August 2013 Robotics Meetup Summary

From: Roy B
Sent on: Sunday, October 20, 2013 5:32 PM

Hello fellow citizen scientists (see below for the reference),


I'm still getting caught up on my meeting summaries. We had a pretty good turnout in August. Let me know if you have anything to add to my notes.

- Earl demoed his Cypress PSoC programmable system-on-a-chip setup that he  is using as part of his circuit board testing business. The chip combines  programmable analog and digital circuits and peripherals with an ARM Cortex microcontroller. The circuits can be routed and programmed via a graphical user interface. Earl was able to cut down on the number of discrete electronic components that his previous tester board employed. The system is controlled via a Java NetBeans interface running on a PC.

- Andrew demoed his vision-based ball tracking robot. It uses a laptop running OpenCV to detect the location of the ball and the location and orientation of a modified RC car via the laptop's webcam. He hacked the car's controller to be operated by an Arduino, which talks to the laptop. Andrew plans to publicly release the Python source code, and the Arduino Sketch. The release will include excellent documentation on how the setup works, including discussions of the color space (RGB vs HSV) and homography (how to correctly extrapolate information about the 3D world from the 2D webcam images).

- Mike gave an insightful talk about his experiences with developing robots for use in surgical operating rooms. His idea was to build a pretty sophisticated robot to offload some of the drudgery of the scrub nurses. But, when they saw the robot actually being demoed, the nurses were concerned that the robot might be taking their jobs away. So, he retreated from the OR and is now working on a robot to deal with the cleaning of post-surgical instruments. He thinks that, at least for the immediate future, the model of human-robot interaction should lie more along the "Star Wars" model, where robots are friendly but subservient to people, rather than the Asimovian paradigm ("Three Laws of Robotics" etc.), where robots are more akin to peers.

Robot Links:
- Here's a recent NY Times article about The Rapid Advance of Artificial Intelligence
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/15/technology/the-rapid-advance-of-artificial-intelligence.html?adxnnl=1&src=recg&adxnnlx=1381861580-kDv1zcika9zq+4ILWqzG6w

- Carnegie Mellon Robot Institute Seminar: Paul Oh (Associate Department Head, Mechanical Engineering, Drexel University) "Robotics: Pathways to Transformative Research" (I mentioned this at the October Meetup - he calls robotics hobbyists "citizen scientists", and shows some neat flying and humanoid robots. He also has some interesting ideas about collaboration between government, industry, and academia - as well as international cooperation for robot development and education)
http://www.ri.cmu.edu/event_detail.html?event_id=284&menu_id=242&event_type=seminars (also on YouTube)

See you at the next meetup. As always, let me know if you have anything you want to demo or discuss, or learn about.
- Roy

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