World’s smartest emergency robots have been crowned

Team Telerob robot


Credit: Fraunhofer

Over the last week Berchtesgaden, Germany has played host to some of the smartest emergency response robots in the world. There, nestled in the shadow of one of Germany’s highest peaks, the euRathlon was held. Multiple real-world emergency scenarios were enacted, giving the 14 teams present a chance to show the world their robot’s mettle.

Three emergency scenarios were enacted: Mobile handling of hazardous materials, underground rescue from a smoke-filled environment and urban recon and surveillance. Of the 14 teams competing, two walked away with the top honors. Team Telerob (pictured above) from aerospace company Cobham took two gold medals, as well as the silver for surveillance. The surveillance gold went to European Logistic Partners (ELP), who also took silver in the other two categories.

Though the two companies swept the scenario awards, both were humble in accepting their prizes. Instead of keeping their prize money, ELP and Cobham donated it to the top-ranked university team amongst the finalists. All 14 teams were invited to next year’s euRathlon competition, which will be held in Italy and focus on underwater emergency response.

By 2015, the competition will become all-encompassing, asking teams to find intelligent solutions to emergencies on land, sea and air. To see the final day of this year’s competition, check out the video below.

euRathlon, via Robohub

Researchers Put Sense of Touch in Reach for Robots

Robot arm adjusting blanket
Robot arm adjusting blanket
In a video produced by the robotics lab at Georgia Institute of Technology, a robotic arm is shown adjusting a blanket.

By from the New York Times. (Scroll down for video.)

Finding and recognizing objects by touch in your pocket, in the dark or among items on a cluttered table top are distinctly human skills — ones that have been far beyond the ability of even the most dexterous robotic arms.

Rodney Brooks, a well-known roboticist, likes to demonstrate the difficulty of the challenge for modern robots by reaching into his pocket to find a particular coin.

Now a group of roboticists in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, led by one of Dr. Brooks’s former students, has developed a robot arm that moves and finds objects by touch.

In a paper published this month in the International Journal of Robotics Research, the Georgia Tech group described a robot arm that was able to reach into a cluttered environment and use “touch,” along with computer vision, to complete exacting tasks.

[Full article]

Draw on an egg (or anything spherical) with this computer controlled art robot

"Egg-Bot" drawing on egg

"Egg-Bot" drawing on eggFrom

The Egg-Bot is an open-source art robot that can draw on spherical or egg-shaped objects from the size of a ping pong ball size to that of a small grapefruit — roughly 1.25 to 4.25 inches in diameter (4-10 cm). Super adjustable; designed to draw on all kinds of things that are normally “impossible” to print on. Not just eggs but golf balls, light bulbs, mini pumpkins, and even things like wine glasses — with a bit of work.

Use it to personalize Christmas ornaments or impress your friends with masterpiece Easter eggs. The Egg-Bot is not just a cool gadget; it’s also a great introduction to do-it-yourself robotics. All of the electronics and software are designed to be hackable and repurposable, so you could easily computer control an Etch-a-Sketch or create something totally new.

See also my blog post Geekster Eggs: 13 Wonderfully Geeky Easter Eggs

[Full article]