ROBOT FOLDS, LITERALLY
Folding clothing, is a science that human brains simply cannot
master. This little robot named Foldy gets the job done with the aid
of a ceiling mounted camera and a PC, and is able to fold everything
from pants to shirts. However, the point of Foldy is not really to fold
clothes, but to demonstrate “an interactive graphical editing interface
that tells intelligent robots how to complete tasks in dynamic
environments.” Basically, you show the robot (on the computer)
how you want it to fold something. This represents a learning
technique that can be applied to all kinds of other household chores.
Professor Masahiko Inami and his team at Keio University
developed this small robot that follows a user’s instructions to fold
laundry. The ceiling-mounted camera keeps track of the robot’s
position and the clothing while a human operator inputs commands via the PC interface. If a user attempts an illegal
command, the GUI flashes red. Instructions can be stored and replayed
so that a variety of clothing, can be folded automatically. Naturally, this
data can be shared among users.
Due to Foldy’s small size and relatively inexpensive components, it
could serve as an excellent educational tool. Inami Laboratory is focused
on developing a variety of interfaces so that humans can more naturally
interact with computers, virtual reality, and robotics. The Foldy project
is part of JST ERATO’s Igarashi Design Interface Project.
An Italian company has been using a
Neptune SB-1 remote control submarine
to run fiber cables through sewers. The
mini-sub is made by Thunder Tiger and
comes at a price of about $600 from
hobby shops. They say that the toy can
reach almost every home that is connected to the sewer system and saves time,
money, and human resources. If other
countries consider the idea, then it would
be a decent way to replace people who
must go down and brave alligators.
REALLY? WHERE’S WALDO?
Waldo — Mote Marine Labs' 115-pound autonomous underwater vehicle — went
missing last week and its creators were literally asking "Where's Waldo?"
A $500 reward was offered on the $100,000 AUV, but apparently it was only 50
feet away from where it was lost. The sub resurfaced and signaled its position to its
owners. Waldo has been trolling the Gulf near Venice since 2005, seeking phytoplankton — a single-celled algae that produces red tide.
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