Saturday, November 30, 2013

5 cool robots the EU is funding

It's EU Robotics Week time again. For the third consecutive year, the achievements of Europe's researchers and inventors working in robotics are celebrated in over 300 events from November 25th to December 1st. Here are some examples of the best EU-funded Robotics projects.

RoboHow – Can a robot learn to make pancakes on its own?

A robot that can make pancakes doesn't seem different from a bread machine. But, a robot that has learnt by itself to make pancakes, fold laundry, throw away garbage and do other everyday activities around the house is entirely different.

The project enables robots to learn on their own how to carry out tasks in human working and living environments by finding instructions online or by observing humans doing them. The goal is to develop robots that can help people in everyday activities, as well as to find out to what extent a robot can learn by itself. Robohow allows robots to load the instructions they receive into their knowledge base. However, a lot of information is still missing, so these instructions are combined with information from videos showing humans perform the tasks in question and from kinaesthetic teaching and imitation learning. The project is led by Universität Bremen, with the participation of researchers from France, Sweden, Belgium, The Netherlands, Greece, Germany and Switzerland. See the video & the website.

RADHAR – Self-Driving

Driving a wheelchair can be difficult and very tiring. As a result, the user may over-steer the wheelchair or not have enough strength to steer it. The RADHAR (Robotic ADaptation to Humans Adapting to Robots) project has developed an intelligent wheelchair that enables people with cognitive or physical challenges to independently drive around in an everyday-life environment.

Researchers from Belgium, Germany, Austria, Sweden & Switzerland have developed an intelligent system with advanced sensors, which allow the wheelchair to identify, interpret and correct confusing or weak signals from the driver and to help the wheelchair user navigate in various environments. The driver of the wheelchair is able to decide how much help he or she needs. Meanwhile, the robot can correct the projected path using information from online 3D-laser sensors reading the terrain. It is also equipped with cameras monitoring the position of the user in order to be able to judge if he or she is awake and in control. The robot takes in information on the surroundings, the position and the focus of attention of the driver; it then adjusts the path avoiding dangers, such as steps or obstacles. The robot also has haptic sensors in the joystick; they use tactile feedback sensing the touch of the user to measure how much force is being used. It then uses all the sensors together to interpret the user's intention and the environment and is then able to either make small corrections in steering or to take more control and navigate the wheelchair around safely.

The RADHAR project, which just finished after three years, was led by Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. Find out more in RADHAR website.

Stiff-Flop - A Surgical Robot based on an Elephant's Trunk

During the European Robotics Week, at the Science Museum in London we'll meet swimming, flapping or crawling robots mimicking real animals.

The EU-funded Stiff-Flop project will be showing a robotic arm inspired by the softness and agility of an elephant's trunk and by the octopus' ability to find food by exploring small cavities in rocks.

This robotic arm could be used in keyhole surgery, as it is able to adjust its texture and stiffness to organs inside the human body; it can soften to get through narrow passages and then stiffen again when needed avoiding damage to soft tissue. It also has a gripper at the edge and is able to learn and develop how to manipulate soft objects in the human body, through interaction with a human instructor. This project could make keyhole surgery safer and minimise post-operative pain and scarring.

The consortium led by King's College London is made up of researchers from the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Poland, Germany, The Netherlands and Israel and supported by the European Commission 7.4 m euros out of a total estimated cost of 9.6 m euros). Find out more here.

ROBOFOOT – Robots bring manufacturing back to Europe

The industry for hand-made fashion shoes is one of the important industries in Europe, which faced intense competition from low-cost countries. The EU-funded ROBOFOOT project showed that robots can also be introduced in traditional footwear industry, maintaining most of the current production facilities and help Europe's footwear industry. Starting in September 2010 and ending in February 2013, a consortium of 10 partners from Spain, Italy and Germany led by Fundación Tekniker have been developing the technology and the results have been implemented in a set of relevant manufacturing operations. The project had 2.6 m euros of EU funding (out of a total cost of 3.7 m euros).

Robots are still not widely used in the footwear industry, which amounts to more than 26.000 companies and almost 400.000 employees in Europe. The introduction of robotics will help overcome the complexity inautomation processes. The ROBOFOOT project has developed robots using laser sensors to identify the shoe and its position. The robots are able to work with soft materials and can grasp, handle and packageshoes without damaging them and at the same time taking on dangerous jobs, such as inking the shoes, while supervised by humans. Find out more in this video and in the Robofoot website.

