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Robotics – Build Your Own Robot Kits, Robotics for Kids, Toy …

Shop our unbeatable selection of robot kits and turn your curiosity into a reality. From toy robots to more advanced building kits, youre sure to find something to accommodate any age group. These educational kits are the perfect way to get kids engaged in engineering and programming early on!

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Robotics – Build Your Own Robot Kits, Robotics for Kids, Toy …

Robotics firm hits back at ‘exaggerated’ killer robot claims – The INQUIRER

ONE OF the robot manufacturers at the centre of the “when good robots go bad” research which we reported on earlier this week has hit back at the “exaggerated” reports.

IOActive’s research demonstrated how a domesticated robot can be hacked and turned into a screwdriver-wielding, tomato-squishing maniac that, much like a swan, could break a man’s arm. But a swan with gears and cogs instead of feathers and a beak.

Now UBTECH, whose robots were featured in the research have hit back, dismissing the video.

“UBTECH has been made aware of a sensationalistic video produced by IOActive featuring the Alpha 2. The video is an exaggerated depiction of Alpha 2’s open-source platform. UBTECH encourages its developer community to code responsibly and discourages inappropriate robot behaviour,” it told INQ.

Which is kind of the point. The video served to show what would happen if the robot was hacked to be evil and while UBTECH implies scaremongering, it also does little to deny that actually, yes, it could happen.

It’s a bit like saying “We at the INQUIRER as members of the press, discourage Katie Hopkins”. We do, but someone is still obviously poking her with a stick somewhere.

With regards to protecting customers from the vulnerability, John Rhee, the General Manager at UBTECH North America adds: “UBTECH is committed to maintaining the highest security standards in all of its products. As a result, the company has conducted a full investigation into the claims made in the IoActive report regarding the Alpha 2 robot.

“The Alpha 2 robot was designed to be on an open-sourced platform where developers are encouraged to program their robots with code. UBTECH has fully addressed any concerns raised by IoActive that do not limit our developers from programming their Alpha 2”

So basically, again, a pretty empty but angry response. UBTECH has fixed everything, except the bits that might cause a problem for people using it for good things – which of course could then be used for bad things.

Basically, we’re on different sides of the same coin here. For UBTECH the message is “our robots aren’t dangerous because we’re responsible”. Ours is a less nuanced “it was a bloody silly report in the first place”. After all, IOActive has been treading thispathfor months. Either way, it could still happen. Make sure you unplug your toaster oven at night or it WILL EAT YOU. That’s scientific fact*.

*actual science may vary

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Robotics firm hits back at ‘exaggerated’ killer robot claims – The INQUIRER

Boston Tech Watch: Rethink Robotics, SquadLocker, Semcasting & More – Xconomy

There was a flurry of tech deals announced this week in Boston, including the acquisitions of Applause, Digital Lumens, and Dragon Innovation, and a $6 million investment in GNS Healthcare. Here are a few more deals you might have missed:

Rethink Robotics raised $18 million from investors, part of a funding round announced last December that now totals $36 million, according to SEC filings. That brings Rethinks total venture capital haul to at least $148 million. The company makes robots that can collaborate with factory workers on tasks like assembly and testing.

Semcasting, a North Andover, MA-based provider of data tools for marketing and advertising, acquired Orlando, FL-based Transparency AI for an undisclosed price. Transparency AI helps clients in the automotive industry measure the effectiveness of their online advertisements. With the acquisition, Semcasting now has around 60 full-time employees located at offices nationwide, a spokeswoman said.

Warwick, RI-based SquadLocker received a $7 million Series B investment led by Causeway Media Partners, a spokesman said. Causeways managing partners include Boston Celtics co-owner and CEO Wyc Grousbeck. Earlier SquadLocker investor James Lombardi also contributed to the funding round. Causeway managing partner Bob Higgins has joined SquadLockers board, according to a press release.

SquadLockers online tools help coaches and parents manage the process of designing and ordering youth sports apparel. The company has raised about $18 million from outside investors, according to the Boston Globe. SquadLocker co-founder and CEO Gary Goldberg has also put in $4 million, the Globe reported.

Heres one that flew under the radar: Day Zero Diagnostics announced earlier this month that it closed a $3 million seed funding round led by Golden Seeds and Sands Capital Ventures. The startup, based at the Harvard Innovation Lab, wants to use genomic sequencing and machine learning tools to improve infectious disease diagnostics.

Boston medical device firm Rebion raised nearly $2.2 million from investors, according to a new SEC filing. Formerly known as Rebiscan, the company says it has developed eye-scanning technology for detecting lazy eye and traumatic brain injury.

CareAcademy closed a $1.7 million seed round led by Rethink Education, Lumina Foundation, and Techstars Ventures, according to multiple news reports. The Boston-based startup, which provides online education for professional in-home caregivers, participated in this years Techstars Boston accelerator program.

Jeff Engel is a senior editor at Xconomy. Email: jengel@xconomy.com

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Boston Tech Watch: Rethink Robotics, SquadLocker, Semcasting & More – Xconomy

High school student teaches middle schoolers the ABCs of robotics – Andover Townsman

Andover high school student Aum Trivedi found a way to turn his passion into profit, while also paying it forward.

Earlier this year Trivedi created Derive, a business where he offers a five-day course to middle school students to teach them the basics of robotics and engineering.

It all started when Trivedi signed up for an eight-week course known as the Young Entrepreneurs Academy. The course teaches students how to create a business plan, financial projections, and market research for their business. It was through the Young Entrepreneurs Academy that Trivedi was able to develop his plans for the business, and eventually get Derive up and running.

