Inflatable robots might just be the way to go. If not their whole bodies, then at least their hands. Scientists at Disney Research have made steps in this direction, by creating inflatable graspers that excel at handling delicate objects without breaking them.
Ciocarlie presents “a number of methods for increasing the versatility of mobile manipulators, from novel hand designs and grasp planning algorithms to Human-in-the-Loop manipulation and its applications in assistive robotics.”
“Organizations like Green City Growers and City Sprouts, another Boston-area school garden program, are taking an unorthodox approach to education, bringing classroom subjects like math and social studies into the garden. Using hands-on, garden-based examples, they hope to provide lessons with a technique that differs from the traditional classroom, all while teaching young urban-dwellers where fruits and veggies come from.”
Robin Murphy is the master of disaster robots. After 9/11, she deployed small mobile robots to investigate the rubble. In the wake of Katrina, she sent small, unmanned aerial vehicles to explore buildings on the Gulf Coast - the first time UAVs had been used for emergency structural inspections.
“I have been part robot since May. I've learned a lot about how robotic and human co-workers have to adjust to get along in the office of the future while piloting my $2500 Double telepresence robot. Here are my rules of robot human workplace interaction.”
“While many angels and VCs are still skittish about hardware startups, there has been a massive renaissance in the hardware-funding ecosystem over the last few years. Since 2010, venture capital investment in hardware startups is up more than 30x.”
"Dr. Parag Batavia is the founder of Neya Systems, a 5-year old unmanned systems company in Wexford, PA, which was recently named by Fast Company Magazine as one of the world’s top-10 most innovative companies in Robotics. Neya focuses on a variety of applied robotics research efforts, including navigation in rugged unstructured outdoor terrain, mission management for land/air/sea platforms, underwater signal analysis, task and mission decomposition, and computer vision applications in industry (construction, automotive, rail)." [text rearranged from original]
“ABB Robotics' Taiwanese team recently exhibited at the 2015 Taipei International Automation Exhibition. Cleverly, they created a demo in which YuMi, the world's first truly collaborative and inherently safe dual arm industrial robot, shows off its dexterity by making paper airplanes.”
Have you ever wondered why the Celtic Sea is home to so many marine predators? No? Well, scientists at Britain’s National Oceanography Centre have. This month they set about finding out, using a long-endurance autonomous surface vehicle known as the C-Enduro.
“The process begins with a robotic arm and a set of five plastic cubes with motors inside. Each cube features a unique ‘genome’ made up of a combination of between one and five genes. This genome gives each cube its own set of attributes, relating to its shape, construction and motor commands.”
“When Congress passed the FAA Modernization Act in 2012, it gave the agency until September 30, 2015 to fully regulate commercial drones for use in the United States. Well, it's October 1, and we're left with a patchwork of regulatory band-aids, quasi-legal "guidelines," and a small drone rule that still hasn't gone into effect yet.”
As is the story throughout much of the parklands across Africa, endangered species in Tanzania are under threat from poaching. So following other conservationists across the continent, Bathawk Recon have field-tested surveillance drones to better protect the local wildlife.
Not only is there a supply shortfall, but much of what produce there is goes to waste, in part due to blemishes, but perhaps also in part because people would rather rely on nutritional supplements than risk increasing their exposure to pesticides. It is my belief that robotics is the key to producing fruit and vegetables in greater variety without the use of herbicides and pesticides, by substituting mechanical management for poisons.
“Many stochastic problems of interest in engineering involve random rigid-body motions. In this talk, a variety of stochastic phenomena that evolve on the group of rigid-body motions will be discussed. These include mobile robot path planning, and robot-arm inverse kinematics. These topics lead in to our current work on multi-robot team diagnosis and repair, information fusion, and self-replicating robots.”
“You know the times are a-changing when postgraduate student projects involve the phrase ‘record-breaking drone swarm.’ That’s what’s happening over at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterrey, Calif., where a team of students recently launched 50 aerial drones, all piloted by a single (human) operator.”
A mechanical hand utilizing DARPA-developed neural technologies has become the first to allow a paralyzed patient to feel physical sensations through a prosthesis. The test subject was able to determine which mechanical finger was being touched whilst blindfolded, with total accuracy.
Helicopters are versatile machines, but when it comes to takeoffs and landings, they are very fussy creatures. DARPA recently demonstrated a new robotic landing gear system in an unmanned flight that is able to land on broken or uneven terrain with a high degree of safety.
“As investors, our job is to find the visionaries that dream up the future and partner with them to help make that dream a reality. In agriculture, with the latest advancements in technology, we half imagined small harvesting robots, skyscraper vertical farms in every city and sensor-studded fields overseen by drones. Yet, as fun as it is to imagine this kind of future for agriculture, we were hungry for a more comprehensive picture, so we dove in to get an understanding of what the real challenges are — and 10 ways to turn them into opportunities.”
John Payne's insight:
While not entirely compatible with my own vision, this perspective is an important component of the worldwide debate over the future of agriculture. Smart investors always back what they perceive to be necessary change. My only quibble is with what's included within that perception.
“The complexity involved with real-time pedestrian detection is staggering, especially considering the range of settings, movements, other objects in a particular scene can rapidly change, interact and not just move, but in what manner pedestrians move. … At 15 frames per second, the Google team set a dramatic record that does not sacrifice either speed or accuracy against benchmarks like the Caltech Pedestrian detection metric, which is based on one of a few very large public datasets that leverages a bank of 50,000 “labeled pedestrians” and is comprised of data collected from a color dashboard camera with both rural and urban scenes.”
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