Autonomous Finally Faster

roombaThe Robot Wars community justifiably thinks that autonomous robots are slow. Not so. You see, previous autonomous entries used notebook computer brains. Camp Peavy’s Gladiator Rodney used a 386SX with DOS 6.22, programmed in GW-BASIC; same as he did to win the autonomous face-off in 96. But this year he’s wielding an electric chain saw and a 1000 watt DC to AC inverter to run the 750 watt Sears chain saw. Continue reading

Asimo, Honda’s robot humanoid Brain

robot-asimo-honda02-300x225There are different kinds of robots, including humanoids which are for instance those who left us watching the movie “Robocop” or to deliver a more everyday example, the robot Asimo from Honda. As can be seen in the first graph of this article, the Asimo was changing as the technology of artificial intelligence was giving way to the opportunity to improve the conditions under which these machines could perform both basic functions like walking, lifting hands, moving his head, etc., up to complete much more complex operations such as jumping, walking, and say a few words.

The robot Asimo from Honda, which stands for A dvanced S tep in I nnovate Mo bility, has among its main features being built entirely in a way that can bend and do all the typical movements of human beings, through their embedding within overall system of a computer-brain which is controlled by remote control. This device also controls the charging party robot, so you can have more time for action without a massive waste of energy used for mobilization of the humanoid, thereby allowing an action which is much more controlled.

Asimo from Honda can walk at a speed of 3 km / h run twice, almost imitating the movements of a child who is just starting to take its first steps. The integrated system coordination Asimo similarly lets do simple tasks with their mechanical arms such as carrying trays to use small items like keys and even bend some things to organize them. To make a little reference to mobility, Asimo is also able to rotate, completing laps around its axis which is located in the ring.

A battery pack is charged to provide fuel for this likeable character, he’s an increasing feeling that occurs in public. The advantages that can provide the robot Asimo in the future are quite striking, for example, widespread service customer service in all types of organizations as being observed, the possibility of being used in rescue maneuvers, no doubt a valuable toy teaching in many kindergartens, as “virtual teacher” for new models of education and why not, the study of motion in bodies.

Robots, our assistants in space

aramies_bodylegsThe big advantage of space robots is that they need neither food nor drink and can work in inhospitable conditions. More importantly, although expensive to design and produce, their loss is always preferable to an astronaut. In the edition of November 2004 ASTRA robots designed in the Space Research Laboratory of the Technical Center of ESA in the Netherlands attracted much attention.On Earth, robots often take repetitive tasks or when human health is jeopardized. They are used to assemble cars, deactivate bombs, weld pipes at the bottom of the sea and work in nuclear power plants, “says Gianfranco Visentin, Head of Automation Robotics Section at ESA ESTEC in the Netherlands.

“In the space even more attractive to use robots,” he emphasizes. “They can support or replace people to perform tasks that are too dangerous, difficult, repetitive, time-consuming or even impossible for astronauts. They can be quicker and more accurate people” jokingly adding, “They can work 24 hours a day and do not stop for lunch or sleep “.
What is a space robot?
In the space community can call any unmanned spacecraft, a robotic spacecraft, but Visentin prefers a more specific description: “A system having mobility and the ability to manipulate objects plus the flexibility to perform any combination of these tasks autonomously or by remote control.
“The objective of space robots is basically to perform an action in space such as position an instrument to take a measurement, collect a sample for examination, assemble a structure or even move around an astronaut.”
In no ways space robots are different from their brothers on Earth, they basically replace a human performing an action.
But those who are destined to space must meet some specific requirements:
– Resist a pitch. – Operate in difficult environmental conditions and often in very remote locations.
– Weighing as little as possible, as any burden, its release is very expensive.
– Consume less energy and have a long functional life.
– Operating independently.
– Be extremely reliable.
“To respond to these advanced technological challenges are very complex systems required,” says Visentin, “sounds like a big problem, but space gives us great opportunities to create robots that could not otherwise be made for use on Earth . “The biggest advantage is the almost zero gravity in outer space. This means that everything weighs much less than on Earth and even the heaviest object can be moved and raised with little effort, so a small robot can move objects enormous. ”
Types of robots :
The robot most commonly used in space missions is the rover (wanderers). This vehicle can move around the surface of another planet transporting scientific instruments. Usually both the vehicle and the instruments are operated autonomously. ESA, in collaboration with European industry, has developed the incredibly small micro-rover Nanokhod. Although only the size of a large book and weighing just 2 kg it can transport and position 1 kg. of instruments within a small radius around the “lander” (landing ship).

