Friday, January 8, 2016

Robotics Weekly #5

Robotics Weekly
Issue #5

Featured article:
  • Watch This Swarm of Simple Robots Do Surprisingly Complex Things - Usually when we think about robot, we think about mechanical being sized more or less from chihuahua to two times the average human size. And we think about individual robot. But in the nature, apart from individual entities, there are also swarms like bees and ants. Why couldn't we build robot designed to behave just like one simple member of bigger group of the same robots?
Articles and videos:
  • Quadrocopter Ball Juggling - Another cool video from ETH Zurich. This time engineers from there mounted tennis rocket like nets on drones and made them juggle balls. They are quick, adaptive and very agile while handling the ball. It seems to me that they will outperform human juggling masters soon.
  • Demonstration of humanoid robots for disaster rescue missions - One of the biggest problem of developed areas like cities are disasters. When one big event like tsunami, earthquake or explosions occurs usually there are not enough rescue workers helping the victims of such situations. Even if there were enough rescuers, some places are so damaged, flooded or filled with chemicals that they are unavailable for them. In my opinion this looks like good place for robotic rescue workers. Ideally such robot rescuers would be autonomous, but even if not, they can provide large amount of information for rescue teams which can help with making decisions. Not mention that such robot could also clean the way for trapped persons. I'm very happy that there are people which are constructing such robots already, even if those robots behave a little clumsy.
  • This Lego robot is controlled entirely by a worm’s brain - How about combining Lego Mindstorm set with Open Worm artificial intelligence? Well, as we can expect, we will receive artificial worm brain in Lego body. Not spectacular combination, but if you think about it, we just created simple artificial life... almost.
  • YASKAWA BUSHIDO PROJECT - Can industrial robots be so agile that they could perform in sword art according to Iaijutsu technique? It looks like yes. I'm afraid that in real combat (lets forget about immobility of such robot for a second) it would kill even Iaijutsu master.
  • Uncanny valley - If you just started interesting with robotics, you may hear about "uncanny valley" and maybe no one explained well what this term mean. Basically it means that if you add more and more details to animate an inanimate object towards human look and movement, there is a moment when your model generates less positive feelings that you could expect. You see that something is almost human, but this "almost effect" tels you to back off from that object. So sometimes, it is better to design robot who looks like raw robot than human with few flaws.
  • Kid's Walker - another invention from Japan. This time, someone built small "mecha" for kids. I'm not sure what was it purpose, but it looks pretty impressive since it actually moves.
  • Soft autonomous robot inches along like an earthworm - Researchers from MIT presented simple worm like robot which moves by squeezing its mesh like "body" structure caused by change of shape of shape memory alloy. In my humble opinion it looks quite like normal bug, which is great result.
  • Sand Flea Jumping Robot - We already had a chance to watch some walking robots from Boston Dynamics. But what would happen if someone wouldn't bother with walking, and just roll on easy terrain and skip high obstacle by jumping on it? Results may be very interesting. I just wonder how many "jumps" such robot can survive without need of repairing.
  • Seems like there are no cool and fresh projects in crowdfunding stage this time ;(.
Book of the week:
  • The Art of Tinkering - Colorful book about starting tinkering from members of San Fransisco Exploratorium.
  • Robotics: Estimation and Learning - Nothing is perfect, and robots you will build also will not be perfect. In this course you will learn how to deal with noise from sensors and how to estimate current status and location of robot.
  • Robotics Software Engineer @ TORC Robotics - TORC Robotics has interesting offer for person who is looking to work on perception in robotics systems. Key requirements are knowledge of object oriented programming, mathematical background and experience with robotics navigation.
MichaƂ Neonek, MrValgad, Tompul
Do you have link to cool news, article, tutorial or video and want to share with other robot fans? Send it to me and if meet quality standards I will include it in next issue of Robotics Weekly.

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