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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Long Anticipated 3D Motion Capture User Interface Device Coming to the Market (Video)

robot user interface design

Moriyama-san alerted us to a press release from SoftEther that shows a lot of promise in harnessing 3D motion capture technology for a wide range of applications including robotics, graphic design, simulations, and other fields. The new product, named "QUMA", which we first posted about back in late 2009, makes dramatic improvements to the user interface for 3D designers. The core concept is so simple and intuitive that we're amazed that someone didn't come up with it before and beat SoftEther to the market.


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Teaching The NAO Robot Japanese Calligraphy

110720 NAO Robot Calligraphy 023

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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Free 3D CAD Modeling Software for Robots

cad robot modeling software

PTC, a world leader in high end computer design software applications, makes their Creo Elements/Direct Modeling Express 4.0 software system available for free download. Featuring real-time realistic 3D modeling, an easy to use and understand interface, simple install, and quick start project capability, the free version supports up to 60 parts. By 'parts', they mean that assemblies designed with the system can have up to 60 distinct components.

According to the version comparison chart on their website, the free version is fully featured including all the basic functionality of the professional level paid system, but doesn't support the features that enable designing sheet metal parts as flat patterns with folds or bending.

It will run on both 32 and 64 bit Windows versions, but there doesn't appear to be Mac or Linux versions. You do have to register for a free PTC account in order to register and use the software, which is totally understandable.

The price is right. Check it out.

(Via PTC - Creo Elements/Direct Modeling Express 4.0.)

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How to Build a Humanoid Robot (Video)

Kondo humanoid robot khr-3hv
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.


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Ponoko announces Personal Factory™ 5 Making Platform


David ten Have, the CEO and founder of Ponoko, just announced Personal Factory 5 including Personal Factory App Gateway that enables use of the new AutoDesk 123D free 3D design software for makers.

According to the official Ponoko blog:

"From day one, we envisioned Ponoko creating a platform that would change the rules on who was able to make things and the way things were made.

This goal is being achieved by connecting a network of people who want to design and customize their own products with a network of digital manufacturing technologies that can make products on-demand closest to the point of consumption."

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Connecting the Google Android Cloud to Real-World Robotics Using Open Accessory (Video)

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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.


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