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HizookRobotics (1722346) writes "Hizook.com wrote about an actuator that is surprisingly simple, has a high gear ratio, was known since ancient times, and can be produced with nothing more than a cheap hobby motor and some string. Crazy, right?! The basic premise is simple: hook up two wires to a motor on one side and a load on the other; twist the wires, which causes their effective length to shrink and linearly pull the load. The Twisted String Actuator article has more details, including some of the limited academic literature on this unique, simple actuator." top
New long-range RFID technology helps robots find household objects
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." top
Humanoid robots for the next DARPA Grand Challenge?
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 top
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 top
New Soft Robot Ditches Tether and Rolls Around: On
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." Link to Original Source top
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)" Link to Original Source top
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" Link to Original Source top
Willow Garage Selects Eleven Recipients of PR2 Bet
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." Link to Original Source top
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 prettymucheveryoneelse. 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." Link to Original Source