A larger robot has been developed to collect soil samples from other planets. The mini-rover MIRO-2 from 12 kg a robotic drill that can collect up to 10 samples from a depth of 2 m. It then returns to the lander where the samples can be analyzed by the scientific instruments on board.
A third mini-rover of 15 kg has been developed by ESA is powered entirely by solar energy. Solero mini-rover that uses miniature batteries to store electricity on board. It also has an innovative chassis. Its six wheels arranged on the vertices of a hexagon enable it to operate in very irregular terrain.

Studying Nature
Robot designers often inspired by nature. A good example is the impressive Aramie / Scorpion developed by ESA. With his legs and the movement inspired by the animal is capable of operating in rugged terrain and dunes.
Another example is EUROBOT as big as a human being is designed to perform the tasks of an astronaut on the International Space Station. EUROBOT be able to climb the outside of the space station, attach itself to the rails like an astronaut and be tele-operated by the crew inside.

Nature also inspired the hopping robot. With just under 40 cm. high it can leap over obstacles up to six feet high, a feat impossible on Earth due to gravity but fairly easy to accomplish on the Moon or Mars.
Visentin emphasizes that research in the ESA is aimed specifically at space issues and are not interesting or profitable for terrestrial use and does not duplicate what is already available. “Whenever possible we re-use robotics technology used for applications on Earth, but some operations required for space exploration are of no use on Earth. For instance, nobody would want to make a robotic field biologist to explore the Earth, even with the most advanced technology the result would always be far below that of a real biologist, at least today. On Mars, however, is currently the only option. ”

The constraint of space.

The space raises many issues not faced by robots for use on Earth. The low pressure in the orbit leads to cold-weld metal parts together, atomic oxygen can react with almost any material and nullifies the cooling benefits of electronic transmission.
Radiation also differs from that encountered on Earth and in space, heavy particles make digital electronics misbehave or even burn. Thermal conditions are also extreme, with external temperatures ranging from more or less, 100 ° C.

Another characteristic of space missions is that robots have to operate far from their base. Radio signals to control and monitor them have to travel for a long time and this introduces communications delays that prevent tele-operation in real time or near real time. Space robots, therefore, must be able to work alone and solve any problems that occur while performing their tasks. The ESA’s space engineers have learned to cope with all these problems. Qualified design techniques, materials, hardware and electronics components are specifically designed to work reliably despite these effects.
“We continue research into new types of robots that can cope with the special conditions of space, go where humans can not and that will help astronauts manage the enormous amount of work on the International Space Station,” says Visentin.

Intelligent Autonomous Robots are the new generation

225362-286769At least six fields of research today advanced robotics structure: one that relates the robot with its environment, the behavioral, cognitive, or developmental epigenetics, the evolutionary and biorrobótica. It’s a big field of interdisciplinary study that relies on the mechanical, electrical, electronics and informatics, as well as physical science, anatomy, psychology, biology, zoology and ethology, among others. The basis of this research is embodied Cognitive Science and the New AI. Its purpose: lighting intelligent and autonomous robots that reason, behave, evolve and act like people. By Sergio Moriello.multidisciplinary study, which relies largely on the engineering (mechanical, electrical, electronics and computers) and science (physics, anatomy, psychology, biology, zoology, ethology, etc.).. Refers to highly complex automated systems that have an articulated mechanical structure, governed by an electronic control system, and characteristics of autonomy, reliability, versatility and mobility.

