Saturday, April 14, 2007

Cooking Robots

Considering the chances for home robots to reach a fundamental breakthrough on the mass market, an observation of the daily habits of people shows that the most time-consuming specifiable tasks in traditional housework are cleaning, washing, ironing and cooking. Most these tasks require quite a complicated navigation and they cannot be done properly and satisfyingly without very sophisticated mechanics. Cooking is a task performed in an environment which is very easy to define and it is already done with the help of technical equipment – which is therefore adjustable to the requirements of an assisting robot. A mass market for home robots – with a simply to build and therefore cheap product that gives the consumer a valuable benefit – could therefore be found exactly in this area.

Currently, there is already very advanced food processors like the Thermomix, which can chop, puree, blend and also steam and heat food.

But a substitute for a cook is not yet available on the market. Change just seems to be a question of prize: Chinese inventors from Fanxing Science and Technology Co. Ltd in Shenzhen have developed the AIC-AI, the first robot capable of cooking freshly prepared meals. It is programmed to prepare typical meals of the Sichuan, Shandong and Canton cuisines and able to perform steaming, baking, frying, boiling and sautéing. The prototype, which cost about 250,000 $, was presented in 2006 and is currently used as an attraction in the Hong Kong Robot Kitchen. Hopefully cheaper in serial production, the machine will be available already in this year and shall be sold to restaurants and later to consumers. Besides the attraction of the robot itself, especially fast-food restaurants could profit from a fast-working machine cooking complicated dishes in a standardized way.

The low flexibilty and the high prize of even this relatively simple machine might be reason for researchers and companies to still focus on the development of very complex service robots, which are able to undertake complete householding tasks and can therefore be of a real benefit to the customer.

Walther Schulze, NT061333Y

Further references:

Cocina Abierta (Spanish)


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Security Home Robot from Korea

A new sophisticated robot will be able to guard your home around the clock and keep you informed on what's happening in the house through your handset even when you are far away. The 50-centimeter tall and 12-kilogram machine was developed through partnerships with venture start-up Mostitech after years of intensive work. In case of emergencies, like fire or lethal gas leakage, the robot's sensors will detect any potential dangers and the camera-eyed robot will be programmed to snap pictures of the situation and send them with a message to a designated person's cell phone. Also, when unexpected visitors enter a home, the robot will transmit pictures of them coupled with contingency messages. To gather further information, the recipient can order the robot to survey the suspicious situation or persons through a cell phone or Internet. The battery-operated robot, which moves around on wheels and recharges itself when its batteries run low, will also function as a caretaker and house sitter for kids, as the robot can even read a book. This robots retails at $850, and this is relatively cheaper compared to its peers from Japan Wakamaru of Mitsubishi and Banryu of Sanyo. ( as their prices hover above $10,000 ) U03651U Chwa Hock Chuan Link :

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Bionic Arm

Man is one step closer to realizing a cyborg reality. Jesse Sulllivan and Claudia Michelle are the one of the world’s first non-fictional cyborgs. Both of them were equipped with a robotic arm after suffering from accidents resulting in the loss of their natural limbs. The groundbreaking bionic arm is a prototype developed at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago by Dr. Todd Kuiken. It differs from other assistive technology in that the robotic arm is not controlled by traditional interfaces such as switches and joysticks. The bionic arm instead uses the signals from the nerve endings in the arm to control its motion.

The bionic arm essentially gets myeoelectric signals from motor nerves of the arm as the robot motor inputs. This muscular electrical energy is captured from under the skin, using a bipolar setup with two stainless steel electrodes on multiple sites. The electrical signals thus acquired are then processed by a TI 64-bit DSP chip embedded within the arm. The chip controls the motors in the arm. This results in a seamless translation of a mental hand-open command to a robotic-arm hand-open command.

The prototype is also capable of sensory feedback. The Bionic Arm Team reports that initial experiments at sensory feedback including pressure and temperature have been successful. The team is however still in the process of quantifying these signals completely.

This technology has tremendous potential and has generated a lot of interest in rehabilitation and assistive robotics. The robotic arm is a synthesis of international components with a hand from China, wrist from Germany and a shoulder from Scotland. The prototype implants in Jesse Sullivan and Claudia Michelle both have been successful. The arm allows Jesse Sullivan to wear a hat, grip a pen, hold a cup, drink and execute multiple movements by simply think about it naturally. The prototype however, has some way to go before it sees more widespread adoption: cost is a big issue. A brighter future for the disabled is definitely on its way.

Bought to you by:

Harish Kumar Koundinya



Jesse Sullivan powers robotic arms with his mind, March 23, 2006 CNN

Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, Bionic Man

Jesse Sullivan, Robotic Arm Video

Claudia Mitchell, Wikipedia

Brain controls robot arm in monkey, University of Pittsburgh. February 2005

Monday, April 09, 2007

Robotic Home Invades Japan!

When it comes to robotics, Japan never fails to amaze everyone. In a recent exhibition the University of Tokyo showcased a robotic "living room of the future," another example of plans to make robots part of daily life in Japan.

Equipped with sensors in the walls and floor in the living room, the movement of the users is tracked and responded. For an instance, when the user sits down by the desk, the robot lamp automatically swings over to illuminate the book..

