So, Where’s My Robot?

Thoughts on Social Machine Learning


FloBi is a cute and nicely designed social robot head from University of Bielefeld in Germany (presented this week at ICRA 2010).  It is specifically designed for HRI and is anthropomorphic but has a cartoon-like baby face to get around the uncanny valley.  Which I think they definitely achieved.

One of the most interesting aspects is the modular design.  As seen in the video linked above, the shells are easily changed out to create different looks, changing from male to female for example.  Another unique characteristic is the facial features.  They had the goal of having “no holes” in the face, which lead to a magnetic actuation design for the facial features (lips,brows).  This was fun to see working, since its an idea we have been playing around with independently.

Looking forward to seeing more about what comes from the FloBi project!

May 6th, 2010 Posted by | Conferences, HRI | no comments

PR2 is headed to Georgia Tech

Today Willow Garage announced the winners of their PR2 Beta Program CFP.   After reviewing 78 proposals they selected 11 schools to receive a PR2, and our Georgia Tech team, headed up by Prof. Charlie Kemp, made the cut.

  • Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg with the proposal TidyUpRobot
  • Bosch with the proposal Developing the Personal Robotics Market.
  • Georgia Institute of Technology with the proposal Assistive Mobile Manipulation for Older Adults at Home.
  • Katholieke Universiteit Leuven with the proposal Unified Framework for Task Specification, Control and Coordination for Mobile Manipulation.
  • MIT CSAIL with the proposal Mobile Manipulation in Human-Centered Environments.
  • Stanford University with the proposal STAIR on PR2.
  • Technische Universität München with the proposal CRAM: Cognitive Robot Abstract Machine.
  • University of California, Berkeley with the proposal PR2 Beta Program: A Platform for Personal Robotics.
  • University of Pennsylvania with the proposal PR2GRASP: From Perception and Reasoning to Grasping
  • University of Southern California with the proposal Persistent and Persuasive Personal Robots (P^3R): Towards Networked, Mobile, Assistive Robotics
  • University of Tokyo, Jouhou System Kougaku (JSK) Laboratory with the proposal Autonomous Motion Planning for Daily Tasks in Human Environments using Collaborating Robots

May 4th, 2010 Posted by | Announcements, HRI, Industry | no comments

Robot Jazz Improv

CNN ran a story last week on the latest work of Gil Weinberg and Guy Hoffman on their robot musician, Shimon.   The story covers their recent demonstration of robot jazz improv at CHI 2010 and the Listening Machines 2010 concert.

“Shimon is an autonomous marimba-playing robot designed to create interactions with human players that lead to novel musical outcomes. The robot combines music perception, interaction, and improvisation with the capacity to produce melodic and harmonic acoustic responses through choreographic gestures. We developed an anticipatory action framework, and a gesture-based behavior system, allowing the robot to play improvised Jazz with humans in synchrony, fluently, and without delay. In addition, we built an expressive non-humanoid head for musical social communication.”

The new head is particularly nice–a 6-degree of freedom addition, that aesthetically matches the industrial looking mallet arms.   It uses the camera in the head to perceive other band members, and times its head beats to the music.  As they say, the purpose of the head is to create the social responsiveness and reaction that the other humans in the jazz group expect from a teammate.

And I’m not the only one who thinks they did a nice job on the social cues, the local Atlanta news anchors liked it too (though they did list the article under the heading “bizarre”).

Update:  This work just received a best paper award at ICRA 2010, congrats to Guy and Gil!

May 2nd, 2010 Posted by | HRI, In the News | no comments