Getting Started with ROS for the NAO Humanoid Robot Tutorial

nao robot ros has a new tutorial posted to help beginners get the NAO humanoid robot up and running with the ROS system including NAOqi and the simulated model in rviz.

All of the software runs on Linux PC (Ubuntu is used in the tutorial) and doesn't require an actual NAO to be connected for the simulation. That being said, the NAOqi SDK needs to be installed, which typically requires being a registered NAO user so that you can download the SDK from the Aldebaran website. The tutorial also mentions that a precompiled NAOqi binary is included with the Webots 6.4.4 simulation software and will be covered in a different tutorial.

Via: nao/Tutorials/Getting-Started - ROS Wiki

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NAO Robot Wizards: Franck Calzada

nao robot

I had the great opportunity to meet many of the Aldebaran NAO Robot Development Program participants in Paris last weekend when I was asked to be on the jury rating all of the projects they submitted during the codathon. The work that they're doing is innovative and often surprising, so it would be hard to single out anyone's project as being outstanding or extremely unique. Nevertheless, there were some projects that I want to talk about in upcoming posts because I feel they may interest and hopefully inspire my readers.

A good example is "Play With Red Ball", the Spring 2012 NAO Developer Days project developed by Franck Calzada. The concept seems simple enough - just have your humanoid robot bend over, reach out with its hand, and pickup a red ball. However, in the real world that sequence that you and I as human beings take for granted, is extremely complex.


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Smooth Analog Mixing Enabled In Latest Robot Software (Video)

120127 Kondo Robot 1

Kondo just released the latest version of their robot motion creation software, HeartToHeart 4 (HTH4). While the software was originally designed to support the KHR-1, the world's first humanoid robot kit, its functionality and power has increased tremendously over the years.

Version 4 of the software includes many features that make it easy to take advantage of all the power and flexibility designed into a wide range of robot configurations including all of the Kondo multi-legged robots.

A good example is the CraftHouse demonstration video below featuring the Kondo KMR-M6 hexapod robot showing how HTH4 enables smooth analog mixing driving the robots motions from the remote control joystick.


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Seeing The World As Your Robot Sees It (Video)

kinect robot

While other robot researchers have demonstrated interesting implementations combining the Microsoft Kinect device with robots of various types, Taylor Veltrop has aways had a compelling desire to develop an integrated system that will enable him to experience the world inhabited by his robot.

So far, he's been able to get his NAO humanoid robot to follow his upper torso; then his walking direction and turns; dance; and he's even incorporated a treadmill into the system which allowed him to exceed the normal space limitations imposed by the typical lab environment.

Now, he's taken the overall system design one step further by adding a head mounted display integrated with the NAO robot's cameras and the Kinect system so that it tracks his head movements. This allows him to not only see what his robot sees, but also to 'look around' with considerable freedom of movement.


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Cool New Robot App Infographic (Video)

robot apps

The Robots App Store put together an interesting and thought provoking infographic covering the potential market for robot applications over the next few years. While the infographic does seem to get a bit over-the-top with some of its claims, like implying that the NAO robot can feed your family pet while you're away, I tend to believe their view that robot apps will be a strong, dynamically growing, and profitable market in the future.

Of course, that will depend totally on designers and manufacturers bringing practical, useful robots to market for all of those apps to run on. In some ways it's been a "chicken or egg" type problem, and I'm glad that Elad Inbar, the founder of the Robots App Store, has taken the initiative to get the robot app ball rolling.

Hear what Inbar has to say about the future of robot apps, and see the full Robot App infographic below.


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DARPA $50,000 Paper Shredder Challenge

Darpa Paper Shredder

DARPA, the same folks that brought us, or at least funded, the development of the Internet and several autonomous robotic vehicles, has a new challenge. If you like puzzles, mental gymnastics, and extremely short deadlines, you're going to love this one.

It turns out that the US military frequently takes over the headquarters of hostile forces, but all too often all the critical paperwork containing precious clues and insights has been shredded before they can get their hands on it. That's where the DARPA challenge comes in. They're putting up a $50,000 prize for the team that can come up with the best solution for putting all the shredded information back together again.

Rather than just present one puzzle, which might be too difficult for any team to solve, DARPA has posted five puzzles with increasing levels of complexity. The puzzles are already up on the challenge website, and can be downloaded by anyone, even if they decide not to enter the competition.

To keep things even more interesting and exciting, they have a Leaderboard on the website that is updated regularly. The winning team will be announced on December 5, 2011.

(Via DARPA Shredder Challenge.)

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Head Mounted Display Set To Roll Out (Video)

head mount display

I've been anticipating the release of practical head mounted display for years since they have tremendous potential for robot and remote telepresence applications. So far all of the designs have either been obtrusive and block the wearer's vision somehow, or they have had limitations that have precluded commercialization.

Now Brother Industries has announced they will roll out their AiRScouter transparent LCD display this Fall for business/industrial applications and hope to follow up with a commercially available version in the near future.


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MIT OpenCourseWare Offers Sensor Technology Course

robot sensor course

If you want to get a broad overview and understanding of sensor technologies you might as well learn from the best. Luckily, the MIT OpenCourseWare program is dedicated to making the same educational material, including course outlines, readings, lectures, assignments, and often videos, that are used to teach MIT students both at undergraduate and graduate levels.

For example, one of the program's current offerings is "MAS.836 Sensor Technologies for Interactive Environments:

"This course is a broad introduction to a host of sensor technologies, illustrated by applications drawn from human-computer interfaces and ubiquitous computing. After extensively reviewing electronics for sensor signal conditioning, the lectures cover the principles and operation of a variety of sensor architectures and modalities, including pressure, strain, displacement, proximity, thermal, electric and magnetic field, optical, acoustic, RF, inertial, and bioelectric. Simple sensor processing algorithms and wired and wireless network standards are also discussed. "

The MIT OpenCourseWare program material is covered by their Creative Commons License, and the best part is that it's absolutely free. All you have to do is bring your own intelligence, curiosity, and dedication. You can't beat that.

(Via MIT OpenCourseWare | Media Arts and Sciences | MAS.836 Sensor Technologies for Interactive Environments, Spring 2010 | Home.)

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Fluffy FuwaFuwa Sensor Technology Opens Exciting New Possibilities (Video)

music soft sensor

Technology development today faces some serious limitations that constrains its application and successful deployment, especially in non-traditional sectors. The two biggest limitations, at least from my perspective, are battery capacity/life and sensors. While there has certainly been a lot of progress in both areas over the past two decades, the core technology and design approach hasn't really changed very much.

In order to achieve radical improvements in the way we put technology to practical use some significant breakthroughs in both areas will be critical. Along those lines, one of the most interesting and surprising "thinking out of the box" sensor developments I've run across recently is the FuwaFuwa sensor module developed as a part of the Igarashi Design Interface Project under the auspices of the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) ERATO.

"FuwaFuwa" in the Japanese language is a kind of onomatopoeic word that roughly translates as light/airy/fluffy, and that's exactly what the FuwaFuwa sensor module does.


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