Gumby-like flexible robot crawls in tight spaces

Gumby-like flexible robot crawls in tight spaces 

This undated photo provided by Harvard University/Robert Shepherd shows a soft-bodied robot navigating, top to bottom, an obstacle course. Harvard researchers have built this flexible prototype robot that can crawl and move in a wavelike motion. Unlike rigid robots, soft robots can be used to squeeze into tight spaces. äóñ AP Photo

LOS ANGELES: Harvard scientists have built a new type of flexible robot that is limber enough to wiggle and worm through tight spaces.

Itäó»s the latest prototype in the growing field of soft-bodied robots. Researchers are increasingly drawing inspiration from nature to create machines that are more bendable and versatile than those made of metal.

The Harvard team, led by chemist George M. Whitesides, borrowed from squids, starfish and other animals without hard skeletons to fashion a small, four-legged rubber robot that calls to mind the clay animation character Gumby.

In recent years, scientists have been tinkering with squishy _ sometimes odd-looking _ robots designed to squeeze through hard-to-reach cracks after a disaster like an earthquake or navigate rough terrain in the battlefield.

äóÖäóÖThe unique ability for soft robots to deform allows them to go places that traditional rigid-body robots cannot,äó»äó» Matthew Walter, a roboticist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said in an email.

A team from Tufts University earlier this year showed off a 4-inch (10-centimeter) caterpillar-shaped robot made of silicone rubber that can curl into a ball and propel itself forward.

The Harvard project, funded by the Pentagonäó»s research arm, was described online Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The new robot, which took two months to construct, is 5 inches (12.7 centimeters) long. Its four legs can be separately controlled by pumping air into the limbs, either manually or via computer. This gives the robot a range of motions including crawling and slithering.

The researchers tested the robotäó»s flexibility by having it squirm underneath a pane of glass just three-quarters of an inch from the surface.

Scientists maneuvered the robot through the tiny gap 15 times using a combination of movements. In most cases, it took less than a minute to get from side to side.

Researchers eventually want to improve the robotäó»s speed, but were pleased that it did not break from constant inflation and deflation.

äóÖäóÖIt was tough enough to survive,äó»äó» said Harvard postdoctoral fellow Robert Shepherd, adding that the robot can traverse on a variety of surfaces including felt cloth, gravel, mud and even Jell-O.

There were drawbacks. The robot is tethered to an external power source and scientists need to find a way to integrate the source before it can be deployed in the real world.

äóÖäóÖThere are many challenges to actively moving soft robots and no easy solutions,äó»äó» Tufts neurobiologist Barry Trimmer, who worked on the caterpillar robot, said in an email.

Robotics researcher Carmel Majidi, who heads the Soft Machines Lab at Carnegie Mellon University, said the latest robot is innovative even as it builds on previous work.

äóÖäóÖItäó»s a simple concept, but theyäó»re getting lifelike biological motions,äó»äó» he said.

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First Winner of Programming Contest (Leo Shao – undergaduate student in Discovery Lab)

Programming Contest Top 3

The SCIS Programming Team and the ACM Club held a programming competition last Saturday, Feb 4, and we are happy to announce the winners:


1. Leo Shao ¥éË (Undergaduate student in Discovery Lab)

2. Jorge Cabrera

3. Jesse Domack

A $75 prize was awarded for First Place, courtesy of Ultimate Software. Eleven competitors worked on six problems for four hours. Each solution program had to be accepted by the online UVA site. Many thanks to Alexis Jefferson, Jesus Ramos, and Daniel Rodriguez, who contributed problem solutions and assistance with scoring! Try solving the six problems here. If you are able to solve at least two, perhaps you should consider joining our training sessions! We meet every Thursday 3:30-4:45pm, in room ECS 141. We will hold a second competition during March.

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KAIST sells eight HUBO 2 robots to US and Singapore [Dec 14th 2010]

KAIST sells eight HUBO 2 robots to US and Singapore


Each of the bots sells for about $3.4 million.



We like us some robots around these parts. The KAIST HUBO 2 robot is a humanoid that reminds me a bit of a naked Robonaut 2 that is less complex. The maker of the HUBO 2 robots, KAIST, has reportedly sold a total of eight of the robots to the US and Singapore.



The eight humanoid robots have been sold it different colleges and universities in the two countries. Each of the robots is 4äó»1äó_ tall and weighs in at 99 pounds making them larger than a young child. Each of the bots sells for about $3.4 million.

The US schools that are getting the robots include MIT, Pennsylvania, Purdue, Carnegie Mellon, USC, and Virginia Tech. Drexel University already owns two of the robots. In Singapore, the Institute for Infocomm Research purchased the other two of the eight HUBO 2 bots sold.


About Hubo – youtube video :



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Robotics Trends for 2012 []

Robotics Trends for 2012           


What’s in store for robotics in 2012? Nearly a quarter of the year is already behind us, but we thought we’d spend some time looking at the months ahead and make some predictions about whatäó»s going to be big in robotics.