A humanoid robot "HRP-2" pours tea from a bottle to a cup to serve for a guest during a demonstration at Tokyo University. Tokyo University Professor Tomomasa Sato developed the robot for daily housework.

Source :

The hottest highlight in the exhibition is the robot valet. A modified version of AIST's Promet humanoid- it is not only capable of the automated pouring and serving of drinks, it can actually wash up afterward. Using cameras as eyes mounted on the head, the humanoid robot is able to perform the action of tea pouring and after the users has finished, and the humanoid robot picks it up and bring it for wash!!!.

Another wheel locomotion robot demonstrated was capable of delivering cup of tea in an experimental room that has sensors embedded in the floor and sofa as well as cameras on the ceiling, to simulate life with robot technology.

The robotic home aims at catering for rapid aging societies such as Japan and hopes to lead the world in the designing of robots to care for the elderly, sick and bedridden.

It is interesting to note how the Japanese are trying to infuse the daily life with robots. These robots are not only capable of performing various task, other aspects in terms of physiological and physical are take into consideration. The development of human-looking robots with humanity expression and shows how much fine details work had been progress in the area of robotics.

It would not be long when robots are a part of our daily life.

Ng Buck Sin U046233B

Sunday, April 08, 2007

My Spoon

U036584N Wu Zhenyu This is one of the latest inventions in assistive robotics - My Spoon, a meal assistance robot which helps people with disabilities to eat. This robot is developed to assist patient with spinal cord injury or other diseases which results in the inability to move his arms, to have a proper meal. One of the main components of My Spoon is the Manipulator Arm. It is the part that performs all the action and feeds the user with food. One end of the Manipulator Arm is connected to the End-Effector, which can be connected with a spoon or fork. The other end of the Manipulator Arm is linked to the Base Unit, on top of which the Manipulator Arm is positioned. The Base Unit is also connected to a Operating Interface, which is used by the user to operate the robot. There are different choices for the Operation Interface. One is the joystick, for those who can operate it with fingers. For people who have problems operating with joystick, he can choose to operate it through buttons. This robot may looks a little simple, but it won the Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) "Robot of the Year for 2006" contest. In fact it does make sense as being able to eat is the basic element of social independence. A person could enjoy a meal properly and happily with his family or friends without external help. This would be essential in helping the patient to regain confidence in life. Reference:

Saturday, April 07, 2007

HERTI spy-plane

HERTI spy-plane Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) have been the new development in terms of military surveillance, allowing a pilot-less insertion of an aerial vehicle into enemy territory for purposes of collecting data, or simply maintaining the security of a country’s own air space. UAVs are traditionally using remote control, requiring the “pilot” with the control console to have certain skills and abilities to launch, fly and land the UAV. In recent developments, UAVs are moving towards semi-autonomous and even fully autonomous operating conditions. Semi-autonomous UAVs require a pilot to launch the UAV after which it can be programmed to fly on auto-pilot beyond the radio’s range or out of the line-of-sight of the pilot on the ground. A fully autonomous UAV will be able to launch, fly and then land all by itself in a pre-programmed flight path. The HERTI is one such UAV, developed by BAE Systems. HERTI, otherwise known as “High-Endurance Rapid Technology Insertion” is capable of conducting various reconnaissance missions for up to 25 hours, and boasts of new technology such as a collision avoidance system, which comprises of a radar and electro-optic sense-and-avoid system. It also has an “Autosoar” system, which gives it the ability to detect thermals on which the UAV is able to climb on, thereby giving it an extended operating range and time. U048804B Oh Yide Andre

Friday, April 06, 2007

The Da Vinci of our Era - Only the fast gets to comment

Minimally Invasive Surgery (MIS) refers to any form of surgery that works through small incisions. Here’s the thing about small incisions: it hurts less, results in fewer complications (and hence, less scarring), and most importantly, the usage of unsightly plasters can be avoided. The benefits of having MIS are obvious but it has its share of detractors too.

Firstly, surgeons are human beings, so it is just not possible for them to suddenly know how to perform MIS. It takes an extremely long time for them to learn the techniques of MIS. Secondly, surgeons lose tactile sensation when performing MIS. Thirdly, the instruments and angles in which MIS can be performed are seriously limited. There is probably nothing we can do about the first problem. As for the latter two problems, the solution lies in the field of robotics.

Much research is currently being put in the Da Vinci surgical system. Its purpose is as follows:

  • To restore tactile sensation
  • To restore dexterity

These can be achieved through a force feedback system.

Also, the Da Vinci surgical system is able to mimic the actions of the surgeon’s hands. Natural movements by a surgeon’s hands will be translated to precise micro-movements by “motion scaling” software. Essentially, this means that there are now fewer risks involved in surgery that requires extreme precision such as nerve repair. The reduction in risks is due to the fact that unlike the Da Vinci system, hands of a human surgeon will suffer from tremors as adrenaline courses through his veins.

If you have issues with having a robot operate on your body, I have this to say to you, “Just sign the indemnity form and let the doctors do what needs to be done! You wouldn’t know the difference anyway since you’ll be unconscious from the general anesthesia!”