“The idea of providing robotics education came from my own experience as a young, inexperienced, member of the Andover High School Robotics Club,” said Trivedi. “As a freshman in high school, I was taught by several incredibly talented upperclassmen. Without their mentorship, I would still know nothing about robotics. I decided that as I am now an upperclassman, I have the opportunity to return that favor, and begin to offer the same sort of mentorship that I received to as many people as possible. With that notion of spreading the knowledge, I came up with Derive as an effective way to train future robotics engineers.”

Two fellow Andover high students,Aurash Bozorgzadeh andAlex Yang, worked as instructors alongside Trivedi during the Derive pilot session. The three are rising seniors this year, all belonging to the Andover High robotics club.

Trivedi will be holding future sessions for Derive Robotics during February and April school breaks. The 5-day course aims to help middle school students get ready to compete in the First Tech Challenge in high school, and costs $500 per student.

“What was most remarkable is that he demonstrated that there was a market need for what he was going to do,” said Walter Manninen, a mentor of Triveldi’s from the Young Entrepreneurs Academy. “What he saw was a need to target junior high students to give them a footing in robotics. He was really helping young people embrace robotics with the end goal in mind that this could help them in their college career and help them get scholarships.”

Trivedi held the first Derive Robotics session the week of July 10 this summer.

“Robotics was compelling to me because working as a part of a robotics team incorporates an immense array of different skill sets,” said Trivedi. “A member of a robotics team could be working on anything from documentation of designs and building progress, to designing 3D models of printable parts, to physically assembling the robot itself. This broad diversity means that anyone can be involved, and there is a huge amount to learn.”

Follow Kelsey Bode on Twitter @Kelsey_Bode

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High school student teaches middle schoolers the ABCs of robotics – Andover Townsman

RIA – Robotics Online – Industrial Robot Automation

Intelligrated robotic each picking

Match the speed and flexibility of manual pickers while delivering superior scalability and accuracy

Take us for a TEST DRIVE

The SOFT ROBOTICS DEVELOPMENT KIT allows you to see first hand how our state-of-the-art grippers plug and play with your existing robots

FLEXION N-SERIES 6-AXIS ROBOT

The Flexion N-Series features the worlds first folding arm design, which saves approximately 40% more space than standard 6-Axis robots.

Internal Diameter Gripper

The IDG grips and releases on command and is highly recommended for manipulating breakable parts as well as heavy parts.

Robeye All In One (RAIO)

Embedded Robot Guidance Sensor.

Worlds Most Cost-Effective Robots

Why do DENSO robots have such a low cost of ownership? Because DENSOs own manufacturing needs demand it.

Stubli Robot Tool Changer MPS 260

Designed for a huge range of applications, MPS 260 features couplings for air/vacuum connections, and can be equipped with connectors for data and electrical transmission.

SAFE LOCK. Lock up and play it safe

Troax offers a broad variety of Safe Locks to suit most switches, you choose to have the Safe Lock with or without switch included.

Link:

RIA – Robotics Online – Industrial Robot Automation

Ga. Tech Unveils World’s First Open Robotics Research Lab – WABE 90.1 FM

An audio version of this story.

Georgia Tech researchers have opened a new lab that allows anyone around the world to remotely access and control its robots.

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Its called the “Robotarium” and the university claims it’s the world’s first open robotics research lab.

To demonstrate how it works, a few dozen robots sit on what looks like a large air hockey table with a smooth white surface.

Each is about an inch wide and tall. Theres a Wi-Fi chip on top and small rubber wheels on the bottom. Infrared cameras hanging overhead are scanning the robots below and can tell them apart based on how four to five reflective silver balls on top are configured.

The robots are given specific commands to help it find its final destination. Slowly the robots roll off their wireless charging stations at the edges of the table and into the center to spell out the letters GT for Georgia Tech.

Georgia Tech post-doctoral fellow Sean Wilson said these swarm robots are meant to mimic how animals like honeybees and flocking birds move and solve problems together that individual animals or robots cant on their own.

“Swarm robotics is the challenge of controlling a large number of robots without a central computer, Wilson said. So what commands do you send each individual robot so that swarm does what you want them to do?”

Anyone from around the world can upload their code that tells the robots what to do and watch the robots interact through a live feed.

But what happens if someone programs the robots to destroy each other?

Researchers have planned ahead by automatically programming virtual barriers around each robot to prevent collisions.

The lab’s computer system also tests new code for malware and viruses.

Georgia Tech Ph.D. student Siddharth Mayya said the goal of the open research lab is to make robotics more accessible.

“Even a high school student can just log on to robotarium.org and submit his experiment and run his code on actual robots,” Mayya said.

The lab’s director, Magnus Egerstedt, is also executive director of the Institute for Robotics and Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Machines. Egerstedt said the lab will soon have 100 aerial drones, or mini-quadcopters, as well as mini-robots. Eventually, he wants to increase the number to 1,000.

Building and maintaining a world-class, multi-robot lab is too expensive for a large number of roboticists and budding roboticists, Egerstedt said. This creates a steep barrier to entry into our field.”

And he said hes noticed that it’s not only engineers who are uploading experiments.

“We’ve had biologists that are interested in social insects test their ideas. Traffic engineers who are looking at traffic congestion, Egerstedt said. People that are studying social interactions on Facebook test their algorithms for social dynamics.

And it was only fitting that a robot helped cut the ribbon during the grand opening of the Robotarium.

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Ga. Tech Unveils World’s First Open Robotics Research Lab – WABE 90.1 FM

Hawaii launches new credit-based internship program in robotics work for college students – Pacific Business News (Honolulu)

Hawaii launches new credit-based internship program in robotics work for college students
Pacific Business News (Honolulu)
Hawaii's state-funded aerospace agency, Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems, has launched a new credit-based internship program for students at the Big Island's Hawaii Community College to gain high-tech skills. The state …

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Hawaii launches new credit-based internship program in robotics work for college students – Pacific Business News (Honolulu)

Temple Sholom Nursery School adds woodworking, robotics room for toddlers – Greenwich Time

Photo: Tyler Sizemore / Hearst Connecticut Media

Temple Sholom Nursery School adds woodworking, robotics room for toddlers

GREENWICH One by one, the preschoolers strapped on safety goggles and grabbed a saw. Back and forth, the children pushed the blades through a thin piece of wood tied with a red ribbon, their arms quaking from the effort.

