This week we highlight the International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) that was held 14-18 May at St. Paul, Minnesota, USA. For those who couldn’t make it, you can already watch videos of presentations given by the 3 invited speakers from 3 continents:
The 10 parallel sessions of ICRA 2012 cover several topics including Biologically Inspired Robotics, Multi-Robot Systems, Modular Robots, UAV, AI Reasoning Methods, and more. Among dozens of interesting talks and presentations, we report here one about an original use of jamming grippers. A team from the MIT built an elephant trunk composed of 5 cylindrical sections filled with some granular matter inside. Each section is controlled by separate vacuum valves allowing to make it more or less rigid. 4 cables allow controlling motion by pulling flexible sections. The resulting trunk is not only cheap to build, but also robust and fast. It takes only 200ms to switch a jamming gripper from rigid to flexible or vice-versa.
Our last top story this week is about a brain-machine interface used by a paralysed woman to control a robotic arm for drinking coffee. The woman had electrodes implanted in her brain to convey signals from neurons in the motor cortex to a computer that drives the robot. During a learning phase, the woman had to watch a recording of the robot perform some actions while signals from her brain were recorded. Now, when she thinks to some action, the computer triggers the robot movement associated with recognized signal patterns. You can watch this successful experiment as well as other robotic experiments and demos in our selection of videos below. Enjoy!