Friday, March 30, 2007
The once-trendy "real-time strategy" (RTS) genre -- popularized in the late '90s with games such as "Blizzard's Starcraft" and Electronic Arts' "Command and Conquer" -- is poised for its long-overdue comeback.
reports that Atmel is now shipping a very inexpensive single board
computer (SBC) that runs Linux. The ATNGW
100 board, based on Atmel's AVR32 architecture, can be had for only
$69. While it's aimed at network gateway use, robot experimenters will
be interested too because of the pricing. The board includes a
lot of stuff for $69 such as a 140MHz AT32AP7000
MCU/DSP, 32MB SDRAM, 16MB flash, an SD/MMC slot, an ATtiny24 board
controller interface, 16-bit stereo audio DAC, LCD controller, USB 2.0,
two 10/1000 Ethernet ports, RS232, USART, TWI/I2C, I2S, JTAG, timer/PWM
outputs, and GPIO pins. More details can be found on the AVR
Freaks NGW page.
Thursday, March 29, 2007
For some, it's chocolate. For others, it's coffee or cigarettes. But as this Easter approaches, some young and devout Christians are anxious to return to what they gave up for Lent: Internet sites Facebook and MySpace.
discussion on the Dallas Personal
Robotics Group mailing list led to a series of postings
by David P. Anderson about
the subsumption architecture he implemented in the control software of
his robots, SR04
David has compiled his subsumption postings and added references, code
diagrams to help explain his approach in a new article posted on
the DPRG website. He also provides
links to video of his robots
demonstrating the behaviors that result. There is a wealth of useful
information here for anyone interested in the real world use of
subsumption. For more technical information on the style of subsumption
championed by Rodney
Brooks, see his paper, Intelligence
without representation (PDF format). If you're new to the whole idea
and wondering what it's all about, Wikipedia offers a concise
explanation of Subsumption architecture.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Our friends at
Doctorsgadgets have a short overview
of recent replacement parts for the human body.
Everything from an
These advances will inevitably lead to discussions about
how far a person is willing to go to extend life.
Humans currently accept false teeth, hair, and even
will they accept living in a body where most of the components are
If the current debate about implantable
ID chips is any indication, many
will draw the line soon.
Of course, it remains to be seen whether advances in electro-mechanical
replacements will occur before
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
So, you're sulking because you missed the
North American Robot Safety Conference in Ontario this week.
No need to fret, polish up your business plan and get the suit cleaned
ROBOBusiness Conference & Expo 2007 in Boston - May 15-16.
Programs include talks by Dan Kara, iRobot Chairman Helen Greiner,
and Microsoft's Tandy
Next stop, the International
Robots & Vision show, June 12-14 in Chicago.
Then dash over to Vancouver on June 18-20 for the
conference on neural networks, evolutionary computing, and
After all that running around, make way to the basement to finsh
up your project for the
Maker Faire in Texas this October.
Monday, March 26, 2007
Sunday, March 25, 2007
Saturday, March 24, 2007
Roland Piquepaille writes, "According to a St.
Louis Post-Dispatch article, computer scientists at the Washington
University in Saint-Louis (WUSTL) have built a robot that makes drip
paintings like Jackson Pollock's -- who was also known as 'Jack the
Dripper.' The robot, dubbed Action
Jackson, can finish an 'artwork' in
just minutes, like Jackson Pollock probably did. But the paintings by
this robot can be bought for about $10, which is far from the whopping
$140 million price paid last year for "No 5, 1948." Anyway, the article
raises an interesting question: who is the artist, the software designer
or the robot?" For more details on Action Jackson, see Roland's blog
Friday, March 23, 2007
While the Web allows kids the freedom to make friends, play games and research homework with the click of a button, it can pose a potential danger as online predators, cyberbullies and scam artists ply their trade.
Brain cell destruction following a stroke is common and often leads to
loss of some motor function.
Repetitive exercise therapy is then used to recruit other neurons to
take on the task.
MIT's robotic brace helps exploit this under-appreciated neural
adaption by strengthening
the feedback loop between the brain and limbs.
EMG sensors within the brace monitor muscle activity and command
actuators to assist with the desired motion.
A study to appear in the April 2007 issue of the
American Journal of Physical
Medicine & Rehabilitation
showed the robotic brace improved severely impaired arm function by 23%
on average and
greatly reduced muscle tightness.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Julian Togelius writes,
"At Essex, we have for some time been working on automatically
learning how to race cars in simulation. It turns out that a
combination of evolutionary algorithms and neural networks can learn
how to beat all humans in racing games, and also come up with some
quite interesting, novel behaviours, which might one day make their
way into commercial racing games. While this is simulation, the race
is now on for the real thing - we are setting up a competition
for AI developers, where the goal is to win a race between model cars
on real tracks. As the cars will be around half a meter long, the
cost of participating will be a fraction of that for the famous DARPA
Grand Challenge, whereas the challenges will be similar in terms of
computer vision and AI." For more details, I'd suggest checking out
some of the papers Julian has coauthored including Point-to-Point Car
Racing: an Initial Study of Evolution Versus Temporal Difference
Learning (PDF format), Sensorless
but not Senseless: Prediction in Evolutionary Car Racing (PDF
format), and Evolving
robust and specialized car racing skills (PDF format).