2011: Year of the Robot

Engineering at 30 Frames: Over the course of 2011, robots have stepped out of assembly lines to fill roles not commonly attributed to androids: flying, bowling, and now… dancing?

01/16/2012


When we talk about robotics we tend to imagine them working away in environments requiring precision, repetition, and dedication; from pallet selecting units in warehouses and distribution centers to assembly lines building vehicles, it’s easy to think of them as two dimensional machines. But outside of those standard applications, 2011 brought out the personalities of robots in many interesting ways.

   In April, Festo allowed their Smartbird project to get off the ground at the 2011 Hanover Trade Fair. The project is just one of many in Festo’s series (The AquaJelly appeared in 2008, AirPenguin in 2009, and Air_ray in late 2010) pushing the limits of robotics. These amazing experiments not only show off the capabilities of new products, but allow younger engineers to see how cool engineering can be.

   Control Engineering’s own Peter Welander reported on ARM Automation and “Earl” (enhanced automated robotic launcher), a robot designed to bowl, in October. The application was created to look at the components that go into bowling (from oiling the lane to detailing ball motion), to better understand how to bowl.

   The latest instance of interesting, non-traditionally applied robotics came to me via www.ted.com: Meet Rezero, the dancing ballbot. This robot sits upon a single ball and utilizes it’s instability to move and interact more like a human. [Péter Fankhauser compares this to himself standing on one foot.] Rezero has multiple “modes” which allow the ballbot to follow or orbit a subject.

   As in every non-traditional application of robotics, this experiment showcases possible uses for the technology. This robot could be utilized to follow patients in a hospital. On a plant floor, it could caution a worker of a forklift turning a corner on the plant floor or a machine that needs servicing. In our world, the applications are limitless. On top of those, Rezero could probably help us all with our tango.

   Learn more about the Rezero, Focus Project Ballbot at www.rezero.ethz.ch.

   Have comments or suggestions about these videos or for future coverage? Leave your comments below or send an email to ggianos(AT)cfemedia.com. (Note that to prevent spam, we review all comments, so they won't be immediately available.) Don't see a comment box below? Click here.



The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by Control Engineering subscribers. Vote now (if qualified)!
The System Integrator Giants program lists the top 100 system integrators among companies listed in CFE Media's Global System Integrator Database.
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
This eGuide illustrates solutions, applications and benefits of machine vision systems.
Learn how to increase device reliability in harsh environments and decrease unplanned system downtime.
This eGuide contains a series of articles and videos that considers theoretical and practical; immediate needs and a look into the future.
HMI effectiveness; Distributed I/O; Engineers' Choice Award finalists; System Integrator advice; Inside Machines
Women in engineering; Engineering Leaders Under 40; PID benefits and drawbacks; Ladder logic; Cloud computing
Robotic integration and cloud connections; SCADA and cybersecurity; Motor efficiency standards; Open- and closed-loop control; Augmented reality
Programmable logic controllers (PLCs) represent the logic (decision) part of the control loop of sense, decide, and actuate. As we know, PLCs aren’t the only option for making decisions in a control loop, but they are likely why you’re here.
This digital report explains how motion control advances and solutions can help with machine control, automated control on assembly lines, integration of robotics and automation, and machine safety.
This article collection contains several articles on how advancements in vision system designs, computing power, algorithms, optics, and communications are making machine vision more cost effective than ever before.

Find and connect with the most suitable service provider for your unique application. Start searching the Global System Integrator Database Now!

Control room technology innovation; Practical approaches to corrosion protection; Pipeline regulator revises quality programs
Cloud, mobility, and remote operations; SCADA and contextual mobility; Custom UPS empowering a secure pipeline
Infrastructure for natural gas expansion; Artificial lift methods; Disruptive technology and fugitive gas emissions
Automation Engineer; Wood Group
System Integrator; Cross Integrated Systems Group
Jose S. Vasquez, Jr.
Fire & Life Safety Engineer; Technip USA Inc.
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me