Next Giant Leap pursues Google Lunar X Prize
The Robots Podcast‘s John Payne sent a report on the Google Lunar X Prize team Next Giant Leap. It is planning something different from the rovers planned by most of the other teams, such as that led by Red Whittaker of CMU. Instead of rolling across the surface for the required 500 meters, they intend to hop over it, with a platform riding on four thrusters. Stabilizing such a device, so that it remains level throughout its flight and goes where it is supposed to, is no mean trick. Designing, on Earth, the technology to do so autonomously in the airless, low-gravity environment of the Moon is a challenge. The guidance, navigation, and control algorithms to accomplish these tasks are developed at Draper Laboratory and tested on a prototype named Talaris. Developed with the help of MIT students and under the watchful eye of Bobby Cohanim, Talaris uses ducted fans in an arrangement similar to a quadrotor to compensate for the difference in gravity between Earth and Moon. More information after the jump.
Created under the auspices of the X Prize Foundation, the Google Lunar X Prize, with a $20 Million grand prize to be awarded to
the first privately funded team to send a robot to the moon, travel 500 meters, and transmit video, images and data back to the Earth (and another $10 Million to be distributed among second place, bonus prizes for achieving specific objectives, and the team which does the best job of promoting diversity in space), has attracted entries from twenty-five teams, of which twenty-one remain in the running, the most recent to join being Team Space IL.
One of the favorites in this competition, Next Giant Leap (NGL), founded by Michael Joyce (a former U.S. Air Force pilot and founder of B9Creations, makers of the Lost In Space robot replica), counts among its partners the Space Systems business area of Sierra Nevada Corporation, MIT’s Space Systems Laboratory, The Charles Stark Draper Laboratory, Inc., Aurora Flight Sciences Corporation, and The Center for Space Entrepreneurship (eSpace). NGL has recently received cash infusions from two of these partners, an undisclosed figure from eSpace and $1 Million Draper Laboratory, underlining their confidence in and continued commitment to the Next Giant Leap team, and helping to ensure the team’s mission advances to liftoff as quickly as due caution allows; the competition being a sort of race.
BrainDriver – A Mind Controlled Car
Following his recent interview for the Robots Podcast, Raúl Rojas at the Freie Universität Berlin has released a video which shows a driver controlling his car using a brain interface. In the video, the driver is wearing an Emotiv EEG(Electroenzephalogram) primarily sold as a gaming device – for which it may not be an ideal fit. The work is part of the MadeInGermany project and follows previous projects such as Rojas group’s Project AutoNOMOS. For more information on the “BrainDriver” and the “MadeInGermany” autonomous car, have a look at theautoNOMOS web site.
PARS Rescue Robot
Amin Rigi of the RTS Lab in Tehran, Iran let us know about a new rescue robotthey’re working on. The robot is named Pars. it’s a ship-based quadcopter that responds instantly when alerted to potential drowning victims in the ocean, locating them with FLIR, and dispensing life preservers directly over them. The current prototype carries one life preserver and they are working on a new model to carry three life preserver rings. Future models may dispense up to 15 self-inflating rings. A launching platform for use on ships has been designed but more intriguing is an idea for a stand-alone launching platform. From the website:
A sea platform has also been designed for the robot. This platform used satellite data for its control and it uses solar energy for its energy. It is always in the water and the robots are ready for action. When a marine incident occurs it quickly operates and sends the robots to the event to help.
In both cases, the launching platform also serves as a recharging station, keeping the robots in a continual ready state. This looks like a great project and we look forward to seeing future progress reports on the Pars robots. Read on to see some renderings of the robots in action as well as the designs for the launching platforms.
Stanford Robot Block Party 2013
Last week, Stanford hosted a gigantic Robot Block Party as part of U.S. National Robotics Week. The Volkswagen Automotive Innovation Lab opened its doors to a huge number of robots, and an even huger number of people who love robots. We were there to check it out, and yes, that is a giant inflatableKeepon, because GIANT INFLATABLE KEEPON.
Last year, we covered the Robot Block Party with a nice big gallery, but this year, we’ve got a pile of highlights for you on video:
People and companies mentioned in the video include:
3D Robotics for open source drones- your plastic flying robot buddy – making drones easy – the super-easy, super-cheap drne revolution is coming
3D Robotics is the leading open source unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology company. It was founded in 2009 by Chris Anderson (founder of DIY Drones) and Jordi Munoz, and today is a professional, venture-backed enterprise with more than 70 employees across three offices in San Diego (engineering), Berkeley (business and sales) and Tijuana (manufacturing).
3D Robotics designs and manufactures electronics and aerial vehicles, including multicopters and airplanes. It created the APM autopilot line, along with the ArduCopter and ArduPlane UAVs. It is the commercial sponsor of the DIY Drones community and the exclusive manufacturing partner of the Pixhawk UAV research team at the renowned Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH).
What is ArduCopter?
ArduCopter is an easy to set up and easy to fly platform for multirotors and helicopters. Its features go far beyond the basic manual control RC multicopters on the market today. Unlike RC-only multicopters, ArduCopter is complete UAV solution, offering both remote control and autonomous flight, including waypoints, mission planning and telemetry displayed on a powerful ground station.
ArduCopter is on the cutting edge of aerial robotics and intended for those people who want to try advanced technology, leading edge techniques and new flight styles.
The Arducopter project is based on the APM 2.x autopilot created by the DIY Drones community.
ArduCopter frames and other parts are made by jDrones Asia and 3D Robotics. Read more about purchasing one on the Get it! page.
All but the smallest Multicopters and Helicopters can be easily upgraded to full UAV capability with APM 2.x.
*High quality autolevel and auto altitude control – fly level and straight. Or fly the awesome “simple flight” mode, which makes ArduCopter one of the easiest multicopter to fly. Don’t worry about keeping an eye on your multicopter’s orientation–let the computer figure it out! You just push the stick the way you want to go, and the autopilot figures out what that means for whatever orientation the copter is in, using its onboard magnetometer. “Front”, “back”…who cares? Just fly!
* No programming required. Just use an easy-to-use desktop utility to load the software with one click and set up ArduCopter with quick visual displays, a point-and-click mission planner and a full ground station option (see below).
* Unlimited GPS waypoints. Just point and click waypoints in the Mission Planner, and ArduCopter will fly itself to them. No distance limits! You can script entire missions, including camera control!
* “Loiter” anywhere. Just flip the toggle switch and your copter will hold its position using its GPS and altitude sensors.
* Return to launch. Set home to any location and flip a switch to have ArduCopter fly back automatically.
* Do all mission planning via a two-way wireless connection option. Waypoints, mode changing, even changing the gains of every control parameter can be done from your laptop, even while the copter is in the air!
* Automatic takeoff and landing. Just flick a switch and watch ArduCopter execute its mission completely autonomously, returning home to land by itself in front of you when it’s done.
Fully scriptable camera controls, including the ability to drive a pan-tilt camera gimbal to keep the camera pointed at an object on the ground.
Cross-platform. Supports Windows, Mac and Linux. Use the graphical Mission Planner setup utility in Windows (works under Parallels on a Mac) or use a command-line interface on any other operating system. Once ArduCopter is set up, you can use it with a choice of three ground stations, including QGroundcontrol, which runs natively on Windows, Mac and Linux
Compatibility with industry-leading robotics standards, such as Willow Garages’s Robot Operating System and the MAVLink communications protocol. This ensures that ArduCopter will continue to be on the cutting edge of aerial robotics, from multi-UAV swarming to AI control and Android compatibility.
They want to take toys (flying radio controlled planes) and add brains.
He started 5 years ago with lego and made a uav autopilot for a radio controlled plane.
He created DIY Drones for a large community of people to share the work and efforts to make drones.
He is taking military grade technology at toy prices.
Personal camera droid. Push a button and have a flying droid take off and film you from the air and follow you around.
We are now using cellphone technology for inexpensive commercial drones. There is something magic going on in your pocket [the smartphone]. It’s the peace dividend of the smart phone wars. With a $90 drone, they don’t have to come back. You can double the range when they don’t have to come back. You can waste drones to get the job done. That’s what we did in Silicon Valley with transistors, and now we can do it with robotics.
DARPA just made a guidance chip that is smaller than a dime that has acceleromaters and gyros. The autopilot could go from $179 to less than a dollar.
Clearly the super-easy, super cheap drone revolution is coming
What does DIY Drones have to offer?
The DIY Drones community has created the world’s first “universal autopilot”, ArduPilot Mega (APM). It combines sophisticated IMU-based autopilot electronics with free Arduino-based autopilot software that can turn any RC vehicle into a fully-autonomous UAV.
A full setup consists of:
APM 2.5 autopilot: The electronics, including twin processors, gyros, accelerometers, pressure sensors, GPS and more (shown below). Available from 3D Robotics ($179).
