Thursday, June 11, 2015

Cool Tool | Dash & Dot Robots

Interesting piece from EdTech Digest... 

Fun, creative, rigorous. Wonder Workshop’s Dash & Dot robots are all of the above. But they’re also addressing a serious need in early education: coding. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics project there will be 1.4 million high-paying computer science jobs available by 2020 with only enough computer science graduates to fill 30 percent of them. Wonder Workshop is aiming to close that gap one Dash and one Dot at a time. With their sensors, microphones, sounds, lights, head motions and wheels, the rounded blue robots bring STEM to life for K-5 students, developing key 21st-century skills along the way. Through four mobile applications, students create programs that command the robots to move, light up, and detect nearby objects. Teachers are using the robots and free lesson guides to supplement a wide range of instruction, including science, math, engineering and ELA. In addition, Wonder Workshop is working with educators to create standards-aligned, classroom-tested curricula. With the knack for cultivating interest in STEM fields at an early age – and spanning demographics – Dash & Dot prove that toy robots can be fun, cute, creative and decidedly educational. Get more info at but see the video above and you’ll really get the idea.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Robotics Can Make People Whole Again, And Then Some...

Great piece in the NY Times!

Technology - Bits | Robotica

The Bionic Man

BY Zackary Canepari, Drea Cooper and Emma Cott | May. 20, 2015 | 8:36

Les Baugh lost his arms as a teenager. Engineers at Johns Hopkins are trying to give them back, but better. Mr. Baugh is testing a robotic prosthetic that he can control with his mind.
See the full article at its source:



Saturday, May 23, 2015

Training Robots to do Simple Things - Not so easy, but here comes something new...

Fascinating piece from NY TIMES...

While impressive, robots created so far are no match for humans in many ways. However, here comes something new....
"New Approach Trains Robots to Match Human Dexterity and Speed...
... BERKELEY, Calif. — In an engineering laboratory here, a robot has learned to screw the cap on a bottle, even figuring out the need to apply a subtle backward twist to find the thread before turning it the right way.
This and other activities — including putting a clothes hanger on a rod, inserting a block into a tight space and placing a hammer at the correct angle to remove a nail from a block of wood — may seem like pedestrian actions. But they represent significant advances in robotic learning, by a group of researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, who have trained a two-armed machine to match human dexterity and speed in performing these tasks.
The significance of the work is in the use of a so-called machine-learning approach that links several powerful software techniques that make it possible for the robot to learn new tasks rapidly with a relatively small amount of training...
...The new approach includes a powerful artificial intelligence technique known as “deep learning, which has previously been used to achieve major advances in both computer vision and speech recognition. Now the researchers have found that it can also be used to improve the actions of robots working in the physical world on tasks that require both machine vision and touch.

The group, led by the roboticist Pieter Abbeel and the computer vision specialist Trevor Darrell, with Sergey Levine, a postdoctoral researcher, and Chelsea Finn, a graduate student, said they were surprised by how well the approach worked compared with previous efforts.
By combining several types of pattern recognition software algorithms known as neural networks, the researchers have been able to train a robot to perfect an action such as correctly inserting a Lego block into another block, with a relatively small number of attempts.
“I would argue this is what has given artificial intelligence the whole new momentum it has right now,” Dr. Abbeel said. “All of a sudden there are all of these results that are better than expected.”

Read the full article at its source:

Friday, May 22, 2015

Good Modular Robotics Stuff from MOSS

This showed up as part of a message in my email this morning. Definitely worth a look and a

Wow! Check out their Robot Builder Resource!

"Interactive instructions are just the beginning on our Robot Recipe page for MOSS! Head over to the robot recipes page if you’re looking for suggestions on MOSS robots to build and learn from with your students - like this one! Once you’ve built a few known-robots, why not create your own?! You can use our MOSS Robot Builder to virtually build the robot you and your students imagine, and even check your work with the X-ray button to make sure that power and data are routed in the MOSS robot to make it work!"

This is worth a look, too: