Avert | DORA Telepresence | MicroTugs Robot Weekly Update

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 20.

Car Moving Robot swarm

You probably won’t realise they are coming until it’s too late. Tiny robots, the size of an A4 sheet, are being programmed to lift cars that are up to two tonnes in weight. Working together, these creepy machines are able to sneak up unnoticed and silently remove their target from the scene. The robots, collectively called Avert, are the creation of a European consortium led by the Democritus University of Thrace in Greece. A Autonomous Multi-Robot System for Vehicle Extraction and Transportation’ (Avert) computer first selects a vehicle to be moved after cameras have mapping the area in detail. The Avert system then works by sending a deployment unit to scan the area again and identify new potential obstacles. Once this has been done, bogies deploy from the deployment unit and are tracked to a target vehicle, where they dock onto the wheels and lift the car.

These bogies are fitted with on-board sensors, including two lasers and a digital camera. The sensors help the Avert tool move the vehicle without human intervention, while avoiding obstacles. While the system may seem creepy, it could have important applications for bomb disposal teams. Researchers envisage the system being used by the police to remove suspicious vehicles, potentially rigged with explosives, from within buildings. Current methods of bomb disruption and neutralisation are hindered in the event that the device is shielded, blocked or for whatever reason cannot be accessed for examination,’ the researcher wrote on their site. Avert can provide an autonomous capability to remove blocking vehicles which is not currently available. Other uses could include removing cars parked in a tight spot or helping vehicles move within a car park without a driver. The team has been working on the technology since 2012 and believes a production model could be ready by next year. They will be showcasing the system at the upcoming International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA2015) on May 26th to 30th in Seattle.

Movement Matching Robot

Games and interactive movies are fun, but modern virtual reality systems like the Oculus Rift also have the ability to let people travel and experience the world without ever leaving their couch. And the DORA telepresence robot , which can perfectly match the movements of someone wearing a headset, will help make that VR experience even more immersive. Instead of using a remote camera that captures a 360-degree view of everything going on around it so that an Oculus wearer can look around in all directions, robotics researchers at the University of Pennsylvania developed DORA—the Dexterous Observational Roving Automaton—with a pair of movement-matched cameras that serve as someone’s remote eyes.

Each of DORA’s cameras can stream live 976 x 582 video at 30 frames per second which is much less than what the latest version of Oculus Rift can display, but given the system is still in the research stages, there’s lots of room for improvement. A VR headset is already able to track the wearer’s movements and position, so that information is transmitted to DORA over a line-of-sight radio link allowing it to perfectly mimic every turn, move, and subtle shift. And since it’s mounted on a mobile robotics platform, it can let someone wearing a VR headset explore wherever they wanted. The potential for such a robot is staggering. It could give those living with disabilities a new sense of freedom and movement. Emergency responders would be able to safely explore an area too dangerous for humans to enter without the restrictions of a static camera mounted to a more traditional robot. And museums or art galleries could even rent out a DORA-like robot to allow visitors from around the world peruse their collections without having to spend a dime on airfare.

Tiny robots carry up to 2,000 times their own weight

Tiny robots that can pull objects up to 2,000 times their own weight have been developed at Stanford University. The miniature robots - dubbed MicroTugs - have power equivalent to a human dragging a blue whale, according to the website detailing the development. The scientists behind the MicroTugs took inspiration from nature, borrowing techniques used by geckos and ants in their design. The robots could be used in factories or on building sites. The team at Stanford, including PhD students David Christensen and Elliot Hawkes, demonstrated a 9g robot that can carry more than 1kg vertically up glass. This is equivalent to a human climbing a skyscraper while carrying an elephant. Another one - that weighs just 20mg but can carry 500mg, was so tiny it had to be built under a microscope, using tweezers to put the parts together. The secret to the robots' strength lies in their sticky feet - which is copied from geckos, some of nature's most adept climbers. “The hardest part in the development of these guys was coming to the realization that this was possible," Mr Christensen told the BBC. He had worked on making things with the adhesive before but had not considered combining it with robotics. "When we stepped back and thought about it, this was actually a really great use for our adhesives, with its tiny contact force required, and ability to engage and disengage many times a second," he said. The team covered the robot's feet with tiny rubber spikes that bend and stick to a surface. When the robot picks its foot back up, the spikes straighten out again and detach. "It was a really fun project to work on, seeing these robots in action for the first time was pretty incredible," said Mr Christensen. The next step, he said, would be about "looking at ways to make multiples of them work together as a team, and scaling the technology up to larger bots with more industrial parts and a whole lot more force". The Pentagon's research unit Darpa is working on a similar technique that could allow a man to scale a wall with no climbing equipment, rather like Spiderman. It's Z-Man programme was shared with the public in 2014 although it has been in development for several years. The MicroTug robots will be on show at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation taking place in Seattle next month.

That’s it guys, for a weekly world Robot News, I am your host Philip English. If you like this weekly report and want to see more of the latest Robot News, Reviews and robotic tutorials,  then please hit the subscribe button, to keep up to date. I have put further information about the robots in the weekly robot update in the links below, as well as extra webs link for your review. If you have a robot product that you would like me to do a review or do a tutorials for, then please ping me over a message in the comments section and I will see what I can do.

Thanks Guys! I looking forward to see you next time.

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