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Tesla: A Carmaker Or Grid-Storage Company?

HizookRobotics Tesla Cars are Grid Storage (151 comments)

If Tesla makes the cars' power bidirectional, the excess capacity of cars plugged in for recharging (essentially) becomes a grid-connected battery itself. I recall seeing homebrew electric cars used as "generators" during brownouts a few years back. Tesla could do this on a massive scale using individuals' cars -- and pass some of the gains (peak power) back to the car owners.

about 8 months ago
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Willow Garage Makes Open Source Robots for Researchers (Video)

HizookRobotics Re:2 years for a PhD student... (22 comments)

Actually, the fully-loaded cost for a PhD student is $75k-$80k / year (ie the amount charged to a faculty member's grant). You have to remember, PhD students' tuition is usually incurred as part of the cost since they're working in exchange for (1) a minimally-viable living stipend and (2) fully-paid tuition.

We had two PR2's in our lab (Georgia Tech's Healthcare Robotics Lab). There were ~2 people working on each at any given time.... so the $$ makes sense. And the PR2 was a great platform!

Source: my work on the PR2 http://www.hizook.com/blog/2010/10/16/pr2-robot-autonomously-delivers-medication-using-uhf-rfid-live-cnn

about a year and a half ago
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Wireless Power Over Distance: Just a Parlor Trick?

HizookRobotics Ask 'em to put another load nearby (215 comments)

There are a lot of hard engineering problems to overcome, even if the system was efficient... For example, a second resonant load nearby severely de-tunes the system, antenna mounting considerations are of supreme importance (good luck putting one on a laptop full of metal), and antenna alignment is absolutely crucial! The whole WiTricity concept might be sound in theory, but the engineering challenges are monumental.

more than 2 years ago
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Hardware Is Dead — At Least Most Expensive Hardware Is

HizookRobotics Biggest Robotics Hardware Announcement This Decade (342 comments)

That's kind of a funny title to see this on the front page of /. on the same day that we have one of the biggest (robotics) hardware announcements of the decade: Rethink Robotics just announced their $22,000 humanoid robot. The visionary behind Rethink is Rod Brooks -- former MIT CSAIL director, co-founder of iRobot, etc etc. This new arm is a 10x drop in price compared to other comparable platforms (eg. Kuka, PR2, Barrett, Meka, ABB, etc). Hardware is definitely not dead... but perhaps "PC hardware" is...?

more than 2 years ago
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What's Next For iRobot?

HizookRobotics Inflatable Robots by Otherlab (88 comments)

IMO, the "big deal" in inflatable robots comes from OtherLab... They've built giant (ridable!) inflatable robots and inflatable robot arms with insane power to weight ratios. We did a special on them at Hizook a while back: http://www.hizook.com/blog/2011/11/21/inflatable-robots-otherlab-walking-robot-named-ant-roach-and-complete-arm-plus-hand The OtherLab project is also part of the same DARPA program (M3) that spawned the iRobot inflatable arm.

more than 2 years ago
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The Truth About Hiring "Rock Star" Developers

HizookRobotics Senior Developers != Rockstar Developers (487 comments)

Description starts by talking about rockstar developers, then makes assertions about senior developers. These two groups are not even close to equivalent. Seniority (generally) implies experience -- not "rockstar" status.

more than 2 years ago
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Humanoid Robots For the Next DARPA Grand Challenge?

HizookRobotics Re:Bipedal humanoid (53 comments)

This is a common misconception. In academia, "humanoid" will usually refer to a robot with _some_ humanoid features (eg. two arms). If you look at the "Humanoids" conference, you'll see that there are a healthy mix of legged and wheeled designs. So I thought specificity was good in this case...

more than 2 years ago
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UK Surgeons Are the First To Operate In 3D

HizookRobotics 3D already standard on DaVinci surgical system (64 comments)

Uhm... I'm pretty sure that every single one of the Intuitive Surgical DaVinci robot workstations are 3D for the operator -- and we all know that hundreds of surgeries are performed with these every day.. In this video of researchers playing "Operation" (the board game) with a DaVinci robot, you can see the operator console with separate eye pieces to give 3D effects. I personally got to play with a DaVinci at IROS (robotics conference) last year, and the operator console was definitely in 3D -- though the observer consoles are just normal 2D TVs. I was told that this had been standard for a _long_ time.

more than 2 years ago
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Khan Academy Chooses JavaScript As Intro Language

HizookRobotics Ouch... Javascript is broken in a number of ways.. (355 comments)

Javascript is broken in a number of ways. Just watch this video: WAT.

The fact that commutativity does not hold for "[] + {}" is just wrong! I understand the need for "pretty graphics" and "instant gratification", but a different language would have been appreciated. Heck... a background in python would at least set them up for a lifetime of scientific computing.

more than 2 years ago
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Harvard Licenses Technology For Tiny Swarming Robot

HizookRobotics Re:Can build yourself... (38 comments)

I understand that they can communicate using reflective infrared light. My TV remote can do the same thing to reach a non-line of sight receiver. I believe they also use the reflected IR light for rudimentary distance sensing -- much like the Sharp IR sensor modules. What I'm trying to say: the hardware aspects of this project are fairly well-established -- as far as I can tell, there are no new "hardware" technologies (but I am a fan of readily-available low-cost robots). The Harvard group's big contribution (re:research) is in swarm algorithms.

about 3 years ago
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Harvard Licenses Technology For Tiny Swarming Robot

HizookRobotics Can build yourself... (38 comments)

There's a long history of home-made steerable vibrobots. You can probably make one of these from parts readily available in your junkbox.

A quick tangent: I've seen these in person. They're pretty cool, but I'm not sure what "technology" Harvard is licensing. Perhaps just the PCB design and code?

about 3 years ago
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A New Class of Inflatable Robots By OtherLab

HizookRobotics Quick clarifications (44 comments)

So a few brief items (that are updated in the Hizook article): The collaborator at Stanford is Manu Prakash; the inflatable actuators actually contract (not expand); they can be powered by either pneumatics or hydraulics; and Ant-Roach can probably support up to 1000 lbs (a bit more than just a few riders).

about 3 years ago
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A New Class of Inflatable Robots by OtherLab

HizookRobotics Note to /. Editor (1 comments)

Please revise the text as below: I'm really excited about inflatable robots... they have the potential to be low-cost, lightweight, extremely powerful, and yet "human safe" -- ie. perfect for many robotics applications. With that in mind, I would like to introduce you to two new inflatable robots: a 15-foot-long walking robot (a Pneubot named Ant-Roach) and a complete, inflatable robot arm (plus hand). Both of these robots were developed by Otherlab as part of their "pneubotics" project (in collaboration with Meka Robotics and Manu Prakash at Stanford University), with some funding from DARPA's Maximum Mobility and Manipulation (M3) program. These robots use textile-based, inflatable actuators that contract upon inflation into specially-designed shapes to effect motion. Since these robots are built out of lightweight fabric-and-air structural members and powered via pneumatics or hydraulics, they exhibit large strength-to-weight ratios. For example, Ant-Roach is less than 70 lbs and can probably support up to 1000 lbs; the inflatable robot arm is less than 2 lbs and can lift a few hundred pounds at 50-60 psi. Be sure to read on for details and lots of videos!

about 3 years ago
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Where Jules Verne Meets Star Wars: GE's Walking Truck

HizookRobotics Re:GE Also Made "Iron Man" Exoskeleton in 1950's (57 comments)

Bah! The exoskeleton wasn't "called" Iron Man... I meant to say "akin to" Iron Man. The early force / torque control that they developed strongly reminds me of Heinlein's Starship Troopers. Incidentally, GE's Hardiman actually predated that novel!

more than 3 years ago
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Where Jules Verne Meets Star Wars: GE's Walking Truck

HizookRobotics GE Also Made "Iron Man" Exoskeleton in 1950's (57 comments)

In 1958 GE made a full-body exoskeleton called (no kidding) Iron Man. It was capable of picking up refrigerators! To quote Hizook:

Ralph Mosher, an engineer working for General Electric in the 1950s, developed a robotic exoskeleton called Hardiman. The mechanical suit, consisting of powered arms and legs, could give him superhuman strength. Mosher subsequently made a simpler version that permitted him to sit in his chair and pick up refrigerators.

more than 3 years ago

Submissions

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New long-range RFID technology helps robots find household objects

HizookRobotics HizookRobotics writes  |  about 3 months ago

HizookRobotics (1722346) writes "Georgia Tech researchers announced a new way robots can “sense” their surroundings through the use of small ultra-high frequency radio-frequency identification (UHF RFID) tags. Inexpensive self-adhesive tags can be stuck on objects, allowing an RFID-equipped robot to search a room for the correct tag’s signal, even when the object is hidden out of sight. Once the tag is detected, the robot knows the object it’s trying to find isn’t far away. The researchers' methods, summarized over at IEEE's website by Evan Ackerman: The robot goes to the spot where it got the hottest signal from the tag it was looking for, zeroing in on it based on the signal strength that its shoulder antennas are picking up: if the right antenna is getting a stronger signal, the robot yaws right, and vice versa."
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Humanoid robots for the next DARPA Grand Challenge?

HizookRobotics HizookRobotics writes  |  more than 2 years ago

HizookRobotics writes "The official announcement should be out very soon, but for now Hizook.com has unofficial, preliminary details based on notes from Dr. Gill Pratt's talk at DTRA Industry Day: The new Grand Challenge is for a humanoid robot (with a bias toward bipedal designs) that can be used in rough terrain and for industrial disasters. The robot will be required to maneuver into and drive an open-frame vehicle (eg. tractor), proceed to a building and dismount, ingress through a locked door using a key, traverse a 100 meter rubble-strewn hallway, climb a ladder, locate a leaking pipe and seal it by closing off a nearby valve, and then replace a faulty pump to resume normal operations — all semi-autonomously with just "supervisory teleoperation." That's a tough challenge, but it should be fun! It looks like there will be six hardware teams to develop new robots, and twelve software teams using a common platform (PETMAN anyone?!). The most crazy part about all of this: The United States is getting back into the humanoid robot game... in a big way!"
Link to Original Source
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A New Class of Inflatable Robots by OtherLab

HizookRobotics HizookRobotics writes  |  about 3 years ago

HizookRobotics (1722346) writes "I'm really excited about inflatable robots... they have the potential to be low-cost, lightweight, extremely powerful, and yet "human safe" — ie. perfect for many robotics applications. With that in mind, I would like to introduce you to two new inflatable robots: a 15-foot-long walking robot (a Pneubot named Ant-Roach) and a complete, inflatable robot arm (plus hand). Both of these robots were developed by Otherlab as part of their "pneubotics" project (in collaboration with Meka Robotics and Stanford University), with some funding from DARPA's Maximum Mobility and Manipulation (M3) program. These robots use textile-based, inflatable actuators that expand upon inflation into specially-designed shapes to effect motion. Since these robots are built out of lightweight fabric-and-air structural members and powered via pneumatics, they exhibit large strength-to-weight ratios. For example, Ant-Roach is less than 70 lbs and can support multiple human riders; the inflatable robot arm is less than 2 lbs and can lift a few hundred pounds at 50-60 psi. Be sure to read on for details and lots of videos!"
Link to Original Source
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New Soft Robot Ditches Tether and Rolls Around: On

HizookRobotics HizookRobotics writes  |  more than 3 years ago

HizookRobotics writes "Remember the DARPA Chembots program — the same one that brought you the morphing blob robot and then the robot gripper made with coffee grounds? The latest robot to emerge from the (now expired?) DARPA program is a "elastomeric rolling robot" — a soft robot made of inflatable, silicone actuators that pressurize in sequence to make the robot move. This new robot, hailing from MIT's Distributed Robotics Lab, is fully self-contained (untethered) owing to a novel hydrogen peroxide "battery" and a new type of valve (using electropermanent magnets). Be sure to check out the video."
Link to Original Source
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German Aerospace Robot Plays Catch with Two Balls

HizookRobotics HizookRobotics writes  |  more than 3 years ago

HizookRobotics writes "German Aerospace Center (DLR) designed "Rollin' Justin" to fix satellites in space. But robotics work isn't all work and no play... In the past, DLR engineers had Justin "dancing like in pulp fiction." More recently, in work to be presented at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) in two weeks, DLR engineers demonstrated whole-body real-time control, allowing Justin to catch two balls at once or prepare you a cup of coffee."
Link to Original Source
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Kinect Revolutionizing Robotics

