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Nearly all real-world applications of reinforcement learning involve some degree of shift between the training environment and the testing environment. However, prior work has observed that even small shifts in the environment cause most RL algorithms to perform markedly worse. As we aim to scale reinforcement learning algorithms and apply them in the real world, it is increasingly important to learn policies that are robust to changes in the environment.

Humanoid robot hand. Futuristic cyborg concept.

While modern cameras provide machines with a very well-developed sense of vision, robots still lack such a comprehensive solution for their sense of touch. At ETH Zurich, in the group led by Prof. Raffaello D’Andrea at the Institute for Dynamic Systems and Control, we have developed a tactile sensing principle that allows robots to retrieve rich contact feedback from their interactions with the environment. I recently described our approach in a TEDx talk at the last TEDxZurich. The talk features a tech demo that introduces the novel tactile sensing technology targeting the next generation of soft robotic skins.

by   -   March 2, 2021

If you’ve ever swatted a mosquito away from your face, only to have it return again (and again and again), you know that insects can be remarkably acrobatic and resilient in flight. Those traits help them navigate the aerial world, with all of its wind gusts, obstacles, and general uncertainty. Such traits are also hard to build into flying robots, but MIT Assistant Professor Kevin Yufeng Chen has built a system that approaches insects’ agility.

European Digital Innovation Hubs are one-stop-shops where companies and public sector organisations can access and test digital innovations, gain the required digital skills, get advice on financing support and ultimately accomplish their digital transformation in the context of the twin green and digital transition which is at the core of European industrial policy.

by   -   February 26, 2021

The ability for humans to generalize their knowledge and experiences to new situations is remarkable, yet poorly understood. For example, imagine a human driver that has only ever driven around their city in clear weather. Even though they never encountered true diversity in driving conditions, they have acquired the fundamental skill of driving, and can adapt reasonably fast to driving in neighboring cities, in rainy or windy weather, or even driving a different car, without much practice nor additional driver’s lessons. While humans excel at adaptation, building intelligent systems with common-sense knowledge and the ability to quickly adapt to new situations is a long-standing problem in artificial intelligence.

by   -   February 20, 2021

My coding project is to start building an ethical black box (EBB), or to be more accurate, a module that will allow a software EBB to be incorporated into a robot. Conceptually the EBB is very simple, it is a data logger – the robot equivalent of an aircraft Flight Data Recorder, or an automotive Event Data Recorder.

by   -   February 15, 2021

RoMi-H robot with hospital bed behind

Imagine for a moment that a road is used only for a single car and driver. Everything is smooth and wonderful. Then you wake up from that utopian dream and remember that our road networks have multiple cars of varying sizes, from different manufacturers, each with a driver with unique behaviors behind the wheel. We quickly realize that traffic conventions and rules are in place to avoid complete and utter chaos. We believe with increasing robotic use cases in the public domain as we all do see, a similar parallel reality needs to be realized and we propose that RoMi-H, an open-source robot and infrastructure framework that simplifies cross fleet robot collaboration, is the way to achieve this coming reality!

by   -   February 9, 2021

CSAIL’s “LaserFactory” system automates the full process for making functional devices in one system. From Star Trek’s replicators to Richie Rich’s wishing machine, popular culture has a long history of parading flashy machines that can instantly output any item to a user’s delight.

A map of the unexplored ocean

Most of the ocean is unknown. Yet we know that the most challenging environments on the planet reside in it. Understanding the ocean in its totality is a key component for the sustainable development of human activities and for the mitigation of climate change, as proclaimed by the United Nations. We are glad to share our perspective about the role of soft robots in ocean exploration and offshore operations at the outset of the ocean decade (2021-2030).

Minimally invasive surgeries in which surgeons gain access to internal tissues through natural orifices or small external excisions are common practice in medicine. They are performed for problems as diverse as delivering stents through catheters, treating abdominal complications, and performing transnasal operations at the skull base in patients with neurological conditions.

Schools of fish exhibit complex, synchronized behaviors that help them find food, migrate, and evade predators. No one fish or sub-group of fish coordinates these movements, nor do fish communicate with each other about what to do next. Rather, these collective behaviors emerge from so-called implicit coordination — individual fish making decisions based on what they see their neighbors doing.

Interesting discussion with Prof. Ali Khademhosseini, CEO of the Terasaki Institute, and one of the pioneers of the Bioengineering field. Prof. Ali’s journey from Harvard and UCLA to the Terasaki Institute is truly inspiring. What does the institute do to bring a product to the real world? Learn about the design challenges of biomaterials, organs on a chip, and soft robotics in this episode of the IEEE RAS Soft Robotics Podcast.

by   -   January 25, 2021

Contemporary robots can move quickly. “The motors are fast, and they’re powerful,” says Sabrina Neuman. Yet in complex situations, like interactions with people, robots often don’t move quickly. “The hang up is what’s going on in the robot’s head,” she adds.

How do honeybees land on flowers or avoid obstacles? One would expect such questions to be mostly of interest to biologists. However, the rise of small electronics and robotic systems has also made them relevant to robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI). For example, small flying robots are extremely restricted in terms of the sensors and processing that they can carry onboard. If these robots are to be as autonomous as the much larger self-driving cars, they will have to use an extremely efficient type of artificial intelligence – similar to the highly developed intelligence possessed by flying insects.

Drone with event camera

Robotics researchers at the University of Zurich show how onboard cameras can be used to keep damaged quadcopters in the air and flying stably – even without GPS.

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Swarms in Space
May 10, 2021

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