bots IN BRIEF
HEARD IT THROUGH THE GRAPEVINES
A little robot named Wall-Ye is trying to get involved in the
wine business process from the ground up by helping out in
vineyards in France.
Wall-Ye has two arms and six cameras, weighs 20 kilos, and can
reportedly autonomously prune 600 vines per day — among other
things — according to a report.
Wall-Ye draws on tracking technology, artificial intelligence, and
mapping to move from vine to vine, recognize plant features, capture
and record data, memorize each vine, synchronize six cameras, and
guide its arms to wield tools.
Yours for just $32,000.
To prune a vine, you first need a robot that can reach the vine
(many if not most are trellised fairly high up), and second, you need a
fairly complex vision system to be able to map the vines in 3D with sufficient accuracy and precision to properly cut them.
So, it seems like Wall-Ye may not be able to do this easily. But again, Wall-Ye doesn't have to be a pruning robot. It would
be quite valuable as a mobile monitoring system with the capability to measure temperature, moisture levels, soil PH, and (if
you wanted to get fancy about it) even vigor levels and vine health with a hyperspectral sensor using technology. Just a helpful
Researchers in robotics and communication disorders at
the University of Massachusetts Amherst have teamed up to
explore whether a personal humanoid robot may help
people recovering from stroke by delivering therapy such as
word-retrieval games and arm movement tasks in an
enjoyable and engaging way.
Speech language pathologist Yu-kyong Choe recently
won a two year $109,251 grant from the American Heart
Association to investigate the effect of stroke rehabilitation
delivered by a humanoid robot — a child-sized unit with
arms and a screen where therapists, doctors, and others can
interact with a client. Choe is collaborating with Rod
Grupen, director of UMass Amherst's Laboratory for
Perceptual Robotics, on ways to bring more and longer-term,
home-based therapy and social contact to people recovering
The study will enroll five stroke patients per year to
attend three sessions per week for five weeks at the UMass
Amherst lab. Three treatments will be compared: computer-mediated, robot-mediated, and robot-assisted telepractice by
a remote therapist.
In the robot-mediated condition, patients complete
word-retrieval tasks and games, plus arm exercises delivered
by the robot alone based on therapy routines it has
observed. In the computer-mediated condition, the same
tasks and exercises will be presented on a laptop computer.
In the robot-assisted telepractice condition, the client
performs word- and arm-movement tasks designed and
directed by a therapist in a remote location being observed
and mimicked by the robot via a 3D range camera. The robot
exactly copies the therapist's movements. Choe predicts that
the two robot-mediated conditions will yield better
outcomes in both speech and physical function because of
the patient-robot interactions. The research team will also
analyze how the telepractice and robot-mediated therapy
sessions are received by client and therapist.
Therapists Jennifer Baird and Tammie Foster, with
computer science doctoral students Takeshi Takahashi and
Hee-tae Jung are working with patients three days per week
and developing software for uBot5 — the adaptive humanoid
robot — to act as the liaison between a remote therapist
and the client at home.
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