Tag Archives: mobile robots

Linda the robot stars on TV’s Gadget Man

A robot called Linda developed by computer scientists at the University of Lincoln, UK, has appeared on Channel 4’s Gadget Man.

In the fourth series of the technology show, presenter Richard Ayoade test-drives new technological devices designed to make life easier.

In an episode exploring the theme Health and Safety, aired at 8.30pm on Monday 22nd June, Ayoade tests security devices with actor Keith Allen and comedian Bill Bailey, including a post-apocalypse survival kit that also works at festivals.

Fearing that the world is a dangerous place for Gadget Man, Ayoade employs the services of Linda the robot to guard his home.

Linda, who is based in the School of Computer Science at the University of Lincoln, is named after the city’s Roman roots as Lindum Colonia. The specialist mobile robot is currently being programmed to act intelligently in real-world environments, with the ultimate aim of being able to support security guards or staff in care homes.

She is one of six robots involved in the £7.2 million collaborative STRANDS project aimed at creating mobile robots that are able to operate independently, based on an understanding of 3D space and how this space changes over time.

Funded by the European Union’s Seventh Framework programme (FP7), the research project involves six academic partners, a security company and an Austrian care home provider, where the technology will be tested.

The robots have just finished a month-long deployment at Haus der Barmherzigkeit care facility in Austria, as they continue to develop an understanding of how the world should appear and be able to identify deviations from their normal environment.

The trial tested how long the robots could autonomously complete simple tasks in a real-life hospital environment without human support. Beside frequent patrols through the corridors, the robots also guided visitors, residents and members of staff to offices or seminar rooms, and accompanied physio-therapeutic walking groups twice a week.

Linda’s TV debut is not her first high profile public appearance. The robot was also chosen to be part of Universities Week 2014 which aims to increase public awareness of the wide and varied role of the UK’s universities. She greeted and interacted with visitors to the Natural History Museum in London during the week-long event in June 2014.

Dr Marc Hanheide, from the University of Lincoln’s School of Computer Science, who is working on the STRANDS project with colleague Professor Tom Duckett, said: “It’s fantastic that Linda is still getting out and about, as a key aim for this project is to show people how this sort of technology could help us in our everyday lives.”

To view the episode click here.

Linda on Gadget Man set



Lincoln to host Europe’s leading robotics conference

Robotics experts from around the world will present ground-breaking research on how robots are moving out of the laboratory and into homes and workplaces at a major international conference hosted by the University of Lincoln, UK.

The European Conference on Mobile Robots (ECMR) 2015 takes place on 2-4 September 2015. It is the first time the conference has been hosted in the UK, following previous meetings in Spain, Sweden, Croatia, Germany, Italy and Poland.

This year’s event is being organised by the Lincoln Centre for Autonomous Systems, a research centre within the University of Lincoln’s School of Computer Science which specialises in the integration of perception, learning, decision‐making and control capabilities in autonomous systems such as mobile robots and smart devices. The group applies its research in fields such as personal robotics, food and agriculture, security and surveillance, and intelligent transportation.

Conference organiser Professor Tom Duckett, who leads the Lincoln Centre for Autonomous Systems, said: “Hosting ECMR in 2015 is a fabulous opportunity to showcase our research in mobile robotics and to help to put Lincoln firmly on the map in the international scientific community. As today’s robots leave the laboratory and start entering many different real-world applications, it is a very exciting time to be working in robotics research, and I feel privileged to be hosting this important international event together with my colleagues in the robotics research team here at Lincoln. Our colleague Professor Adriana Tapus from ENSTA ParisTech, France, is leading the technical programme of the conference, and we already had nearly 100 paper submissions, so it promises to be a fantastic event with contributions from all over Europe and beyond.”

ECMR is a biennial European forum, internationally open, that allows roboticists throughout Europe to become acquainted with the latest research accomplishments and innovations in mobile robotics and mobile human-robot systems. The keynote speakers this year are Maja Pantic, Professor of Affective and Behavioural Computing at Imperial College London; Roland Siegwart, Professor for Autonomous Systems at ETH Zurich; and Ingmar Posner, Associate Professor in Engineering Science at the University of Oxford.

Professor Pantic, who is leader of the i•BUG group, works on machine analysis of human non-verbal behaviour and has published more than 200 technical papers in the areas of machine analysis of facial expressions, machine analysis of human body gestures, audio-visual analysis of emotions and social signals, and human-centred machine interfaces. In 2011, she was awarded the BCS Roger Needham Award, presented annually to a UK-based researcher for a distinguished research contribution in computer science within ten years of their PhD.