On a more serious note, let it be known that Drs. David Yuh and Allison Okamura at Johns Hopkins are working very diligently to implement sensory feedback capabilities on the Da Vinci system.

I wish, for the sake of mankind, that they succeed.

Brought to you by, Nicholas Koh (U045902U)

References: Pictures taken from:


Wakamaru is a Japanese domestic robot made by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, primarily intended to provide companionship to elderly and disabled people. The robot is yellow, 100 cm tall, and weights 30 kilograms. It has two arms and its flat, circular base has a diameter of 45 cm. The first hundred went on sale in September, 2005, for USD $14,000.

Wakamaru runs a Linux operating system on multiple microprocessors. It can connect to the Internet, and has limited speech (in both male and female voices) and speech recognition abilities. Functions include reminding the user to take medicine on time, and calling for help if it suspects something is wrong.

The robot has the potential to replace a human caretaker in Japan, where robotic technology is embraced and the graying of the population has left many young people wondering who will care for their parents.

Its 3-foot-tall frame contains an integrated cell phone that is programmed to call emergency dispatchers automatically if a problem occurs with a patient. An embedded Web camera lets doctors and family members keep an eye on the patient at all times. Speech-recognition software and a built-in dictionary provide the robot's vocabulary.

Wakamaru is so robust that he or she -- Mitsubishi can give the robot either a male or female voice -- can be programmed to remind patients to take their medicine and even call a doctor when it appears that someone is in distress.

Khoo Yuan Jin
Home Site: (English) (Japanese)


As technology improves by leaps and bouinds, the world is seen to move into a new era where robotics is becoming a very huge part of our lives, from education to entertainment and especially security and surveillance. Scores of companies are going into the field of inventing robots for security. One such company is MobileRobots Incorporated,formally known as ActivMedia.MobileRobots Incorporated has come up with a programmable autonomous general purpose robot named PatrolBot. PatrolBot is a versatile robot that moves on wheels and will be able to do the following tasks. It will be able to tighten the security of premises and valuables, monitor potential hazards to a particular site and document problems not visible to normal security cameras. Patrolbot can be controlled remotely from a computer or it can be programmed to follow a pre-determined route. Patrolbot also has robotic visual sensors and cameras that will enable it to read from dials 20 feet away. It also has a microphone and speaker system that will enable the Patrolbot to communicate with a person. Hence, in this way the controller will not be put in harms way. The Patrolbot will also be able to pick up small objects and deliver them to locations as specified by the controller. Patrolbot is a novel innovation and it helps us alleviate the need to train security personnel for a specific job. All that needs to be done is to reprogram the software for a particular task. Moreover, a robot doesn’t suffer from fatigue as humans do and hence Patrolbot will be more efficient than human security personnel. Reference: 1. 2. Sivagami A U037814E

Honda Humanoid Robot Asimo

Asimo is the product of Honda’s challenge for a new type of mobility, to walk with two legs. And the reason behind it? So that the robot can move in all types of terrain. Its designers has believed that with a enhanced mobility, it can serve its purpose of helping humans better. It is the built by Honda with the hope of making a truly useful humanoid robot which possesses both intelligence and physical capabilities at a high level. Built to work in a real world, the 34 servomotors embedded in the robot allow a whopping 34 degrees of freedom. With these degrees of freedom, it is capable of many actions, like reach for things, pick things up, navigate along floors, sidewalks, and even climb stairs - very much like what a human can do. Not to forget all the powerful sensors built into the robot to help it recognize voices and human faces. The Asimo is also able to use its ‘camera eyes’ to map its environment and register stationary objects, helping it to avoid obstacles. And with the new Asimo, which was introduced back in 2005, it is now able to accomplish even more advanced tasks such as walking with a person while holding hands, pushing a cart and even serving drinks on a tray! Looking at the progress Honda has made, it would not be long before we can have a humanoid robot which can act as maid, a receptionist, or even as a worker! By U036419B Jway Kim Soon

The MS DanceR

The Dance Partner Robot, MS DanceR (Mobile Smart Dance Robot) was founded by Kazuhiro Kosuge and ZhiDong Wang at the Tohuku University of Japan, Department of Bioengineering and Robotics. As the name implies, this robot is specialized in ballroom dancing. The dance partner robot (female) has been installed with an omni-directional base in order to enable it to carry out basic dance steps. The MS DanceR has been recognized as one of the 100 Best Inventions of 2005. With human-robot interaction as the base foundation of this concoction, MS DanceR uses the Body Force Sensor (force/torque sensor) to realize the human force and “react” accordingly. The ballroom dancing robotic system has been chosen as an application to research on by the Tohuku University due to the complexities involved in the implementation and the various considerations that have to be taken into account. This research has generated new dimensions to the field of human-robot interaction. The robot plays the role of the female dancer. Normally, in ballroom dancing the lead would be the male and the female counterpart would have to react to each step appropriately. Hence, the robot senses the steps through physical interaction with the human, anticipates and estimates the step and generates the corresponding output step. The control systems consist of the Omni-directional base, Body Force Sensor, Body Frame, Controller and Batteries. The Omni directional base allows multidirectional orientation of the robot. The Body Force Sensors are situated in various places in the robot such that it can detect pressure applied to its arms and back so that it can constantly anticipate it’s human partner’s next step. It is also equipped with memory that contains five basic steps required to dance the Waltz. Rajalakshmi Raghavan (U036804N)

