Since they conquered the task of programming "observer" robots to track "target" robots, Stanford computer scientists are tackling the more difficult problem of getting their observers to stalk robots on the move. The autonomous observer does more than follow its target around at a discreet distance. The spy robot continuously calculates where it needs to be to ensure that the target doesn't disappear behind a column or down a hallway. The robot measures distances to walls and furniture with a horizontal laser range sensor and uses this information to create a two-dimensional floor plan. A built-in horizontal video camera creates a series of overlapping three-dimensional views of the space. The robot combines this information into a 3D rendering of the area. The robot has a second camera focused on the ceiling to help it track its position. The target robot doesn't stand a chance of blending in, with a black-and-white pattern stenciled on every side. In an associated project with Professor Ruzena Bajcsy's group at the University of Pennsylvania, Chairman of Stanford's Computer Science Department, Jean-Claude Latombe and his students are developing an observer robot that can identify and track unmarked robots and people. The 4-ft tall spies are built by Nomadic Technologies (Mountain View, CA) resemble an upright tank vacuum cleaner without the hose. An additional grant from the Army will give the researchers four more robots. These smaller additions will allow the researchers to devise methods for deploying multiple observers. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, or FAX: (650) 725-1449.
The engineers and inventors of the post WWII period turned their attention to advancements in electronics, communication, and entertainment. Breakthrough inventions range from LEGOs and computer gaming to the integrated circuit and Ethernet -- a range of advancements that have little in common except they changed our lives.
Neil Fromer is the executive director of the Resnick Institute, a program for energy and sustainability at the California Institute of Technology, working to develop new ideas and research technologies related to providing a sustainable future. He spoke to us about the severity of the current drought in California and how solar energy can help prevent such situations in the future.
From home enthusiasts to workers on the manufacturing floor, everyone's imagination is captured by the potential of 3D printing. Prototyping, spare parts creation, art delivery, human organ creation, and even mass product production are all being targeted as current and potential uses for the technology.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.