Professor Siegwart’s research focusses on the design and control of systems operating in complex and highly dynamical environments. His major goal is to find new ways to deal with uncertainties and enable the design of highly interactive and adaptive systems. Prominent application examples are personal and service robots, planetary exploration robots, autonomous micro-aircrafts and driver assistant systems.

Professor Posner, who is co-lead of the Oxford Mobile Robotics Group (MRG), focuses on the application of machine learning techniques to emerging mobile robotics tasks such as semantic mapping, active exploration and life-long learning.

Linda wins robot marathon!

Linda, the University’s robot from the STRANDS project, fought off five robots from across the EU to be crowned winner of last week’s Robot Marathon.

From November 25 to November 29, the six robots from the EU STRANDS project battled it out for the title of last robot standing in the STRANDS Robot Marathon.

The challenge was to autonomously patrol a populated environment for as long as possible, with the aim to cover the most distance in the shortest time possible.
The STRANDS Robot Marathon featured live feeds from robots, information about all the participants, and information on the underlying science and technology challenges this work presents.

The “race” finished at 4pm on Friday and Linda travelled a total of 45.1km fully autonomously.

Dr Marc Hanheide, from the School of Computer Science, said: “Congratulations to the local STRANDS team and a big thanks to everybody for their support.”
Linda is based in the new Robotics lab at Witham Wharf.

For full details of the STRANDS project go to http://www.lincoln.ac.uk/news/2013/08/756.asp

Insects inspiring new technology

Scientists from the University of Lincoln and Newcastle University have created a computerised system which allows for autonomous navigation of mobile robots based on the locust’s unique visual system.

The work could provide the blueprint for the development of highly accurate vehicle collision sensors, surveillance technology and even aid video game programming according to the research published today.

Locusts have a distinctive way of processing information through electrical and chemical signals, giving them an extremely fast and accurate warning system for impending collisions.

The insect has incredibly powerful data processing systems built into its biology, which can in theory be recreated in robotics.

Inspired by the visual processing power built into these insects’ biology, Professor Shigang Yue from the University of Lincoln’s School of Computer Science and Dr Claire Rind from Newcastle University’s Institute of Neuroscience created the computerised system.

Their findings are published today in the International Journal of Advanced Mechatronic Systems.

The research started by understanding the anatomy, responses and development of the circuits in the locust brain that allow it to detect approaching objects and avoid them when in flight or on the ground.

A visually stimulated motor control (VSMC) system was then created which consists of two movement detector types and a simple motor command generator. Each detector processes images and extracts relevant visual clues which are then converted into motor commands.

Prof Yue said: “We were inspired by the way the locusts’ visual system works when interacting with the outside world and the potential to simulate such complex systems in software and hardware for various applications. We created a system inspired by the locusts’ motion sensitive interneuron – the lobula giant movement detector. This system was then used in a robot to enable it to explore paths or interact with objects, effectively using visual input only.”

Funded by the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), the research was carried out as part of a collaborative project with the University of Hamburg in Germany and Tsinghua University and Xi’an Jiaotong University, China.

The primary objective of the project, which started in 2011 and runs for four years, is to build international capacity and cooperation in the field of biologically inspired visual neural systems.

Prof Yue explained: “Effective computer vision is a major research challenge. Vision plays a critical role in the interaction of most animal species, and even relatively low order animals have remarkable visual processing capabilities. For example, insects can respond to approaching predators with remarkable speed. This research demonstrates that modelling biologically plausible artificial visual neural systems can provide new solutions for computer vision in dynamic environments. For example, it could be used to enable vehicles to understand what is happening on the road ahead and take swifter action.”

Dr Claire Rind has been working on the locust’s visual system for several years.

She said: “Developing robot neural network programmes, based on the locust brain, has allowed us to create a programme allowing a mobile robot to detect approaching objects and avoid them. It’s not the conventional approach as it avoids using radar or infrared detectors which require very heavy-duty computer processing. Instead it is modelled on the locust’s eyes and neurones as the basis of a collision avoidance system.

“Taking this work forward we want to apply it to collision avoidance systems in vehicles which is a major challenge for the automotive industry. While some collision-avoidance features are pricey options on luxury cars, their performance is not always as good as it could be – and they come at a high cost. This research offers us important insights into how we can develop a system for the car which could improve performance to such a level that we could take out the element of human error.”

The paper is entitled ‘Visually Stimulated Motor Control for a Robot with a Pair of LGMD Visual Neural Networks’. It can be downloaded in full from the websitehttp://www.inderscience.com/info/inarticle.php?artid=52219