Hybrid Remotely Operated Vehicle For Deep Sea Exploration

The first humans to venture into deep sea exploration were Jacques Piccard and Don Walsh in 1960.They were the first humans to touch the bottom of Challenger Deep, a underwater trench with a depth of 10924m. After that no one, man or machine has scaled such depths.Researchers at the Deep Submergence Laboratory at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Johns Hopkins University have been developing a vehicle called Hybrid Remotely Operated Vehicle(HROV) that will enable scientists to perform photography,biological sampling and topographical mapping of the world's deepest underwater trench, the Challenger Deep.

The Hybrid vehicle can either be controlled form the surface of the water by a controller or it can be programmed to do a variety of tasks autonomously.The HROV will be using a micro-cable that will enable the vehicle to go deeper without the drag of heavier cables. The HROV can also run for 36 hours on batteries only.

The HROV's first scientific mission is planned for 2008 and one of the first missions for the HROV is to obtain data from the Mariannas Trench that will enable scientists to learn more about the mantle how much the mantle is interacting with respect to the oceanic lithosphere.

The HROV will be able to withstand pressure from 11000m of water with the help of a state of the art ceramic material. It is highly dangerous to send humans to such depths for fear of implosions.

The HROV is a very advance robot and it will greatly help us understand the life and geography of the deep oceans.




Prakash S/O Yanaprakasam


Third generation security robot

ROBART III is the third generation security robots with addition of threat-response capability to the detection and assessment features, which has drawn tremendous military interest in Law Enforcement and Operations Other Than War. There are three subsystems employed on ROBART III according to their purpose and functionalities: (1) mobility and navigation; (2) threat detection and assessment; (3) non-lethal response; and (4) high level control. Each of these will be briefly discussed below.

1. Mobility And Navigation ROBART III is designed only for indoor operation on relatively smooth planar floor surfaces. Differential steering is employed with a single passive caster in the rear of the platform directly behind the battery compartment. The left and right drive wheels are 8-inch wheelchair snow tires (see Figure 1) driven by a pair of 12-volt motors.

2 Threat Detection And Assessment The initial detection is accomplished by a 360-degree staring array of eight passive-infrared (PIR) motion detectors arranged as a collar ring just below the head. The head could detect any alarm zone and a black-and-white video surveillance camera would survey the scene. Subsequent motion is detected with a reconfigurable video line digitizer. There are additional head-mounted security sensors support the intelligent security assessment algorithm in rejecting nuisance alarms

3 Non-Lethal Response The non-lethal-response weapon chosen for incorporation on ROBART III consists of a pneumatically powered dart gun capable of firing a variety of 3/16-inch diameter projectiles, including tranquilizing darts. A rotating-barrel arrangement (Figure 2) is incorporated to allow for multiple firings (six) with minimal mechanical complexity.

4 High Level Control The seven low-level microprocessor-based controllers installed on ROBART III will be interfaced via a high-speed multi-drop RS-232 interface as slaves to a master 68HC11 controller.

In summary, ROBART III incorporates a non-lethal response capability into a body of robotic mobility, navigation, and threat detection and assessment techniques. The system will be able to confront intruders with a laser-sighted six-barrel tranquilizer dart gun, remotely controlled by a human operator. The system simplifies the operator's difficult coordination task of simultaneously controlling vehicle movement and attitude, pointing the camera, and aiming and firing the weapon. This will be accomplished by onboard intelligence which uses the inputs of various sensors including video motion detection to detect intruders, filter out false alarms, and automatically track a moving target.

U037130N, Li Chao


Parallel Link Robot -- Fanuc F-200iB

The F-200iB robot has been developed by FANUC Robotics North America, Inc. It is a parallel link, servo-driven robot with six degrees of freedom, and it is made to be used in a variety of manufacturing and automotive assembly processes. F-200iB is not only powerful and compact, but also has extreme rigidity and exceptional repeatability. Hence, it can be used for material removal, compact robot welding, vehicle lift and locate, pedestal welding, part loading, tool/part manipulation and flexible/convertible fixturing. Parallel link robots are less affected by most of factors that reduce accuracy, because they have a closed, truss-like structure in which the end-effector is connected to the base by six independent kinematic legs that operate in unison. Moreover, the low deformation of the legs makes the F-200iB better for drilling, milling, and holecutting in harder materials like steel, aluminum, and gray iron.
The F-200iB is available in single- or dual-arm configurations. The dual-arm configuration adds a second, independently controlled, robotic arm to the same rail. The robot can load and unload the engine blocks and manipulate them precisely, by using a simulated horizontal-spindle machine center. It is very dexterous, since it can move both blocks through a series of complex motions as it exchanges a finished block for a raw block inside the machine center during the machine load/unload cycle.
In conclusion, F-200iB is an ideal solution for large material handling applications with heavy payloads.
U037157M Yi Jinzhou