This is tricky! said Jordan Rosenthal, 3, wielding a saw half her height.

Parents and teachers gathered round, watching many nervously and helping the children. When 4-year-old Oliver Halios saw broke through the skinny plank, the room erupted in cheers.

The ribbon sawing Thursday morning marked the opening of the new STEAM room at Temple Sholom Selma Maisel Nursery School.

When nursery school classes resume in September, 3-year-old and prekindergarten children will have access to the new room outfitted with knee-high wooden work benches, water tables, programmable robotic toys, ramps and a cannon-like wind tunnel made out of clear plastic.

When we stay on the cutting edge of early childhood education, our students reap the benefits, said David Cohen, director of the nursery school. We see public and private elementary schools investing in these programs and we want to ensure our students will arrive ready for the challenge.

Temple Sholom spent about $20,000 on the new STEAM room, Cohen said. The nursery school has been planning the new addition since January, when Cohen attended an early childhood STEM conference at California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California.

The nursery schoolers will use the STEAM room on a weekly basis, receiving safety instruction and activity prompts but also with the freedom to experiment. The new space does not shy away from putting drills, screwdrivers, hammers and other tools into the hands of young children.

We dont play around with fake stuff, Cohen said. Woodworking is highly recommended for (young childrens) development and physical skills, but its something that a lot of people shy away from.

For an additional $5,000, the nursery school also added a new gymnastics room with pint-sized parallel bars, balance beams and mats next door to the STEAM room. The gymnastics room will be used as part of the schools physical education classes.

It will really do wonders for developing gross motor skills and building confidence, said Cohen.

The new additions are part of Selma Maisels efforts to offer forward-thinking early childhood education to children of all faiths and ethnicities, administrators said.

We are always looking to grow and enhance our program and see what will entice kids, said Eileen Robin, executive director of Temple Sholom.

emunson@greenwichtime.com; Twitter: @emiliemunson

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Temple Sholom Nursery School adds woodworking, robotics room for toddlers – Greenwich Time

Robotics – Wikibooks, open books for an open world

Robotics brings together several very different engineering areas and skills. There is metalworking for the body. There is mechanics for mounting the wheels on the axles, connecting them to the motors and keeping the body in balance. You need electronics to power the motors and connect the sensors to the controllers. At last you need the software to understand the sensors and drive the robot around.

This book tries to cover all the key areas of robotics as a hobby. When possible examples from industrial robots will be addressed too.

You’ll notice very few “exact” values in these texts. Instead, vague terms like “small”, “heavy” and “light” will be used. This is because most of the time you’ll have a lot of freedom in picking these values, and all robot projects are unique in available materials.

Note to potential contributors: this section could be used to discuss the basics of robot design/construction.

This section could be used to discuss various means through which robots are constructed.

This section could be used to discuss the control method and control algorithm introduces and analyzes the robot, including the position control, trajectory control, force control, torque control, compliance control, hybrid force / position control, decomposition motion control, variable structure control, adaptive control and hierarchical control, fuzzy control, learning control, neural control and evolutionary control, intelligent control.

This section could be used to discuss components used in robotics or the making of robots.

This section could be used to discuss the things involved with controlling robots via computers.

Sensors that a robot uses generally fall into three different categories:

Sensors aren’t perfect. When you use a sensor on your robot there will be a lot of times where the sensors acts funny. It could miss an obstacle, or see one where none is. Key to successfully using sensors is knowing how they function and what they really measure.

This section could be used to cover “special” robots.

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Robotics – Wikibooks, open books for an open world

RIA – Robotics Online – Industrial Robot Automation

Worlds Most Cost-Effective Robots

Why do DENSO robots have such a low cost of ownership? Because DENSOs own manufacturing needs demand it.

FLEXION N-SERIES 6-AXIS ROBOT

The Flexion N-Series features the worlds first folding arm design, which saves approximately 40% more space than standard 6-Axis robots.

Take us for a TEST DRIVE

The SOFT ROBOTICS DEVELOPMENT KIT allows you to see first hand how our state-of-the-art grippers plug and play with your existing robots

SAFE LOCK. Lock up and play it safe

Troax offers a broad variety of Safe Locks to suit most switches, you choose to have the Safe Lock with or without switch included.

Stubli Robot Tool Changer MPS 260

Designed for a huge range of applications, MPS 260 features couplings for air/vacuum connections, and can be equipped with connectors for data and electrical transmission.

Intelligrated robotic each picking

Match the speed and flexibility of manual pickers while delivering superior scalability and accuracy

Robeye All In One (RAIO)

Embedded Robot Guidance Sensor.

Internal Diameter Gripper

The IDG grips and releases on command and is highly recommended for manipulating breakable parts as well as heavy parts.

View original post here:

RIA – Robotics Online – Industrial Robot Automation

What is robotics? – Definition from WhatIs.com

Robotics is a branch of engineering that involves the conception, design, manufacture, and operation of robots. This field overlaps with electronics, computer science, artificial intelligence, mechatronics, nanotechnology and bioengineering.

Science-fiction author Isaac Asimov is often given credit for being the first person to use the term robotics in a short story composed in the 1940s. In the story, Asimov suggested three principles to guide the behavior of robots and smart machines. Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics, as they are called, have survived to the present:

1. Robots must never harm human beings. 2. Robots must follow instructions from humans without violating rule 1. 3. Robots must protect themselves without violating the other rules.