HizookRobotics HizookRobotics writes  |  more than 3 years ago

HizookRobotics (1722346) writes "The Bilibot Project, an open-source robot platform based on Microsoft's Kinect, was just announced today by MIT researcher Garratt Gallagher on Hizook.com. Bilibot is just the first in what will likely be a torrent of robots (both hobbyist and professional) utilizing the Kinect. This sentiment was echoed in an essay by Fred Nikgohar, CEO of RoboDynamics, who believes we've reached a watershed moment in robotics enabled by cheap 3D sensing. While much of the attention for the Kinect has focused on video gaming, perhaps robotics will be its greatest beneficiary."
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Programmable Magnets Enable Smallest Modular Robot

HizookRobotics HizookRobotics writes  |  about 4 years ago

HizookRobotics (1722346) writes "Take a moment and envision an electromagnet: a simple coiled wire driven by a hefty electrical current gives a fully-programmable magnetic field strength (on, off, and everything between). Electromagnets are ubiquitous, but it turns out that there is a little-known device with similar functionality yet has zero static power consumption — they are called electropermanent magnets, and they've been around and in use since the 1960's! A 2010 PhD thesis by MIT Media Lab's Ara Knaian examines the physics, scaling, trade-offs, and several new actuator designs (eg. stepper motors) using these little-known wonders. Recently, electropermanent magnets facilitated an innovation in "programmable matter," where they were instrumental in creating the world's smallest self-contained modular robots to date (12mm/side). Learn more about these fascinating devices at Hizook.com. (Note to editors: the thesis is a 16MB 200-page PDF. Working with the author, it has been distilled on Hizook.com)"
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DARPA ARM-S Program Wants Help Naming the Robot

HizookRobotics HizookRobotics writes  |  more than 4 years ago

HizookRobotics (1722346) writes "A SRI International job posting exposed a video of an advanced dual-arm humanoid robot that will ultimately become a "standard" platform for the multi-million dollar DARPA Autonomous Robot Manipulation Program's software track (ARM-S). The new robot has two Barrett WAM arms with Barrett Hands and 6-axis force torque sensors at each wrist; it perceives the world with a color camera, a SwissRanger depth camera, stereo cameras, and microphones. Hopes are high that the program will embrace an open-source platform like the Robot Operating System (ROS). In the meantime, the folks at DARPA are soliciting the public's help to name their new robot."
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Touchscreens Gain Programmable Texture Coverings

HizookRobotics HizookRobotics writes  |  more than 4 years ago

HizookRobotics (1722346) writes "A new covering developed by Senseg and Toshiba Information Systems gives touchpads, LCDs, and other curved surfaces (eg. cellphones) programmable texture using a high-resolution electrotactile array — a grid of electrodes that excite nerves in the skin with small pulses of current to trick the body into perceiving texture, pressure, or pin-pricks depending on the current amplitude and electrode resolution. The new covering has many potential applications: interactive gaming, touchscreens with texture, robot interfaces, etc. Find out more at Hizook.com"
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Willow Garage Selects Eleven Recipients of PR2 Bet

HizookRobotics HizookRobotics writes  |  more than 4 years ago

HizookRobotics (1722346) writes "Today Willow Garage announced that eleven (rather than the original ten anticipated) PR2 Beta robots, with a total value of $4.4M, will be loaned out to academic and research institutions worldwide to develop a slew of impressive capabilities over the next two years. The recipients include 7 US-based institutions, 3 European, and 1 Asian. The final list is a panoply of robotics specialists: University of Freiburg (Germany), Bosch, Georgia Tech, KU Leuven (Belgium), MIT, Stanford, TU Munich (Germany), UC Berkeley, U Penn, USC, and University of Tokyo (Japan) — full details can be found in the Willow Garage press release. It is difficult to overstate the importance of this event in the grand history of robotics... Let me try to explain."
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Willow Garage to Give Away 10 PR2 Robots

HizookRobotics HizookRobotics writes  |  more than 4 years ago

HizookRobotics (1722346) writes "Willow Garage CEO Steve Cousins just announced to the Robotics-Worldwide mailing list that Willow intends to give away 10 PR2 robots. These are some amazingly impressive robots, costing several hundred thousand dollars each. Their robots and open-source Robot Operating System (ROS) have been widely acclaimed by news organizations such as the New York Times, Popular Science, Hizook, and pretty much everyone else. This should be an interesting year for Willow Garage. The Willow Garage Call for Proposals (CFP) can be found here, and the Robotics-Worldwide mailing list announcement can be found here."
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