Go to www.servomagazine.com/index.php/magazine/article/December2016_Robytes to comment on these topics.
Bratbot Makes Perfect Sausages
If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to
have a robot handle your sausage (and who hasn’t?),
you may be interested in the Bratwurst Bot
developed by scientists at Germany’s FZI
Forschungszentrum Informatik (FZI Research Center
for Information Technology; www.fzi.de). It is based
on a Universal Robots’ UR- 10 arm, a Schunk PG-70
gripper, two RGB cameras, and a standard gas grill.
The Brat WurstManager system autonomously
schedules turning, picking, and serving at least 10
sausages at a time, grilling them on multiple sides for
According to FZI, “The Brat Wurst Bot is a
professional BBQ chef and therefore has a nice chef hat
with an interactive tablet-based face. Its eyes follow the
TCP [tool center point] of the robot when it is operating on
the grill or on the pickup tray. It also talks to the guests (in
German) and gives some funny statements what it will do
Sadly, the bratbot is a one-of-a-kind unit, built
specifically to serve 2,000 guests at the 53rd annual
Stallwächterparty (party for German military stable guards),
so you aren’t likely to ever experience it in person.
Reportedly, Angela Merkel attended but was not in the
mood for a sausage.
FZI’s Bratwurst Bot serves up sausages at a party for German
Mind Over Multiple Matters
Most of us find it challenging enough just to
operate a single drone using a joystick controller.
However, Panagiotis Artemiadis, director of Arizona
State’s Human-Oriented Robotics and Control Lab
( horc.engineering.asu.edu), is convinced that it is
feasible to control multiple drones simultaneously,
and use only brain waves. As it happens, Prof.
Artemiadis has been working with neural interfaces
with robot hands and arms since 2009.
“During the last two to three decades,” he
recently noted, “there has been a lot of research on
single brain/machine interface, where you control a
single machine.” A few years ago, he began
thinking about multiple machines. In mapping out
what parts of the brain control particular functions,
he made an unexpected discovery. “I was surprised the
brain cares about swarms and collective behaviors,” he
said. “What I didn’t know — or hypothesize — is that the
brain cares about things we are not doing ourselves ... We
have hands and limbs and all that stuff, but we don’t
control swarms ... I was surprised the brain cares about
that, and that the brain can adapt.”
This led to the development of a 128-electrode skull
cap that an operator wears. The cap records brain activity
and translates it into commands for up to four robots; in
this case, quadcopters. To make them move, the controller
watches on a monitor while he thinks and pictures the
drones performing various tasks, in that manner directing
their swarm behavior. There are, of course, drawbacks.
The controllers must stay focused, and stress and
fatigue can interfere with the process. In addition, the
system has to be calibrated to each individual operator, and
calibration has to be repeated daily because brain signals
vary from day to day. Artemiadis plans to expand his
research to include multiple operators controlling multiple
robots, perhaps even in complex operations like search-and-rescue missions.
A controller wears a skull cap fitted with 128 electrodes and wired to a
8 SERVO 12.2016