Archive for the 'Robots' Category


it’s the season…

Ho ho ho… who wouldn’t want a robot under the christmas tree this year? I know at least a handful of different ‘bots’ that I would enjoy unwrapping, and no.. the Roxxxy is NOT one of them. Frank Tobe from The Robot Report has assumed the holliday spirit and have created a list of robot-presents for all the members of the family… He suggests:

The Robot Report’s 2010 Robotic Xmas Gifts Picks List:

… For all ages: Parrot’s AR.Drone iPhone-controlled quadcopter.
… For Mom: a robotic vacuum from Neato or iRobot.
… For Dad: the adaptive cruise control option for his new car.
… For Grandparents and their grandkids: Pleo, the baby dinosaur.
… For little kids: Zhu Zhu pets.
… For pre-teen boys: RoboRaptor.
… For pre-teen girls: Bossa Nova’s Penbo robot and her baby Bebe.
… For robotically-interested 10 yo and older: LEGO Mindstorm robot kit.

I highly recommend you subscribe to his newsletter if you are interested in robot technology. Mr. Tobe has quite a lot of experience with robots, and his newsletter is alway interesting to read.


A little lower please…

One of the few perks of being hospitalized is the sponge baths by beautiful nurses… I admit I have never tried it myself, but maybe that makes the thought even more appeling.

Now I could understand if a japanese company would come up with a sponge bath giving robot, since a lot of japanese people can be a little shy, but the americans came first. Georgia Institute of Technology have developed ‘a robot nurse’ that can give you a sponge bath. Compared to the airflow robot shower that will wash you all over with steam, soap and water, this is a probably further away from being used in real life, since the robot is able to wash the area of the patient pointed out by the operator… later it will probably be able to decide what parts to wash – or it could be equipped with an interface (eg. by speech recognition) so that you could control it yourself. Then I can see some real scenarious for use in daily life…. and the vivid imagination can think of other applications, but we will leave that to the more dubious companies in the robotics industry.

Read more about the sponge-o-bot at gizmag by clicking the picture.


First part of the elephant is ready

Well… Festo is by far one of THE coolest robot inventing companies in the world. They have made loads of erally cool projects – including air sting ray and artificial penguins able to swim and … yes… fly…

Now they have obviously started out creating a robot elephant.. they just start out with the part that is most likely to be usefull in other applications.. the front tail… aka the Trunk. Actually they call it a robot arm, but it is so much inspired by the trunk, that it is obvious where they get their inspiration from. It still lacks a bit in precision as far as I can judge from the videos on YouTube, but it has definate potential.

The project seems to lend some inspiration from the VGT projects like the one performed at the RoboLab at University of Southern Denmark. Click here to read more about it.

To see more of this new project from FESTO go to Youtube and search for Bionic handling Assistant.. (or simply click this link)


coffee lends me a hand… litterally

I have seen many research projects concerned with how to create a gripping technology like an arUniversal gripper 2tificial hand. It is extremely difficult to do so. Tendrons, sense of feeling and many other factors needs to be taken into account before you can handle something without destroying it.

Sometimes though… there is a much simpler soloution. At Cornell University two guys have created a gripper, that can grap most things that the human hand can grab.. and it is made from… coffee… that is coffee grounds, a balloon and a vaccum pump. Stock items in most households… well at least two out three should be.

I t works by having the coffee wrap itself around the item you wish to pick up, and then remove the air in the balloon. Thereby causing the coffee grounds to become a solid structure instead of a semi liquid material. It is so simple it is close to genious.

In a previous post I wrote about a sweedish guy who had a robot hand as a replacement for his real hand which was destroyed in an accident… maybe in a not so distant future we can have prostetic hands build on this principle… that would be very practical, cheap and faster to implement – albeit not quite as pleasing to the eye. Nothing is said regarding the color of the balloon though, so you could choose a color that goes well with your outfit…


Next gen exo on the market

After I went to Japan about a year ago, I was phoned several times from people who had read an article about the HAL exo scheleton that my travel companions and I saw at Daiwa House in Japan. Most of these asked if I could tell them wether it was for sale in DK, what the price was, and if it could be helpful for them. Sadly I am not a doctor, so I am not qualified to judge each persons condition vis-a-vis the possible use of a HAL. Most of these people were paralysed for one of several reasons.. car accidents, schlerosis and other sad stories. Unfortunately most of the exo scheletons I had seen at the time were created to add extra power to the user, but relied on the user being able to move around to a certain extend by their own power.

