29 July 2011

ROS -the Artificial Intelligence for Robots

Willow Garage, a group of college interns out of Stanford University got together and figured out how to truly create A.I. on a large scale. In order to write the hundreds of thousands of lines of code they had to get more people involved. First they created a generic yet powerful personal robot that could be used to test and engineer their program.

PR2 has proven more intelligent and capable than any other bot to date. To name a few chores PR2 is now capable of, there's folding clothes, fetching drinks from the fridge, identifying and bagging groceries, playing pool, plugging itself into an outlet, dancing, the list goes on. They've made their code open source, meaning anyone can contribute or use the software without charge. Support for many different bots is now available and this has fueled enthusiasm and sped up their research. See the complete overview of the specs and diagrams of PR2.

27 July 2011

Pilot the iPhone Controlled AR-Drone Quadrocopter

Parrot is taking toy helicopters to the next level of flying fun with augmented reality dog fights. A brilliant business strategy if I do say so myself. It would required buying two Ar Drone Parrots and owning a device (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad or Android) capable of piloting the ship. Two on board cameras, one underneath and one on front help in navigating terrain. Fan clubs have risen with full Spread Sheet Diagrams with complete specs of this drone.
Ar Drone draws inspiration from a much earlier 1922 model quadrocopter called the de Bothezat nicknamed the flying octopus. It was built by the US Air Force and said to be the first helicopter capable of flight. Although its massive six-bladed rotors allowed the craft to fly successfully, it suffered from complexity, control difficulties, and high pilot workload, and was reportedly only capable of forwards flight in a favorable wind.

ROS (Robotic Operating System) has a download for autonomously navigating a quadrocopter. This quadrotor  is the most sophisticated in predicting and executing flight patterns as seen in the second video.

iLimb Affords Amputees with Prothetic Solution

iLimb is the worlds first fully articulating and commercially available bionic hand. Myoelectric muscle signals generated by the muscles in the remaining portion of the patient’s limb and are used to control the open and close function of the hand’s life-like fingers. This signal is picked up by electrodes that sit on the surface of the skin. Existing users of basic myoelectric prosthetics are able to quickly adapt to the system within minutes.

The Modular Construction of the i-LIMB Hand allows each individually powered finger to be quickly removed by simply removing one screw. This means that a prosthetist can easily swap out fingers that require servicing and patients can return to their everyday lives after a short clinic visit. Traditional devices would have to be returned to the manufacturer, often leaving the patient without a hand for many weeks! The iLimb hand costs between 50 and 70k USD. Independent hobbyists have created open source 3D printed hands of similar nature.