Philip English

Robotics Enthusiast, Director, Investor, Trainer, Author and Vlogger

Orihime | Atlas Robot | Europa Robot Weekly Update

OriHime Atlas Robot Europa Robot

Hi there, and welcome to my weekly Robot Update. This is wear I do a round up of what is going on in the Robot news around the world, so stay tuned.

Hi Guys, I’m Philip English from, and welcome to the Robot Weekly update number 21.

Loneliness fighting robot avatar

In this world there are many who remain unseen, weighted and shut in by their own loneliness. There are hospitalized children who cannot go to school, senior citizens who cannot move freely but whose minds are fully intact, and members of the armed services who only rarely see their families. Solitude continuing over extended periods raises a risk of self-estrangement and feelings of powerlessness, and can lead to depression. In the elderly, it can also hasten dementia.

The robot avatar OriHime aims to eliminate this kind of isolation, but it is not a conversation partner, or something that will play with you and keep you company. Instead of creating an artificial interaction, OriHime is a robot designed to facilitate connections between humans.

For example, consider a child who has been hospitalized for an extended period of time. The child wants to attend school, but cannot. OriHime can be put at the child’s desk instead.

The child can then use a smart device or a PC to control OriHime at a distance. OriHime comes equipped with a microphone, camera, and speaker, and its head and arms can be moved by remote control. If you want to look to the right, OriHime can be made to do so by controlling it with the device.

By using the device in the hospital room, the child can have the feeling of chatting directly with their friends. The child can not only take a class but actually participate in it, for example by answering the teacher’s questions. OriHime becomes an alter ego or avatar.

Rocky the Robot!

It may not be quite like the film Rocky, in which Sylvester Stallone battled the odds in the ring.  However, Google’s humanoid robot has been undertaking some boxing training ahead of its appearance in the US Military’s ‘robo olympics’. Researcher have been using a boxing glove on a long pole to try and push the 6.2 foot humanoid over in a test of its balance systems. Researchers at the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Interaction developed the software for the robot. ‘Video demonstrating experimental push recovery and fall avoidance techniques on the Boston Dynamics Atlas Humanoid Robot at IHMC.’ they entitled the clip. ‘Still some work to be done :)’

The Atlas robot created by Google-owned firm Boston Dynamics is a formidable figure at 6ft 2in tall and weighing in at 330lb.

The robot boasts 28 hydraulically actuated joints and stereo vision, and is one of the most advanced robots ever created. Atlas will also now carry an onboard 3.7-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack, with the potential for one hour of ‘mixed mission’ operation that includes walking, standing, use of tools, and other movements. The Florida team is one of several using it, and has previously programmed it to recreate a scene from the Karate Kid movie, crouching on one leg. Later this year, seven of the Atlas robots will compete in a ‘robo oylmpics’ – designed to recreate natural disasters the robots could one day be sent into.  A total of $3.5 million in prizes will now be awarded to the top three finishers in the DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC), the final event of which will be held June 5-6, 2015, at Fairplex in California. Aside from the previously announced $2 million grand prize, DARPA plans to award $1 million to the runner-up and $500,000 to the third-place team.  DARPA expects at least twenty teams to compete in the DRC Finals.

Scientists want to send a fish-like ‘soft robot’ to swim the oceans of Europa

Europa, one of the many moons of Jupiter, is a very promising address in the solar system for those who say it’s possible we’ll find life beyond Earth right here in the Milky Way. For one thing, researchers have pretty good evidence that a giant liquid ocean exists below the moon’s icy crust. A group of researchers at Cornell has come up with an idea for an animal-like underwater rover that could one day explore Europa.

The “soft robot” proposal just won a $100,000 grant from NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts initiative — an award for project ideas that are at the cutting edge of the tools we have to explore space. The proposed rover looks more like a squid than a robot, and that’s intentional: Soft robots are intended to “move more like a natural organism,” co-principal investigator Rob Shepherd said in an interview with The Washington Post.

Shepherd is one of the researchers exploring the possibilities of soft-machine building, a field of research that is still in its early stages.

When thinking about what kind of rover would be best suited to Europa’s oceans, “we thought it would be a good idea to make machines that swim like our own terrestrial ocean animals,” Shepherd said.

In fact, the Cornell robot bears a stronger resemblance to another, more ancient underwater creature found on Earth: a lamprey. Lampreys are simple, eel-like creatures that have changed little in hundreds of thousands of years. They’re living fossils. Shepherd said the idea to base the rover on a lamprey came from the advice of an evolutionary biologist at Cornell, William Bemis.

Lampreys are great models for a swimming robot “primarily because of [their] relative simplicity,” Shepherd said. Their simple design is pretty well-tested by the evolutionary process. The researchers are even borrowing a little from the lamprey’s mouth: instead of a jaw, the creature has a toothed, suction-like opening. The rover might have a similar opening that it could use for “grasping or anchoring things,” Shepherd said.

That’s it guys, for a weekly world Robot News, I am your host Philip English

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