STRANDS - The Last Robot Standing Wins!

A robot marathon will take place during European Robotics Week in the UK, Sweden, Germany and Austria. Robots will battle it out to be the last one standing in the STRANDS Robot Marathon; the challenge is for them to autonomously patrol a populated environment for as long as possible, covering the most distance in the shortest time possible.

STRANDS is an EU-funded project enabling robots to achieve robust and intelligent behaviour in human environments. STRANDS robots will be evaluated in a care home for the elderly in Austria (assisting human carers), and in an office environment patrolled by a security firm in the UK. STRANDS is developing a complete cognitive system, which will use and exploit long-term experiences, learning and adapting from memory. The approach is based on understanding 3D space and how it changes over time, from milliseconds to months. Researchers from the United Kingdom, Sweden, Austria and Germany contribute to this project.

The robots developed by STRANDS will be able to run for significantly longer than current systems. Runtime has been a huge roadblock in the development of autonomous robots until now. Long runtimes provide previously unattainable opportunities for a robot to learn about its world. Society will benefit as robots become more capable of assisting humans, a necessary advance due to the demographic shifts in our society.

Find out more on Strands in this video, in this article and in the project website.

Background

During European Robotics Week (November 25 - December 1, 2013), various robotics-related activities across Europe will highlight the growing importance of robotics in a wide variety of fields. Businesses, universities, museums and research centres participate in activities aimed at the general public (school visits with lectures on robotics, guided tours for pupils, open labs, exhibitions, challenges and robots in action in public squares).The Week should raise awareness of recent achievements in robotics in Europe and inspire Europe's youth to pursue a career in science.

The European Commission funds over 100 collaborative projects under the 7th Framework Programme on advanced research into robots. The projects aim at helping robots better understand the world around them through sensing, perception, understanding, reasoning and action. The projects cover subjects ranging from autonomy, manipulation / grasping, mobility and navigation in all terrains, to human-robot interaction and cooperative robots. Many, if not all, of the projects tackle seemingly simple tasks which are very difficult for machines: how to pick up a ball, avoid bumping into a wall, recognize a danger in the home and so on.

http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-13-11047_en.htm

Sunday, November 17, 2013

11th International conference on cellular automata for research and industry - ACRI 2014

Krakow, Poland, September 22-25, 2014
http://acri2014.agh.edu.pl

Cellular automata (CA) present a very powerful approach to the study of spatio-temporal systems where complex phenomena build up out of many simple local interactions. They account often for real phenomena or solutions of problems, whose high complexity could unlikely be formalised in different contexts. Furthermore parallelism and locality features of CA allow a straightforward and extremely easy parallelisation, therefore an immediate implementation on parallel computing resources. These characteristics of the CA research resulted in the formation of interdisciplinary research teams. These teams produce remarkable research results and attract scientists from different fields. The main goal of the 10th edition of ACRI 2012 Conference (Cellular Automata for Research and Industry) is to offer both scientists and engineers in academies and industries an opportunity to express and discuss their views on current trends, challenges, and state-of-the art solutions to various problems in the fields of arts, biology, chemistry, communication, cultural heritage, ecology, economy, geology, engineering, medicine, physics, sociology, traffic control, etc.

Topics of either theoretical or applied interest about CA and CA-based models and systems include but are not limited to:

  • Algebraic properties and generalization

  • Complex systems

  • Computational complexity

  • Dynamical systems

  • Hardware circuits, architectures, systems and applications

  • Modeling of biological systems

  • Modeling of physical or chemical systems

  • Modeling of ecological and environmental systems

  • Image Processing and pattern recognition

  • Natural Computing

  • Quantum Cellular Automata

  • Parallelism

Submissions

Authors are invited to submit papers presenting their original and unpublished research. Papers should not exceed 10 pages and should be formatted according to the usual LNCS article style (http://www.springer.com/computer/lncs). Details on the electronic submission procedure will be provided through the website of the conference (http://acri2014.agh.edu.pl).

Publication

A volume of proceedings will be published by Springer-Verlag in the Lecture Notes in Computer Science series and will be available by the time of the conference. After the conference, refereed volumes of selected proceedings containing extended papers will be organized as special issues of ISI international journals like Journal of Cellular Automata.

