Posts Tagged ‘MIT’
The Ottawa Mini Maker Faire was super cool! The previous Maker Faire that I was invited to go to was in San Fransisco, but I was in a car accident and it would have been unwise to actually go. This is why I was looking forward to the Ottawa one so much! It was a hit! There were tons of people to talk to, with lots of cool exhibits and stuff. About 500 people visited throughout the course of the two days! It was a fantastic turnout, for a “mini” Faire!
For my table, I brought MANOI and Yoda Bot, and all the tools necessary to make repairs if they were needed. MANOI was going to play hockey, and Yoda was going to pass the ball to MANOI. What really happened was MANOI ended up doing dance moves every three seconds, and Yoda Bot moved back and forth a bit while conserving battery life. People really seemed to enjoy MANOI and Yoda Bot though!
The most common questions that I received were…
- What does MANOI do?
- Is that a camera on MANOI’s headband?
- What does Yoda Bot do?
- What powers MANOI?
- I saw MANOI on Daily Planet! Right?
- Are you affiliated with any institution?
Pretty cool questions that were fun to answer. I really enjoyed explaining how MANOI’s hockey stick works, as well as the wireless link back to the computer. People were impressed with the smooth motions that MANOI had, too. A lot of people thought I was going to MIT for some reason… The most in depth question that I got involved the robot mesh network idea and SLAM. Actually, I think that question was from Carlitos so check out his blog at Carlitos Contraptions!
There was a lot of reprap action at the Mini Maker Faire. There were so many MakerBots it was an army! It was interesting to see them up close in person. They really are interesting tools that do a precise job of making things. Many people only print stuff in black and white though, which is kind of boring. There’s a reprap loaner program that I might be doing with Foulab. I’m misty about how it works in the details, but essentially I will be able to either print or make a new reprap from the old one, and I document and make a Bill of Materials covering how I made it.
The other robots at the Mini Maker Faire were pretty interesting. There was a ping-pong ball robot that had a complex mechanical loading system. There were LED indicators too to tell it where it was in the process of firing ping pong balls at you!
There were the tiny sumo robots too. One of them played the first few bars of “I’m a Barbie Girl” in MIDI tones. There was another robot that could move its wheels to be on a 45 degree angle, that way it could spin in circles. There was also another robot that looked like it was made from a Vex kit, which was pretty cool.
There was a boat robot from one of the university’s clubs. It used OpenCV to detect a red buoy and fire off its propellors accordingly. Water and electronics is a super challenge, it was pretty nifty to see some people doing that!
All of the people were really nice. it was like a science fair but without the judges, so people were there to genuinely learn about the hobbies and projects that local Canadians were up to! It was a blast, really. I am really interested in seeing what changes in the various projects next year! The rumours going around are that there’s going to be a Maker Faire in Toronto and Vancouver sometime next year!
Thanks a bunch to the organizers and volunteers for the Ottawa Mini Maker Faire!
There was a pretty awesome TV special a few nights ago- Rodney’s Robot Revolution. It was on “The Nature of Things”. Here’s the summary they give on their site:
As former head of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab, Professor Brooks is once again going to test his robot-building mettle with what has become the most challenging project of his entire career: to build a robot for the Pentagon capable of playing an ancient Chinese board game of GO against a human opponent. Brooks has only five months to build it from scratch, making his challenge that much more outrageous.
The premise of the show surrounded Rodney Brook’s project for the government- to build a social robot that will play go…. in nine months! (For some reason the CBC website says 5 months, but I clearly heard 9 months, three or four times).
I think he did have some students help- at least he did with the hand part that needed to pick up the pieces. The hand consisted of two fingers, with special force sensing resistors on them. The fingers was pretty good at first- it worked often. Afterwards, they placed a cover on the two fingers with bumps on it so that the piece would remain grasped until placed onto the board. It didn’t work often- it couldn’t pick up the pieces.
The other main parts of the robot was the computer vision. It used two off the shelf logitech cameras as eyes, and it had a few more stationary cameras around to get different views of the board. The eyes were mounted on a metal part that served as a face, which could move. At one point, the robot almost fell off the table because the movements were too quick, and not fluid.
The only part that seemed a little wonky was when they mentioned that robotics is a competitive industry. The jist of the message was that other places like Google, Sony, and Honda are competing with MIT’s robotics. I kind of laughed at that… as MIT is a university, not a company. They weren’t just comparing an apple with an orange, they were comparing an apple with a pineapple. Either way, Sony’s Aibo robot is a distant past, and Asimo has sort of been around for a long time- just evolving and improving! As for Google… errrrr. I thought we were talking about physical robots here? Lol! I think what they meant to portray was that there are other places that are R&D’ing robotics.
The part that I found quite interesting was that even though each of the “sections” of the robot worked okay- like the hand, the computer vision, the algorithms, they weren’t combined to work with each other very well. What I mean by that is… there was too much focus on creating the basics perfectly, instead of just building a simple model first, and improving on it with milestones. If it would have been done this way, there would have been something to demonstrate at the end that would work. It’s better to have something that works, even though it doesn’t meet the requirements, than something that meets the requirements but doesn’t work.
First start off with giving the robot the piece, and start off with all the cameras stationary. The robot can still be sociable even if the cameras aren’t in the eyes (for some reason, this seems to be a common misjudgment). Once that stage is working, make a hand that will have to move the piece. Then make it pick up the piece. After that works, then go on to moving the cameras, and finish up by adding a sociable touch.
