Posted by: robotnews | April 13, 2007

Cooking Robots

Considering the chances for home robots to reach a fundamental breakthrough on the mass market, an observation of the daily habits of people shows that the most time-consuming specifiable tasks in traditional housework are cleaning, washing, ironing and cooking. Most these tasks require quite a complicated navigation and they cannot be done properly and satisfyingly without very sophisticated mechanics. Cooking is a task performed in an environment which is very easy to define and it is already done with the help of technical equipment – which is therefore adjustable to the requirements of an assisting robot. A mass market for home robots – with a simply to build and therefore cheap product that gives the consumer a valuable benefit – could therefore be found exactly in this area.

Currently, there is already very advanced food processors like the Thermomix, which can chop, puree, blend and also steam and heat food.

But a substitute for a cook is not yet available on the market. Change just seems to be a question of prize: Chinese inventors from Fanxing Science and Technology Co. Ltd in Shenzhen have developed the AIC-AI, the first robot capable of cooking freshly prepared meals. It is programmed to prepare typical meals of the Sichuan, Shandong and Canton cuisines and able to perform steaming, baking, frying, boiling and sautéing. The prototype, which cost about 250,000 $, was presented in 2006 and is currently used as an attraction in the Hong Kong Robot Kitchen. Hopefully cheaper in serial production, the machine will be available already in this year and shall be sold to restaurants and later to consumers. Besides the attraction of the robot itself, especially fast-food restaurants could profit from a fast-working machine cooking complicated dishes in a standardized way.

The low flexibilty and the high prize of even this relatively simple machine might be reason for researchers and companies to still focus on the development of very complex service robots, which are able to undertake complete householding tasks and can therefore be of a real benefit to the customer.

Walther Schulze, NT061333Y

Further references:

Cocina Abierta (Spanish)

Foodmall

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Posted by: robotnews | April 11, 2007

Security Home Robot from Korea


A new sophisticated robot will be able to guard your home around the clock and keep you informed on what’s happening in the house through your handset even when you are far away.

The 50-centimeter tall and 12-kilogram machine was developed through partnerships with venture start-up Mostitech after years of intensive work.

In case of emergencies, like fire or lethal gas leakage, the robot’s sensors will detect any potential dangers and the camera-eyed robot will be programmed to snap pictures of the situation and send them with a message to a designated person’s cell phone.

Also, when unexpected visitors enter a home, the robot will transmit pictures of them coupled with contingency messages. To gather further information, the recipient can order the robot to survey the suspicious situation or persons through a cell phone or Internet.

The battery-operated robot, which moves around on wheels and recharges itself when its batteries run low, will also function as a caretaker and house sitter for kids, as the robot can even read a book.

This robots retails at $850, and this is relatively cheaper compared to its peers from Japan Wakamaru of Mitsubishi and Banryu of Sanyo. ( as their prices hover above $10,000 )

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Chwa Hock Chuan

Link : http://www.forbes.com/2005/07/25/cx_gd_0726featslide_2.html?thisSpeed=90000

Posted by: robotnews | April 10, 2007

Bionic Arm

Man is one step closer to realizing a cyborg reality. Jesse Sulllivan and Claudia Michelle are the one of the world’s first non-fictional cyborgs. Both of them were equipped with a robotic arm after suffering from accidents resulting in the loss of their natural limbs. The groundbreaking bionic arm is a prototype developed at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago by Dr. Todd Kuiken. It differs from other assistive technology in that the robotic arm is not controlled by traditional interfaces such as switches and joysticks. The bionic arm instead uses the signals from the nerve endings in the arm to control its motion.

The bionic arm essentially gets myeoelectric signals from motor nerves of the arm as the robot motor inputs. This muscular electrical energy is captured from under the skin, using a bipolar setup with two stainless steel electrodes on multiple sites. The electrical signals thus acquired are then processed by a TI 64-bit DSP chip embedded within the arm. The chip controls the motors in the arm. This results in a seamless translation of a mental hand-open command to a robotic-arm hand-open command.

The prototype is also capable of sensory feedback. The Bionic Arm Team reports that initial experiments at sensory feedback including pressure and temperature have been successful. The team is however still in the process of quantifying these signals completely.

This technology has tremendous potential and has generated a lot of interest in rehabilitation and assistive robotics. The robotic arm is a synthesis of international components with a hand from China, wrist from Germany and a shoulder from Scotland. The prototype implants in Jesse Sullivan and Claudia Michelle both have been successful. The arm allows Jesse Sullivan to wear a hat, grip a pen, hold a cup, drink and execute multiple movements by simply think about it naturally. The prototype however, has some way to go before it sees more widespread adoption: cost is a big issue. A brighter future for the disabled is definitely on its way.

Bought to you by:

Harish Kumar Koundinya

U037793N

Resources:

Jesse Sullivan powers robotic arms with his mind, March 23, 2006 CNN

Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, Bionic Man

Jesse Sullivan, Robotic Arm Video

Claudia Mitchell, Wikipedia

Brain controls robot arm in monkey, University of Pittsburgh. February 2005

Posted by: robotnews | April 8, 2007

Robotic Home Invades Japan!

