singapore.

Autonomous exploration and reliable mapping of unknown environments corresponds to a major challenge for mobile robotic systems. For many important application domains, such as industrial inspection or search and rescue, this task is further challenged from the fact that such operations often have to take place in GPS-denied environments and possibly visually-degraded conditions.

Figure 1: A distributed robotic system managing the logistics of a warehouse.

It isn’t a secret that distributed robotic systems are starting to revolutionize many applications from targeted material delivery (e.g., Amazon Robotics) to precision farming. Assisted by technological advancements such as cloud computing, novel hardware design, and manufacturing techniques, nowadays distributed robot systems are starting to become an important part of industrial activities including warehouse logistics or autonomous transportation.

by   -   June 5, 2017

GelSight technology lets robots gauge objects’ hardness and manipulate small tools.

by   -   June 5, 2017

The first VENTURER trials set out to investigate ‘takeover’ (time taken to reengage with vehicle controls) and ‘handover’ (time taken to regain a baseline/normal level of driving behaviour and performance) when switching frequently between automated and manual driving modes within urban and extra-urban settings. This trial is believed to be the first to directly compare handover to human driver-control from autonomous mode in both simulator and autonomous road vehicle platforms.

The device named “Spark” flew high above the man on stage with his hands waving in the direction of the flying object. In a demonstration of DJI’s newest drone, the audience marveled at the Coke can-sized device’s most compelling feature: gesture controls. Instead of a traditional remote control, this flying selfie machine follows hand movements across the sky. Gestures are the most innate language of mammals, and including robots in our primal movements means we have reached a new milestone of co-existence.

by   -   June 2, 2017

Device provides information from a 3-D camera, via vibrating motors and a Braille interface.

A researcher at the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) is developing a bio-inspired ‘smart’ knee joint for prosthetic lower limbs. Dr Appolinaire Etoundi, based at Bristol Robotics Laboratory, is leading the research and will analyse the functions, features and mechanisms of the human knee in order to translate this information into a new bio-inspired procedure for designing prosthetics.

by   -   May 26, 2017

In 2016, the European Union co-funded 17 new robotics projects from the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for research and innovation. 16 of these resulted from the robotics work programme, and 1 project resulted from the Societal Challenges part of Horizon 2020. The robotics work programme implements the robotics strategy developed by SPARC, the Public-Private Partnership for Robotics in Europe (see the Strategic Research Agenda). 

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