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Robots rawk at NIWeek August 17, 2011

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Check out the some of the awesome robots featured in the Robotics Pavilion at 2011 NIWeek:

SuperDroid Robots showed off the SD6 robot, a super-rugged, treaded UGV that was developed jointly with NI.

Dr. Hong brought the latest and greatest from RoMeLa, showing off their full-size humanoid robot, CHARLI:

I got a picture with CHARLI and Dr. Hong as well:

You can download many of the presentations from the Robotics Summit from the NIWeek Community:

And that’s not everything. Check out Brian Powell’s recap of all-things-robotic at NIWeek on the LabVIEW Field Journal blog:

LabVIEW Robotics at NIWeek 2011

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Robotics Trends Virtual Conference: a no-brainer May 28, 2010

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In previous years, I’ve visited quite a few robotics tradeshows and expositions. Recently, the industry events have been a bit sparce, given the economic situation; travel budgets are slim and more scrutinized than ever.

So I’m looking forward to attending the 2010 Robotics Trends Virtual Conference. If you haven’t heard about it, you should check it out. It’s free and it brings cutting-edge robotics presentations, demos and exhibits right to your desktop. No budgeting required.

There’s an impressive list of speakers so I’ve blocked June 16 as a day full of webcasts that I hope to learn a lot from.

To sign up, visit Robotics Summit website.

Robots to take over Silicon Valley April 20, 2010

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On April 26, the largest community of embedded systems designers, technologist, business leaders, and suppliers will
convene from all over the world at the 2010 Embedded Systems Conference (ESC) in San Jose, California. Any product that uses a processor requires some aspect of embedded design, so it’s no surprise this conference pulls in thousands of engineers working on the latest, greatest, future-forward solutions.

And it’s guaranteed to bring in some sophisticated robots.

NI is sending out their best humans and best robots to attend. From subsea robotic tuna fish, to interplanetary robotic manipulators on Mars, the NI staff will be featuring some it’s most-impressive robotic applications built with graphical system design technology. If you’re in or around the Silicon Valley area and you have even the slightest interest in robotic design, this conference is a must-see.

Here’s a close-up on the technical sessions the NI humans will be presenting:

If you’re thinking about attending this conference, visit the ESC website for registration info.

To check out NI’s crew, presentations and booth demos (including the Guitar-Hero-playing robot featured in the video below), you can visit ni.com/esc.

National Instruments Congratulates Austin FRC Teams in Atlanta April 13, 2010

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National Robotics Week was officially kicked off this weekend with an awesome robo-gathering of more than 500 humans and 20+ robots at the Austin Children’s Museum.

What better way for National Robotics Week to a close than at the FIRST Robotics World Championship, held in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Over the past few months, tens of thousands of high-schoolers have been competing in regional events all over the US, hoping to qualify and gain a coveted spot in the world championship event.

National Instruments has been there every step of the way and would like to congratulate all of the FIRST teams that will be joining in on the celebration in Atlanta. And a special shout out to the local, Austin-area teams that will be making the trip to the world championship:

Team 2583 – from Westwood Highschool, competing in Curie Division

Team 2468 – from Westlake Highschool, competing in Galileo Division

Team 647 – The Cyberwolves from Killeen Independent School District & Robert M. Shoemaker High School STEM Academy, competing in Newton Division

Good luck to everyone and GO ROBOTS!

What are you doing for National Robotics Week? April 6, 2010

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The first annual National Robotics Week is April 10-18, 2010. Several events around North America will take place to celebrate the US as a leader in robotics technology development.

Here in Austin, we’ll be throwing a robo-bash at the Austin Children’s Museum. We’ll be showing off some of our coolest NI robotics applications. We also plan on some cool give away’s, including LEGO WeDo and LEGO MINDSTORMS.

What: National Instruments/Austin Children’s Museum National Robotics Week Party

Who: NI, Austin Children’s Museum, and Austin community

When: Sunday, April 11 from 12-5 p.m. (The event will cost the price of admission to the ACM from 12-4 p.m. and will be free from 4-5 p.m.)

Where: Austin Children’s Museum – entry foyer

If you’re not in the Austin area, find out what other robot events are near you.

P.S. If you’re in or around Atlanta, you have to check out the FIRST  Robotics World Championship at the Georgia Dome. It will change your life.

Humanoid robots battle in Japanese competition March 26, 2010

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I spotted this video in an internal email going around at NI. A Japanese robot wrestling competition was covered by the nightly news in China. Looks like the NI logo made it onto the big screen, although I’m not sure how (or if) NI technologies were used in the competition. LabVIEW has been used to program many humanoid robots before though, so I wouldn’t be surprised if some of these robots are powered by the NI software.

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I bet RoMeLa’s DARWIN humanoid robot would have been a formidable opponent in this robot battle. I’ve seen some serious karate moves from him in the past.

