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.
The guys at Laan Labs came up with a novel way to record 3d data from the Kinect then play it back as a 3D augmented reality video on the iPad using the String SDK. It plays on the strength of both devices. The ability of the Kinect to cheaply, easily, and accurately generate 3D data, and the iPad form factor that makes it easy to move around in space to view the 3D image from different angles.
Ever wonder what it takes to build one of the advanced humanoid robot kits like a Kondo KHR-3HV? It turns out to be not all that hard, though the process does require considerable concentration, persistence, and patience.
Total assembly time is typically around 8-10 hours, though you will want to split it up into a few separate work sessions, unless you're really turned on by the thrill of searching for tiny, tiny screws that fell off the table and into the carpet pile.
Thanks to the dedication, and thoughtfulness, of Daniel Stephens, you can peek over his shoulder while he goes through the entire KHR-3HV robot construction and testing process from start to successful finish. Don't worry, Daniel has been thoughtful enough to compress the 10 hour robot build into a much more manageable 6 minute video clip below.
Under the heading of "robot business", we were very pleased to see that even in today's extremely challenging business climate, robot ventures are continuing to attract substantial investment.
While increased use of robotics isn't likely to result in a corresponding increase in employment for their human counterparts, contrary to popular belief, it will open up new applications and open the door to exploring new opportunities that were previously considered to be too hazardous, risky, or beyond the keen of available economical technology solutions.
A good example is Liquid Robotics, the creator of marine robotic drones that utilize ocean waves and solar arrays to generate the power required for their operation. These unique platforms are almost totally self-sufficient and can automatically maintain their position in the ocean, kind of the sea-going equivalent of the geostationary satellites positioned in space over the planet.
RT Corporation Announces Android Accessory Demo Kit/Accessory Demo Shield - New board set enables Android developers to create reliable real world solutions incorporating sensors, displays, motors, and robot technologies using Google Android Open Accessory -
San Francisco, CA May 10, 2011:
RT Corporation, a well known Japanese developer of robotic technologies and solutions, today announced its new RT Accessory Demo Kit (RT-ADK)/Accessory Demo Shield (RT-ADS) board set. The RT-ADK/RT-ADS configuration makes it possible for Android and Arduino application developers to add real-world interaction and functionality to their creations, reliably extending the reach of the “cloud” to include sensing and physical action.
Kondo Robot just announced a new multi-legged robot kit, the KMR-M6, that incorporates features sure to make it a huge hit with educators, researchers, hobbyists, and avid robot competitors. Based on feedback from their large established user base, Kondo designed the robot to require only two servos per leg using a unique spring and multi-bar linkage approach that provides improved flexibility and stability even while tackling complex obstacles.
As we mentioned in our previous post, Carl Clement has come up to speed with the NAO humanoid robot extremely quickly. After joining the NAO Robot Developer Program and receiving his robot about three weeks ago he has managed to create some advanced applications that demonstrate the real-world practical contributions the technology is capable of achieving.
Carl was willing to share his experiences with us via Skype the other evening and has given us permission to share our discussion with the Robots Dreams audience. The video below starts with us bantering about the earthquake that had taken place here that afternoon, but be patient. We quickly switch gears and get down to talking robots.
The Japanese robot builders are definitely World-Class, even at the hobby level. Their intense focus on the technology, craftsmanship, and quality makes them tough competitors in almost every sector of robotics, except for military/defense applications where the US holds a unique position.
So, if you were an American robot builder who happened to be living here and had the opportunity to compete head to head with the local talent, what could you possibly do to impress them and improve your odds of winning one of the top positions?
KQED in San Francisco put together an excellent 5 minute mini-documentary on the hackerspace movement featuring Mitch Altman, one of the founders of the Noisebridge hackerspace:
Search out a hackerspace in your community. They are popping up all over the world. Over here, Tokyo Hackerspace is well over a year old and has established a real presence in the community along with serving as a nucleus and gathering point for crafter's, experimenters, and robot geeks. If there isn't a local hackerspace near you already, then seriously consider starting one.
You may be aware that Taylor was one of the lucky, and extremely capable, developers that were selected to participate in the NAO Developer Program via Robots Dreams. So, it was natural for Taylor to implement his Kinect based master/slave control system with the NAO robot.
But he wasn't satisfied with just to get the basic remote control functions working, he also added a great deal of autonomous operation, to the point that his NAO can act as a remote avatar capable of maneuvering around the room, picking up items from a table, and transferring them to another table across the room. Very, very cool.
How did he accomplish it? Here's the background and details, plus some mind blowing demos like slicing a banana, cutting an onion, playing chess, hammering nails, and getting a tissue out of the box:
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