Now there are two capable, sub-$10 computers for Makers -- the $5 Pi Zero and the $9 C.H.I.P. -- we compare the specs of each.
John Payne's insight:
As a thought experiment, after figuring out what else you'd need to do what you want to do with each of these, and totaling up the costs, if you already have a Mac (for Xcode) you might want to consider using a low-end iPod-touch combined with a USB breakout board instead. This might not make sense for your application, but for one requiring significant processing power, a screen, some input method, a camera, WiFi, gyroscope and accelerometer, and/or several hours of battery power, the $200 for an iPod-touch starts to look more competitive, and using it makes Apple's extensive development environment available. No doubt there are also alternatives running Android.
Large sprawling airports in unfamiliar cities can be difficult places to find your way around. Well, that's where Spencer comes in. "He" is a multi-lingual robot that's designed to guide travellers through airports.
“A team of researchers at Caltech, UCLA, and Univ. of Louisville have been collaborating for several years to develop new technologies and new therapies for motor complete SCI patients—those who have lost motor control below the level of their injury. The centerpiece of this approach is a multi-electrode array which is implanted over the lumbosacral spinal cord in the epidural space between the dura and the interior of the vertebral canal. This talk [describes] the basic technology behind multi-electrode epidural stimulation.”
“But mechanisation is no panacea: If not done right, it can potentially burden small farmers with machines they can’t afford or maintain and tools that eliminate jobs and disempower wage earners. It can also harm the environment by increasing pressure on fragile natural resources, driving soil erosion and compaction, prompting overuse of chemical inputs and encouraging farmers to farm lands that currently serve as valuable forest and rangelands. So any sort of move towards mechanisation will have to be done in a careful, considered way to ensure that it brings positive, rather than negative, outcomes.”
“According to its public blueprints, the Nautilus plan involves three separate robotic, remotely-operated vehicles working in tandem to prepare, mine, and collect the minerals from the deep. Each clocks in at about 50 feet long, 15-20 feet wide, and weigh up to 310 tons. Built by the English remote vehicle manufacturer SMD, with US heavy machinery maker Caterpillar, together, three of the drilling robots are worth $100 million. Each of them will be deployed from a giant ship, the Production Support Vessel, that will float above the mining operation like an oil rig.”
“The mathematics of GPS position finding are complex enough to be left to a code library, but lots of apps will take a set of co-ordinates and work out the distance between each adjacent pair on a path to work out the total distance traveled. This is so simple and so intuitive that it is hard to see how it could possibly go wrong, but it does.”
“Sangbae Kim has served as an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at MIT since 2009. As the director of the Biomimetic Robotics Laboratory, Sangbae has been developing bio-inspired robotic design processes. His design approaches focus on the design principles from complex biological systems from understanding the difference between biological and engineering requirements. Kim's achievement on bio-inspired robot development includes the world's first directional adhesive inspired from gecko lizards, and a climbing robot, Stickybot, that utilizes the directional adhesives to climb smooth surfaces.” The primary example of bioinspiration presented in this talk is the MIT Cheetah robot.
John Payne's insight:
My apologies for overlooking this when it first became available. I have no idea how I missed it.
“A swarm of pumpkin-shaped robots is being developed to map oceans, gathering maritime data for use in tourism, reef monitoring and anti-terrorism among other applications. The Eve robot – or Ellipsodial Vehicle for Exploration – was created by Sampriti Bhattacharyya, a robotics engineer at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology (MIT). The scientist envisions her yellow robots travelling below the water’s surface, using their sensors to detect and monitor underwater happenings – both individually and collaboratively.”
Ryan Eustice is an Associate Professor in the Department of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering at the University of Michigan. In this presentation he provides an overview of on-going work in full-scale automated driving, with particular attention to successes in high definition map building and precision localization.
“The electronic material, which mimics the swirling designs imprinted on every finger, can sense pressure, temperature, and even sound. Though the technology has yet to be tested outside the lab, researchers say it could be key to adding sensation to artificial limbs or even enhancing the senses we already have.”
KUKA Robotics, your experts in the plasitcs, healthcare, machine tools, foundry, electronics, automotive, arc welding industries.
John Payne's insight:
Granted, this is a marketing video for KUKA robotics, but it could just as easily be ABB, or any of several other companies. I'm posting it in part because of the production quality, but more to the point because of the range of applications shown in a minute and a half.
