Robot Arms: RoboPhil Weekly Update

Hi there! And welcome to my weekly robot update. This is where I do a round up on what’s going in the robot news around the world. So, stay tuned.

Hi guys! I’m Philip English of RoboPhil.com. And welcome to the robot weekly update number 8.

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Today, we’re looking at future arms, walking and snake moving, dog walking and pingpong playing robots. Double amputee gets two badass robot arms. Robotic prostheses have reached a whole new level. We’ve seen different sorts of them over the years, many of them typically revolving around the hand rather than an entire arm. Les Baugh is different. He lost both arms at the shoulders a handful of decades ago in an accident, and thanks to the hard working scientists at John Hopkins University, he has received a robotic replacement. Baugh has been fitted with two robotic arms he is slowly learning to control.

Baugh is said to be the first bilateral amputee at the shoulder level to be fitted with two arms that he can control at the same time. The prosthetic is the work of researchers at John Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, and it is controlled more or less with Baugh’s mind.

The robotic arms are attached to the nerves in Baugh’s upper torso and shoulders, and though it takes a bit of time to work through the process of rotating and positioning the joints and arms, Baugh is able to move them both around and perform simple tasks like putting a ball in a bowl.It seems it’ll only be a matter of time before Baugh is able to use the arms for more complex tasks in everyday life, helping set the foundation upon which others in his situation will be empowered by the technology.German researchers have succeeded in teaching a uniquely-built robot how to walk like a human.Inspired by a stick insect, this one-of-its-kind robot named Hector possesses elastic joints and an ultra-light exoskeleton.What makes it unique is that it is also equipped with a great number of sensors.
“The way the elasticity in Hector’s drives acts is comparable to the way that muscles act in biological systems,” said Professor Axel Schneider, head of the biomechatronics research group that built the robot along with a team from Bielefeld University.
Hector has 18 elastic joints. Through the biologically-inspired elasticity of the drives, Hector can adapt flexibly to the properties of the surfaces over which it is walking.In the future, Hector should serve as a platform for biologists and roboticists to test hypotheses about animal locomotion.One major aspect will be the fusion of large amounts of data from sensors so that the robot can walk more autonomously than before.A further key issue will be the optimal coordination of movements by a robot with elastic drives.By 2017, the robot will be equipped with additional abilities as part of a major project of the Cluster of Excellence Cognitive Interaction Technology (CITEC).
Tesla is building a charger that automatically connects to its cars like a “solid metal snake,” chief executive Elon Musk said last week. In a tweet, Musk explained that the device will move out from the wall robotically and insert itself into the charging port of the Model S, the sole sedan in electric carmaker’s fleet. He said the charger would work on all existing cars. Elizabeth Jarvis-Shean, a Tesla spokeswoman, declined to give any further details.Tesla vehicles are currently charged by a cord plugged into a wall outlet with an adaptor or at a so-called “supercharger” station, where chargers juice the cars’ lithium-ion batteries.This isn’t the first time Musk has outlined plans for the serpentine accessory. During a speech at the launch event in October for Tesla’s new all-wheel drive Model S, which has some autonomous driving features, the billionaire boasted that his cars could soon not only drive themselves but charge themselves, too.

“Something I’d like to do — which I think many of our engineers will be hearing this in real-time — is have the charge connector plug itself in, articulating sort of like a snake, like ‘Metal Gear Solid’ or something,” he said, referring to the dystopic sci-fi video game franchise.

Human-sized Luna could usher in the age of the personal robot.
Hi there, Luna! Right. How about the dog? Cheers Luna!
Santa Monica-based RoboDynamics is seeking funding for its Luna robot. They say it could bring personal robots to the masses. The 5ft (1.5m) tall droid has a touchscreen ‘face’ and two arms. It can be programmed to perform a number of tasks and it is open-source – so others can design attachments for it. RoboDynamics says it could be employed as a medical assistant or even walk your dog. However as it is on wheels its movements are somewhat limited. Luna can be reserved now for £645 ($999) ahead of release in Dec 2015.

The maker sees it as being extremely versatile with applications in care of the elderly, where it would aid independent living for senior citizens by watching their meds, and fetching and carrying; medical aid, which would involve monitoring patients and providing telepresence for specialists; and security, such as patrolling office buildings and warehouses. Robodynamics says that the key to Luna’s versatility lies in its architecture. Standing 60 in (152 cm) tall and weighing 60 lb (27.2 kg), it’s scaled to operate in an average human environment as it rolls on caster wheels on an 8-hour charge. There’s a high definition camera, microphones, speakers, an 8-in touch screen LCD, and a carry handle. There is also a pair of movable, though not articulated or motorized, arms that can be positioned manually.

Pingpong-playing robots. A beer pong playing robot. Developed by Empire Robotics, it’s called Versaball, and this cute little arm will be slinging ping pongs into cups at CES event. You can play the robot at the CES event but here’s a fair warning, it never misses like ever. Empire Robotics engineers realized a rapid injection of air into the VersaBall chamber sent the object it was holding flying. When the bot is gripping a ping-pong ball, the speed at which the air is injected determines very precisely how far the ball will travel, John Amend, co-founder and chief executive of Empire Robotics explained. And while beer pong is all fine and dandy, Versaball’s real-world applications include gripping porous and delicate parts, eliminating pinch points and minimizing tool change downtime, making it a potentially handy tool in lab or construction-site scenarios.

That’s it guys for my weekly world robot news. I’m your host, Philip English.

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