In essence, the “autonomous intelligent robots” are dynamic systems consisting of an electronic controller coupled to a mechanical body. Thus, these machines require adequate sensory systems (to perceive the environment in which they operate), a precise mechanical structure adaptable (to have a certain physical skills of locomotion and manipulation) of complex effector systems (for running the assignments) and sophisticated control systems (to carry out corrective actions when necessary) [Moriello, 2005, p. 172].

Situated Robotics (Situated Robotics)
This approach deals with robots that are embedded in complex and often dynamically changing [Mataric, 2002]. It is based on two central ideas [Florian, 2003] [Muñoz Moreno, 2000] [Innocenti Badano, 2000]: robots) “are embodied” (embodiment), ie, have a suitable physical body to experience its environment so direct where their actions have immediate feedback on their own perceptions, and b) are situated “(situatedness), ie, they are embedded within an environment, interact with the world, which directly influences-its-on behavior.

Obviously, the complexity of the environment has a close relationship with the complexity of the control system. Indeed, if the robot has to react quickly and intelligently in a dynamic and challenging environment, the problem of control becomes very difficult. If the robot, however, need not answer quickly, reducing the complexity required to develop control.
Within this paradigm, there are several subparadigmas: the “Behavior-based robotics,” the “cognitive robotics”, the “epigenetic robotics”, the “evolutionary robotics” and “biomimetic robotics.

Behavior-Based Robotics and Behavior (Behavior-Base Robotics)
This approach uses behavioral principles: robots generate a behavior only when stimulated, ie respond to changes in their local environment (as when someone accidentally touches a hot object). Here, the designer divides tasks into many different basic behaviors, each of which runs on a separate layer of the control system of the robot.

Typically, these modules (behaviors) may be to avoid obstacles, walking, lifting, etc.. The intelligent features of the system, such as perception, planning, modeling, learning, etc.. emerge from interaction between the various modules and the physical environment where the robot is immersed. The system-control-Fully distributed incrementally builds, layer by layer, through a process of trial and error, and each layer is only responsible for basic behavior [Moriello, 2005, p. 177 / 8].

The behavior-based systems are capable of reacting in real time, as calculated directly from the actions of perceptions (through a set of correspondence rules “situation-action). It is important to note that the number of layers increases the complexity of the problem. Thus, a very complex task may be beyond the ability of the designer (it was hard to define all the layers, their interrelationships and dependencies) [Pratiharas, 2003].

Another drawback is that due to the presence of several individual behavior and dynamics of interaction with the world, it is often difficult to say that a series of actions in particular has been the product of a particular behavior. Sometimes several behaviors simultaneously working or are exchanging rapidly.

Although intelligence may reach the insect, probably built systems from this approach have limited skills, as they have internal representations [Dawson, 2002]. Indeed, this type of robots present a great difficulty to execute complex tasks and in the simplest, no guarantee the best solution as optimal.

Cognitive Robotics (Cognitive Robotics)

This approach uses techniques from the field of Cognitive Science. It deals with deploying robots that perceive, reason and act in dynamic environments, unknown and unpredictable. Such robots must have cognitive functions that involve high-level reasoning, for example, about goals, actions, time, cognitive states of other robots, when and what to perceive, learn from experience, and so on.

For that, they must possess an internal symbolic model and their local environment, and sufficient capacity for logical reasoning to make decisions and to perform the tasks necessary to achieve its objectives. In short, this line of work is responsible for implementing cognitive characteristics in robots, such as perception, concept formation, attention, learning, memory, short and long term, etc.. [Bogner, Maletic, Franklin, 2000].

If we achieve that the robots themselves develop their cognitive abilities, is avoid the “hand” for every conceivable contingency task or [Kovacs, 2004]. Also, if the robots is achieved using representations and reasoning mechanisms similar to that of humans, could improve human-computer interaction and collaborative work. However, it needs a high processing power (especially if the robot has many sensors and actuators) and lots of memory (to represent the state space).