A new racing championship will do away with drivers. Roborace will pit driverless electric cars against each other in a round-the-world series. It will provide a competitive platform for the autonomous driving technology that is being developed by automotive and tech firms, as well as universities.
“So what does a $5 Pi get you, hardware wise? A 1Ghz core chip — in fact the same chip that was used in the original Raspberry Pi but upclocked to run a bit faster — and 512MB of RAM, plus on the ports front: a micro-SD card slot, a mini-HDMI and two micro-USB ports.”
John Payne's insight:
There’s also an unpopulated 40-pin GPIO header, with a pinout identical to Raspberry Pi models A+/B+/2B, to which you can solder a pin block or individual leads.
“Each of these building blocks consists of a short, repeating chain of a conductive organic molecule with short arms coming off each link of the chain. Each of the arms sports a sulfur-containing group linked to a hydrogen atom. Berggren’s group found that when they placed them in the water, the rose stems readily pulled the short polymer chains up the xylem channels. The intact plants pulled the organics up through the roots as well, though much more slowly, Berggren says. Once inside, the chemistry in those channels pulled the hydrogen atoms off the short arms, a change that prompted the sulfur groups on neighboring chains to bind together. The upshot was that the myriad short polymer chains quickly linked themselves together into continuous strings as long as 10 centimeters.”
John Payne's insight:
It's not too hard to imagine genetically engineering soil bacteria to supply the short chain building blocks. Even without additional circuitry, wiring in plant stems might make it easier to use radar to image them. However, whether the polymer presents any risks to plant health or to animals consuming the plants containing it are questions that would need to be answered early on.
The science of agroecology can transform the way we grow our food in a more sustainable direction. So why are we investing so little in it?
John Payne's insight:
What does this have to do with robotics? Consider the dilemma: to be taken seriously by agribusiness, agroecology will have to become scalable. This is best accomplished through appropriate mechanization, which is itself best accomplished through robotics, but, until agroecology is taken seriously, where will the money come from to develop that appropriate mechanization? This undoubtedly will eventually constitute a huge portion of the robotics market, but how much additional damage will have been done to the planet and how many promising young roboticists, interested in doing this work, will have turned their attention to something else in frustration before that happens?
The Row-Bot, is a water-cleaning robot prototype that sucks in dirty water, "eats" the microbes it scoops up in its mouth, then breaks them down in its artificial stomach to create energy to power itself. In this way, it generates enough power to continuously impel itself about.
"We meet Pleurobot, a Salamander-like robot that can both walk on land and swim in the water (with a wetsuit!) Kishore, our new science correspondent, chats with professor Auke Ijspeert of the EPFL about how Pluerobot's movements were programmed and how biorobotics engineers studied the physiology of salamanders in making this robot."
The head of Toyota's billion-dollar U.S. artificial intelligence research center delivered a reality check for anyone over-enamored of autonomous car technology: the cars aren't as clever as you might think.
“Thomas Jensen proposes a system for 3D mapping of the soil surface based on laser scanning. The scanning system can be used to gather high-resolution surface images and can be mounted on the tractor or implement for rapid mapping of entire fields during tillage. The 3D surface maps are analysed using algorithms for estimating soil properties such as surface roughness and top soil aggregate size distribution. These proposed methods were studied through field tests of tillage operations.”
“PostDoc Kim Steen describes the use of computer vision and machine learning to develop warning systems for semi-autonomous agricultural machines, and how this research can be utilized in robotic farming. Presented at Inspire Event @ Aarhus University, Department of Engineering (Electrical and Computer Engineering).”
Where did all the carbon that used to be in the soil go? Into the atmosphere and oceans, of course. Why? Because of how we go about farming? How is this relevant to robotics? With the introduction of robotics to agriculture, we have the opportunity to turn this around and move a huge amount of carbon out of the atmosphere back into the soil. But this will only happen if robotic technologies are applied in support of methods that improve rather than degrade soil quality, something which is only partially under the control of roboticists. However, roboticists can help by pointing out, at every opportunity, the scarcity of funding for robotic technologies in support of farming methods which improve soil quality, and by suggesting technologies they believe they could develop if funding were available.
“Yamaha surprised at the Tokyo Motor Show today when it showed a motorcycle-riding robot along with images showing the robot riding Yamaha's 1000cc R1M. The motorcycle-riding humanoid is part of an R&D effort aimed at creating advanced rider safety and rider-support systems.”
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