Robot Learns, Thinks, and Acts By Itself (Video)

thinking learning robot

The Hasegawa Group located at the Tokyo Institute of technology has been able to integrate artificial intelligence into a semi-humanoid robot enabling it to think, learn, and act by itself. The robot uses a self-replicating neural network to learn in much the same way as its human counterparts.  It is able to extrapolate based on its past experience and knowledge combined with observation of its surrounding environment, then make educated guesses. In that sense, it learns from its mistakes, just like a child, and consistently corrects and adjusts until it can successfully perform required tasks.


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Teaching The NAO Robot Japanese Calligraphy (Video)

110720 NAO Robot Calligraphy 043

A little over a week ago we had the opportunity to sit in as a member of the Robot Japan team preparing for the August robot performance competition. One of the centerpiece exhibits will be the NAO robot drawing traditional Japanese kanji calligraphy - known as "Shado". This was the first attempt, so there were a few false steps and mistakes, but those are to be expected.

Over the course of the afternoon, and with everyone's help and support, NAO was able to draw the correct kanji with quite a bit of style and enthusiasum. The high points of the afternoon are in the video below.


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The BBC Checks Out Robot Research at the ISRC University of Ulster (Video)

BBC visits the Ulster ISRC robot labs

The BBC recently visited the Cognitive Robotics lab at the University of Ulster, Intelligent Systems Research Center and broadcast a short news segment (see below) covering the advanced robotics research work underway in the lab. While it doesn't disclose anything dramatically new or exciting, the video does provide an additional views of the Willow Garage PR2 preparing coffee and solving a Rubik's cube along with a researching shaking hands with the one of the famous Shadow robotic hands.

That being said, the vintage footage that starts off the video makes it all worthwhile - classic robot camp stuff.


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Free Surveillance Cameras for Robotics Teams, Physics Labs, and Science Programs

free robot video camera for schools

Security Camera Warehouse, located in North Carolina, contacted us about their "Securing the Future" program, designed to encourage and support robotics teams as well as physics labs and science programs by providing free video cameras.

According to the program details:

"You have to be a University or High School to have guaranteed acceptance to receive the free cameras*. Club level robotics teams, optics labs, physics labs, and other programs can also apply but will be approved on a case by case basis. Club level teams need to be primarily educational in nature and have an emphasis on youth and young adults."

The program lists quite a few qualifying cameras and many of them appear to be easily adaptable to suit the needs of a robot surveillance project or remote telepresence application. Understandably, there are several restrictions shown on the website, including the requirement that receipients are limited to the US. Nevertheless, we think it's a great program and a great way for the company to support the robotics community. We wish other companies would follow their lead.

(Via SCW's Securing the Future -- Free Surveillance Cameras for Robotics Teams, Physics Labs, and Science Programs.)

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Ishiguro Laboratory Looking For Scientific Engineer

ishiguro robot lab

Hiroshi Ishiguro's famous robotics laboratory situated in Kyoto, Japan, is looking for an outstanding international scientific engineer that can make a major contribution to their development in teleoperated robotic systems. Demonstrated expertise with state of the art robotics projects is one of their key selection criteria. The exact definition of a 'scientific' engineer isn't immediately clear - at least to me, though they are looking for candidates with experience in hardware/software humanoid robot construction; teleoperation; computer vision, and/or spoken language processing.

The laboratory is world famous for pushing the edge with startling, sometimes almost frightening, android creations including the Geminoid series, Telenoids, and Elfoids. While other robotic researchers tend to shy away from the boundaries of the Uncanny Valley, Ishiguro's laboratory seems to have staked out the territory as their own personal hunting ground.

All things considered, it looks like a real plum job for the right candidate, the opportunity to work with the leading experts in the field and potentially gain a lot of invaluable know-how, experience, and visibility in the robot community.

Thanks to @mspetitegeek for the heads-up.

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iheartrobotics: Perfect Dancing TurtleBot Robot Accessory

turtlebot robot accessories

The robot loving guru's over at have been pumping out interesting new accessories for the TurtleBot robot platform at a dizzying pace. Their latest creation, available via the iheartrobotics webstore, adds speakers that could provide music as the robot attempts a Michael Jackson, or Lady Gaga, imitation. There's also a link in their blog post that shares all the build details in case you want to hack one together yourself.

Be sure to check out the rest of the TurtleBot goodies they have created. It looks like the robot may be going for a new Guinness World Record for the most accessorized robot ever.

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Teaching The NAO Robot Japanese Calligraphy

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We spent a wonderful, and learning packed, afternoon with the Robot Japan team in Tokyo figuring out how to teach the Aldebaran NAO humanoid robot to draw Japanese kanji characters in the traditional calligraphy style called "Shodo". It may look simple, but take it from me, drawing the characters correctly, in the right stroke order, and with the proper energy and spirit can be a real challenge, even for a human.


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Aldebaran Robotics Gives NAO a New Brain, And Much More

nao humanoid robot brain

Aldebaran Robotics, the creators of the well known NAO humanoid robot, obviously have a strong commitment to advancing the state of the art in robotics technology and applications. During the RoboCup 2011 competition in Instanbul they unveiled the 4th generation NAO loaded with new enhancements, improved performance, and features requested and suggested by their rapidly growing user base in leading educational, academic, and research facilities from all over the world.

While the external appearance of NAO V4 may not have changed in obvious ways (don't worry, NAO still has the cute, lovable, boyish character that's made him so popular), the changes under the hood are really impressive and will make it much easier and attractive to users developing robotic applications as well as researchers.


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Excellent Compact PC Robot Controller Teardown

RoboSavvy posted a very detailed and well documented teardown of the eBox3350 compact PC.

The teardown includes the step-by-step process, hidden product features, close-up photos, and observations about how to put the PC to good use in a robot controller application. They even put together a short video of the teardown.

As usual with a popular forum like RoboSavvy, the subsequent discussions among the forum members, with proactive support from PedroR - the resident RoboSavvy expert - yielded a wealth of additional specifications, block diagrams, and knowledgeable input.

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Useful Robot Hardware Resource

robot screw head guide

Over the past week I've been asked three times, by three different people, about the names used for screw heads. Oddly enough, the questioners were from totally different parts of the globe and don't know each other - at least as far as I know. It turns out that the same screw, and screw head, can have several different names, even in the same language, depending on the country and target application.

In researching, and answering, their questions I ran across this helpful and well writen Screw Head Chart by Zero Fasteners. It can't totally resolve the naming difference issues, but at least it was very useful in making sure that we were all describing the same thing.

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