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The Rise of Emotional Robots

There seems to be an ever increasing number of new stories about emergence of robots, but I wanted to single out a number of recent announcements that I found quite interesting.  The first is the announcement of Google’s latest strategy with regards to self-driving cars. It’s certainly not new that Google has been investing in self-driving cars. They have been traveling the streets of San Francisco and the freeways of the Bay Area for some time now. However, the latest information reveals that Google is applying what they have learned from retrofitting conventional cars with sensors and computers to these own custom vehicles. Unlike their predecessors, the new Google cars are smaller and designed to only travel about 25 miles per hour. Also, unlike their more conventional cousins, they have no explicit controls (i.e. no steering wheel), other than an emergency stop button. They have also been designed to have soft exteriors, likely not so much…

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Amazon, Google, and Robots! Oh My!

By now you have likely read about the interesting news about robotics developments related to Amazon and Google. This has raised several inquiries about the significance and its impact on what Hoaloha Robotics is doing. First, with regards to Amazon’s suggestion that they might be delivering packages by autonomous drones within the next 5 years, the concept of flying drones delivering packages to your doorstep seems fraught with challenges that make this highly unlikely. However, I take it somewhat as more of a publicity move to help stimulate online purchasing for the holidays. In addition, I also think it enables Amazon to highlight the innovations they are thinking about to make deliveries to you even faster. What was surprising is that the video showed the drone flying out of what looked like a conventional warehouse. It might have been more impressive if they had shown it in a Kiva Systems-equipped warehouse,…

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Look Ma, no arms!

My last post was considered more newsworthy than I thought. In a recent IEEE Spectrum article (Hoaloha Robotics Developing Socially Assistive Hardware Platform), Senior Writer, Evan Ackerman made several important observations and comments that I wanted to respond to. “…but we know is that the robot will likely not include an arm at this time, because there’s no way to add one and still hit Hoaloha’s cost target,…” This is true and deserves some further explanation. Let’s start with the cost of components. A majority of conventional robot arms include six to seven servo motors to get a similar degree of movement that a human arm has. While you might be able to buy or build such an arm with basic hobby servo motors, to hold up to the load and usage patterns, you really need something of higher quality with good gearing, sufficient torque, and little backlash. Such motors…

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