Epigenetic Robotics and Development
This approach is characterized in that tries to implement control systems of general purpose through a long process of development or self-autonomous organization. As a result of interaction with their environment, the robot is able to develop different-and increasingly complex-perceptual skills, cognitive and behavioral.

This is a research area that integrates developmental neuroscience, developmental psychology and robotics located. Initially the system can be equipped with a small set of behaviors or innate knowledge, but, thanks to the experience-is able to create more complex representations and actions. In short, this is the machine to independently develop the skills appropriate for a given particular environment transiting through the different stages of their “autonomous mental development.

The difference between robotics and robotics development epigenetic-sometimes grouped under the term “ontogenetic robotics (ontogenetic robotics) – is a subtle thing, as regards the type of environment. Indeed, while the former refers only to the physical environment, the second takes into account the social environment.

The term epigenetic (beyond the genetic) was introduced in psychology, “by Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget to describe his new field of study that emphasizes the individual sensorimotor interaction with the physical environment, rather than take into account only to genes. Moreover, the Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky supplemented this idea with the importance of social interaction.

Nanobots gifted sense of touch

nanorobotRobots at the nanoscale can already do some basic manipulation. But it remained difficult to control to enable them to perform more complex actions such as handling of nanoelectronic components or cells. To overcome this problem, a team of University of Toronto (Canada) announced having developed a pair of robotic grippers can move independently in the middle of a microscopic environment, without damaging the surrounding components. The principle is simple: these micro robots are endowed with the sense of touch. “The robots are equipped with load cells that allow them to perceive their environment through touch,” said L’Atelier Philippe Bidaud, director of the Institute for Intelligent Systems and Robotics (ISIR). “And therefore include data such as weight of an object, the resistance of a membrane,” says he.

Reuse of robotic processes common
According to Sun Yu, project manager, they would be the first to really feel the pressure with which they are grabbing an object and can be taken into account in their operations. “We apply the concepts already used in traditional robotic, but at the nanoscale, announced the researcher. “The experiments above do not elicit such a return. The pliers broke things they took, or break themselves,” says he. Also new: they can feel the proximity of an object and either take it or avoid it to prevent any damage. So many functions that, if the clamps are connected to a computer program containing operations to follow, let them act without human intervention. In tests on animal cells, these would nanobras robotic manipulation and made a damage rate of only 15%. “Giving these nanobots sense of touch makes it possible to achieve the nano-scale manipulation of space we do can do today to the human scale, “adds Philippe Bidaud.

Build sensors premium
And numerous applications, including industrial level. Such systems would in fact assemble microelectronic devices and sensors designed to integrate health appliance or high-tech (PC, mobile phone). A process that can be achieved with conventional manufacturing techniques. Especially it should not be expensive: the clips are made from conventional silicon wafers. If they were mass produced, they may well be offered at 10 dollars fifty pairs. Another use, not least, they have the opportunity to help rebuild body tissues. Finally, recalls Philippe Bidaud, they could play a significant role in therapy. “These systems will know certain properties of cells that we are currently inaccessible,” he concludes. From a technical perspective, each “arm” is about three millimeters long. They can catch cells and components of only ten micrometers wide. This, in less than a second.

The robots develop a sense of direction

TartaloThe Flame robot was already able to move through a process similar to that of a human being. A team of University of the Basque country now wants to give the droids ability to move independently and adapt to their environment. His robot Tartalo, has a navigation system allowing it to move freely in confined spaces such as apartments, even if it has not been scheduled for housing in particular. This is indeed able to adapt to changes in space. A camera positioned at eye level allows him to perceive its environment. The computer is equipped has been programmed to recognize four different areas: bedroom, corridor, lobby and no door. When placed in a new environment, he made several Featured order to identify and memorize the location of each piece.

