Hi there, and welcome to my weekly Robot Update. This is wear I do a round up of what is going on in the Robot news around the world, so stay tuned.
Hi Guys, I’m Philip English from robophil.com, and welcome to the Robot Weekly update number 14.
Meet Pepper, The Latest House Robot
Move over Siri, there’s a new robot in town— and he’s more than just a voice. Japan’s Softbank Corp has worked together with International Business Machines Corp. to develop a house robot called Pepper, set to go on sale in Japan this summer. Pepper sets himself apart from the vacuums and toys that came before him because he can perform a variety of tasks all while holding a conversation with a human. Much like voice assistants like Apple Inc.’s Siri and Amazon Inc.’s Echo, Pepper is sometimes unable to continue a conversation he doesn’t understand, in which case he changes the subject. However, in addition to his social skills, Pepper is said to have a wide range of talents from speaking in sign language to opening doors. Softbank says it hopes robots like Pepper will become an everyday item much like PC’s and smartphones have, and that the device will be the most widely used ‘humanoid robot’ to date. The company says it will likely lose money on Pepper’s sales to begin with, but that fees connecting the robot to its network are expected to make up for negative margins. This month, SoftBank joined forces on robotics with International Business Machines Corp. to jointly develop IBM’s Watson artificial intelligence technology for the Japanese market, including robots. A SoftBank spokesman said Pepper was one of a number of platforms on which Watson could appear. Pepper’s price tag is also a factor; although Softbank hasn’t released details yet, the robot is expected to cost nearly $2,000. SoftBank sees broader uses for humanoids, saying they could provide company to Japan’s growing ranks of elderly people, assist schoolchildren with homework or help customers find products in retail stores. Outside developers are working on applications that will deliver cloud-based digital entertainment and other services via the robots.
GuardBot: US marines testing robot guard balls that can swim and roll on any terrain
The US marines are currently testing out an unmanned spherical robot ball that can both swim in water and roll across most terrain in order to perform reconnaissance for armed forces. GuardBot is the brain child of GuardBot Inc, a robotics firm based in Stamford, Connecticut in the US. The idea for the robot was first conceived in 2004, and the autonomous robot was initially designed to go to Mars, but now the US Navy is interested in using robot as a guard in unknown territory, and to provide reconnaissance in warfare. It has taken creator Peter Muhlrad over seven years to develop the amphibious robot, which can swim through water at a speed of 4mph and roll along terrain including sand and snow at 20mph, even if the ground has a 30-degree incline. The technology behind the robot is a “pendulum motion” propulsion system featuring nine-axis stability, whereby a range of algorithms control the robot’s steering by shifting its centre of gravity back and forth. The beauty of the technology is that it can be used to produce scalable robot balls, which can go down to being as small as 10cm in diameter, or as large as 9ft in diameter. There are two transparent half-spheres fitted into the side of the robot ball which carry cameras and a multitude of sensors to capture live streaming video footage of opposite directions simultaneously. Lasting up to eight hours on a single charge, GuardBot can be remotely operated using a 2-8GHz datalink and a laser spectroscope located in the transparent half-spheres is capable of detecting the chemicals used to make bombs from a distance of just 2 inches away. At the moment, GuardBot is still being tested with the US Marine Corps Warfighting Lab in operational environments, such as getting the robot to deploy from and return back to naval boats. Muhlrad’s team is also working on new software that incorporates geographic information system (GIS) data, so that in future command control could pick a spot on a map, and the robot would work out the geographic coordinates for itself and immediately travel to the location.
Robocop is coming! Robot that can patrol the streets and hand out tickets could hit cities in
Jeremy Robins wants to use robots to bring disabled law enforcement officers back to the force, and he’s given researchers at Florida International University’s Discovery Lab $20,000 to bring his idea to life. Robins, a Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserves, describes himself as someone from a service-oriented family who is “always looking for new challenges.” While serving in Afghanistan, Robins had an idea on how to help disabled police and military veterans reconnect with the work force while simultaneously combating our nations rising crime. His idea is to use telerobotics, the combination of telepresence and robots, to allow vets to serve as patrol officer’s cameras, giving it full 360 degree vision. According to the VA there are more than 181,000 Afghanistan and Iraq War veterans collecting disability benefits today. Many of these veterans are unemployed. In addition to our military vets, thousands of police are forced to retire every year because of disability. Telerobot’s could change all that. “We want to use telebots to give disabled military and police veterans an opportunity to serve in law enforcement,” explained Robins. “With telebots, a disabled police officer will be capable of performing many, if not most, of the functions of a normal patrol office – interacting with the community, patrolling, responding to 911 calls, issuing citations. Telerobotics has already begun to make its way into the worlds of medicine, business and private security. Extending it into law enforcement is simply the natural progression of things.”
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