22 SERVO 07.2014
TELEMBA CLEANING UP
Meet Telemba — which its creators say is the "world's cheapest
Like other telepresence robots, Telemba works as your robotic body at
a remote location. By using a computer, you can drive Telemba around and
interact with people remotely. You see what the robot sees, and you can
attend meetings or just hang out with friends.
Telemba was created by a team of Japanese roboticists who wanted to
design a simplified and inexpensive telepresence robot. After testing and
improving their initial prototypes, they decided to put their project on
Kickstarter. For $170, you can get a Telemba Basic [pictured here], and for
$150 you get a shorter version called the Telemba Mini.
Here's the catch: The Roomba and Android tablet you need to use
Telemba are not included. So, yes, Telemba is actually a kit that lets you turn
your old Roomba and Android tablet into a cool new robot.
The Telemba team says they adopted this approach because they believe
lots of people have outdated Roombas and tablets they don't use anymore,
and also because they think existing telepresence robots cost too much.
The Telemba project is led by Ryosuke "Ron" Tajima, and the team
includes Kei Okada, a professor at the University of Tokyo, and other
researchers from the JSK Lab (the same lab that spun off SCHAFT — the
robotics startup that won the DARPA Robotics Challenge Trials and was
acquired by Google).
CRABSTER AIDS IN SEARCH
When Bong-Huan Jun first saw news of South Korea's recent
Sewol ferry sinking with hundreds of high school students trapped on
board, he had stopped by a highway service area on his way to work.
Jun knew he had something that could help out: an experimental
underwater robot named Crabster.
Crabster was designed by Jun and his colleagues at the Korea
Research Institute of Ship and Ocean Engineering (KRISO) as a huge
six-legged robot capable of scuttling along the ocean floor. The robot
can withstand strong tidal currents, and carries both sonar and
acoustic cameras capable of seeing through murky underwater
conditions — precisely the conditions divers had to struggle with as they searched the Sewol ferry wreck in the
cloudy waters of the Yellow Sea near Jindo Island.
The South Korean Coast Guard refused to allow the relatively untested Crabster to work directly with human
divers at the ferry wreck, but it eventually gave the robot's team one and a half hours to survey the sunken ferry
from a distance of 70 meters. Jun and his colleagues ended up launching the robot 13 times, allowing the robot to
spend a total time of 15 hours and 36 minutes in the water.
Photo courtesy of Telemba.