Arizona Researchers to Develop Autonomous Robots

October 19, 2011

A team of researchers at the University of Arizona is working under a five-year, $3 million grant to develop a self-learning robot that does not rely on extensive programming.

Essentially, the goal of this research is to develop robots that are not only autonomous but also cognitively aware.

Paul Cohen and Ian Fasel of the University of Arizona School of Information: Science, Technology, and Arts, or SISTA, have secured a five-year, $3 million grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop a robot that can learn simple language and be instructed to perform tasks in that language. The project is called, “Robotoddler: Grounded Language Learning for Shared Human-robot Tasks.”

Hansen Medical to Trial Robotic Catheter System

October 19, 2011

Hansen Medical, Inc., announced plans to commence a clinical trial to evaluate its flexible catheter Sensei X Robotic System in patients with ventricular tachycardia. Ventricular tachycardia, or VT, is an abnormal rapid heartbeat, which can be life-threatening because it may lead to ventricular fibrillation, asystole, and sudden cardiac death.

The Sensei X Robotic System features a flexible catheter with remotely steerable distal tips designed make it easier for medical practitioners to navigate a catheter for therapeutic intervention.

The clinical trial, which is called Early Robotic Ablation by Substrate Elimination of Ventricular Tachycardia (ERASE-VT), is designed to enroll 200 patients with implantable defibrillators at up to eight sites in Europe. The study is being sponsored by Imperial College of Science Technology and Medicine out of the Cardiology Department at St. Mary's Hospital.

iRobot Unveils New Seaglider Unmanned Underwater Vehicle

September 21, 2011

Massachusetts-based iRobot Corp. announced a newly configured Seaglider UUV at the Oceans ’11 conference.

The redesigned Seaglider UUV (unmanned underwater vehicle) now features significantly increased volume and mass payload capabilities. By doubling the payload mass to four kilograms and increasing the payload volume by 650 percent to over 21,000 cubic centimeters, researchers can integrate both larger sensors and a greater number of sensors with iRobot’s new UUV.

According to David Heinz, vice president of Maritime Systems at iRobot, “Researchers have expressed a need for more sensing capabilities on Seaglider, so that it can be used in a wider range of missions.

Liquid Robotics Challenges Global Scientific Community

September 21, 2011

Liquid Robotics announced its Pacific Crossing (PacX) Challenge is now open to scientists around the world. During the PacX Challenge, four of the company’s Wave Gliders marine robots will launch off the coast of Northern California and attempt to travel the longest distance at sea by an unmanned marine vehicle.

According to Liquid Robotics, the robots will travel together to Hawaii and then take separate routes across the Pacific, one pair arriving in Japan and the other in Australia.

The robotic gliders will traverse areas that have not previously been remotely surveyed, and they will transmit data regarding environmental conditions such as salinity, temperature, wave activity, fluorescence, and more.

LiveData, Titan Medical Ink Six-Year Pact

September 15, 2011

Toronto, Ontario-based Titan Medical Inc. has signed a six-year development and licensing agreement with Cambridge, MA-based LiveData, Inc.

Live Data is a developer of real-time data integration and display technology. Under the terms of the agreement, Titan Medical will have an exclusive, worldwide license for LiveData RTI Server as an integration technology for the company's Amadeus Composer robotic surgical platform.

Amadeus Composer is designed to enable surgeons to receive multiple information sources for treatment or training, and to provide the ability to easily switch between the two.

Liquid Robotics Welcomes NASA, Google Vet Lu

September 15, 2011

Liquid Robotics, Inc., developer of the wave-powered Wave Glider marine robot, has announced that Edward (Ed) T. Lu, has joined the company as chief of innovative applications. Lu, whose resume lists positions at Google and NASA, will be tasked with developing new methods to advance the world’s understanding of ocean science.

According to Lu, “In the history of science, interesting discoveries and innovations arise when people find new ways to access or measure things.” “For the first time, Liquid Robotics gives scientists access to comprehensive volumes of ocean data never before available, which will allow for discoveries we may never before have imagined.

Liquid Robotics CEO Bill Vass is excited to welcome Lu aboard.

Evolution Robotics Launches Fresh Mint Plus

September 14, 2011

Evolution Robotics, Inc., today unveiled the next generation in robotic floor care, Mint Plus Automatic Floor Cleaner. The latest evolution of the company’s robotic floor cleaning appliance, the Mint Plus features a wet cleaning system, including a self-dispensing reservoir and a battery that the company says will provide up to four hours of run time. Mint Plus will be sold at a variety of national and online retailers with retail prices starting at $299.99.

Mint Plus is designed for hard surface floor cleaning and automatically dusts and wet mops hard surface floors using popular cleaning cloths, such as Swiffer® brand Dry and Wet Cloths.

Evolution Robotics also announced a set of accessories including a turbo-charging cradle, which would charge the robot in just two hours as opposed to four, simply by setting the product on the cradle.

iRobot Announces Lightweight Throwable Robot

April 5, 2011

Bedford, MA-based iRobot has announced a pre-production prototype of an unmanned ground vehicle (UGV), the iRobot 110 FirstLook.

