Don’t Mess with Robots!


A recent BBC show makes it clear why we really shouldn’t get physically aggressive with today’s computer systems!

Posted under fun

This post was written by admin on November 15, 2009

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Please Don’t Let that Robot Rescue Me!

A Rescue Robot from the Tokyo Fire Department

A Rescue Robot from the Tokyo Fire Department

This rescue robot from the Tokyo Fire Department is performing a drill with a manikin. However, I don’t like the way that it is dragging the victim up the ramp by his neck.

Good Lord! Please don’t let that robot rescue me!!!

This is one of several interesting robot photos in The Big Picture at, which focuses on News Stories in Photographs. The caption there reads:

Tokyo Fire Department’s rescue robot transfers a mock victim onto itself during an anti-terrorism exercise in the response to a radiological dispersal device in Tokyo, on November 7, 2008. Tokyo Metropolitan government conducted the exercise with eleven organisations including Metropolitan Police Department. (TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images)

Posted under photographs, search and rescue

Flight of the Conchords – The Humans are Dead

From Online Cortex we have a song about the imminent robot takeover.

Posted under fiction, fun

This post was written by admin on February 16, 2009

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MATLAB Packages for the NXT

Brickengineer announces MATLAB packages for the LEGO NXT Robotics system:

There are now several MATLAB packages for robotics, and specifically for the NXT. One paradigm is to run the code on a PC and have it communicate direct commands to the NXT Brick via Bluetooth or USB. I have found this paradigm to be a bit dangerous since in the event of a MATLAB crash or a miscommunication, the NXT Brick will continue with its last command until ordered to stop. This has the potential to destroy your robot. The paradigm that I prefer to use is to write several programs that run on the brick. These programs take commands from files on the brick that can be uploaded rapidly from the PC. The MATLAB code then is in charge of sending the command files and starting and stopping programs. In the event of a MATLAB crash or communication failure, the software running on the NXT Brick can be designed to terminate gracefully.

Here are the MATLAB packages that I know of. The first two are specifically geared toward the NXT; whereas the last is a general robotics package.

* LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT Toolkit for MATLAB and Simulink
* Robotics Toolbox for MATLAB (Release 7.1) (P.I. Corke)
* RWTH Mindstorms NXT Toolbox for Matlab

Posted under research, software

This post was written by admin on February 11, 2009

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Reassembling Robots

Mark Yim, associate professor member of the General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception (GRASP) Lab at the University of Pennsylvania, introduces reassembling/reconfiguring robots.

The robot below called Ckbot is constructed of 15 modules grouped into 3 clusters of 5 modules each. Each cluster is equipped with a camera (24 frames per second video), a blinker LED, and an accelerometer.  The other modules have proximity sensors, servo motors, and a computer.  When the system is disassembled, each cluster rights itself and seeks out the other clusters so that they may dock and reconstruct the robot.

Posted under modular, research

This post was written by admin on January 30, 2009

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European Research in Robotics

A ScienceDaily article discusses the explosion of research in robotics in Europe. The European Network of Robotic Research (EURON) is funding a mass of projects that are helping to differentiate the field of robotics into sub-fields such as domestic robotics, field robotics, and service robotics. Several particular projects and their advances are mentioned in the article. More here…

Posted under research

This post was written by admin on November 8, 2008

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Knuth: Developing Robotic Scientists for Space Exploration

The University at Albany (SUNY) has highlighted Knuth’s research in a recent news piece.

UAlbany Professor Kevin Knuth with a robot built from LEGOs. (Photo Mark Schmidt)

UAlbany Professor Kevin Knuth with a robot built from LEGOs. (Photo Mark Schmidt)

Kevin Knuth has a laboratory in the physics department of the University at Albany that is filled with LEGOs. The bricks are relatively cheap and can be used to rapidly prototype a robot’s body. Knuth’s robots are being programmed to solve such problems as mapping complex terrain.

At UAlbany Day on Saturday, Oct. 25, he will give a demonstration on Robotics and Robotic Exploration in Life Sciences Room 143 at 10:45 a.m.

More here:

Building instructions for the robot shown in the UAlbany article can be found on

Visit Autonomous Exploration News for information on Knuth’s company Autonomous Exploration Inc.

Posted under exploration, mindstorms, research

This post was written by admin on October 21, 2008

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Human Exoskeleton Helps People Walk

An Israeli company Argo Medical Technologies has developed a human exoskeleton that can help people with lower limb paralysis to walk.  The technology is called ReWalk and “enables wheelchair users with lower-limb disabilities to stand, walk, and even climb stairs.”  It is a robotic suit that can be partially concealed by clothing.  The users walk with crutches, and the suit senses changes in the center of mass and the limb position to detect and respond to user intentions.

A Reuters article on the topic can be found here.

Posted under companies, exoskeleton, locomotion, technology

This post was written by admin on September 19, 2008

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Robots to Clean Ship’s Hulls

European researchers are working on an EU-funded project called HISMAR (Hull Identification System for Marine Autonomous Robotics) to develop a robotic hull cleaning system to remove marine growth from ships. Marine growth significantly increases the friction of a ship moving through water, which significantly increases the cost in terms of energy. In addition, marine growth poses an environmental hazard.

Professor Tony Roskilly of Newcastle University in the UK heads the project, and describes the system:

“First a map of the hull is automatically charted, recording the location of every weld, thickness change, rivet and indentation on the ship’s surface. Adjustable jets of pressurised sea water blast the marine growth off the surface of the ship which is then sucked up into the main chamber. Here, 150 litres of water a minute is filtered and the bio-fouling removed and rendered harmless to the local environment. In this way, the ship’s robotic ‘vacuum’ can continuously roam the ship’s hull, preventing the build up of slime and allowing it to travel through the water efficiently by cutting down on drag. This significantly reduces fuel consumption and also pollution such as the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.”

More information on the HISMAR project can be found here.
More information can also be found in the article at ZDNet.

Posted under research

This post was written by admin on September 19, 2008

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