Posts Tagged ‘Clarkson University’
The first annual National Robotics Week is from April 10-18!
The Autonomous Robotics Club will have a special hack-a-thon at it’s regular Wednesday meeting time (8:00PM).
We have plenty of things to hack, including some NXTs, a Furby, Tuxdroid, iSobot, Sneezing Lamp Robot, BubbleBoy, MANOI, iRobot Create, NXTcamv3!
If you’re around Clarkson, why don’t you stop by the Autonomous Robotics Club room? Hope to see you there!
One long and labourious night at the COSI labs, some people were browsing ThinkGeek. They found this robotic penguin, Tuxdroid, and thought it would be perfect for the labs! It was ordered… and now COSI has a robot penguin! It’s a robot of the symbol of everything open-source! Fantastic!
It took a while to get all the way from Belgium to COSI, and it arrived the weekend of Boston FRC regional – March 26th! Everyone resisted opening it in the labs to wait for me… I really appreciated that! =)
Tuxdroid is basically like the Nazbaztag. Tuxdroid can interface with multiple applications on your computer to provide you with a real-world interface to them. A few of which are Skype, Gmail, RSS, and internet radio.
Tuxdroid can flap its arms, close/open its eyes, spin around, open its mouth, blink its eyes, detect light, and play sound. It’s a pretty good set of features that can communicate messages!
One of the best parts though is that you can make gadgets for it that execute code that you write! You can write whatever you want, and you can use Python! Tuxdroid already comes with some useful gadgets though, like saying random Valentine sayings, Christmas carolling, a sense of humour, etc.
It’s also wireless, and can span from about the COSI labs to the Concrete Cafe. That’s about 20m, I’d say? The wireless transmitter is a fish (that is FIRIN ITZ LAZORZ11!1). It has blue LEDs in its eyes that blink when not connected to the Tux.
That basically covers the unboxing of the Tuxdroid. It’s a pretty spiffy piece of equipment that adds spice to any computer lab! Of course, it has secret plans to take over COSI too…
Team 229 is heading to a FIRST competition this week- and since I don’t have three tests on one day I can actually go to this one! WOOHOO!
The location of this competition is one of the most awesome ones… APPARENTLY iRobot scouts people there. Meaning, they’re hunting for smart brains to hire during the summer. :XD: Even though I don’t roll with military style robots (they aren’t supposed to be sociable), that’s pretty cool, to be honest.
I figured that it would be awesome to carry MANOI around and just having it wave its arms, with a Team 229 flag (see picture above). I think some High Schoolers may enjoy that.
Transporting MANOI for the past few years has been a hassle… so we finally found a good box with styrofoam stuff in it! The styrofoam is actually really nicely engineered, because it comes cut into rectangles, which means that you can easily customize it. This is how MANOI fits in its new box:
There is room for MANOI’s basic needs in there- the batteries and charger, ping pong balls, USB cables… etc.
The outside needs more stickers, but I have the classic FRAGILE one, and a “Made with LabVIEW” sticker — even though it’s not even relatively made with LV. Hahahaha! I’m thinking of printing out a picture of an Arduino and taping it on there.
The other day, a member of CUARC with a dremel cut a hole in this metal box for me… Can you guess what is on the inside?
IT’S A MINTYBOOST! YAY!
This will provide MANOI’s microcontroller with the power that it needs while cheering on Team 229
I haven’t programmed the motions yet for MANOI, but I can do that in the hotel tonight. I’m thinking that the legs will be stationary, and just have the arms move around. Also thinking of using the Wii nunchuck to control which sensors are being read or something. I will indeed post the code when I make it! =)
Near the beginning of the Spring 2010 semester, a small activities fair was hosted for various clubs at Clarkson University. Autonomous Robotics Club originally didn’t have a table, but the orchestra let us have a little piece of theirs… =) Coincidentally, it was right near the Yankadi (west African drumming) club!
MANOI was running the Holiday Xtravaganza program, which made it look like it was ringing its bells in tune to the music!!! It was a really interesting sight to see, music from a robot and music from a group interacting together!
Here is a short video of some clips (mainly focussing on MANOI) of the event:
Music is a form of nonverbal communication, says Captain Obvious. So, it would be really worthwhile in the future to research how robots and humans can interact together through music. Perhaps in some elder care homes, drumming in a group with their personal robot (pets) can be a possibility! Maybe it wouldn’t be as intense drumming as this– it could be playing on a balafon or something.
The current elder generation has been closely tied with music… the radio was really popular back then, TVs weren’t all that common yet. Introducing personal robots into this type of a scenario would make sense, it wouldn’t be too intimidating for the elders since they have been accustomed to music for a very long time.