Now it seems the next generation of exoscheletons are on their way. On Gizmag you can read about the Berkeley Bionic’s research in this tech which will allow the user to walk even if their own legs can provide any support. This might be great news for a whole new specter of people currently tied to a wheelchair or a bed. I cross my fingers and hope this will be one of those breakthroughs that will prove how robot technology makes our lives better. Click here to read more.

A similar trend is found (also at Gizmag) in the REX which is a sort of a blend between a segway, a pair of stilts and an exoscheleton… or more presicely.. a wheelchair with legs instead of wheels… a leg chair or a biped wheelchair… or something. There is no name for it yet in the common language, but there will likely soon be. This contraption is steered by a joystick but walcks around instead of having the user in a wheelchair. A bit clumsy still, but the potential is immense. In a few years we can only hope that the loss of function in our legs will not be the restraining factor it is today.


BP needs robots

Well.. some people my argue that key elements in the BP management must be like robots with a very cool and uncaring mindset. But that’s not the only way BP can benefit from Robots. The tedious task of collecting all the oil spill from this summers giant accident could for example be done by a herd of self-organizing robots equipped with a susbtance able to bind to the oil and thereby ‘eating’ it from the surface.

Now if we could only teach it to go and fetch the german tourists when they float to open sea on their air matresses…

Read more about this robot by clicking on the picture.


Lend a hand..

In this previous post I mentioned the work of making a robotic prostetic hand… just like the one Luke Skywalker gets in Star Wars episode IV. Now several companies have released commercial editions of prostetic robotic hands – one of them being the bebionic hand. This hand allows the user different types of grips and aut0matic adjustment of the grip in case what you are holding is slipping out of your fingers. Sort of like an intelligent power steering of the hand – and something I would love to have so that i would stop spilling coffee in my keyboard.It is also able to feed pressure information back to the owner/host or whatever the rigth term should be… and good news for the ladies.. it comes with a range of accessories.. unfortunately of a more technical nature – not rings, bracelets and replaceable nails.. maybe that will come in a later edition.  

Go create… YouBot

Ít is time… sign up pronto for this years RobotSummerCamp. See the newspost at the RoboDays website for more info.

Age group 13-16 – lot’s of fun – five days in Odense at a VERY low price.


Robots that move…

How should a robot move? The most famous example is R2D2 and C3P0 from Star Wars.. one biped humanoid walking robot, and one with wheels (and the occasional jet-burst). We also see examples of flying robots or authonumous devices – however the issue here is in a 2D situation.

Actually most robots don’t move around – but in case they need to, the easiest way is to equip them with a number of wheels or caterpillar tracks – as we know so well from playing around with Mindstorms. Walking on two or more feets introduce new balance issues but is possible. 

Once you got the moving part down – the next issue is to get the robot to go where you want it to go. In traditional robot education we have the task of following a line on the ground – thereby gathering information from the souroundings and adapting / steering accordingly. Simple but not always easy depending on the situation.

Now the same principle has been put into use in a nano-sice robot. Since this sice does not give you the possibility of wheels, the choice has fallen on legs – but with a ‘track’ or line with guidance information to guide the bot on it’s path.

Read more about it at gizmags article.


Destroy destroy…

At the RoboLab at University of Southern Denmark we have a couple of lawn mover robots that have been modified to be controlled by wii controllers, GPS or other means of control. It’s a world of fun driving one of those buggers around… now THIS however will be the ultimate toy for robotgeeks. If anybody have seen roboone, imagine what you guys could do with a.. tadaaa DEMOLITION ROBOT… the name itself is beyond cool…

It’s even controlled by bluetooth so it should be no problem hooking it up to a wii balanceboard or an iphone with a nifty little custom build interface like the one they have made for a snake robot in the lab. Finally we would hook it up to an exosceleton and world domination would be at hand…