It’s almost like the difference between the old macbookpros and the new ones. The old ones were created by putting pieces together, the new ones are created by taking material away. My suggested method is like taking all the possible difficulties away, one by one. If you only put pieces together, you’ll miss out on many opportunities to improve and optimize the robot. Additionally, there were no backup plans. If the robot didn’t have a pebble, it wouldn’t go back to pick another one up. It happens all the time in games between humans… the pieces are small and glossy, seriously!
9 months (or even 5 months) is a lot of time- especially when you have all the resources, and people that are eager to help out.
If I would have built the robot, I would have used an octopus-like suction cup to pick up one of the pieces. The location of the cameras would have been different… and the base would be bigger so it wouldn’t tip over. Plus, my method would have been different, as discussed above.
There’s another neat TV show soon, Five Years on Mars! National Geographic channel, Sunday Nov 2!
Don’t forget about Daily Planet too… my fav TV show that’s on at 7pm each weekday (Discovery Channel)
Looks like Stanford has their own version of MIT OCW with some neat courses up! It’s called Stanford Engineering Everywhere.
I’m just looking at the Machine Learning course now… it looks pretty fun – definitely worth checking out
OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG!
(Yes, I do believe this post is worthy of an OMG factor of 10 in BIG font!)
I just checked my Net News Wire @ 11:42PM tonight – and Talking Robots has Cynthia Breazeal! OMG!
That’s so AWESOMEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! SO TOTALLY AWWWWEEESOMEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!
I can’t wait to listen to it tomorrow!
Nexi is just so unbelievable… likable! Scary, at first, but really cool! And Kismet… Kismet inspired me to make Robbie the Robot! WOWEE!
You can check out Talking Robots here!
Yay! The MIT Splash was really really really fun. From the sign-up being in real disarray on Oct.31st and Nov. 1st, I was really impressed that everything was really really really well organized and run! They even found my phone, which I lost. (No, I did not lose it on purpose because the iPhone is coming… the Organic Chemistry teacher was oblivious as to what was happening outside the window and I had to sprint with a heavy bag and untied shoe to get into the photo). I did skip his other class, Intro to Genetics since I found out that I’m really really really not interested in that type of stuff.
Hmm… My fav classes were probably Advanced Java, Goal Oriented Machine Learning, AI as Common Sense Problems (or something like that), and How Computers Work : Software (which turned out to be a Q&A class ). There was one class that involved Linear Algebra & Physics to explain how Google’s news thingy worked… the person teaching it seemed nervous, so it wasn’t that effective. I’m sure it’s a fantastically interesting thing to look into, but what are you going to do afterwards? You can’t go to the moon with that knowledge…
Anyway, the really really really weird part about the trip was that I was always cold! It sounds weird, but it’s like as if my bones were frozen. I was never really warm! And I’m still cold now! Brrr…
I have arrived at MIT for a 4 day adventure! I have been looking forward to this since September-ish, and it is SUPER to be here! The drive was okay… kinda. We were driving INTO the snow storm. I slept most of the way though, with my Spongebob blankie, listening to my iPod When we arrived at Boston, we realized it is a VERY busy and bustling city. Did you know- the crosswalk makes a ‘tweeting’ noise when you are supposed to walk. It kinda gets annoying. We got really lost… but we made it to the Admissions Info Session about 15 minutes late. The most discouraging fact I learned during that session is that you need to take 8 Humanity courses. Moreover, they only select 1,000 people out of 10,000- and they DO look at your marks.
The tour was extremely freezing- but it was nice to see all the buildings around Killain’s Court before tomorrow’s ESP Splash Program. My fav part- the CSAIL building! However, there is a proper name for it, but I know it as CSAIL. (CSAIL – Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab). At the end of the tour, we went to The COOP, where I got 3 teddy bears with MIT sweaters on them (1 magnetic one- for my locker, 1 keychain one- for my bag, and 1 stuffie one- to keep me motivated when I go back home). Also got a pink MIT waterbottle (since I forgot mine at home -.-”), tiny notepad & pen, NEW laptop bag (it’s chic!), and last but not least in love- the MIT sweater. This was great- except for one thing. How do we get back to the hotel? Thank goodness for OnStar, otherwise we really would have been lost! The Turn-by-turn direction system is amazing ^_^
So tomorrow will be another exciting day! MIT Spash here I come!!
PS: Regarding the lack of posts- my Vienna messed up all of the posts I clicked, erasing them all. I’m changing my method now- shift + command + M! This will mark the article, and hopefully not mess up. Furthermore, I’ve been busy with homework!
And so I leave you with pics!
I received my Arduino starter kit from ladyada.com not too long ago – Oct. 30th to be exact – It’s AWESOME! I really think this will work well. Check out the pics and video below!
This is the protosheild. It sheilds the Arduino for you, this way nothing should happen to it! It is also easier to create circuits with. I spent an hour or so today soldering it all together ^_^ (I learned how to solder, YAY!)
And now for the test video!
Hope you like!
As for the programming of the project, it is not going too well. I will have to devise a new plan ASAP. I believe I have to submit the project near the end of December… YIKES! However, I am sure I will get it done!
I have registered for MIT ESP’s Splash 2007, mainly in Computer Science classes. It’s going to be the best weekend EVERR! I really can’t wait. Hopefully they can help out once I tell them about the project.