See Rodney Brooks’ Ted talk, “Why we will depend on robots”

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What is robotics? – Definition from WhatIs.com

Welcome to Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Machines …

News

The Robotarium held its grand opening on Tuesday in the Van Leer Building. Appropriately, a scissor-wielding robot (named Snips) cut the ribbon. Later, a researcher from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign skyped into the room to run a live remote experiment.

This month Georgia Tech opens the Robotarium, a $2.5 million lab funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Office of Naval Research. The 725-square-foot facility houses nearly 100 rolling and flying swarm robots that are accessible to anyone. Researchers from around the globe can write their own computer programs, upload them, then get the results as the Georgia Tech machines carry out the commands. The researcher later receives video and data from the experiment.

WebWire, Aug 16, 2017

Innovation in Textiles, Aug 3, 2017

Business Today: India, Aug 1, 2017

The human brain’s computational might is the envy of computer engineers, and emulating it is coming a step closer thanks to new nanomaterials. Georgia Tech research engineers have created next-generation brain-mimmicking memory via “memristors” to underly processing “neuristors.” The engineers are using them to make an artificially intelligent retinathat could spot enemy aircraft or find missing children.

Ph.D. candidate from Jaydev Desais robotics lab earns top honor for best student paper

IEEE Spectrum, Jul 27, 2017

As a toddler Brittney English would duck walk under her fathers car and watch in fascination as he changed the oil. The first time she held a power drill was at the age of three under the tutelage of her grandfather as he built a set of bookshelves. A few years later, she began squirreling away nuts and bolts, saving them in a jar like precious treasure.

Research Horizons, Jul 12, 2017

Research Horizons, Jul 12, 2017

Researchers have created a device that makes walking up and down stairs easier. Theyve built energy-recycling stairs that store a users energy during descent and return energy to the user during ascent.

Institute for Robotics & Intelligent Machines 801 Atlantic Drive Atlanta, GA 30332-3000 Phone: (404) 385-8746

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Welcome to Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Machines …

Robotics Online – News

August 2017

FASTSUITE and Kawasaki Robotics – The Perfect Fit

POSTED: 08/23/2017

One platform. Endless possibilities. Kawasaki Robotics is your

Association for Advancing Automation Hiring for New Positions, Expanding Office Space to Accommodate Growth

POSTED: 08/22/2017

A3 Seeking Candidates for Director of Educational Programs and Exhibit Sales & Business Development Manager

Association for Advancing Automation Reports Record Setting Growth for North American Robotics Market

POSTED: 08/17/2017

Organizations Research Provides Guide for Robotics and Automation Sales, Likelihood of Additional Growth in 2017

Matrix Design, LLC to Demo New Robotic Deburring Applications System at Gear Expo

POSTED: 08/17/2017

New Modular Robotic Deburr Demo Cell Includes interchangeable stations and FANUC robot

Stubli Booth and Product Information at Pack Expo

POSTED: 08/17/2017

Stubli will showcase a variety of industry-defining products, including its new TX2 line of collaborative robots, at the PACK Expo

Robots: China Breaks Historic Records in Automation

POSTED: 08/16/2017

China has rapidly become a global leader in automation. From 2018 to 2020, a sales increase between 15 and 20

Integro Technologies now Coherix Authorized System Integrator

POSTED: 08/15/2017

Integro Technologies, a premier machine vision integrator, announced today its partnership with Coherix Inc., manufacturers of 3D, high-speed, high definition

Blue Ocean Robotics enters Asian market with Singapore-based Joint Venture

POSTED: 08/14/2017

Blue Ocean Robotics opens Joint Venture office in Singapore and brings its We Create and Commercialize Robots business to the

New ServoWeld Actuators from Tolomatic Offer Lighter Weight and Superior Performance in Automotive Resistance Spot Welding

POSTED: 08/10/2017

Cost-effective actuator design provides the lowest lifetime cost and highest quality welds; broad product family offers many choices to

Intelligrated to Feature Robotic Palletizing and Depalletizing Solutions at PACK EXPO 2017

POSTED: 08/10/2017

Booth demonstrations focus on the flexibility to accommodate variety of workflows, product types and layout requirements

Yaskawa Motoman Adds GP25 Model to High-Speed GP-Series Robot Line

POSTED: 08/09/2017

Dayton, OH The efficient, high-speed Motoman GP25 robot is a new, compact robot that is ideal for assembly, dispensing,

Mitsubishi Electric Automation Introduces HVAC Bypass Controller

POSTED: 08/08/2017

PowerGate H Series Offers Reliable Motor Control in a Small Footprint

OCTOPUZ Expertise Series: Edge Following

POSTED: 08/03/2017

In a continuing series, OCTOPUZ will be examined to determine their expertise in

Technical Textiles and Stubli Solutions at CAMX

POSTED: 08/02/2017

The Composites and Advanced Materials Expo was created by ACMA and SAMPE to connect and advance all aspects of the

DRR wins Visionary New Product Award for ready2spray Paint Robot at AWFS Fair 2017 in Las Vegas

POSTED: 08/01/2017

The Association of Woodworking & Furnishing Suppliers (AWFS) honored Drr with the AWFS Visionary New Product Award at the Fair

Link:

Robotics Online – News

Robotics

Michigan Roboticsaims to accelerate the development of new robotics capabilities by bringing together roboticists of all stripes under one roof so that they can share problems and solutions. Core robotics faculty will be housed in a $75 million facility with shared collaboration and laboratory space, to be completed in 2020. They will work closely withinterdisciplinary robotics researchers from across the University.

Michigan Robotics is currently seeking new faculty. We want the top robotics talent on the planet to apply to our program

The first director of Michigan Robotics is Jessy Grizzle, the Elmer G. Gilbert Distinguished University Professor and the Jerry W. and Carol L. Levin Professor of Engineering, best known for his bipedal robots, MABEL and MARLO.