Cleanroom Robots

Basic Description The LR Mate 200iB and M-6iB are the latest generation FANUC cleanroom robots.The LR Mate 200iB and M-6iB are six-axis, modular construction, AC electric servo-driven robots. They are optimized for operation in sensitive, contamination-controlled environments and occupy minimal floor space. Designed for superior performance in manufacturing and lab applications, both robots provide high throughput, industry-leading reliability, and sophisticated motion control for gentle part handling. Unlike “canister” form factor robots, the LR Mate 200iB and M-6iB can move along three-dimensional curved paths and approach any position from virtually any direction. Both models and their predecessors have an installed base in the tens of thousands. The Solutions for: 1. Material handling 2. Machine tending 3. Assembly 4. Clean injection mold extraction 5. Dispensing Industries served 1. Semiconductor 2. Magnetic media (hard drives, audio/videotapes) 3. Optical media (CDs, DVDs) 4. Laboratory automation 5. Medical devices 11.Pharmaceuticals 12.Clean plastics,1369,Robots+by+Application.html ---By U036546A Wu Lihua

Reflecting Intelligence

For ages, the buzz word has been on abaout innovation, technology and the collaboration of these two to reflect intelligence in every walk of life. With IT software on one side and medicine on the other as the only 2 way streamlining processes that the student community flocks to, what is the one commonality that can still bridge the gap?, I wonder. I have the answer right here: Medical Robots, their invention and continued contribution. The first ever ‘heart bypass surgery’ was performed by 2-ft.-long robotic hands at Ohio State University Medical Center, Columbus. The metallic limbs enter the patient's body through the narrow gaps between the ribs, cutting holes no bigger than a nickel. However, this robot, a Da Vinci model as they call it, made by Intuitive Surgical of Mountain View, Calif. does not have a mind of its own. It stays controlled by professional doctors who use a console that looks very similar to that of a video gaming board says Dr. Randall Wolf. Now George Mylonas of Imperial College London has developed motion compensation software that should allow the robotic surgeon to compensate for the motion of the beating heart, and operate on the organ without stopping it first. Robotic surgeons may seem like science fiction, but they have become a regular feature at operation theatres especially North America. Prostate cancer surgery is benefiting immensely from robotic surgeons, since the robots are more precise in nerve-sparing, allowing men to retain important functions of elimination control and sexual performance that can easily be lost when performed by a human surgeon. In conclusion, to remove some biased opinions if there are, I wish to remind the people who read this blog that the brains behind each of the inventions are still human. However, it does a lot of good to put it all into one robot whose efficiency, speed, and output overdo the capability of the whole human race. Call it artificial intelligence. Call it virtual human. Call it what you want. I call it evolution of a new kind.
Balasubramanian Prasanna [U0405872]


Picture Source:

Disneyland enjoys robotic revolution

Any discussion of entertainment robots has to include Disney. They have been doing entertainment robots as long as anyone and they do them quite well. With dancing bears and singing pirates Disney's imagineers have created thousands of robots. The robot shown in the picture is used since August, 2003. It is a robot dinosaur named Lucky. He walks on his two back legs and pulls a very large cart of "silk flowers". Really the cart is full of batteries. Even Disney has not figured-out the battery issue that plagues mobile robots. This was the only way they could get enough battery life for the robot to spend a meaningful amount of time wandering the amusement part. In recent years, Disneyland Park has also improved on their robot team by importing one of the world’s most advanced humanoid robots – ASIMO, produced by Honda. Comparing to the old dinosaur robot, ASIMO is much more intelligent as it can perform tasks including walking forward and backward, climbing and descending a flight of stairs and taking direction from a person. This is the robot designed for homes usage in future. It has two arms and two hands, which makes tasks such as reaching for and grasping objects, switching lights on and off, or opening and closing doors much easier compare to previous versions. And it has improved on the battery problem as power supply can last longer. We can expect widely application of similar robots in Disneyland while robots will be designed in those popular figures and identities. referrence: by Yang Kai, U036508R

Vision-based mobile robot for autonomous exploration

Recently, most mobile robots have to use laser sensor to perceive their surrounding environment. It is true that laser is quite accurate for the robots to measure the distance to the objects so that they can navigate and map the dynamic environments. However, when the object is very large, laser sensor could not detect the whole object. Stereo vision can solve the problem that laser sensor has by capturing the image data and measuring the distance to the object at the same time. The image data can be used for localization and recognition of object and people. The reasons for not using the stereo vision are: the computers were not fast enough to process the data; the algorithms to make the computer vision work were not developed. Now, the faster development in computer vision has made it possible to construct the visually guided mobile robots. For instance, Rob Sim and his colleagues at the University of British Columbia, Canada, have developed such a robot that can estimate its location and map the environment. Last summer, Rob has demonstrated that his robot can autonomously explore a large office-like environment and correctly identify the position as well as construct the occupancy grid map. On the top are the sample image of the office and occupancy grid map. We can see that the occupancy grid map constructed from the robot’s exploration with grid resolution 0.01m by 0.01m per pixel can accurately captures the topology of the environment. The cluttered regions are corresponding to the office chairs and other furniture. Reference: Liu PengYin U037121E


