Clearpath Robotics Now Supporting ROS on Windows

Part of the appeal of the Robot Operating System, or ROS, is that it’s much faster and easier to get started with robots because so much of the difficult and annoying groundwork is already done for you. This is totally true, but for many people, getting started with ROS adds a bunch of difficult and annoying groundwork of its own, in the form of Linux. All kinds of people will tell you, “Oh just learn Linux, it’s not so bad!” But sometimes, it really kind of is so bad, especially if all you want is for your robot to do cool stuff. Since 2018, Microsoft has been working on getting ROS to run on Windows, the operating system used by those of us who mostly just want our computers to work without having to think about them all that much (a statement that Linux users will surely laugh at). For that Continue reading Clearpath Robotics Now Supporting ROS on Windows

World Turtle Day Celebrates Final Release of ROS 1

This past Saturday, May 23, was World Turtle Day, the day that celebrates the newest release of the turtle-themed Robot Operating System (ROS)—and also probably some actual turtles—and so we reached out to Open Robotics CEO Brian Gerkey and developer advocate Katherine Scott. We wanted to talk to them because this particular World Turtle Day also marked the release of the very last version of ROS 1: Noetic Ninjemys. From here on out, if you want some new ROS, it’s going to be ROS 2 whether you like it or not. For folks who have robots that have been running ROS 1 for the last 4,581 days (which is when the very first commit happened), it might be a tough transition, but Open Robotics says it’ll be worth it. Below is our brief Q&A with Gerkey and Scott, where they discuss whether it’s really going to be worth all the hassle to switch to ROS Continue reading World Turtle Day Celebrates Final Release of ROS 1

Dogs Obey Commands Given by Social Robots

One of the things that sets robots apart from intermittently animated objects like toasters is that humans generally see robots as agents. That is, when we look at a robot, and especially a social robot (a robot designed for human interaction), we tend to ascribe some amount of independent action to them, along with motivation at varying levels of abstraction. Robots, in other words, have agency in a way that toasters just don’t.  Agency is something that designers of robots intended for human interaction can to some extent exploit to make the robots more effective. But humans aren’t the only species that robots interact with. At the ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction (HRI 2020), researchers at Yale University’s Social Robotics Lab led by Brian Scassellati presented a paper taking the first step towards determining whether dogs, which are incredibly good at understanding social behaviors in humans, see human-ish robots as agents—or more specifically, Continue reading Dogs Obey Commands Given by Social Robots

It’s Robot Versus Human as Shimon Performs Real-Time Rap Battles

Last month, Georgia Tech’s Center for Music Technology introduced the latest version of Shimon, its head-bopping, marimba-playing robot. Along with a new face, Shimon has learned to compose and sing original music with a voice and style of its own. Today, Shimon’s full album will be released on Spotify, along with a series of music videos and a demonstration of a new talent: real-time robot on human rap battles.

UC Berkeley’s AI-Powered Robot Teaches Itself to Drive Off-Road

This article was originally published on UC Berkeley’s BAIR Blog. Look at the images above. If I asked you to bring me a picnic blanket to the grassy field, would you be able to? Of course. If I asked you to bring over a cart full of food for a party, would you push the cart along the paved path or on the grass? Obviously the paved path. While the answers to these questions may seem obvious, today’s mobile robots would likely fail at these tasks: They would think the tall grass is the same as a concrete wall, and wouldn’t know the difference between a smooth path and bumpy grass. This is because most mobile robots think purely in terms of geometry: They detect where obstacles are, and plan paths around these perceived obstacles in order to reach the goal. This purely geometric view of the world is insufficient for many Continue reading UC Berkeley’s AI-Powered Robot Teaches Itself to Drive Off-Road

Scientists Can Work From Home When the Lab Is in the Cloud

Working from home is the new normal, at least for those of us whose jobs mostly involve tapping on computer keys. But what about researchers who are synthesizing new chemical compounds or testing them on living tissue or on bacteria in petri dishes? What about those scientists rushing to develop drugs to fight the new coronavirus? Can they work from home? Silicon Valley-based startup Strateos says its robotic laboratories allow scientists doing biological research and testing to do so right now. Within a few months, the company believes it will have remote robotic labs available for use by chemists synthesizing new compounds. And, the company says, those new chemical synthesis lines will connect with some of its existing robotic biology labs so a remote researcher can seamlessly transfer a new compound from development into testing. Click here for additional coronavirus coverage The company’s first robotic labs, up and running in Menlo Park, Calif., Continue reading Scientists Can Work From Home When the Lab Is in the Cloud

Musical Robot Learns to Sing, Has Album Dropping on Spotify

We’ve been writing about the musical robots from Georgia Tech’s Center for Music Technology for many, many years. Over that time, Gil Weinberg’s robots have progressed from being able to dance along to music that they hear, to being able to improvise along with it, to now being able to compose, play, and sing completely original songs. Shimon, the marimba-playing robot that has performed in places like the Kennedy Center, will be going on a new tour to promote an album that will be released on Spotify next month, featuring songs written (and sung) entirely by the robot.

Autonomous Vehicles Should Start Small, Go Slow

Illustration: Chris Philpot Many young urbanites don’t want to own a car, and unlike earlier generations, they don’t have to rely on mass transit. Instead they treat mobility as a service: When they need to travel significant distances, say, more than 5 miles (8 kilometers), they use their phones to summon an Uber (or a car from a similar ride-sharing company). If they have less than a mile or so to go, they either walk or use various “micromobility” services, such as the increasingly ubiquitous Lime and Bird scooters or, in some cities, bike sharing. The problem is that today’s mobility-as-a-service ecosystem often doesn’t do a good job covering intermediate distances, say a few miles. Hiring an Uber or Lyft for such short trips proves frustratingly expensive, and riding a scooter or bike more than a mile or so can be taxing to many people. So getting yourself to a destination that Continue reading Autonomous Vehicles Should Start Small, Go Slow

How to Program Sony’s Robot Dog Aibo

The Sony Aibo has been the most sophisticated home robot that you can buy for an astonishing 20 years. The first Aibo went on sale in 1999, and even though there was a dozen year-long gap between 2005’s ERS-7 and the latest ERS-1000, there was really no successful consumer robot over that intervening time that seriously challenged the Aibo. Part of what made Aibo special was how open Sony was user customization and programmability. Aibo served as the RoboCup Standard Platform for a decade, providing an accessible hardware platform that leveled the playing field for robotic soccer. Designed to stand up to the rigors of use by unsupervised consumers (and, presumably, their kids), Aibo offered both durability and versatility that compared fairly well to later, much more expensive robots like Nao.  Aibo ERS-1000: The newest model The newest Aibo, the ERS-1000, was announced in late 2017 and is now available for US Continue reading How to Program Sony’s Robot Dog Aibo

Help Rescuers Find Missing Persons With Drones and Computer Vision

There’s a definite sense that robots are destined to become a critical part of search and rescue missions and disaster relief efforts, working alongside humans to help first responders move faster and more efficiently. And we’ve seen all kinds of studies that include the claim “this robot could potentially help with disaster relief,” to varying degrees of plausibility. But it takes a long time, and a lot of extra effort, for academic research to actually become anything useful—especially for first responders, where there isn’t a lot of financial incentive for further development. It turns out that if you actually ask first responders what they most need for disaster relief, they’re not necessarily interested in the latest and greatest robotic platform or other futuristic technology. They’re using commercial off-the-shelf drones, often consumer-grade ones, because they’re simple and cheap and great at surveying large areas. The challenge is doing something useful with all of the imagery Continue reading Help Rescuers Find Missing Persons With Drones and Computer Vision