Autonomy is about handling the unknown. Robots need to be able to navigate and map new environments, manipulate unfamiliar objects, cope with unforeseen circumstances, and carry on in spite of malfunctions. We attack the problem from all angles, an approach we call full spectrum autonomy.

The faculty at Michigan Roboticscover the heart of robotics, including mechanics, electronics, perception, control and navigation. Whether our robots walk, swim, fly or drive, we struggle with many of the same challenges. In the new robotics building, solutions may be just a few doors down.

The robotics program at Michigan offers MS and PhD engineering degrees that integrate knowledge from across a range of technical fields for applications to robotics. This program focuses on three core disciplines essential to robotics:

Learn more about graduate programs in robotics

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Robotics

Blossom: A Handmade Approach to Social Robotics from Cornell and Google – IEEE Spectrum

As excited as we are about the forthcoming generation of social home robots (including Jibo, Kuri, and many others), it’s hard to ignore the fact that most of them look somewhat similar. They tend to feature lots of shiny white and black plasticky roundness. Thats foradmittedly very good reasons, but it comes at the cost of both uniqueness and visual and tactile personality.

Guy Hoffman, who is well known for the fascinating creativity of his robot designs, has been working on a completely new kind of social robot in a collaboration between his lab at Cornell and Google ZOO’s creative technology team in APAC. The robot is called Blossom, and we’d describe it for you, except that it’s designed to be handmade out of warm natural materials like wool and wood so that every single one is a little bit different.

Blossom is not the first soft robot designed to interact with people, and also not the first to use materials that emphasize touch. Robots like Keepon, Tofu and Mochi, and Romibo all encourage tactile interaction through things like squishiness and fluffiness, deliberately avoiding hard plastics wherever possible. Blossom, however, is perhaps the first robot to be soft both inside and outside, using a compliant internal structure to enable movements that give the robot a somewhat imperfect (and therefore much more organic) personality.

The outside of Blossom can be equally organic and imperfect, especially if you’re not very good at crocheting or woodworking, since Blossom’s exterior is very much do-it-yourself. Most DIY-type robots rely on 3D printing, which is usually reasonable for the sorts of people who decide that they want a DIY-type robot, but Blossom is designed to be accessible and engaging for people who might be more comfortable with traditional crafts that don’t necessarily rely on the latest technology. As Guy Hoffman explained to us, we were asking ourselves:How can we involve the whole family in building technology for the home?And the idea of crafts like knitting, sewing, and traditional woodworking came out of that question.

Blossom’s overall aesthetic is, in some ways, a response to the way that the design of home robots (and personal technology) has been trending recently. We’re surrounding ourselves with sterility embodied in metal and plastic, perhaps because of a perception that tech should be flawless. And I suppose when it comes to my phone or my computer, sterile flawlessness is good.But for personal home robots, it makes personality so much harder to achieve. As notoriously flawed humans, we have an easier time bonding with things that aren’t perfect, yet while we occasionally see this leveraged in the programming of a social robot, very rarely is it an integral part of the physical design. It’s this inherent imperfection that’s part of what we like so much about Blossom. We asked Guy Hoffman where he got the inspiration for it:

IEEE Spectrum: How did you conceptualize the design for Blossom?

Guy Hoffman: Looking at the design of the huge number of social robots revealed in recent years, there are a lot of repetitive features: white shiny plastic with metal or black accents, glass screens and smooth, rounded lines and edges. The overall shape and metaphor of these robots always reminds me of miniature or child-sized astronauts.With Blossom, I wanted to reject almost all of this common wisdom of domestic robot design.

Interestingly, in the design world outside of robotics, as we buy more and more shiny plastic and glass devices, there is an opposite trends towards handcrafted objects and experiences. From craft beer to craft light bulbs, it seems that the more accelerated and digital our culture becomes, we gain a new appreciation for the slow, inefficient, and one-of-a-kind process of traditional crafts. I wanted to bring some of that sentiment to social robot design.

Can you explain what is so unique about Blossom’s aesthetic?

Guy Hoffman:Blossom is made out of soft, handcrafted materials, so its external shape is neither sleek nor smooth. The robots shape is not even well-defined, and instead folds, creases, and shifts as the robot moves. The materials are warm and natural, including wool, cotton, and wood. When you look at Blossom and touch it, you are met with organic textures and even the scents of natural materials.

At one point, when I was crocheting one of the shells for the robot, a coworker of mine noticed me and said that she loves crocheting. She literally pulled the hook and yarn from my hands, and ended up finishing the robot for me, much faster and with a much nicer knot pattern than I could have ever done myself. And thats another point of a handcrafted robot: people who would never consider building a robot can participate in the design of their own family robot.

This also makes this personal robot more deeply personal. You can imagine someone making a robot for a loved one, just like people used to make ragdolls and pass them on between generations. In that sense, Blossom attempts something thats often promised with social robots: “bringing people together.” But Blossom does that in an indirect way by having one person craft the robot for another.

Is it intentional that your design for Blossom doesn’t have a face?

Guy Hoffman: Personally, I am not a fan of robot faces, and in particular robot eyes. Eyes are a strong indicator of a sophisticated sensory organ and an even more sophisticated brain behind that organ. People who see eyes need to accept a proto-social illusion in which the robot can really see them, and understand them. There is something deceptive about robot eyes and faces, and that makes me uncomfortable.

However, Blossom having no eyes or face is one of the most common critiques I have heard about the design so far, and I am willing to accept that it might be a minority choice and a pet peeve of mine. The good news is that Blossom is customizable! Adding eyes is as simple as stitching on two buttons or doll-eyes (it would freak me out if someone did that, though). Thats exactly the power of a handcrafted robot: you can really make it your own.

