Prof. Robert Full discusses Locomotion

Professor Robert Full from UC Berkeley studies feet.
He studies how animals use feet to perform locomotion.
If you think you know feet… think again.

Robert Full gives a talk on TED titled: Secrets of movement, from geckos and roaches
Watch Robert Full’s talk on TED

His findings and ideas are currently being used to design new robots that can scale walls and dive through underbrush… again at Boston Dynamics:

RHex from Boston Dynamics

More on RHex here.

RiSE from Boston Dynamics

More on RiSE Here

Posted under companies, locomotion, research

This post was written by admin on September 4, 2008

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Heartland Robotics

Rodney Brooks, co-founder and chief technology officer of iRobot Corp., has stepped down from his position there to found a new company Heartland Robotics. Heartland Robotics will focus on industrial worker robots.

More here

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This post was written by admin on September 3, 2008

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The Rise of the Robots

Microprocessor developers are acknowledging that the advances in microprocessor technology may soon enable artificial intelligence systems to be as or more intelligent than human beings.

At the Intel Developer Forum, Justin Rattner, Intel chief technology officer announced:

The industry has taken much greater strides than anyone ever imagined 40 years ago.

There is speculation that we may be approaching an inflection point where the rate of technology advancements is accelerating at an exponential rate, and machines could even overtake humans in their ability to reason, in the not so distant future.

Full story here… The Star Online written by M. Madhavan

Posted under companies, intelligence, microprocessors, technology

This post was written by admin on September 2, 2008

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Boston Dynamics Little Dog

Boston Dynamics’ Little Dog is in my opinion more impressive than their Big Dog.
I think it is because it seems to be taking more deliberate steps, although, I expect that it is the same basic control software in operation.

Posted under companies, mobility

This post was written by admin on August 31, 2008

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Boston Dynamics Big Dog

By now, almost everyone has seen Boston Dynamics’ Big Dog.
This quadruped robot is dynamically stable enabling it to accommodate a wide variety of terrain as well as changes in the dynamical environment, such as slippage or being kicked (my favorite!)

Here are some older, but fun, videos…

Posted under companies, mobility

This post was written by admin on August 31, 2008

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Intelligent Instruments

Intelligent Robotic Arm

The LEGO Mindstorm NXT robotics system is an excellent testbed for research in machine learning and artificial intelligence. At Knuthlab Robotics at the University at Albany, we are developing intelligent instruments using LEGOs.

Our first instrument is a robotic arm that is designed to locate a characterize a white circle on a black background using the LEGO light sensor. It relies on Bayesian inference, which is implemented using a technique called Nested Sampling, which was developed by John Skilling. This software allows the robot to learn the characteristics of the circle using the light sensor data that it has collected. The real advance here is the inquiry engine, which uses Bayesian adaptive exploration to decide which measurements to take next. It does this by considering all the possible measurements that it could take, and computes the expected gain in information from each possible measurement. It then chooses to take the measurement with the greatest expected information gain. The process then repeats as the robot learns about the circle.

The system is easily generalized to solving other problems, such as exploring rooms, interpreting people’s emotions, and doing real science.

We recently presented our research at the MaxEnt 2007 workshop in Saratoga Springs NY. Below are links to a video of the talk, my slides, and our research paper.

Video: Designing Intelligent Instruments, K.H. Knuth

Slides: Designing Intelligent Instruments, K.H. Knuth

Research Paper:
Knuth K.H., Erner P.M., Frasso S. 2007. Designing intelligent instruments. K.H. Knuth, A. Caticha, J.L. Center, A. Giffin, C.C. Rodriguez (eds.), Bayesian Inference and Maximum Entropy Methods in Science and Engineering, Saratoga Springs, NY, USA, 2007, AIP Conference Proceedings 954, American Institute of Physics, Melville NY, In press.

Posted under intelligence, mindstorms, research

This post was written by admin on August 31, 2008

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Matlab Package for LEGO Mindstorms

I recently received a comment on my post on controlling NXT robots with Matlab that pointed me to the RWTH – Mindstorms NXT Toolbox for MATLABĀ®, which is a public domain Matlab package that enables one to interface with and control LEGO mindstorms.

The RWTH – Mindstorms NXT Toolbox for MATLABĀ® was developed as a student project in the Institute of Imaging and Computer Vision at RWTH Aachen University in Aachen Germany. It provides a Matlab interface with the NXT brick that includes Bluetooth communication, sensor interface and motor interface. It requires a working Matlab license, of course.

The package is very easy to set up. It took me less than ten minutes to successfully test the example programs over Bluetooth.

There are some very nice motor features, such as motor synchronization and speed ramp-up and ramp-down.

I have yet to explore how easy it is to modify or extend the code, but it ought to be a straightforward matter.

The package can be downloaded from

Posted under mindstorms, software

This post was written by admin on August 31, 2008

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Robots Learn to Follow from Behavioral Cues

Graduate Student Michael Chueh, undergraduates William Au Yeung and Calvin Lei, and Associate Professor Sanjay Joshi at UC Davis recently published the following paper where they describe a methodology for enabling mobile robots to follow a leader based on behavioral cues.

M. CHUEH, Y.-L. YEUNG, K.-P. LEI, and S. JOSHI, Following Controller for Autonomous Mobile Robots Using Behavioral Cues, IEEE Transactions on Industrial Electronics, Vol. 55, No. 8, August 2008, pp. 3124-2132.

More information can be found on the UC Davis website.

Posted under mobility, research

This post was written by admin on August 31, 2008

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Robot Controlled by Rat Neurons

Mark Hammond a PhD Research Assistant in Kevin Warwick’s Cybernetics Lab at Reading University recently developed a robot that uses 300,000 neurons to assist it in navigation. These cortical neurons were cultured and exposed to 80 electrodes connected to a computer and interfaced to the robot. These electrodes are monitored for regions that are responding coherently to the incoming electrical stimuli. Above is a video.

The New Scientist article is here.

Posted under cyborgs, neuroscience

This post was written by admin on August 31, 2008

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