39cm in height and 2.5Kg in weight, Nuvo is a small and light home-use-type humanoid robot aimed being marketed as a daily life companion. With 15 degrees of freedom (6 for each leg, 1 for each shoulder and 1 for the head), this small robot can dance, talk, play music, tell time, click pictures and even shake your hand. Nuvo is also equipped with joint angle sensors, rate gyro sensor and acceleration sensors to allow ZMP calculation and proper balancing. The infra-red sensors give feedback of the surroundings and saves the robot from banging into dead-ends. It is capable of walking at a speed of 3 metres a minute, can balance over a variety of terrains and can even stand up from a fallen position. Nuvo's features don't just stop at walking, but it is also programmed to respond to a variety of voice commands from its owner. If you ask Nuvo to shake your hand it will walk over to you, and reach out its hand for you to shake. If you want it to move forward, you simply tell it to do so and it responses by walking forward with smooth human-like motion. You can also ask Nuvo to give you the time, play your favourite music or even take pictures for you with it's built in camera. The Nuvo robot has been branded as a 'home robot', not only capable of entertaining you, but also of keeping an eye on your home when you are out, or even as a mobile baby monitor, by relaying pictures to your mobile phone on command via the internet using the IEEE802.11b wireless lan. It is has also been labeled as a home companion of sorts, offering a degree of verbal communication back to its owner through the pre-programmed female voice built in, as well as responding to commands in a similar way to a dog or a cat.
Post by: Nitin Batra U048708Y

ASTRO, The Satellite Repairing Robot

ASTRO is a satellite repairing robot which is launched by DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Project). ASTRO is formed by a pair of satellite and it is designed such that they can patch up other satellite without the guidance of human being. ASTRO relies on its integrated GPS and laser sensor to do its repairing task. Once ASTRO is docked with the targeted ailing satellite, ASTRO will use a 10-foot robotic arm to fill the satellite with fuel and make repairs. Besides that, another mission of ASTRO other than repairing the satellite is providing an orbital boost to the satellite as to allow the recon satellites to maintain position longer.

The introduction of this robotic satellite repairing system eases the job of satellite repairing. However, this robotic system is still under testing. If this system is proved to be stable, there is not needed for astronauts to risk their life in repairing satellite or even spacecraft anymore. ASTRO don't need any interaction with human unless there's a problem with the sensors, passive detection systems, and computer software requiring mission control to intervene.

In my opinion, by improving this satellite repairing robot and minimize its size, astronauts can even carrying them on the spacecraft and use this repairing robot when necessary.

Reference [1] [2]

Yong See Wei U048661X

The NACHI Robot. Unfashionable? Think again

Done by Thulasy Suppiah U037823N
In this Video, an apt example of how the NACHI robots work in a sealing process is shown. Towards the end, the video will show a pretty cool clip of how two NACHI robots cooperate to perform the sealing procedure. One robot holds up the object, manipulating it seamlessly by rolling and pitching it at all kinds of angles so that the other NACHI can apply the sealant. The NACHI may not look as fashionable as some of the robots shown in other posts, or do cool things like surgery and dance to tunes... BUT having been in Engineering for 4 years now and knowing how difficult coding and programming can be, I could not help but marvel at how these instruments behave so naturally and precisely..all of it owing to some really cool programming/coding. Awesome stuff really. The sealing process is essentially a process of applying a form of air-tight, fluid-tight sealant or bonding chemicals to, say, a glass window so that it will adhere to an automobile's frame. All of this of course will be carried out in the assembly line as the frame progresses from one stage of production to another. If the process were to be carried out by humans, time would be an expensive consequence. Owing to the fact that human error can never be eliminated even in the best of conditions, a lot of residue (sealant, chemicals) may also result. Automating the process will eliminate resource wastage as well reduce the assembly time by a huge amount. This is why robotic systems are favoured so that the sealing process can be streamlined and perfect the application quality everytime the process is carried out.

The NACHI is an example of an industrial robot that can be deployed in sealing procedures. It is a typical six-axis robot, like most industrial robots, and has up to six-degress of freedom in terms of movement. These movements are possible because the robot has six independent joints in addition to cylindrical pistons that act as springs, thus enabling it to counter balance against gravity. This means the robot is able to lift heavy loads. The robot is also able to manipulate and place loads in any location in 3D-space(x-, y- and z- coordinates) as well as orient it in a specific fashion (roll, yaw, pitch for example).