Identify and control his environment
This, by creating a topological map and transmit it to its owner – for display and voice recognition solution – appoint the pieces. When approaching a place, it is also able to calculate the width and length of it to identify it: a long narrow space is perceived as a corridor, another broader as the lounge. It is the same for the doors if it can not open one, it will take the initiative to knock several times against the panel to show its presence. Tartalo, which measures about 1.5 meters, is finally able to overcome the obstacles he encounters on his journey. Indeed, it is equipped with sensors that emit and detect ultrasounds, infrared lights and laser beams capable of estimating distance. His movements are still random: the robot wanders through the corridors of the university without any real purpose or destination.

Objectives of assistance to the person and for military
But what is interesting is not so much what he can do yet, but the possibility of carrying forward the tasks spontaneously and independently. Their goal is to render their droid can achieve by itself a number of applications becoming more important. And you can move on any surface in any location, from the moment he received the order. It could then be used in very different areas, assistance to seniors and disabled military applications. Several improvements, however, must still be made before any marketing or approximation of the robot with other projects. Indeed, if he knows differentiate a human from another inanimate, it is not yet able to identify faces, voices, or a particular object it should return to its owner.

The clones reproduce human behavior on the playing fields

AssetViewer2The robots are now able to imitate the strengths and weaknesses of an individual in a game Researchers at the University Carlos III of Madrid have programmed behavioral clones. Human action of a specific player is first recorded through a video game, Robosoccer. “The system observes the stimuli that the individual receives from the screen, and the actions it sets up the keyboard in order to score a goal or passing the ball,” says Ricardo Aler, one of the researchers Continue reading

Robots who invent a language

sbotSmallThe EPFL (Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne) will definitely not stop to talk to her, in robotics. A team of Swiss researchers consisting of robotics Dario Floreano, Sara Mitri, Stéphane Magnenat and Laurent Keller of the biologist, has developed a simulation composed of virtual robots that can understand what factors determine how communication arises in the evolution of social organizations. The virtual robots are used compounds of evolutionary algorithms, which enable them to respond and adapt to their environment. Communication is critical to the ecological success of social organizations. But the study of the evolution of communication is made extremely difficult for the absence of trace fossils of communication as it existed in the primitive social animals.

To perform their study, the researchers then used the simulation (the simulator is Enki, a 2D simulator in C + +). They studied the behavior of hundreds of colonies composed of 10 individuals. The development of these settlements has continued for 500 generations. Once the robot “virtual” presented interesting features, the program was transferred to real robots, this time.
Presentation of experiences
The robots are placed in an unfamiliar environment, provided a reserve of food and a pool of poison. Each robot is able to move and differentiate the poison food. Each robot has basically a simple program, encoding settings variables in a “genome”, a sort of database that can change over generations. The parameters in question encode for example the importance of altruism, or the spirit of competition. When the “reproduction”, the most powerful individuals will be selected, and will produce a new generation by passing each genome, which in theory combine the benefits of both parents.

According to Laurent Keller, “under certain conditions, a sophisticated communication has developed. We have seen colonies use lights to indicate they had found food and others reported the poison.” The use of primitive codes could well prove to be the root of language.

Robots: what uses for professionals?

wakamaruIf robots have largely proven their ability to replace humans in the industrial field, where they perform tasks without flinching the most menial or repetitive more rigorously, we reserve the robotics still nice surprises in the field of business. Around the globe, teams of researchers working to demonstrate that both a priori overcome, the machine is often able to supplement or even replace humans. Continue reading

Resulted in a robot to replace U.S. troops

According to the magazine Rue89, the U.S. military in Afghanistan currently testing a robot called BigDog.

This machine imposing physical and noise disturbing, is composed of several sensors that allow it to move anywhere, anytime, without fear of tripping over bumps or dips. Created by the company Boston Dynamics, the robot was initially designed to prevent a soldier from falling into an ambush. It can be manipulated to 500 meters away, walking at 6 km / h, reaches climb slopes at 35 degrees and can carry up to 140 kilos of equipment. Continue reading