Here are two more videos of MANOI and Yankadi:
Yankadi is really great music activity since it’s so creative and doesn’t require any rhythm at all (if you’re playing in a big group). Plus, the sound is amazing!
Art and technology!! ^_^
WillowGarage in its recent history announced this amazing opportunity where 10 of their PR2 robots would be given away to various hackerspaces, universities, and companies to beta test.
The PR2 robot is full of amazing and drool-worthy technology. We’re talking about cameras in the arms (which are back drivable) that have a great range of freedom with customizable end-effectors, a base that is mobile and can conquer small obstacles, a modular head with stereo-scopic vision, a 5MP camera, a laser range finder in its neck… and so much software from ROS. For me, I was most surprised about the accessible log hard drive of 1.5 TB, as well as the 2x24GB of RAM. Amazing capability for so much number-crunching power! It’s everything that can be wanted in a high-end research robot!
Clarkson University did send in a letter of intent to the CFP, but didn’t end up submitting the proposal. However, I am able to share the parts of the project that I proposed (and worked on for an incredible amount of time)!
One of the major topics of discussions in robotics today is how to make robots appear as though they can be sociable. To make a robot sociable is to allow it to use natural social cues that interest whomever it’s interacting with– basically giving it an artificial persona. How can we, as designers of robots, make humans believe that the robot has a persona? Why is this important anyway?!?!
In a medical-related field of robotics, where the robot is working with a patient to reach some sort of goal, the patient has to remain optimistic in order for the process to be successful. The presence of an artificial persona within the robot can easily exhibit natural social cues that the patient will understand in order to maintain the level of optimism.
The robot has to appear and behave sociably in order for an artificial persona to be evident and to exhibit understandable social cues to the patient. When the patient understands these social cues, a bond will be created between the patient and robot. By the patient forming a bond with the robot, the process will be transformed into a meaningful task that changes over time as goals are overcome and new problems are tackled.
In order for the robot to exhibit the necessary natural social cues, we envision two main hardware additions that could be made to the PR2 robot:
- Ears, mounted on the top of head bolt-patterns
- Eyebrows, mounted on the side of head bolt-patterns
By allowing the PR2 robot to have ear and eyebrow movements, social cues will be able to be communicated effectively to the patient. This effective communication will be crucial in order for the patient to understand what the robot is trying to express within the process.
Adding two simple features to a robot, ears and eyebrows, adds an incredible amount to the sociable degrees of freedom. It’s so important for a robot to have these added DOF in order to portray that it is an approachable piece of equipment, has a persona and character to it, and is not your everyday robot.
We have to keep in mind that NA culture perceives robots completely differently than that of Japanese culture. In NA, robots are not friendly. In Japan, robots are thought of as heros to humanity. If we can embed the feeling that a robot has some character inside of it, then people will take a different opinion on it. ^_^
Pretty much everyone that I know at Clarkson knew I was trying to write up the proposal for this, and how excited I was at this amazing opportunity! It basically chewed up most of the spare time for 2-ish months (hence no blog posts). It’s sad that we/I never got the chance to show off this idea to WillowGarage via the proposal, but I think some WillowGaragers read this blog… so hopefully they will read this post too, and enjoy it! If any of the winners want to add something like this to their robot, I would be more than happy to help in some way. =)
The ideas in this post are under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
On Sunday, a breakthrough was made with regards to getting the CMUcam2 to send a frame back to Matlab! Amazing! It works!
Check out the screenshots:
(something bright was being shone onto the camera)
(lens cap on (yes they make lens caps that small))
It’s quite noticeable that the resolution is very small. In fact, it’s only about 10 pixels in size!
I started off small so that we could have something that works, then go from there. It’s only sending the green channel too, which helps improve the latency.
The way it works now is that it asks for a few hundred bytes of data. From there, we search through the array to find a 1, or the start of the frame, until a 3, or the end of the frame. This is stored into a new variable so that we can search through it (again!) and plot the data.
Plotting the data needs some improvement. Not too sure how to handle this yet– should I make a Processing app that will be able to save the image as a .png? Or can Matlab write images too? Hmm!
Post a comment if you want me to post the code, I just don’t want to post something that’s incomplete and will essentially confuse everyone.
Other projects statii:
Out of the 120 Letters of Intent that WillowGarage received for the PR2 Beta program, one of them is one from Clarkson University!
There are ten robots that are going to be given away. Coincidentally, the research teams that win will be notified on March 26th — that’s the date of the Boston FIRST regional (which Team 229 is attending and is going to ROCK THE ROBOT HOUSE)!
We’re giving it our best shot, and it’s looking really cool! If you see me around, ask me about it!