Designed to assist its operator with observation and investigation of confined spaces, the rugged “throwable” robot features four built-in cameras, two-way audio communication, and digital mesh networking capabilities, which would allow multiple units to relay radio communications signals. The 110 FirstLook is designed to withstand up to 15-foot drops onto concrete and is waterproof to three feet.

Weighing in at less than five pounds the robot can climb steps, overcome obstacles, turn in place and can right itself if it gets flipped over.

Senator Pumps STEM Education Grant Program

April 5, 2011

With the goal of increasing the number of students graduating universities with degrees in engineering, a United States senator has proposed an initiative designed to increase US high school students’ access to advanced math and science courses.                    

Democratic senator Jeanne Shaheen, of New Hampshire, speaking at an event in the Dirksen Senate Office Building, reintroduced the Innovation Inspiration School Grant Program, a plan to expose US high school students to a curriculum more weighted with science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) courses, which she calls essential starting points for greater opportunity and better paying jobs in the future.

“Science, technology, engineering and math are the skills that drive innovation, and the next generation of American workers must be proficient in these skills for the U.S.

Monirobo Arrives at Fukushima Nuclear Plant

March 18, 2011

Earlier today, TMCnet’s Ed Silverstein asked why there were no robots taking part in the dramatic attempts to regain control of the situation at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

Well according to the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun (hat tip to New Scientist), a robotic assistant was finally on the scene. (The English language Web home of the Asahi Shimbun newspaper can be found here.)

According to the paper, the robot in question is Monirobo (from “Monitoring Robot”), which was developed by Japan's Nuclear Safety Technology Center can be operated remotely from a distance of about 1km.

Humanoid Robot Ready for Testing in Space

March 18, 2011

“Check me out. I’m in space!”

Maybe it doesn’t exactly have the same ring to it as “…One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind…” but it is something of a big deal nonetheless.

After several delays in breaking the surly bonds of Earth, and two and a half weeks in foam packing, Robonaut 2 – the first humanoid robot ever launched into space – tweeted his arrival (via a ground-based NASA employee) to the final frontier.

Robonaut 2 was delivered to the International Space Station on the shuttle Discovery, which carried the robot on its last voyage into space.

Health Robotics Completes R&D of New Cancer Therapy Robot

March 7, 2011

Health Robotics, a manufacturer of intravenous medication robots has announced that it has completed research, development and factory testing of its next-generation Cancer Therapy Robot, i.v.STATION ONCO. Health Robotics plans to unveil its new robot at the European Association of Hospital Pharmacists (EAHP) in Vienna on 1 April 2011.

Designed to complement the other offerings in the Health Robotics suite of sterile compounding solutions, i.v.STATION ONCO is designed to automatically compound, cap, and label commercially-available soft plastic bags and syringes from eight different brands and 10 different sizes within an ISO-5 environment on negative pressure.

Generale de Sante, a leading private hospital care provider in France, is set to accept the i.v.STATION ONCO into a Paris-based facility for beta testing and early adopter status within approximately six months.

APlus Mobile Gets Navy R&D Nod

March 2, 2011

APlus Mobile, Inc., announced it has been awarded a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with SPAWAR, the R&D division of the Navy. This is the second such agreement for APlus Mobile.

At the heart of the accord is the firm’s Q40, which is a sealed server, and which will be incorporated into a next-generation robotic platform that SPAWAR is developing for all branches of the military.

The Q40 sealed server runs Intel’s Core 2 Quad processors and chipsets, and is designed to deliver the necessary computing power to satisfy the highly complex mission tasks that today’s robots and autonomous vehicles perform to protect soldiers.

According to a release announcing the agreement, the server is shock mounted in a ventless, compact aluminum case, which prevents ingestion of solid or liquid contaminants, which can cause failures in the field.

Teal Group Study Highlights UAV Growth

March 2, 2011

Just released integrated market research from the Teal Group, tells us that Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) have been the most dynamic growth sector of the world aerospace industry this decade.

According to Teal Group’s 2011 study UAV spending is estimated to nearly double over the next 10 years from current expenditures of $5.9 billion annually to $11.3 billion annually.

One of the study’s authors, Philip Finnegan is optimistic about the potential of the market space. “The UAV market will continue to be strong despite cuts in defense spending,” he said.

Discovery Set to Carry Robonaut 2 to ISS

October 27, 2010

As we reported in April, Robonaut 2 is headed to the International Space Station (ISS). The NASA and General Motors (GM)-designed humanoid robot is packed and ready for the scheduled November 1 launch aboard the space shuttle Discovery.   Robonaut 2 weighs 300 pounds and consists of a head, torso and two arms and two hands. The robot was designed to work alongside astronauts to complete chores and repairs aboard the International Space Station.   "This project exemplifies the promise that a future generation of robots can have both in space and on Earth, not as replacements for humans but as companions that can carry out key supporting roles," said John Olson, director of NASA's Exploration Systems Integration Office at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "The combined potential of humans and robots is a perfect example of the sum equaling more than the parts.