Blossom moves very organically. Can you describe what’s going on inside the robot to make that possible?

Guy Hoffman:In the first few prototypes, the interior of Blossom was designed using standard practices of rigid links attached to servo motors. However, the soft exterior demanded an equally soft interior. My lab is next to Rob Shepherds Organic Robotics Lab, and I am continuously inspired by the advances in soft robotics.

The breakthrough came from my students Michael Suguitan and Greg Holman, who found the right balance between soft actuators and handmade/customizable mechanisms. The soft components give the robot a physical compliance which make Blossom move in an imperfect, lifelike way, and would be impossible to recreate with rigid components. Having worked on expressive robots for many years, one of the biggest challenges of expressive social robots is to make a rigid, hard, and digitally controlled device move in a way that seems lifelike to the viewer. Blossom achieves this goal in part through its physical and mechanical structure, with a lot of softness built into the materials used to drive the robot.

The Blossom project is a collaboration between Hoffman’s lab at Cornell and the team at Google ZOO’s creative technology team in APAC. Miguel de Andrs-Clavera is the Head of Creative Technology at Google Asia Pacific, and he shared some details with us about what the near-term goal is for Blossom:

IEEE Spectrum: Why is Google interested in partnering with Cornell to build a new kind of social robot?

Miguel de Andrs-Clavera:The idea of Blossom is to provide developers with a platform they can use to create smart social companions. It’s still very early stages, but we’re excited about exploring meaningful and creative applications of machine learning together with Cornell. It has been great to work with Cornell and Guy’s research lab. He is at the leading edge of HCI [human computer interaction] and has done incredible work in robotics. His mission of engineering empathy by bringing more meaningful interactions between us and machines during our everyday interaction with them is really exciting.

How will Blossom help you leverage machine learning to do something uniquely useful?

Miguel de Andrs-Clavera:Machine learning promises to improve people’s lives in many different ways we are already using it in most of our productsand are making AI accessible to developers, researchers, and companies through our Cloud Machine Learning APIs and TensorFlow, our open-source machine learning framework. Social robotics is an area that we believe can have a huge positive impact on fields like education or even therapy.

One project we’re working on is using Blossom to create a social companion for kids in the autism spectrum. Our research specifically explores how smart companions can help with social learning through showing empathetic responses while watching videos together. We’re excited about the results that we’ve seen with Blossom so far, and are now looking to develop it further with partners that wish to make this social learning platform for children in the spectrum more widely available to schools and families.

Essentially, Blossom’s first job in research is as a media companion.The robot will watch YouTube videos with you, physically reacting to their content, adding another layer or dimension to the experience, pulling that experience out of the screen and into the real world,says Hoffman. Think MST3K, except without the snarky commentary, but still offering an independent perspective of sorts thats on the side of the viewer rather than something internal to the video.

This may not seem like it would accomplish much, but there’s been a substantial amount of research on the effects that co-watching can have on viewers: for example, people experience racially or gender charged videos much differently depending on who they’re sitting next to. A robot viewing companion will elicit different reactions to different things, of course, but Hoffmans research has shown that sharing an experience (like watching a video or listening to a song) with a robot can, in fact, shape your own experience: If the robot seems to like what it’s seeing or hearing, you’re more likely to enjoy it as well, even if the robot isnt interacting with you directly. As it turns out, that shared experience also results in a more positive opinion of the robot, too.

The way that Blossom interacts with videos at the moment relies on a special type of caption file that must be hand-coded, but the broader concept is that eventually, TensorFlow will enable Blossom to automatically identify features like emotions that it sees or hears in a video and autonomously react to them in real time. This could be enormously helpful to children with autism, who may be able to use Blossom’s reactions to help them understand the social and emotional aspects of what theyre watching. To be clear, the researchers don’t know whether this will actually work or not, but Miguel de Andrs-Clavera tells us that Google is excited to develop Blossom further with partners that want to make it more widely available to children on the Autistic spectrum, their schools, and their families.

More generally, Blossom could use these video interpretation skills it’s developing to provide commentary, emotional reactions, or even be an additional character outside of the screen,Hoffman says. “Imagine how you would experience a football game with the robot rooting for the other team, or whether you might find the Emmy awards more satisfying with the robot providing a snobby commentary track to whatever is happening on the screen.

No matter what functionality Blossom ends up with in the future, Hoffman hopes that its design will have a tangible influence on the way that roboticists (and consumers) think about what a robot can, and should, look like: if robots are truly going to enter our day-to-day lives, we want a broader and more inclusive definition of their aesthetics.It’s fortunate that many of those aesthetics are based on end user crafting, which should make Blossom more accessible. The complicated and expensive bit is the core, but the researchers are working on redesigning it to make it as affordable as possible. If Cornell and Google can get Blossoms out there in the wild, that’s when we’ll begin to understand its true potential, Hoffman tells us: I am really curious to see what people imagine blossom to be like, look like, and move like, once it gets in the hands of designers of all ages and walks of life.

Blossom is a collaboration between Cornell and Google ZOO’s creative technology team in APAC, withGuy Hoffman, Michael Suguitan, Greg Holman, James Redd, and Emma Cohn from Cornell; Miguel de Andrs Clavera, Rosa Uchima, Gene Brutty, Alex Chia, and Mandy Vu from Google.

IEEE Spectrums award-winning robotics blog, featuring news, articles, and videos on robots, humanoids, drones, automation, artificial intelligence, and more. Contact us:e.guizzo@ieee.org

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Blossom: A Handmade Approach to Social Robotics from Cornell and Google – IEEE Spectrum

Home robots can be easily hacked to spy on and attack owners, say researchers – The Verge

Its going to be a long time before robots are genuinely useful around the house, but when they get there, well need to be sure theyre safe. A cybersecurity firm has proved this with a new report today demonstrating how to hack a number of popular robots including Pepper, a humanoid greeting bot built by Japanese company SoftBank.