This whole process has been super exciting. Our proposal is being wrapped up, though it’s only due March 1st (that’s in six days, we still have plenty of time). My two sections are pretty much complete except for some stuff. I’ll be blogging about it on March 1st at 8:00PM, so keep an eye out!
The Socializing a Social Robot with an Artificial Society SURE abstract from the summer has been added to the Honors Summer Research 2009 page! Finally! ^_^
Also, I refined my paper with logic that can easily be followed now, and included Zoomify graphs of the results. This makes it easy for readers to scan and interpret the graphs themselves. Plus, Zoomify graphs are always fun.
As for the code… I still have to get on to documenting it. It’s a lot of work, so I’m just getting through it step by step. Lesson learned: although comments are distracting when you’re working on the code, it’s horrible to go back and then spend time to comment it. Always comment. No exceptions!
SecondLife Statistics Project
We finally parsed through the data and found something really striking. When the economic downturn in real life appeared, the usage hours on SecondLife rose, and kept on rising for a few months! The virtual economy was booming. It’s almost like as if people were tired of the real life, and wanted the easy success of the virtual world.
Though, there was eventually a decrease in the usage hours on SecondLife. This leads us to wonder if…
1) Is there a lag between RL and SL?
2) Did people notice that there weren’t as many opportunities on SL as when they first joined?
It’s really cool to think about this sort of stuff. It makes you wonder what Oreo sales have been like throughout this modern recession. I would love to study Oreo sales, I think they would be really representative of the economic situations. Either that, or Oreo sales always remain constant.
This build season I helped out with the website a lot. We were coming from nothing, and now we have a beautiful source of information, all collected together!
It was quite a load of work, however help from the teammates and mentors helped very much. Go check it out!
Physics Team Design
In Physics II there are two lab sections that allow you to participate in a team based design course. The challenge is to model the velocity of a hobby train with given voltages. We do this using photogates… and a piece of National Instruments hardware that measures data at a rate of 400,000. I’m not sure what the units are, but it’s pretty amazing! The challenge sessions are where we apply this model, trying to predict the train’s movements based on the data that we have collected.
The way the data is collected is through LabView. Unfourtunately, the program that is used was deleted… so the professor/TA needed some help to fix it. After working on it for a few hours, we figured it out and got it to work!
I’ve been playing around with core-plot and working on an app lately- it’s 80% done, and will be out on the App store within the next few weeks!
We’re still trying to sort out if we’re going to Open Source it, and how that would work (since we want people to buy the App too…!). Perhaps we could just *suggest* a donation whenever people try to download the code? Anyone have any experience with Open Source App business model plans?
Coming back from winter break to school was tricky this time around… since I was outside the entire day playing hockey during the break!!! Although Clarkson has open skate, their ice mixture is really weird, and there’s no pickup hockey games Better than nothing, though.
I bought two shirts from shirt.woot, and they are awesome. One of them is ‘I Fought the Laws’, and has three pictures of crazy robots. The other is a robot that is plugged in to a wall outlet, leading to its heart. ^_^
That’s all for now! Keep it real, humans and robots. =)
Warning: This FNR does not contain any robots at all, but it’s still REALLY amazing!
A while ago I put my name on a list that wanted to help out with MLK day, 2010. I originally thought I would be doing a website, not really thinking about the intractability portion. When the Fall 2009 semester began, the group of us met, and ideas were tossed around. MLK Day in 2010 had to be different.
We came up with the idea of having a Twitter aspect of the performance. People would be able to tweet from laptops and then see it displayed on the screen! We are going to be using 5 laptops throughout the dinner, each with a different theme:
When a person goes to send a tweet, this is what the webpage looks like:
It’s very user-friendly in the way that… once a person reads the theme and the question, they’ll understand to type in the box and press the button. I designed it to be simple, hopefully people will think it is simple too.
Being projected onto the display will be the Processing application that I’ve spent the better part of 4 months coding! :O It displays three twitter accounts at a time, and they are refreshed every 10 seconds and cycled upwards. The background changes very slowly over time as well, it’s almost not noticeable. Here is a screenshot:
The best part about this is… it will be open source… in about 1 month. I just need to take some time to document it before I release it to the wild. Since it wasn’t a project for grades, I didn’t comment it (I find comments get in the way), so I will have to do that. Hopefully people will pick it up and improve it, since there’s some parts in the code that it’s obvious that I had no idea what I was doing.
So that is the MLK Twitter portion of the dinner. I’m really amazed how well this is all going to work together, it will be a very special moment for sure. I had the privilege of seeing the performance being rehearsed, it is extraordinary! If it is going to be recorded, I will be sure to post a video.
I hope everyone has a wonderful MLK day! =)