Amazon Acquires Robot-Coordinated Order Fulfillment Company Kiva Systems For $775 Million In Cash


Amazon has just announced that it will acquire order fulfillment company Kiva Systems for $775 million in cash. We’ve embedded the release below.

Kiva Systems interconnected hardware and software package is designed to streamline the process of picking, packing and shipping e-commerce products for delivery. The company uses hundreds of autonomous mobile robots and a sophisticated control software, to provide a fulfillment system for retailers.

Utilizing this system, robots scurry about the floor locating individual items before transporting them to workers who pack and ship. As founder Mick Mountz told us recently, Kiva accounts for two-to-four times as many orders per hour as they have done the old wayäó. The company has been growing at over 100% a year. And the average price per system? $5 million.

äóìAmazon has long used automation in its fulfillment centers, and Kiva’»s technology is another way to improve productivity by bringing the products directly to employees to pick, pack and stow, said Amazom»s VP of global customer fulfillment Dave Clark in a release.óìKiva shares our passion for invention, and we look forward to supporting their continued growth.

So, it looks like Amazon will be adding Kiva’ó»s Robot coordinated system to its own fulfillment operations. Amazon has its own booming fulfillment operations, which the company and third-party merchants utilize to store inventory and fulfill orders. Amazon has been ramping up the development of its fulfillment centers over the past year, opening 15 new centers in 2011 worldwide. As of last July, Amazon had roughly 65 centers worldwide. And this year, the company opened new centers in India and South Carolina and has plans for a massive center in Delaware.

Kiva Systems is backed by Bain Capital Ventures.

SEATTLE(BUSINESS WIRE), Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) today announced that it has reached an agreement to acquire Kiva Systems, Inc., a leading innovator of material handling technology.

Amazon has long used automation in its fulfillment centers, and Kiva’s technology is another way to improve productivity by bringing the products directly to employees to pick, pack and stow, said Dave Clark, vice president, global customer fulfillment, Kiva shares our passion for invention, and we look forward to supporting their continued growth.äó

“ìFor the past ten years, the Kiva team has been focused on creating innovative material handling technologies,” said Mick Mountz, CEO and founder of Kiva Systems.I’»m delighted that Amazon is supporting our growth so that we can provide even more valuable solutions in the coming years.

Following the acquisition, Kiva System headquarters will remain in North Reading, Massachusetts.

Under the terms of the agreement, which has been approved bys stockholders, Amazon will acquire all of the outstanding shares of Kiva for approximately $775 million in cash, as adjusted for the assumption of options and other items. Subject to various closing conditions, the acquisition is expected to close in the second quarter of 2012.


The Mobile-robotic Fulfillment System: game-changing warehouse automation for pick, pack and ship

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$775 Million in CASH!!!


MobiCon: A Mobile Context-Monitoring Platform

MobiCon: A Mobile Context-Monitoring Platform


Youngki Lee, S.S. Iyengar, Chulhong Min, Younghyun Ju, Seungwoo Kang, Taiwoo Park, Jinwon Lee, Yunseok Rhee, and Junehwa Song

Smart mobile devices are the gateway for personal services in the emerging pervasive environment,
enabling context-aware applications involving personal sensor networks with sensor devices on the
human body and/or surrounding spaces. Diverse sensors function as tools applications use to acquire
user context, or current individual status, without user intervention (see Table 1); for example, physical
contexts (such as heart rate) are recognized through biomedical devices (such as electrocardiogram,
or ECG, galvanic skin response, or GSR, and blood volume pulse, or BVP, sensors) and gait is derived
through accelerometers and gyroscopes. Likewise, environmental status can be obtained from light/
temperature/dust sensors, GPS, RFID, and related networks. Diverse contexts enable mobile applications
to proactively provide users customized personal services. Such applications are emerging
in diverse research domains, including health care, elderly support,dietary monitoring, daily life assistance,
and sports training.

Full paper :[Communications%20of%20the%20ACM].pdf

On Optimizing Autonomous Pipeline Inspection

On Optimizing Autonomous Pipeline Inspection


Xin Li, Member, IEEE, Wuyi Yu, Student Member, IEEE, Xiao Lin, and S. S. Iyengar, Fellow, IEEE


Abstract—This paper studies the optimal inspection of autonomous robots in a complex pipeline system. We solve a 3-D region-guarding problem to suggest the necessary inspection spots. The proposed hierarchical integer linear programming optimization algorithm seeks the fewest spots necessary to cover the entire given 3-D region. Unlike most existing pipeline inspection systems that focus on designing mobility and control of the explore robots, this paper focuses on global planning of the thorough and automatic inspection of a complex environment. We demonstrate the efficacy of the computation framework using a simulated environment, where scanned pipelines and existing leaks, clogs, and deformation
can be thoroughly detected by an autonomous prototype robot.


Pull paper : J-(2012) – On optimizing autonomous pipeline inspection – [IEEE-TRO].pdf

A new project of the VEX robotics team in Discovery Lab

Auto – Target – Tracking Robot