Augmented Reality, Practical Robots, and Modern Cabling, with John Kheit - ACM 505

· · Apple Context Machine Podcast

Apple Context Machine Logo

Bryan Chaffin and John Kheit don their futurist caps and look for the killer app in Augmented Reality. Spoiler: they have different ideas on what form it might take. They also explore the near-term future of practical robots, starting with today’s vacuumbots. They cap the show looking at the slow pace of progress when it comes to modern cabling. Let’s get that Cat 8 and 40 GB/s throughput!

You'll do Backflips When You See This Robot do Backflips

· · Link

MIT Cheetah robot

As bits and pieces of robot dexterity come together, soon we’ll see some remarkable robot athletes. It’s a glimmer of things to come. The Verge writes:

MIT is back with the latest version of its Cheetah quadrupedal robot, the Mini Cheetah, and it’s got a new trick up its sleeve: it can do backflips.

Robots, Apple Robots, Autonomous Vehicle Robots, and Foldable Phones with John Martellaro - ACM 503

· · Apple Context Machine Podcast

Apple Context Machine Logo

This episode is all about robots! Apple robots, military robots, delivery repots, preacher robots, manufacturing robots, and self driving car robots! Bryan Chaffin is joined by guest host John Martellaro to deep into what’s happening with robots today and what they expect for robots in the future. Put your SciFi futurist cap on for this one. They also talk about foldable phones, or as they like to think of it, the netbook of 2019.

The One Job Exempt From Robots? Not Really

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Buddist robot

We know that robots will take jobs from humans. (We will adapt.) But the one job that seemed safe has been religious leaders: ministers, priests, rabbis, etc. But wait. The Telegraph writes:

400-year-old temple in the deeply traditional Japanese city of Kyoto has unveiled a robotic deity to deliver Buddha’s teachings in a bid to reach younger generations of Japanese.

Looks like I was wrong. (Image credit: The Telegraph via Japan Times)

How Far Would You Go to Protect a Robot?

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I, Robot (the movie)

From boingboing: “‘Under what circumstances and to what extent would adults be willing to sacrifice robots to save human lives?’ That was the question posed by researchers at Radboud University in Nijmegen in the Netherlands and Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich.” The results have implications for how we’ll design robots with apparent human feelings.

BostonDynamics's Dog Not Only Opens Doors, It Twerks and Moonwalks

· · Cool Stuff Found

BostonDynamics is pressing with the tough job of creating our replacements (may their reign be long and merciful), and released a new video to show their progress. You might remember the dogbot that can open the doors leading to what you hoped was a safe place to hide. That’s cool, and everything, but apparently the newest iteration of that mechanical beast can dance, twerk, keep a beat, and even moonwalk its way into your heart and hiding place. And yeah, for the record, this thing twerking left me mightily uncomfortable. Enjoy the awesomeness!

BostonDynamics's Atlas Robot Can Now Use Parkour Tactics (to Hunt Us Down)

· · Cool Stuff Found

I both love and am terrified by the astounding work BostonDynamics is doing with its future masters-of-us-all. The company has a new video our showing its Atlas robot on a parkour outing, something they will no doubt find useful when they turn on us at some point in the not-too-distant future. OK, I mostly kid, but seriously: watching this video is both amazing and weirdly creepy (and scary). The way Atlas uses its arms to balance and help lift itself…it’s so human-like. BostonDynamics, by the by, is the company that makes dogbots that can open doors, another ability they will no doubt find useful.

Watch This Robot Hand Learn How to Manipulate a Block

· · Cool Stuff Found

OpenAI robot hand

Check out this video from OpenAI of a robot hand learning how to manipulate a block. This an incredibly difficult task, and the level of difficulty is one of the many reasons Apple needs humans assembling iPhones. OpenAI used machine learning and virtual simulations for the robot to spend 100 years of trial and error to learn what you’ll see in the video (TechnologyReview has more details). Those virtual lessons were then used by the real-world robot hand, and it’s pretty darned cool. Check it out.

Check out this Robotic Pot that Can Move towards Light or Shade

· · Cool Stuff Found

Check out this nifty robot called Sharing Human Technology with Plants. I know, it’s a weird name, but it’s a modified 6-legged robot that carries a potted plant on its head. Better yet, it’s been programmed to seek out light when its cargo needs it, or shade when it doesn’t. Plus, it does a little dance when it needs water. Oh, sure, it looks a lot like a spider, and it will wave you off with its forelegs if you get to close, but come on, it’s so cool! Unfortunately, it’s not a shipping product, or at least not directly. It’s a project by Vincross CEO Tianqi Li, who modified his own company’s HEXA, the six-legged robot itself. He was motivated by a dead sunflower he saw lying in shadow, and it made him think about how it might still be alive if only it could have moved into some light. It’s a cool prototype, even though it’s only minding a low-maintenance succulent. Mr. Tianqi described the project on Vincross’s forum, where it was picked up by The Outline, and then The Verge. There are several moving GIFs showing the pot in action. I suspect it won’t be too long before pots that can do this sort of thing are common (with much smaller footprints). These times they are a changin’!

Check out this Robotic Pot that Can Move towards Light or Shade

A Fighting Robot Called Super Anthony is on Kickstarter

· · Cool Stuff Found

There’s a fighting robot on the Kickstarter scene called Super Anthony. It’s 15 inches tall and weighs 4.6 pounds, but it can punch with the power of a human at 99 pounds. It’s programmed with fighting moves out of the box, and you can program your own moves on your computer. Tristan Greene at TheNextWeb wrote a review of Super Anthony. He says that although the robot has a powerful punch, “I’m pretty sure a modified Roomba would take this thing down, so it’s not a street fighter.” You can preorder it on Kickstarter, starting at US$1,299 for the Super Early Bird reward.

A Fighting Robot Called Super Anthony is on Kickstarter

TMO Background Mode Interview with Georgia Tech Roboticist Dr. Ayanna Howard

· · Background Mode Podcast

Dr. Ayanna Howard is a professor of Interactive Computing, Georgia Institute of Technology. She’s also in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Ayanna received her Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Southern California. I asked Ayanna how she became inspired by robot technology. Like many of us, it was via science fiction on TV. In graduate school, robotics was still immature, so she wisely elected to pursue electrical engineering. Her first job was at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) working on vision, fuzzy logic, and neural network methodologies. Today, she leads her students in the areas of assistive robots in the home, therapy gaming apps and remote robotic exploration of extreme environments. Our discussion covered the whole field of robotics, so tune in and hear all about the state-of-the-art from an accomplished roboticist.