One of the highlights of the Techfest 2012, which held at IIT Bombay, was its international exhibitions arena. Evidently dominated by robots, the robotic section had covered several aspects – humanoid, surveillance, educational and industrial. The robotic platform at the Techfest 2012 showcased bots expressing emotions, playing intelligent games and serving as a model for military training, among others. With a great potential for applications in future in varying fields, lets look at these robots one by one.
Ready for the game
Robot Football – On the field
On display was a 40cm tall robot that clearly belonged to the athletic clan of bots. The robot is a part of the football team as it walks along a sketched red line on a green patch flaunting its Adidas shoes (No, Adidas isn’t the sponsorer).
Football is an intelligent game and requires quick reasoning. The Plymouth University along with Merlin System Corp, have designed and manufactured Robot football prototypes. Using an ID and software, each robot distinguishes itself from the other to know the pitch, boundary and the ball. The host PC calculates the best move for each bot, accordingly. So, basically, the PC is its brain and using the camera built-into them, various bots are programmed and they also adhere to colour codes. On the flip side, the bot on display required 25 minutes of charging to run for 10 minutes.
Genibo SD – The Robo dog
Showcasing it as an educational robot – the robo dog christened Genibo SD can interact with its master. Genibo is an AI-based robo dog that claims to do almost everything that a real dog is capable of. In fact even more, like standing on the head, kick boxing and sit ups, to name a few. The robot can remember faces, and can recognize its master. Genibo has touch sensors on its body and would react to soothing touches and on the other hand barks at aggressive and harsh behaviour.
There are no pre-set instructions and upon charging works up to 3-4 hours. It can express its feelings through emoticon LEDs in its eyes such as happiness, sadness and also sounds. It comes with PC Control Manager Software to provide live view of what the dog is seeing, take photos, create skits/dance routines, record voice memos, MP3 playback, and set alarms. It weighs 1.7 kgs with several touch and internal sensors. Metalmate Robotics India has made available this educational robot for purchase at around 1.9 lakhs.
Crazycopter – Crazy Flie Quadcoper
Buzzing like a fly, this quadcopter is a prototype of the CrazyCopter project. It equips four motors and one PCB to traverse the sky way. Yes, something similar was used in one of the popular Bollywood flick, albeit the size is miniature enough to believe it’s an insect. At mere 20 grams, the PCB is light enough for swift movements.
Its creators Arnaud Taffanel , Tobias Antonsson , Marcus Eliasson of Daedalus preferred using a PS2 joystick for controlling it. “You can use other controllers such as the Wii remote too but due to intensive gaming we prefer the PlayStation joystick”, said one of the makers. He further spoke about the applications and revealed how a camera can be mounted on the copter for surveillance.
TNT Soccer Robot
As the name suggests, the robot is an ambitious soccer player. With three-wheeled, brushless omnidrive with Maxon motors, along with high speed and strength supplement, its job is to chase the ball (which has an integrated sensor) and score a goal in the wooden section placed in the small soccer field created by its makers.
Along with the mouse, compass, and ultrasonic sensor, the magnetic field independent of rotation rate sensor helps in the determination of the position and direction. Check out the video and you’ll know how swift it is.
Duct Bot – Industrial robot
Amidst surveillance and educational bots, this one takes a step aside to enter the industrial terrain. This bot inspects and cleans ducts. Ducts bot can get into the narrow metallic passages, give you a clear view of the interior and if cleaning is required, all this without the need to shut down the system. It equips a small color CCD camera with powerful LED and here again PS2 joystick has been used to control it. Video is screened and recorded and the bot sets on its mission to blow high pressure compressed air for cleaning and a filter that collects the debris. Its application is cleaning air-conditioning ducts, especially larger places like malls, hospitals and offices.
Nao – Can mimic
The Nao is all about humanoid robotics. Nao can mimic human behavior and one of its applications will be to assist children with autism wherein humans may lose patience after a certain point of time, says the spokesperson. It is built to bond with people and uses similar expression and behaviour like babies to do so. It can express human emotions like happiness, excitement, sadness, anger, pride and fear.
It features 21 degrees of freedom (DOF), 1 DOF for pelvic, hands that can grip, inertial measurement unit (IMU) and four ultrasonic sensors that provide NAO with stability and positioning within space. It equips a powerful CPU of x86 AMD Geode 500 MHz, along with four microphones, two speakers and two CMOS cameras (640 x 480), for text-to-speech synthesis, sound localization and facial and shape recognition. We tried to interact with Nao, check out how it responded.
GPR-18 Rover – Surveillance applications
The GRP-18 or Rover by GOR is a robotic platform that can be used for tracking or surveillance purposes in extreme conditions. It can roll over rocks and climb steps, while moving through dust, dirt and can be half submerged into water. It can even bear a fall from up to 12 feet. One can load it with up to 14kgs of payload.
It can be used for varied applications such as field surveillance with the use of remote PTZ cameras for situational awareness, giving a bird’s eye view of surroundings with real time recording. It can be used as Hazmat for carrying payload in hostile conditions. Similar kinds of robots were used in Afghanistan and Iraq during hostile conditions. Moreover, its yet another application is oil tank maintenance and inspection.
Prototype to fill in pot holes
GOR also showcased foldable robot capable of indoor surveillance. For example – throw the folded bot in a house with hostages with a mounted camera that slyly gives a view of the situation within. In the industrial robotic section, what also caught our attention is the industrial model by eyantra based on Firebird platform that can be used to detect and fill potholes. The displayed bots display great potential for future applications and clearly show how robotics was favored at the international exhibitions at the Techfest 2012.
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