When it comes to robotics, Japan never fails to amaze everyone. In a recent exhibition the University of Tokyo showcased a robotic “living room of the future,” another example of plans to make robots part of daily life in Japan.

Equipped with sensors in the walls and floor in the living room, the movement of the users is tracked and responded. For an instance, when the user sits down by the desk, the robot lamp automatically swings over to illuminate the book..

A humanoid robot “HRP-2” pours tea from a bottle to a cup to serve for a guest during a demonstration at Tokyo University. Tokyo University Professor Tomomasa Sato developed the robot for daily housework.

Source : http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/robotics/

The hottest highlight in the exhibition is the robot valet. A modified version of AIST’s Promet humanoid- it is not only capable of the automated pouring and serving of drinks, it can actually wash up afterward. Using cameras as eyes mounted on the head, the humanoid robot is able to perform the action of tea pouring and after the users has finished, and the humanoid robot picks it up and bring it for wash!!!.

Another wheel locomotion robot demonstrated was capable of delivering cup of tea in an experimental room that has sensors embedded in the floor and sofa as well as cameras on the ceiling, to simulate life with robot technology.

The robotic home aims at catering for rapid aging societies such as Japan and hopes to lead the world in the designing of robots to care for the elderly, sick and bedridden.

It is interesting to note how the Japanese are trying to infuse the daily life with robots. These robots are not only capable of performing various task, other aspects in terms of physiological and physical are take into consideration. The development of human-looking robots with humanity expression and shows how much fine details work had been progress in the area of robotics.

It would not be long when robots are a part of our daily life.

Ng Buck Sin U046233B

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17383772/
http://www.tmz.com/2007/03/02/robot-maids-invade-japan/

Posted by: robotnews | April 7, 2007

My Spoon

U036584N Wu Zhenyu

This is one of the latest inventions in assistive robotics – My Spoon, a meal assistance robot which helps people with disabilities to eat. This robot is developed to assist patient with spinal cord injury or other diseases which results in the inability to move his arms, to have a proper meal.

One of the main components of My Spoon is the Manipulator Arm. It is the part that performs all the action and feeds the user with food. One end of the Manipulator Arm is connected to the End-Effector, which can be connected with a spoon or fork. The other end of the Manipulator Arm is linked to the Base Unit, on top of which the Manipulator Arm is positioned. The Base Unit is also connected to a Operating Interface, which is used by the user to operate the robot. There are different choices for the Operation Interface. One is the joystick, for those who can operate it with fingers. For people who have problems operating with joystick, he can choose to operate it through buttons.


This robot may looks a little simple, but it won the Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) “Robot of the Year for 2006” contest. In fact it does make sense as being able to eat is the basic element of social independence. A person could enjoy a meal properly and happily with his family or friends without external help. This would be essential in helping the patient to regain confidence in life.

Reference:

Posted by: robotnews | April 6, 2007

HERTI spy-plane

HERTI spy-plane

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) have been the new development in terms of military surveillance, allowing a pilot-less insertion of an aerial vehicle into enemy territory for purposes of collecting data, or simply maintaining the security of a country’s own air space.

UAVs are traditionally using remote control, requiring the “pilot” with the control console to have certain skills and abilities to launch, fly and land the UAV. In recent developments, UAVs are moving towards semi-autonomous and even fully autonomous operating conditions. Semi-autonomous UAVs require a pilot to launch the UAV after which it can be programmed to fly on auto-pilot beyond the radio’s range or out of the line-of-sight of the pilot on the ground. A fully autonomous UAV will be able to launch, fly and then land all by itself in a pre-programmed flight path.

The HERTI is one such UAV, developed by BAE Systems. HERTI, otherwise known as “High-Endurance Rapid Technology Insertion” is capable of conducting various reconnaissance missions for up to 25 hours, and boasts of new technology such as a collision avoidance system, which comprises of a radar and electro-optic sense-and-avoid system. It also has an “Autosoar” system, which gives it the ability to detect thermals on which the UAV is able to climb on, thereby giving it an extended operating range and time.

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Oh Yide Andre

Posted by: robotnews | April 6, 2007

The Da Vinci of our Era – Only the fast gets to comment

Minimally Invasive Surgery (MIS) refers to any form of surgery that works through small incisions. Here’s the thing about small incisions: it hurts less, results in fewer complications (and hence, less scarring), and most importantly, the usage of unsightly plasters can be avoided. The benefits of having MIS are obvious but it has its share of detractors too.

Firstly, surgeons are human beings, so it is just not possible for them to suddenly know how to perform MIS. It takes an extremely long time for them to learn the techniques of MIS. Secondly, surgeons lose tactile sensation when performing MIS. Thirdly, the instruments and angles in which MIS can be performed are seriously limited. There is probably nothing we can do about the first problem. As for the latter two problems, the solution lies in the field of robotics.

Much research is currently being put in the Da Vinci surgical system. Its purpose is as follows:

  • To restore tactile sensation
  • To restore dexterity

These can be achieved through a force feedback system.

