Sunday, May 24, 2015

Robotics Can Make People Whole Again, And Then Some...

Great piece in the NY Times!

Technology - Bits | Robotica

The Bionic Man

BY Zackary Canepari, Drea Cooper and Emma Cott | May. 20, 2015 | 8:36

Les Baugh lost his arms as a teenager. Engineers at Johns Hopkins are trying to give them back, but better. Mr. Baugh is testing a robotic prosthetic that he can control with his mind.
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Saturday, May 23, 2015

Training Robots to do Simple Things - Not so easy, but here comes something new...

Fascinating piece from NY TIMES...

While impressive, robots created so far are no match for humans in many ways. However, here comes something new....
"New Approach Trains Robots to Match Human Dexterity and Speed...
... BERKELEY, Calif. — In an engineering laboratory here, a robot has learned to screw the cap on a bottle, even figuring out the need to apply a subtle backward twist to find the thread before turning it the right way.
This and other activities — including putting a clothes hanger on a rod, inserting a block into a tight space and placing a hammer at the correct angle to remove a nail from a block of wood — may seem like pedestrian actions. But they represent significant advances in robotic learning, by a group of researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, who have trained a two-armed machine to match human dexterity and speed in performing these tasks.
The significance of the work is in the use of a so-called machine-learning approach that links several powerful software techniques that make it possible for the robot to learn new tasks rapidly with a relatively small amount of training...
...The new approach includes a powerful artificial intelligence technique known as “deep learning, which has previously been used to achieve major advances in both computer vision and speech recognition. Now the researchers have found that it can also be used to improve the actions of robots working in the physical world on tasks that require both machine vision and touch.

The group, led by the roboticist Pieter Abbeel and the computer vision specialist Trevor Darrell, with Sergey Levine, a postdoctoral researcher, and Chelsea Finn, a graduate student, said they were surprised by how well the approach worked compared with previous efforts.
By combining several types of pattern recognition software algorithms known as neural networks, the researchers have been able to train a robot to perfect an action such as correctly inserting a Lego block into another block, with a relatively small number of attempts.
“I would argue this is what has given artificial intelligence the whole new momentum it has right now,” Dr. Abbeel said. “All of a sudden there are all of these results that are better than expected.”

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Friday, May 22, 2015

Good Modular Robotics Stuff from MOSS

This showed up as part of a message in my email this morning. Definitely worth a look and a

Wow! Check out their Robot Builder Resource!

"Interactive instructions are just the beginning on our Robot Recipe page for MOSS! Head over to the robot recipes page if you’re looking for suggestions on MOSS robots to build and learn from with your students - like this one! Once you’ve built a few known-robots, why not create your own?! You can use our MOSS Robot Builder to virtually build the robot you and your students imagine, and even check your work with the X-ray button to make sure that power and data are routed in the MOSS robot to make it work!"

This is worth a look, too:

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Low Cost Robot Project for Kids - Walking Stick Robot

Found this one leafing through Popular Mechanics while waiting for my car to be serviced at the dealership... very nice project!

"Build This Cute Walking Stick Robot

A project to build with kids, by Brooklyn Robot Foundry owner Jenny Young.

This little machine is loaded with lessons about engineering and mobility. The gearbox teaches kids how gear ratios affect speed. And when it walks, the robot's feet can slip unless you add a dab of glue to them. That's a great introduction to problem solving: increasing friction to create traction and enable faster movement.

The pipe cleaners are just pipe cleaners. Have fun!.."

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Popular Mechanics for Kids on Robots - Great Video!

Found on YouTube... So many great ideas here...