The researchers from Seattle-based IOActive show how the machines can be turned into surveillance devices, sending audio and video of their owners back to the hackers, or how they can be remotely controlled in ways that might harm humans. You can see this demonstrated in the video below, where an Alpha 2 robot (built by China-based UBTech Robotics) attacks a tomato as best it can with a screwdriver.

Now obviously, a bot like Alpha 2 isnt going to cause much damage to anyone capable of just moving a foot away from it. But home robots like this are only going to get more capable and more powerful as technology progresses. Plus, IOActive also proved that even bigger, industrial robots are not immune to attacks.

As well as hacking Pepper, the Alpha robots, and Nao (another SoftBank creation), the researchers were able to compromise industrial robot arms made by a company called Universal Robotics. These arms are designed to work alongside humans, but the researchers were able to override their safety protocols.

This required the hijackers to have access to the same network as the robot (or to be able to physically tamper with it), but being able to control such a bot could have disastrous effects. As IOActive told Bloomberg, Universal Robotics creations are powerful enough that, even running at low speeds, their force is more than sufficient to cause a skull fracture.

Reports like this arent necessarily technically impressive or that surprising, but they prove that we take the security of many connected devices for granted. Last year, an army of hacked IoT devices cameras, light bulbs, thermostats was formed into a botnet and used to take down the internet. Think of the damage an army of actual robots armed with screwdrivers could do instead.

Originally posted here:

Home robots can be easily hacked to spy on and attack owners, say researchers – The Verge

SA warned on lack of coding and robotics at schools – Business Day (registration)

Valter Ado, chief digital and innovation officer at Deloitte Africa, agreed with Nxasana.

“If we get our kids to start understanding embracing this [coding and programming], they will … pick it up,” Ado said.

The basics of work in the future were going to be about data and the ability to develop smart algorithms, which children in some private schools were already learning to do.

Internet access in schools had been universally achieved in the majority of European and other Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries, a report by the Partnership on Measuring ICT for Development and the International Telecommunication Union showed.

Connectivity remained an issue in most developing countries and was still below 10% in countries from all developing regions including Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia and Africa, it said.

Nicholas Haan, director of global grand challenges and team project leader at Singularity University, also said price and connectivity continued to be limiting factors in providing access to connectivity. The democratisation of technology meant that anyone, anywhere could gain access and anyone could be an innovator.

However, unless Africa dealt with corruption “it would always swim upstream” with development and exponential technology, he said.

SAs relative rule of law, financial capital, education institutions and a vibrant banking sector incentivised investment into technology, Haan said.

Intellectual property regulation was a hindrance and government policy could at times deter entrepreneurial development that would potentially benefit education and health.

“The answer lies in open source. Elon Musk open-sourced Tesla and allowed entrepreneurs to access his information to replicate that product,” he said.

gumedem@businesslive.co.za

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SA warned on lack of coding and robotics at schools – Business Day (registration)

Robotics: A changing frontier in modern medicine – University of Virginia The Cavalier Daily

By Nisha Dabhi | 08/22/2017

The idea of robotics-like technology is not a relatively new idea. While the concept of using robotics comes from classical times, it was during the 20th century that research into the design, building and potential uses of robotic technology grew in areas such as industry, military and science. For industrial operations such as those within the automobile industry robotic technology carries out tasks such as welding and painting quickly and safely. In aerospace, robotic orbiters, landers and rovers are able to collect samples on the moon and other planets. In the medical field, such technologies play a role from patient intakes through recovery helping with blood testing, imaging, taking vitals, surgery and rehabilitation. These are a summary of major robotic advances that have impacted the healthcare industry over the past year.

Taking Vital Signs

The Belgian company BeWell created a robot kiosk called the Wellpoint system to assist healthcare professions in admitting patients. The robot measures vital signs such as heart rate and pulse oximetry and is able to upload the information to digital medical records at a rate four minutes faster than humans. As such, the Wellpoint system minimizes the time needed to take vitals and frees up nurses and doctors to spend more time assisting and talking to patients.

Testing Blood Samples

Besides taking vitals, nurses and doctors also often draw patients blood to be sent to testing centers. Blood testing offers crucial information about a patients health such as mineral content, cholesterol levels and potential diseases. However, since humans often perform manual blood testing using different techniques, a lack of standardization exists even within a single company. Robotics can help with standardizing such blood testing. The University Medical Centers Clinical Core Lab utilizes an automated line system that transports samples to different areas of the lab depending on the type of testing. An automated system does everything the same way every time, while one person might do something different than another person, Core Lab senior manager Randall Vandevander said. So once the sample goes on the automation line, it does everything the same way for every sample. Additionally, since analyzers read patient information from barcodes, the technology minimizes potential for testing the wrong patients sample. While this technology eliminates the need for lab technicians to touch or move test tubes to conduct sample processing, the lab still offers a major role for technicians. Before, they spent so much time in the physical testing process but now they have more time to do more of the quality checking, Vandevander said.

Da Vinci: Assisting in Surgery

The use of robotics technology also exists in other complex areas of medicine, such as surgery. Since 2000, the da Vinci Surgical System has been used by hospitals across the United States and Europe for a wide range of surgeries such as hysterectomies, prostatectomies and gynecological surgeries. da Vinci robots consist of a console and four interactive robotics arms. The jointed wrist design of the robotic arms allows for greater flexibility than a normal human hand. Surgeons still control the system, but since the robot offers greater reach and flexibility, incisions can be smaller, more precise and less invasive. According to da Vinci manufacturer Intuitive Surgical, between 2007 and 2009 the number of such systems installed in U.S. hospitals grew by about 75%. However, critics note that there may be some risks involved with using the da Vinci system. Surgeons report that there is a steep learning curve to using this technology, and during the training phase operations can take twice as long as traditional surgery. This setback keeps operation rooms unavailable and leaves patients under anesthesia for longer.