Important dates

  • Paper submission: March 19, 2014

  • Notification of paper acceptance or rejection: April 22, 2014

  • Final version of the paper for the proceedings: May 14, 2014

  • Conference: September 22-25, 2014

Conference location

ACRI2014 will be held at AGH University of Science and Technology, Kraków, Poland.

AGH University of Science and Technology is one of the leading technical universities in Poland. The AGH University was established in 1919, serves the science and industry through education, as well as research and development. Krakow is the second largest city in Poland, known as “cultural capital of Poland” and “a city of tradition” and a city of a unique medieval architecture. Krakow is registered on the UNESCO World Heritage List and awarded the title of the European Capital of Culture in 2000. Krakow as such a very popular touristic destination is served by convenient air, road and rail connections.

URL: http://acri2014.agh.edu.pl

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Paper Keyboard: Type on a real piece of paper

DSC_2178Are you tired of typing on your screen? Forget bluetooth, use paper! Just print a PDF file on paper and use it as a keyboard. How? Put your phone where marked on the paper and see how the magic happens: the phone’s camera detects your fingers with state of the art algorithms. You can play games, chat with friends, send emails, write anything with the keyboard. With the free version you can play 2 games, additional features may be available with in-app purchase.

Now all games are free for 2 days! Don't miss this opportunity!

Features:
• Use a piece of paper as a keyboard
The app works on letter-size and A4 paper as well!
• Several games are available in the app
Collect the letters of quotes, typing games, ball games etc.
• Built-in chat client
You can chat with your friends with the keyboard using several platforms
• Send emails directly from the app
Are you tired of typing a long email to your colleague? Use the app and the keyboard!
• Write anything and paste the text into any app
Use the paper keyboard and paste your text in any text editor to format.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/paper-keyboard-type-on-real/id715319520

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

This morphing table can create a virtual version of you in realtime

Keiichi Matsuda is excited about this invention and I can't blame him: A solid table that reproduces a virtual version of anything that you put under its sensors—in realtime. You can see how it reproduces the hands moving in the clip above, but there's more:

Created by Professor Hiroshi Ishii and his students at the MIT Media Lab, this tangible interfacestarts with cameras that capture objects in three dimensions. The 3D information is processed by a computer, which then moves the solid rods that form the center of the table. The result is a 3D replica of your hands.

The system would allow people to reproduce objects remotely and, of course, you can feed it any 3D data, including city maps.

Article from http://sploid.gizmodo.com/this-morphing-table-can-create-a-virtual-version-of-you-1458375473

RS4 - Self balancing Raspberry Pi image processing Robot

Read all the details about this project Here

Monday, November 11, 2013

Real Time Navigation System

The aim of this diploma thesis is the study and the implementation of modern theories and methods of computer vision in a real robotic vehicle. In this framework, the robotic vehicle SRV-1 of ACS Lab was used. Its communication with a computer was achieved and the wireless transfer of commands, data, images, videos and sensor data makes possible the realization. By using the received data, the robotic vehicle is capable of navigating autonomously in the real world. It realizes obstacles and understands the visual content of images. This perception is due to the creation of visual content descriptor synthesized in real time. The descriptor's components are the local features of the image, which are in the sequel used for image retrieval. Furthermore, another method that is able to perform the robotic vehicle is automatic panorama composition.

For more details please contact Antonio Arvanitidis <antoarva<at>gmail.com>

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Impala

Impala is the first app in the world that automatically sorts the photos on your phone. You do not have to manually label each and every one of them: Impala “looks” into your images and videos and recognizes what’s inside. For instance, Impala can recognize cats, sunsets, beaches, and so on. Impala then automatically creates photo albums and organizes your photos. For privacy: You’re good. The app does not connect or transmit any of your data to cloud services.

iPhone Screenshot 1iPhone Screenshot 2

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/impala/id736620048?ls=1&mt=8
[via http://www.ceessnoek.info/]

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Dedicated to me…from my Friends!!!!!

This blog is online for more than 4 years. This is the first time I want to share something personal with you. Today is my birthday, and my colleagues and friends gave me a very precious gift…I want to share this gift with you… Thank you: Nektarios, Zagorito, Lazaros, Georgiakis, Vaggelis, Chrysa, Christina, Kapoutsaros, Vasia, Antonios, Korkas and GOGO!!!!