Breaking News

A Land Rover That Drives Itself. MIT's robotic car is headed to California to compete in DARPA's upcoming Urban Challenge. - (Oct. 3, 2007) "In an airplane hanger on MIT's campus in Cambridge last week, a team of engineering students and researchers put the finishing touches on Talos, a Land Rover that drives itself. Talos is MIT's entry in the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency's (DARPA) robotic car race, which will take place on November 3, in Victorville, CA."

Robot Museum in Nagoya, Japan: our first and last visit - (Sept. 28, 2007) Here is a story about a Robot Museum. However, you will have to go to Nagoya, Japan to physically visit it. I wonder, if in the future, you will be able to send your robot over, to visit it for you. Until then, you'll have to settle for their gallery of pictures.

Robot makers: The future is now - Models available for cleaning gutters, pools, floors - (Sept. 27, 2007 - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution) - "The $300 Spykee, going on sale this holiday season, has more than 210 parts that can be assembled into three different models. Its "robot" shape moves on treads and has arms and a head-like video camera. It also includes a digital music player, an Internet-based phone, a microphone, a loudspeaker and a spotlight." "The robot can be controlled by a Wi-Fi signal from any computer with Internet access. A motion-sensitive alarm can trigger the robot to take and e-mail photos."

Gadgets could usher more socially oriented robots into the U.S. market - (Sept. 27, 2007 - MSNBC by Mark Jewell) "Dominated by home-cleaning gadgets, the consumer robotics market is expanding with the arrival of 'bots that can spy inside your home when you're away or arrange virtual meetings of family or friends. Robotics experts say gadgets introduced Thursday could usher more socially oriented robots into the U.S. market, though they bear little physical resemblance to humans or pets as robots embraced by consumers in Japan and South Korea do."

Apple Co-Founder Looks to Robotics and Artificial Intelligence - (Sept. 22, 2007) "Apple Co-founder Steve Wozniak says one of the primary emerging technologies that is capturing his imagination these days is the area of robotics and how artificial intelligence will be applied on those types of systems."

Carnegie Mellon building robot for lunar prospecting - (Sept. 20, 2007) "Researchers in the Robotics Institute of Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Computer Science are building a robotic prospector for NASA that can creep over rocky slopes and then anchor itself as a stable platform for drilling deep into extraterrestrial soils."

Industry Shorts - Nexus: Robot Driven by Massive Software Brain Debuts at Wired NextFest - (Sept. 14, 2007 - Robotic Trends) "At Wired NextFest Hanson Robotics introduced "Zeno," a robot that uses breakthrough artificial intelligence (AI) software to reason and get smarter over time. Hanson Robotics partnered with Massive Software, the developer of AI simulation software used in films such as the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Happy Feet, Ratatouille, and more, to design a robot that is able to view a 3D mental image of his environment to determine and control physical action and reactions."

Google to Finance Moon Challenge Contest - (Sept. 14, 2007) - Google Inc. is bankrolling a $30 million contest that could significantly boost the commercial space industry and spur the first non-governmental flight to the moon. Call it Moon 2.0. The bulk of the prize will go to the first private company that can land a robotic rover on the moon and beam back a gigabyte of images and video to Earth.

Of Interest

Why Robots Won't Rule - (Sept. 2007) or will they?

Robotics Replace Trigger Fingers in Iraq - (Aug. 29, 2007) - With all that we have heard about Iraq and Afghanistan, a story that has not been told is how the U.S. has leveraged robotic technology on the battlefield. In fact, according to the article, thousands of robotic systems have been deployed. Two robots discussed include the PackBot (neutralize explosives) and the Dragon Runner (a throwbot - thrown over walls or out three story windows) which surveys the area and returns video to our forces. The article raises concerns about the rules of engagement in the future using robots, but does not answer these questions in the article.

Robots Incorporated - Microsoft's best and brightest are quietly trying to bring robotics into the mainstream - (Aug. 2007) Although this article is extensive, it does a great job talking about the robotic industry and how Microsoft Robotics Studio and the team that built it came about. Microsoft hopes its Robotics Studio will be the standard operating and programming system, much like Windows and Visual Studio are today in the PC World. However, to reach that goal, Microsoft over the years will have to build this Studio into a superior product, even better than Windows. "Good robotics programming is far harder than writing a typical application for personal computers. Each component is expected to act autonomously and react to complicated events in the world of a kind that a printer or mouse never has to deal with." (Page 1) With Version 1.5 out, Microsoft's entrepreneurial Robotic Studio team from around the world, has just taken the first step, but it is one GIANT STEP into the future!

Rise of Roboethics - Grappling with the implications of an artificially intelligent culture - (July 16, 2007) - Seed Magazine by Lee Billings) "In April, the government of Japan released more than 60 pages of recommendations to "secure the safe performance of next-generation robots," which called for a centralized database to log all robot-inflicted human injuries. That same month, the European Robotics Research Network (EURON) updated its "Roboethics Roadmap," a document broadly listing the ethical implications of projected developments like robotic surgeons, soldiers, and sex workers. And in March, South Korea provided a sneak peek at its "Robot Ethics Charter" slated for release later in 2007. The charter envisioned a near future wherein humans may run the risk of becoming emotionally dependent on or addicted to their robots. The close timing of these three developments reflects a sudden upswing in international awareness that the pace of progress in robotics is rapidly propelling these fields into uncharted ethical realms."

New hope for stroke patients in latest robotics - (July 10, 2007) "device first designed by two MIT graduate students in a 2002 robotics class is helping stroke patients regain motion in their arms."

Farms Fund Robots to Replace Migrant Fruit Pickers - (June 21, 2007) "Vision Robotics, a San Diego company, is working on a pair of robots that would trundle through orchards plucking oranges, apples or other fruit from the trees. In a few years, troops of these machines could perform the tedious and labor-intensive task of fruit picking that currently employs thousands of migrant workers each season."

FIRST and Microsoft Announce New Robotics - (May 15, 2007) Information about a Robotics Competition that is held in Seattle, and other information

Robot Code of Ethics to Prevent Android Abuse, Protect Humans - (March 16, 2007) "The government of South Korea is drawing up a code of ethics to prevent human abuse of robots—and vice versa. The so-called Robot Ethics Charter will cover standards for robotics users and manufacturers, as well as guidelines on ethical standards to be programmed into robots, South Korea's Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy announced last week."


Learning Obstacle Avoidance Parameters from Operator Behavior - (Dec. 2006) B. Hamner, S. Singh, and S. Scherer, Special Issue on Machine Learning Based Robotics in Unstructured Environments, Journal of Field Robotics, Vol. 23, No. 11/12, pp. 1037-1058 - This paper concerns an outdoor mobile robot that learns to avoid collisions by observing a human driver operate a vehicle equipped with sensors that continuously produce a map of the local environment. We have implemented steering control that models human behavior in trying to avoid obstacles while trying to follow a desired path. Here we present the formulation for this control system and its independent parameters and then show how these parameters can be automatically estimated by observing a human driver. We also present results from operation on an autonomous robot as well as in simulation, and compare the results from our method to another commonly used learning method. We find that the proposed method generalizes well and is capable of learning from a small number of samples.

Dogs and robots share NIST special test arena - (April 25, 2005) This site contains a video of robots and dogs working a training site together. Kids would like this site!

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