Latest in robot technology on display at conference in Spain
Zaragoza, Spain, Jun 29, 2010 (EFE via COMTEX) --
Dancing like Michael Jackson,
picking up an egg without breaking it, folding clothes or following
mental instructions sent by a human are functions that can be
performed by the latest generation of robots on display Tuesday at
an international congress in this northeastern Spanish city.
The "Robotics: Science and Systems" conference brings together in
the Zaragoza Auditorium some 300 robotics researchers from 25
countries and from companies like Google and Microsoft along with
institutions like NASA. The participants are analyzing the latest
developments in the field, according to what Professor Jose Neira,
the president of the local organizing committee, explained at a
Although predicting the future in the robotics field is
difficult, Neira acknowledged that movies and television, in many
ways, decide what the advances in the sector are going to be.
He gave as an example the 2008 television series "Knight Rider,"
which is about an ultramodern automobile on which Volkswagen is
already working and aiming to have a prototype ready by 2025, or the
"Star Wars" saga, in which a prosthetic hand controlled by a
person's mind is implanted onto one of the characters, an idea that
is currently being researched.
For the present, however, the main uses of robots outfitted with
sensors that allow them to see, hear, touch and move are to make the
daily life of humans easier, help people with reduced mobility or
perform dangerous tasks, and those abilities were on display at the
conference on Tuesday.
For instance, and for the first time in Europe, the U.S. firm
Willow Garage presented its android PR2, the most advanced personal
robot in the world, demonstrating how it can help people with their
domestic chores, including folding a pile of clothes, sorting them
and storing them.
Nao, a 58-centimeter (22-inch) tall creation of the French firm
Aldebaran Robotics, is designed to be a research and education
platform, and it demonstrated that it could dance like in Michael
Jackson's "Thriller" video, get up from the ground and even tell
The small robot will have a successor in Romeo, a prototype 1.5
meters (4.9 feet) tall that the firm will have ready in October 2011
to help people with disabilities.
In addition, on display at the conference is the most advanced
robotic hand in the world, produced by the U.S. firm Barrett
Technology, which can pick up an egg without breaking it, and
Summit, the latest robot developed by the Spanish firm Robotnik to
have high mobility and the most sophisticated ability to deactivate
explosives, according to Roberto Guzman, with the firm's engineering
The University of Zaragoza, the organizer of the event, presented
a project whereby a human being can control a robot's movements with
his or her mind alone.
Two young volunteers took turns wearing a cap with electrodes and
then concentrated on the movements they wanted the robot to make,
and the robot received the mental signals via a wireless
communications network after they had been processed by a computer.
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