January 27, 2015

Soft robots, Part 1 — introduction

There may be no other subject on which I’m so potentially biased as robotics, given that:

Still, I’m solely responsible for my own posts and opinions, while Kevin is busy running his startup (Pneubotics) and raising my grandson. And by the way — I’ve been watching the robotics industry slightly longer than Kevin has been alive. ;)

My overview messages about all this are:

Examples of the first point may be found in any number of automobile factory videos, such as:

A famous example of the second point is a 5-year-old video of Kevin’s work on prototype robot locomotion, namely:

Walking robots (such as Big Dog) and general soft robots (such as those from Pneubotics) rely on real-time adaptation to physical feedback. Robots have long enjoyed machine vision,* but their touch capabilities have been very limited. Current research/development proposes to solve that problem, hence allowing robots that can navigate uneven real-world surfaces, grip and lift objects of unpredictable weight or position, and minimize consequences when unwanted collisions do occur. (See for example in the video where Big Dog is kicked sideways across a nasty patch of ice.)

*Little-remembered fact — Symantec spun out ~30 years ago from a vision company called Machine Intelligence, back when “artificial intelligence” was viewed as a meaningful product category. Symantec’s first product — which explains the company name — was in natural language query.

Pneubotics and others take this further, by making robots out of soft, light, flexible materials. Benefits will/could include:

Above all, soft robots will have more effective senses of touch, as they literally bend and conform to contact with real-world surfaces and objects.

Now let’s turn to some of the implications of soft and mobile robotic technology.

Related links

Comments

2 Responses to “Soft robots, Part 1 — introduction”

  1. Soft robots, Part 2 — implications | DBMS 2 : DataBase Management System Services on January 27th, 2015 7:31 am

    […] will soft, mobile robots be able to do that previous generations cannot? A lot. But I’m particularly intrigued by two […]

  2. What is AI, and who has it? | DBMS 2 : DataBase Management System Services on December 3rd, 2015 1:02 am

    […] Earlier this year, I posted about robotics. […]

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