References: [1]



Nuclear Robots

Control and maintenance of equipment in nuclear industries must be carried out to precision as a small incident could have far reaching consequences due to the volatile nature of nuclear technology. Thus robotic systems are used in nuclear industries. They shorten the mean time for to repair, by reducing response time to failures. There is no necessity for the suiting up of the “repair squad.” There is a reduction to health risks since human exposure is reduced while improving safety because robots are able to perform operations with consistency and without human error. Maintenance can take place during operations, instead of halting operation in the instance of an incident. This also makes the use of robotics in this industry is very cost effective, as the robot may pay for itself during one single application by preventing shutdown of a facility.The figure shows a robotic devices deployed to retrieve waste at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. There are several features required for maintenance in the nuclear industry. Due to low frequency of operation, a particular machine should be able to do a wide variety of tasks, to remain cost effective. Due to the layout of nuclear facilities, maintenance and repair require a fair level of dexterity. The uncertain impact of failure caused by the hazardous nature of the environment, leads us to the conclusion that a tele-operated robot would not just be advantageous, it would be essential. Thus robots are used for the following purposes: Operation and maintenance of industrial nuclear facilities and laboratories, maintenance in nuclear reactors, decommissioning and dismantling nuclear facilities, and lastly emergency intervention. T. Ranjan U036030X

Mainstream Assistive Robotics for the less-abled

We often see disabled people as dependent on society and the people around them for help with simple everyday activities that we take for granted. However, I deeply feel that they possess a mental strength and courage that we cannot even begin to appreciate as we do not fully understand the trials that they go through everyday. Many disabled people are sharp, energetic and full of life, but sadly limited to their physical conditions.

With the use of assistive technology, a difference can be made to help them re-gain their functional independence, self respect and greater acceptance in society, so that they too have the opportunity to lead lives as fulfilling and exciting as anyone else. Assistive technology also makes good economic sense as it helps to reduce the need for expensive human aid and informal care for such simple tasks as preparing meals, opening doors, performing simple household chores and even shopping.

Exact Dynamics, a company based in the Netherlands, has been producing and selling an Assistive Robotic Manipulator (ARM) that can be mounted on wheelchairs and used by less-abled people. Using a combination of a joystick and a keypad, the user can control the ARM to perform a variety of tasks ranging from simple ones such as opening doors and cupboards to high-precision tasks such as pouring milk, drawing and even playing musical instruments.

With such technology to aid these disabled people, they can now live independently at home without the need for a nanny. The ARM functions as a virtual replacement of their hand and they can perform simple tasks around the house.

Even when they are outdoors, they are functionally independent and can get to enjoy life as well as everyone else. This truly is a piece of enabling technology that has the capacity to greatly improve the lives of many disabled people around the world.

More images from source website can be found here

U037779R, Han Mingding

Shadow Robot Hand

The Shadow robot hand is considered as one of the most advance robot hand in the world. Currently it can handle up to 24 types of movement which makes it a perfect solution for the disabled. It can hold a light bulb or a tomato, it also can write using a pen. In general, it is very skillful in physical movement or so called dexterous for such an artificial hand. By using 40 integrated air muscles, the hand can grasp soft and fragile object. The air muscle is a small actuator which is powerful and easily controllable. It behaves in a very similar way to a biological muscle. When actuated with a supply of compressed air, they contracted by up to 40% of its' original length. The force it provides decreases as it contracts and the first few percent of the contraction is very powerful. It also can be fitted with touch sensor at the fingertips which provide sufficient sensing ability to detect event a small coin. These air muscles provide the hand with many compliant movements. Following the biologically-inspired design principle, tendons couple the air muscles to the joints. Integrated electronics at the base of the hand system drive the pneumatic valves for each muscle and also manage corresponding muscle pressure sensors. Three modes of actuation are used in the Hand system. An opposing pair of muscles permits full control and variable compliance of the movement for most joints. Conditionally-coupled drive is used for the Middle and Distal phalanges of the fingers to produce human movement characteristics. The form factor of the hand is that of a typical human male, and the weight is around 3.9 kg, which is quite heavy for normal user. This is because the hand is a combination of metal and plastic. Currently it is being used mainly for researching purpose however, applying this type of hand into rehabilitation and assistive technology is a a very promising possibility in the future. References: The Shadow Robot Hand U037846R - Phan Tien Khoi

Bomb-sniffing Robots for military use

The growing technology has caused the increase in the use of robots in military. Fido robot, a product by iRobot Corporation, is capable of "sniffing" or detecting bombs. U.S. makes use of Fido robot in Iraq to minimize the US troops casualties in Iraq which is mainly caused by bombs. In fact, more than 70 % of U.S. casualties are due to bombs. Currently, there are approximately 5000 robots in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are used to search for bombs inside caves, buildings, mines, roads, and cars. Besides the bomb-sniffing sensors, video cameras which are able to zoom and swivel are installed in Fido robot where it sends the image captured to the operator. By using this information, the operator then controls and commands the robot. Fido robot is also equipped with 7-foot manipulator arms which are useful to scan quite a long range of certain location like undercarriage of vehicles. At the end of the manipulator arms, the grippers are designed similar to humanoid hand so that the robot can disable or destroy bombs. By having these robots in war places like Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S casualties due to bombs can be reduced. The robots can be used to check ambiguous situations like abandoned cars or suspicious trash piles, so that there is no need to put soldiers' lives on the line. However, the sniffing-sensors are still susceptible to false positives which are usually caused by explosive residues, smoke and other contaminants. Nevertheless, reports by CNN show that since the robots arrived, no one has been hurt or killed when disarming the bombs. Personally I believe that Fido robot is very useful in a sense that it minimizes the casualties caused by bombs. However, this actually gives us the idea that it is possible that future wars can utilize robots as "killing machine". In fact, robots were already used to shoot and kill during recent Iraq's war until now. The name of the robot is Swords robot. They are controlled by the operator up to a mile away. By having cameras, laser sighting, thermal and night-vision sensors, they are much faster than any humans, and shoot with accuracy almost 100%. This definitely breaks the first robotic law which is "A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm:. Therefore, stricter international rules and regulations are needed so that the laws of robotic can be fully enforced. References:

  3. Iraq's Robot Invasion U037052H - Osbert Poniman

Guitar Heronoid

Guitar Hero is a popular rhythm game on the PlayStation 2 that was a hit and spawned several sequels. The players were able to rock to some of the most famous rock songs in the game by pressing the correct button and strumming the fret as the notes hit the line. It was customary for big groups of friends to play together until someone decided that it's now time for robots to rock to the groove!