Helping in Other Procedures

Other fields, such as interventional cardiology, have only just begun to utilize some robotics systems such as Corindus Medical a robotic system that aids cardiologists in procedures such as coronary stenting and ballooning. Coronary stenting and ballooning places a device in the arteries of the heart to keep them open and allow blood to pass through. Corindus Medical aids physicians by robotically delivering the guidewires and devices required throughout the procedures. The main advantage is that [Corindus Medical] allows the operator to be out of the radiation field, Director of Interventional Cardiology Michael Ragosta said in an email to The Cavalier Daily. It also may improve precision of the stent delivery for lesion coverage and that might reduce the number of stents we use per procedure. However, according to Ragosta, the current technology in use is cumbersome and is only in the very early stages of implementation. It is far from ready for prime time and broad application, Ragosta said.

Aiding in Recovery

Robotic technology can also help patients who have lost limbs or need to improve mobility. Advanced prosthetics like brain-controlled bionic limbs allow amputee patients to move their prosthetic limb when their brain thinks about a movement, transmitting that signal to the affected limb through sensors embedded in muscle tissues. Though in some cases insurance companies cover such expenses, often patients are left with the bill for these robotic solutions and prosthetics generally come with a high price tag. For example, a prosthetic leg can cost up to $50,000 and may need to be replaced every five years. As a result, many patients cannot afford these devices unless they are made more affordable in the future. Nonetheless, the availability of such technologies demonstrates the expanding role of robotics not only in diagnosing, surgery and treatment but also in overall patient care and recovery.

Helping to Thoroughly Disinfect

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 out of every 25 patients will get an infection on any given day in a U.S. hospital, and about 1 out of 9 of those infected die as a result. Although personnel regularly clean and disinfect hospitals, robotics may offer a more effective and efficient solution. The Texas company Xenex has created disinfection robots that have a Xenon-containing light bulb that kills 99.9% of viruses and bacteria. The market for these robots has been growing over the last few years and is expected to continue to grow. By 2020, the industry for disinfection robots is predicted to grow to $2.8 billion.

Being a Companion

Reportedly affecting 300 million people globally, depression has a number of risk factors. According to the American Psychological Association, one of those factors is loneliness. Robot companions such as Jibo, Pepper, Paro and Buddy can act as social partners and alleviate mental health issues. Some of these robotic companions have touch sensors, cameras and microphones that enable communication and can improve patient health.

Beyond applications in surgery, clinical assessments and everyday life, the expanding robotics market is expected to bring changes across the workforce as well as allow for better accuracy and efficiency in the healthcare industry by decreasing the incidence of human error and limitations. The research firm Forrester predicts that cognitive technologies such as artificial intelligence and automation will replace 7% of U.S. jobs by 2025. Nevertheless, as the realm of robotics continues to grow it will create new jobs such as data scientists and automation specialists in the healthcare industry and beyond.

Link:

Robotics: A changing frontier in modern medicine – University of Virginia The Cavalier Daily

China’s Robot Revolution May Affect the Global Economy – Bloomberg

China is installing more robots than any other nation, and that may affect every other nation.

Shipments jumped27 percent to about 90,000 units last year, a single-country record and almost a third of the global total,and will nearly double to160,000in 2019, the International Federation of Robotics estimates.

The blazing pace hasnt dented Chinese wages yet but it might influence the global economy, according to a reportthis week by Bloomberg Intelligence.

Automation may drive productivity gains and export competitiveness, but the rising use of robots also threatens to exacerbate domestic income inequality, undermining consumption. And that could spill out beyond the countrys borders, economists said.

By turbocharging supply and depressing demand, automation risks exacerbating Chinas reliance on export-driven growth threatening hopes for a more balanced domestic and global economy, BI economistsTom OrlikandFielding Chenwrote.

Pay gains are intact. Domestic manufacturingworkers with a high-school education sawwages rise 53 percentfrom 2010 to 2014, according to China Household Finance Survey data cited by BI.

Increasing use of robots should be bad news for medium-skilled workers, especially those in sectors where routine work means scope for automation, Orlikand Chen said.Yet wage growth in China remains rapid, and if anything medium-skilled workers conducting routine work are doing better than average.

Robots are at the core of the governments sweepingMade in China 2025plan to upgrade factories to be highly automated andtechnologically-advanced. Replacing assembly-line workerswill also help it to offset a shrinking working-age population.

And while China is catching up to global leaders like South Korea and Singapore, saturation is nowhere in sight and its density of robots is below the world average, according to the IFR.

China also is buying more and more of its own robots. Under Made in China 2025 anda five-year robot plan launched last year, Beijing plans to focus on automating key sectors like car manufacturing, electronics, appliances, logistics, and food.

Therobotrevolutionproposed byPresident Xi Jinpingin 2014will also raise fears of greater inequalityas the benefits of productivity gains are skewed toward the owners of capital, at the expense of workers, according to BI. Such an outcome would be bad news for household spending and might delay the shift toward a consumer-driven economy, Orlik and Chen said.

The government also wants to increase the share of Chinese-branded robots in the countrys $11 billion market to more than 50 percentof total sales volume by 2020 from 31 percent last year, and aims to produce 100,000 robots a year by 2020, compared with 33,000 in 2015.That means competition will intensify for foreign firms that supply 67 percentof Chinas robots, such as JapansFanuc Corp.and Yaskawa Electric Corp., according to BI.

The combination of a massive domestic market, policy-driven technology transfer from foreign to domestic firms and government funding often proves brutally effective.

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China’s Robot Revolution May Affect the Global Economy – Bloomberg


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