Mission Planner software: Desktop software that lets you manage APM and plan missions, along with being a powerful ground station during flights and helping you analyze mission logs afterwards.
Arduplane: for any fixed-wing aircraft
Arducopter: for any rotary-wing aircraft
ArduRover: for any ground- or water-based vehicle
FESTO’S ROBOT DRAGONFLY AN AWESOME MIX OF PREHISTORIC AND FUTURISTIC
German manufacturing firm Festo recently resurrected a Paleozoic dragonfly. No, we’re not talking de-extinction or synthetic biology—this baby’s robotic. But at 70 cm (27 in) by 48 cm (19 in), Festo’s BionicOpter robot dragonfly is a futuristic flying machine with more than a touch of the prehistoric in it.
Dragonflies are clever fliers—they can hover, accelerate quickly, stop on a dime, glide, and even fly backwards. As Festo notes, “For the first time, there is a model that can master more flight conditions than a helicopter, plane and glider combined.”
Festo’s dragonfly is a marvel to watch move.
The robot is driven by nine servos, a battery, and an ARM microcontroller stowed in a flexible polyamide and terpolymer structure. The head and tail are moved by passing an electrical current through nitinol muscles. The computer controls the frequency (15–20 Hz), twisting (90 deg), and amplitude (50 deg) of its four carbon fiber and foil wings and, by taking in a constant stream of wing data and body position, corrects for vibration for stable flight indoors or out. (For more, check out the BionicOpter brochure here.)
BionicOpter makes all the necessary adjustments automatically. The human pilot need merely steer it by smartphone.
Robomop: The vacuum cleaner that recognises your voice and clears up when and where you tell it to
It could be the answer to those awkward dinner party moments when a guest drops a canape on the floor.
LG has revealed the latest in home automation – a robotic vacuum cleaner than can understand voice commands and even move towards the person speaking.
The Korean electronics giant says the Roboking can understand several commands – and even recognises claps.
If owners clap twice, the robot goes into pause mode.
Microphones dotted around the gadget also mean it can work out where a voice command is coming from, and move towards it – so owners simply need to call ‘clean’ and it will come to them and vacuum the area.
An active link in the Panasonic house venture is developing a power assist robot called “Power Loader”.
Such as construction sites and disaster, with the aim of robot to manipulate the free high-power beyond the limits of human, play a role in connecting between the construction machine and human.
By In response as it is in force sensor the power that “people were out, and that continue to successfully amplified in the motor, I think give a great power so that they can not be got out, and devices such as help people. we the device, it is not intended to be mounted, we are developing the concept, such as board as vehicle If anything. reason alone can operate safely to some extent. ”
The development was originally making a large very type but, in response to the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, it has shifted to the development of small “Power Loader Light” more current.
I place a force sensor six-axis under “shoes. 3 axes on one foot according to the force vector detected here, exert a force in a direction to support to better control the motor which is arranged in the ankle, knee, hip I have a configuration that it. ”
I believe that with the baggage of “50 ~ 60kg, and trying Shiageyo to equipment, such as move to agile. It is good even legs to support the kind of radiation protection clothes very heavy, and the robotic arm with We think you can also use it lightly that carry the luggage of 50 ~ 60kg. ”
The apparatus is what platform to study the control of the power loader is discussed with Japan Atomic Power Corporation. You can carry without power almost a thing of about 30kg in one arm.
It is to brace for consideration of how upper body will lead to one of the legs of “Power Loader Light” with as small as possible while a loud power only “this. ”
We believe a large very type in that destination. “Of large had developed earlier we” Power Loader “, it has been using 22 of the motor, and want to achieve such a brace that allows all axes assist I believe. We believe that it become a robot, such as can easily carry things more than 100kg when you have come so. ”
For reduced Environmental Impact
The Super suburb scenario from city minded can be mitigated.
1. Accelerate the shift to all electric vehicles. Make the electric cars are lot lighter. If we can robotically avoid accidents then make the cars far lighter. Single person vehicles that are only 200 pounds or less.
Robot Hands Gain a Gentler Touch: Tactile Sensing Technology Builds On Tiny Barometer Chips
Researchers at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have developed a very inexpensive tactile sensor for robotic hands that is sensitive enough to turn a brute machine into a dextrous manipulator.
Designed by researchers in the Harvard Biorobotics Laboratory at SEAS, the sensor, called TakkTile, is intended to put what would normally be a high-end technology within the grasp of commercial inventors, teachers, and robotics enthusiasts.