Also, the Da Vinci surgical system is able to mimic the actions of the surgeon’s hands. Natural movements by a surgeon’s hands will be translated to precise micro-movements by “motion scaling” software. Essentially, this means that there are now fewer risks involved in surgery that requires extreme precision such as nerve repair. The reduction in risks is due to the fact that unlike the Da Vinci system, hands of a human surgeon will suffer from tremors as adrenaline courses through his veins.

If you have issues with having a robot operate on your body, I have this to say to you, “Just sign the indemnity form and let the doctors do what needs to be done! You wouldn’t know the difference anyway since you’ll be unconscious from the general anesthesia!”

On a more serious note, let it be known that Drs. David Yuh and Allison Okamura at Johns Hopkins are working very diligently to implement sensory feedback capabilities on the Da Vinci system.

I wish, for the sake of mankind, that they succeed.

Brought to you by,
Nicholas Koh (U045902U)

References:


Pictures taken from:

Posted by: robotnews | April 6, 2007

Wakamaru


Wakamaru is a Japanese domestic robot made by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, primarily intended to provide companionship to elderly and disabled people. The robot is yellow, 100 cm tall, and weights 30 kilograms. It has two arms and its flat, circular base has a diameter of 45 cm. The first hundred went on sale in September, 2005, for USD $14,000.

Wakamaru runs a Linux operating system on multiple microprocessors. It can connect to the Internet, and has limited speech (in both male and female voices) and speech recognition abilities. Functions include reminding the user to take medicine on time, and calling for help if it suspects something is wrong.

The robot has the potential to replace a human caretaker in Japan, where robotic technology is embraced and the graying of the population has left many young people wondering who will care for their parents.

Its 3-foot-tall frame contains an integrated cell phone that is programmed to call emergency dispatchers automatically if a problem occurs with a patient. An embedded Web camera lets doctors and family members keep an eye on the patient at all times. Speech-recognition software and a built-in dictionary provide the robot’s vocabulary.

Wakamaru is so robust that he or she — Mitsubishi can give the robot either a male or female voice — can be programmed to remind patients to take their medicine and even call a doctor when it appears that someone is in distress.

Khoo Yuan Jin
U036997M

Home Site:

http://www.mhi.co.jp/kobe/wakamaru/english/index.html (English)

http://www.mhi.co.jp/kobe/wakamaru/know/index.html (Japanese)

Posted by: robotnews | April 6, 2007

Patrolbot

As technology improves by leaps and bouinds, the world is seen to move into a new era where robotics is becoming a very huge part of our lives, from education to entertainment and especially security and surveillance. Scores of companies are going into the field of inventing robots for security. One such company is MobileRobots Incorporated,formally known as ActivMedia.MobileRobots Incorporated has come up with a programmable autonomous general purpose robot named PatrolBot.

PatrolBot is a versatile robot that moves on wheels and will be able to do the following tasks. It will be able to tighten the security of premises and valuables, monitor potential hazards to a particular site and document problems not visible to normal security cameras. Patrolbot can be controlled remotely from a computer or it can be programmed to follow a pre-determined route. Patrolbot also has robotic visual sensors and cameras that will enable it to read from dials 20 feet away. It also has a microphone and speaker system that will enable the Patrolbot to communicate with a person. Hence, in this way the controller will not be put in harms way. The Patrolbot will also be able to pick up small objects and deliver them to locations as specified by the controller.

Patrolbot is a novel innovation and it helps us alleviate the need to train security personnel for a specific job. All that needs to be done is to reprogram the software for a particular task. Moreover, a robot doesn’t suffer from fatigue as humans do and hence Patrolbot will be more efficient than human security personnel.

Reference:
1.http://www.mobilerobots.com/PatrolBot.html
2.http://www.activrobots.com/BldgPropty/patrolbot.html

Sivagami A
U037814E

Posted by: robotnews | April 6, 2007

Honda Humanoid Robot Asimo


Asimo is the product of Honda’s challenge for a new type of mobility, to walk with two legs. And the reason behind it? So that the robot can move in all types of terrain. Its designers has believed that with a enhanced mobility, it can serve its purpose of helping humans better. It is the built by Honda with the hope of making a truly useful humanoid robot which possesses both intelligence and physical capabilities at a high level.

Built to work in a real world, the 34 servomotors embedded in the robot allow a whopping 34 degrees of freedom. With these degrees of freedom, it is capable of many actions, like reach for things, pick things up, navigate along floors, sidewalks, and even climb stairs – very much like what a human can do. Not to forget all the powerful sensors built into the robot to help it recognize voices and human faces. The Asimo is also able to use its ‘camera eyes’ to map its environment and register stationary objects, helping it to avoid obstacles.

And with the new Asimo, which was introduced back in 2005, it is now able to accomplish even more advanced tasks such as walking with a person while holding hands, pushing a cart and even serving drinks on a tray!

Looking at the progress Honda has made, it would not be long before we can have a humanoid robot which can act as maid, a receptionist, or even as a worker!

By U036419B Jway Kim Soon

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