“Matthew Johnson-Roberson is Assistant Professor of Engineering in the Department of Naval Architecture & Marine Engineering and the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Michigan. He received a PhD from the University of Sydney in 2010. There he worked on Autonomous Underwater Vehicles for long-term environment monitoring. Upon joining the University of Michigan faculty in 2013, he created the DROP (Deep Robot Optical Perception) Lab, which researches a wide variety of perception problems in robotics including SLAM, 3D reconstruction, scene understanding, data mining, and visualization.”
Researchers at Northwestern University have developed a hybrid polymer that combines soft and hard areas like bones and muscles in animals. According to the team, this breakthrough in nanoengineering opens the door to applications ranging from self-repairing materials to artificial muscles.
LAMA is Britains largest agricultural machinery show. Professor Simon Blackmore is most likely the one person anyone interested in agricultural robotics is most likely to have heard of. The interview, in the Saturday, January 23rd episode of Farming Today This Week, begins at 1:05 in the recording, and runs for three minutes. A second interview with chicken producer David Speller addresses his use of robots to monitor chickens in his massive sheds.
Although there are various other types of eco-friendly weed control, organic farm workers often end up yanking weeds out by hand. Thanks to the relatively new process of "abrasive weeding," however, that may not always be necessary.
A research team from the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences has been working to create a more delicate solution for handling objects on the seabed, designing, building and testing a soft gripper solution.
As NASA prepares to launch a new free-flying robot called Astrobee to the ISS, it is crowdsourcing design concepts for one of machine's more noteworthy features, a robotic arm to be used for perching and interacting with objects.
“Amazon raised a lot of eyebrows last year when it announced that it was planning to start delivering packages by automated drones. Last month, Amazon released a new video showing a prototype of one of its delivery drones, which shares features of both helicopters and airplanes.”
The EU is co-funding 19 new projects in robotics under Horizon 2020 Call 2 and two new projects for the Factory of the Future. In total, there will be 11 research & innovation actions focusing on the development of abilities and key technologies relevant for industrial and service robotics. There are 9 innovation actions aiming at introducing, testing and validating innovative solutions in a real-world context and one coordination action.
“Nvidia, a company known predominantly for its graphics card business, has over the last few years been making a big push toward automotive. More specifically, Nvidia wants to power the future slate of self-driving cars. Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang announced a "supercomputer" for self-driving cars and laid out his plans for the company's place in transportation. Get caught up on everything in just three-and-a-half minutes.”
“GM is attempting to do more than conquer the basic engineering problem of designing a safe, working self-driving car. It's looking even further ahead, to try to anticipate the resulting economic and social changes that will almost certainly reshape their business model in affluent urban areas. By figuring out now how it might put millions of next-gen cars on the road and putting them to efficient use, GM seeks to gain an early edge on other automakers.”
“This Drone School series is our way to help new flyers get off the ground, and over the next few weeks we'll get into some exercises to build your skills and capabilities for maximum fun with minimal crashes.”
John Payne's insight:
Gizmag is running a series of articles called "Drone School", the most recent of which is Drone School 4. All are linked from the page linked above, but here they are in order:
“Scientists are claiming an important advance in soft robotic grippers, demonstrating a device that can better grasp fragile objects through the help of electroadhesion, the very same phenomenon that sees balloons cling to ceilings after being rubbed on your hair.”
“Biodegradable bodies for more eco-friendly robotsBiodegradable bodies for more eco-friendly robots http://www.reuters.com/article/us-ita... “Scientists from the Italian Institute of Technology are developing 'smart materials' that could lead to robots that will decompose like a human body once they've reached the end of their life-span.”
John Payne's insight:
Assuming that some components of these robots would be valuable enough to warrant recycling and/or toxic, it would be a good idea to make those components relatively easy to remove, so the remainder can be composted or left to decompose without consequence. Combining the electronics and wiring into a wiring harness, which can be installed and later removed as a unit, would be a good start.
Along with the usual flying drones, there are also models that can both fly and float. As is the case with its feathered namesake, however, the Loon Copter can fly, land on the water to see what's under the surface, and then dive down to check out what it sees.
A new probabilistic artificial intelligence algorithm is displaying the remarkable ability to learn complex visual concepts in a single shot and manipulate them in ways that are indistinguishable from humans.
“Advances in research have brought the quadrotor to a level of sophistication that is making it increasingly attractive for a variety of commercial applications like surveying and delivery. In order for these applications to become a reality, we now need algorithms that can deal reliably with environ- ments that are substantially more cluttered than a laboratory setting.” http://groups.csail.mit.edu/robotics-center/public_papers/Landry15b.pdf
John Payne's insight:
This video demonstrates a key ability for the use of small drones in horticulture. Such a drone might deal with insects and weeds (for example using an underslung laser turret), conduct surveys for nutritional or disease conditions, or even conduct pollination for plant breeding, and that's just a hint of all the ways it might prove useful.
“How many people does it take to fix a tractor? A year ago, I would have said it took just one person. One person with a broken tractor, a free afternoon, and a box of tools. I would have been wrong. When the repair involves a tractor's computer, it actually takes an army of copyright lawyers, dozens of representatives from U.S. government agencies, an official hearing, hundreds of pages of legal briefs, and nearly a year of waiting.”
Abstract: “Current AI systems for perception and action incorporate a number of techniques: optimal observer models, Bayesian filtering, probabilistic mapping, trajectory planning, dynamic navigation, and feedback control. I will describe and demonstrate some of these methods for autonomous driving and legged and flying robots, and contrast these models with neural representations and computation in biology. I will also highlight some new research on machine learning for these systems, and discuss the role of geometrical structures and noise in synthetic and biological approaches to classification and decision making.”
Airbus Defence and Space recently introduced its Counter-UAV System as a way to detect potential UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) threats from a distance of between 5 and 10 km (3 and 6 miles) and bring them down with electronic countermeasures.
“Four men — one in a suit, three in black shirts — stood around a single drone, buzzing restlessly in the middle. One man rushed at the drone, which quickly veered out of the way... right into the waiting arms of another. The four men passed the drone among each other, never touching or controlling it, only moving it around by flailing their arms and moving in its direction. The drone knew the men were coming, and it avoided them all on its own.”
John Payne's insight:
Intel's RealSense technology isn't just about drones.
But RealSense cameras are also found in laptops, webcams, VR headsets, and smartphones. They combine a 1080p video camera with an infrared camera and an infrared projector, and the processing hardware to transform the signals from these into 3D spatialization.
“The pot is outfitted with a number of sensors to measure soil moisture and temperature, fertilizer, room temperature, and light intensity. It then records this data every 15 minutes and sends it to Parrot’s cloud-based services for analysis (as long as it’s connected to your phone). When you’re away, it’ll just go with the median parameters to keep your plant alive.”
“Hobbyist 3D printers have had a home in the maker space for years now. Along the way, they’ve left a mark in our imaginations. They’ve tickled our fancy for watching a computer orchestrated symphony written in G-code hum away while cranking out parts. They’ve opened a door to the idea that while computer controlled machines may be decades old, having one or two homebrew setups in our garage might not be as far-fetched as we first thought. Now that we’ve seen the steppers and linear slides that go into these setups, it’s not unreasonable for many of us to start asking: What else? Perhaps a computer numerically controlled (CNC) lathe, mill, or even a laser cutter–anything that would add to the vocabulary of tools and techniques that we’re starting to build at home.”
John Payne's insight:
In addition to the products mentioned in the Hackaday article, there's also Shapeoko from SparkFun...
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