Rafael Mizrahi and Tal Chalozin from GarageGeeks embarked on a project to create a robot that can play Guitar Hero. GarageGeeks is a registered group in Isreal that provides a space for like minded people to network and socialize together to brainstorm and realize imaginative non-commercial projects.

According to the creators, the robot was separated into two distinct parts, the "brain" and the "body". The "brain" processes the input and sends the appropriate response to the body while the body controls the finger movements.

The robot's vision is actually the video signal from the console fed into a computer. The computer then observes the image and analyses it to make the correct decision. Basically, the creators discovered that when the fret reaches the line, it will generate a graphic (explosion) that contains bright colours. Setting a threshold in the Brightness value when using the HSV colour space, the image can analyse and thus deduce which fret that has reached the line.

The "brain" than sends the signal to the listener on the "body". The listened forwards the signal to the control board which then moves the respective finger in response. The creators had to construct a 5 moving finger left hand to press the 5 buttons and a single moving finger right hand to strum the guitar.

Combining everything on a display window doll, and donning him with a cool Guitar Heronoid tee shirt, he is ready to rock!

It was an interesting experiment, especially to see what fervent passion and interesting ideas can mash and lead to. This is a simple robot that does too complicated but using computer vision to deduce an action and responding to it. While each individual parts may seem simple, the sum of all efforts is no mean feat! There are software challenges as well as hardware challenges, especially the construction of hands to resemble human beings is no easy task. Although the Guitar Heronoid is not perfect, I will just start to get anxious when I play a game online with another player; is that a fellow human player at the other end, or a robot? Especially after just suffering a humiliating defeat!

Chua Chong Han (U045816M)

PackBot Tactical Robot

When soldiers encounter a suspected minefield, they are usually delayed and face possible injuries if they are not careful. However, PackBot has been put to use to clear minefields around the world, most notably in Afaganistan during 2002 by the US ground forces. To date, more than 800 PackBot units have been sold around the world and are used in operations where robotic aid is deemed necessary - such as in urban warfare, minefield clearing, and in Afganistan's case, the clearing of caves. PackBot is basically a robot that can be used as an explorer, scout or in explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) missions. As an explorer, PackBot functions to move and provide sight to the user by elevating its body to peek over obstacles. As a scout, it uses its sensors and is lightweight and low-profile. To clear explosives, its OmniReach manipulator system enables it to extend over two meters, when clearing mines on EOD missions. Together with its low profile, PackBot operates effectively under vehicles or even inside sewers. PackBot is able to attain a road speed of up to 14 km/h, and has continuous 360 degrees rotation. More importantly, it can move in rough terrain and over obstacles such as stairs, rocks, logs, rubble and debris. It can go underwater up to 2 meters deep and can withstand drops from 2 meters height onto a concrete surface. It can also be thrown through windows or tumble down a flight of stairs. In conclusion, its features and modes makes PackBot very attractive to armies around the world as it enhances the survivability of soldiers.U036378U Boo Junyou

Robot assisted prostate surgery? Errr... you first

Swedish Medical Center has achieved a major breakthrough in medical field by employing a four armed robot to perform prostate surgery. The procedure is called the da Vinci Prostatectomy.

The da Vinci Surgical System promises greater precision, less scarring and shorter hospital stay than tradition prostate surgery. Using the new system, instead of making a six to eight inch incision, the removal of the prostate can be done by making just five small incisions of about half an inch long, leading to less pain and faster recovery. This new system provides the surgeon with magnified 3D vision and miniature articulating robotic wristed instrumentation.

The magnified 3D vision is produced by a ‘viewfinder’ which has a special, dual-lens endoscope. It can provide a magnified view, up to 12 times more closely than human vision allows, of the surgical site inside the patient. This is very desirable as it enables surgeons to see small vessels and work more precisely. Besides magnified 3D vision, surgeons are equipped with a robotic computer. The surgeon’s wrists and hands are connected to glove-like sensors and movements are scaled to guide the tools on the robot’s arm, known as EndoWrist®. The flexibility (it can turn 540 degrees) and the motion scaling mechanism of this patented robotic wrist allow greater freedom of movement and finer, more precise movements than standard instruments. For example, if the surgeon’s hand moves five centimeters, he can scale the robotic hands to move only one centimeter. This is particularly important as the nerves associated control the sexual function. On top of the flexibility, this robotic technology provides steadiness by filtering minute tremors of the human hand.

Sources: Prepared by: Kho Wee Kar (U036984H)