“Despite decades of research, tactile sensing hasn’t moved into general use because it’s been expensive and fragile,” explains co-creator Leif Jentoft, a graduate student at SEAS. “It normally costs about $16,000, give or take, to put tactile sensing on a research robot hand. That’s really limited where people can use it. The traditional technology also uses very specialized construction techniques, which can slow down your work. Now, Takktile changes that because it’s based on much simpler and cheaper fabrication methods.”
TakkTile takes an existing device — a tiny barometer, which senses air pressure — and adds a layer of vacuum-sealed rubber to it, protecting it from as much as 25 pounds of direct pressure. Jentoft and co-creator Yaroslav Tenzer, a postdoctoral fellow, say that the chips can even survive a strike from a hammer or a baseball bat. At the same time, Takktile is sensitive enough to detect a very slight touch.
The result, when added to a mechanical hand, is a robot that knows what it’s touching. It can pick up a balloon without popping it. It can pick up a key and use it to unlock a door.
Beyond robotics, Jentoft and Tenzer suggest that the TakkTile sensor could be used in a range of electronic devices. A toy manufacturer could make a stuffed puppy that responds to petting; a medical device designer could create a laparoscopic gripper that’s gentle enough to tease apart tissue during surgery.
“Not everyone has the bandwidth to do the research themselves, but there are plenty of people who could find new applications and ways of using this,” says Tenzer.
The sensors can be built using relatively simple equipment; the patented process relies on standard methods used in printed circuit board fabrication, along with access to a vacuum chamber. The tiny barometers are available cheaply because they have been widely used in cell phones and GPS units that can sense altitude.
Frog-Like Robot Will Help Surgeons
Researchers at the University of Leeds are using the feet of tree frogs as a model for a tiny robot designed to crawl inside patients’ bodies during keyhole surgery.
The tiny device is one of a growing stable of bio-inspired robots being built in the University’s School of Mechanical Engineering.
It is designed to move across the internal abdominal wall of a patient, allowing surgeons to see what they are doing on a real-time video feed.
The tree frog’s feet provide a solution to the critical problem of getting the device to hold onto wet, slippery tissue when it is vertical or upside down. Although it is relatively easy to find ways of sticking to or gripping tissue, the patterns on the frog’s feet offer a way to hold and release a grip without harming the patient.
MIT ‘cheetah’ robot as efficient as real cheetahs and will soon be more efficient and running at 35 mph
A 70-pound “cheetah” robot designed by MIT researchers may soon outpace its animal counterparts in running efficiency: In treadmill tests, the researchers have found that the robot — about the size and weight of an actual cheetah — wastes very little energy as it trots continuously for up to an hour and a half at 5 mph. The key to the robot’s streamlined stride: lightweight electric motors, set into its shoulders, that produce high torque with very little heat wasted.
The MIT cheetahbot is a separate cheetahbot than the previously reported Boston Dynamic cheetahbot. This is the 21st century where you have to specify which cheetahbot model you are discussing. Boston Dynamics has a heavier cheetahbot that is using more bigger engines to get faster.
The motors can be programmed to quickly adjust the robot’s leg stiffness and damping ratio — or cushioning — in response to outside forces such as a push, or a change in terrain. The researchers will present the efficiency results and design principles for their electric motor at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation in May.
To understand how an electrically powered system might waste little energy while running, the researchers first looked at general sources of energy loss in running robots. They found that most wasted energy comes from three sources: heat given off by a motor; energy dissipated through mechanical transmission, such as losses to friction through multiple gear trains; and inefficient control, such as energy lost through a heavy-footed step, as opposed to a smoother and more gentle gait.
The group then came up with design principles to minimize such energy waste. To combat heat loss from motors, the group proposed a high-torque-density motor — a motor that produces a significant amount of torque at a given weight and heat production. The team analyzed the relationship between motor size and torque, and designed custom motors that exceed the torque performance of commercially available electric motors.
The team found that such high-torque motors require fewer gears — a characteristic that would improve efficiency even more, as there would be less machinery through which energy could dissipate. Many researchers have used springs and dampers in series with motors to protect the robot from forceful impacts during locomotion, but it’s difficult to control a spring’s stiffness and damping ratio — which can be a problem if a robot has to traverse disparate surfaces, such as asphalt and sand.
“With our system, we can make our robotic leg behave like a spring or damper without having physical springs, dampers or force sensors,” Kim says.