Your Friday robot fix: the final DARPA Robotics Challenge

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Overrun-by-Robots1-183×108.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]They’re Still Puppets! The final DARPA Robotics Challenge took place last week at the Fairplex racetrack in Pomona, California. 10,000 spectators viewed 24 teams’ robots going through their disaster-response paces to win a share of $3.5 million in prize money in this final stage of the DARPA three-year program. Many of the robots were custom, but several teams fielded adaptations of the Boston Dynamics Atlas robot as a common platform. The engineering teams were sequestered in a ‘garage’ offsite and linked to their robot charges by a deliberately degraded communication system (to simulate field conditions). The robots had no cords (unlike 2013) and were given eight tasks: driving a car down a dirt road, getting out of the car, opening a door and entering a building, turning a valve, cutting a hole in a wall with a drill, completing a surprise task (flipping a switch or unplugging a tube and plugging it into another hole), navigating a pile of rubble, (more…)

Your robot update for Tuesday

Catching up on our robot friends (?), we have a potpourri of developments which concentrate on either improving health or advancing robotic capabilities:

The ASSAM (Assistants for Safe Mobility) project is not about tea, but assisting older adults with everyday mobility and facilitating autonomy centering on physical mobility assistance for declining walking capabilities, but encouraging physical exercise; cognitive assistance for declining visual and mental capabilities by obstacle recognition and avoidance, and orientation and navigational aid. ASSAM upgrades existing DME (durable medical equipment) via sensor and computing hardware/software packages. It is coordinated by the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI), and receives funding from the EU’s Ambient Assisted Living Joint Programme and the national ministries of Germany, Spain, and the Netherlands. ASSAM website, YouTube video  Hat tip to the German Center for Research and Innovation

A robot scientist may make ‘orphan drugs’ an obsolete term. Eve, a robot scientist (more…)

Your Tuesday robot fix

Our first ‘robot fix’ for 2014 is a triple from Armed With Science (US Department of Defense):

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/scr_schaft.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]The DARPA Robotics Challenge Trials 2013, held 20-21 December in warm Homestead, Florida, turned out to be an early Christmas present for eight finalists out of 16 competitors. The top by far was the Robot S-One (left) from SCHAFT Inc. The remaining finalist developers in order were : Florida Institute for Human & Machine Cognition, Carnegie Mellon University + National Robotics Engineering Center, Massachusetts Institute of Technology + Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, TRACLabs Inc., Worcester Polytechnic Institute and Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Labs. They will divide $8 million in funding to prepare for the final DARPA competition for a $2 million award at end of this year. Article. Previously in TTA: DARPA field competition

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/TALOS_Future_Army_Soldier_Display_Wide-600X350-526×350.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]The TALOS is an outgrowth of both exoskeleton research and body armor, in development by the US Special Operations Command. “The goal is to provide operators lighter, more efficient full-body ballistics protection and super-human strength.” The suit has antennae and computers to provide enhanced situational awareness; cooled and heated; replete with sensors to monitor heart rate, temperature and body position–and may be able to deliver oxygen and hemorrhage controls. Research on this may also advance assistive exoskeletons for the disabled or prosthetics. Socom Leads Development of ‘Iron Man’ Suit

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Overrun-by-Robots1-183×108.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]’Start ’em young!’ could be the rallying cry of the 2014 VEX All-American Robotics Competition. Sponsored by the US Army and the Robotics Education Competition Foundation, the competition is designed to stimulate STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) education prior to university. This article is about a high school and middle school competition in Texas. Overrun by Robots and STEM Powered by Robotics

DARPA Robotics Challenge field competition

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Mettle-and-Metal.jpg” thumb_width=”175″ /]This weekend (20-21 Dec) in far-south (and warm) Homestead Raceway, Florida the outdoor ‘field’ round of the DARPA Robotics Challenge [TTA 2 July, 22 June] will take place. Robots will win on their performance in disaster response situations–both man-made and natural. Robots will be measured on eight tasks to measure 1) performance in ‘human’ environments, especially degraded ones; 2) ability to use human tools from small to large and 3) usable by those skilled in disaster response who aren’t robotics experts. From the article, the observers will be ‘watching paint dry’ as robots currently perform at the level of a one-year-old, at best moving rather slowly as 30 minutes is allowed for each task, at worst falling a lot. But it’s understood that this establishes a Robot Baseline. Wonder if the researchers and brass will be taking bets on Chiron, Kaist, Valkerie, SCHAFT, THOR, and Robosimian. Final will be in 2014. Mettle and Metal (Armed With Science) Attendance is free and public–and also livestreamed. Information at the Robotics Challenge website.

Making robotics news is Google’s acquisition of Boston Dynamics, designer of one of the competitors, Atlas.  Atlas’ well-publicized stable mates largely mimic animals–BigDog, Cheetah, WildCat, Sand Flea–along with Atlas’ older human-form brother, PETMAN. NBC News wonders what Google’s intense and somewhat covert interest in robotics (nary a peep heard lately from past purchases Meka and Redwood Robotics) really means, but hasn’t answers. Why does search giant want to be ‘BigDog’ of automation?