Webcast: Designing Next-Generation Robots March 25, 2010

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Next Monday, yours-truly will be participating in an online panel discussion with several industry robotics experts you should all know about: Bruce Rayner, Editor at EETimes; Bruce Hall, President of Velodyne; Michael Fleming, CEO of TORC Technologies; and Dr. Dave Barrett, Professor at Olin College and well-known robotics badass.

If you are at all interested in the robotics industry and its anticipated, rapid changes in the coming decade, you need to attend this free webinar. Here’s more info on how to register: Designing Next-Generation Robots

Overview
From the battlefield to the factory, hospital, highway, ocean and even the living room, robotic systems are becoming more sophisticated and indispensible. But the next decade will see a dramatic increase in the functionality of these robotic systems. Government, university, and corporate development offices are working to boost capabilities in many areas, including sensory perception, mobility, one-to-many command and control, and self-diagnostics.

This webinar provides a window into the technologies behind next-generation robots. Join host Bruce Rayner and his panel of industry and academic experts as they discuss the latest developments in software, hardware, and materials that are bringing robotic systems to life.

Who should attend:
Business and engineering managers, product marketing managers and design engineers in the automotive, factory automation, military and aerospace, medical and consumer products sectors.

Register here

Live Webinar Date and Time
Greenwich Mean Time Mon, Mar 29, 2010 17:00
Eastern Daylight Time Mon, Mar 29, 2010 01:00 PM
Pacific Daylight Time Mon, Mar 29, 2010 10:00 AM

FIRST Robotics Meets the President December 1, 2009

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On November 23, President Obama announced the Educate to Innovate campaign, to improve the participation and performance of America’s students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The campaign will include efforts not only from the Federal Government but also from leading companies, foundations, non-profits, and science and engineering societies to work with young people across America to excel in science and math.

“As president, I believe robotics can inspire young people to pursue science and engineering,” says Mr. Obama.

Here here!

Robotics is challenging, at times frustrating, for many reasons. As Dr. Ben Black had put it: “A roboticist has to have at minimum a working knowledge of mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, computer science / engineering and controls engineering.”

So it’s hard, to say the least. But it’s also really cool. And any young kid interested in robotics is going to get a taste of several different engineering disciplines. What better way to bring the U.S. to the top of the world-wide list in science and math education, than with robotics?

I’m obviously not the only one on this bandwagon. National Instruments invests a lot in STEM education. And so has Dean Kamen’s foundation, For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST). FIRST has been a driving force in changing the perception of science and technology in highschool students, using robotics design competitions as a lure. NI has partnered with FIRST to provide the FIRST Robotics Compeition (FRC) control system, which includes a high-performance, industrial-grade real-time controller (NI donated CompactRIOs for the FRC Kit of Parts).

With the mission and success of FRC, it is no surprise that Mr. Obama introduced the Cougar Cannon, an FRC robot from Oakton Highschool. Students provided a demonstration of their robot in action, the flickering sounds of camera flashes almost deafening. Even The MythBusters crew was there, as onlookers to the Lunacy competition robot. Booya!

“I also want to keep an eye on those robots in case they try anything, ” said Obama.

Don’t worry, Mr. President. As stated in my updated version of Asimov’s 3 Laws of Robotics, “With Will Smith alive, no robotic apocalypse is possible.”

Here’s the full White House presentation, worth watching:

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Robot Revolution Countdown November 17, 2009

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National Instruments is cooking up something in the kitchen, and it smells delicious.

We’ve been focusing a lot on robotics lately, as LabVIEW and NI FPGA hardware have been proven as useful tools for rapid development of sophisticated robots. But recently, there’s been a lot of internal hype around robotics and I’m not quite sure what to make of it.

It all started when I saw this poster in one of our elevators:

And today, on NI’s Developer Community,  I just found this countdown tool featuring a  Robot Revolution:

Seems like some answers will come around the beginning of December. If you click on the image, you can sign up to be on the notification list of whatever announcement NI is going to make.

What is going on? I hope this doesn’t mean our robot overlords are taking over the world soon. I was still trying to make a couple more robot friends before I became their human slave. Save us, Will Smith!

I am famous like David Hasselhoff April 17, 2009

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I found this the other day and about fell out of my chair.

Back in Fall 2008, I attended the RoboDevelopment Conference and Expo (where the epic Man vs. Machine Rubix Cube face off was caught on video). I delivered a technical presentation there called “Defining a Common Architecture for Robotics Systems.” Fancy title, huh? I thought so. You can view a webcast of my presentation from NI’s website if anyone’s interested.

So, I was in NI’s booth, showing off some of our robots, and I started talking to a German journalist (in English of course). He had a nice video camera. He interviewed me talking about, well, I can’t remember, robot stuff I guess. Five months later, I stumbled upon this:

Fast forward to ~1:05 and you’ll see a familiar face. But holy crap, it’s all dubbed in German, so I have no idea what I’m saying. I have absolutely no idea why Britney Spears is mentioned the video title and write-up. Should I be worried?

My friend Silke, from NI Germany, said “the publishing site, Stern, is a very famous and popular German magazine on politics, economics, popular sciences, and lifestyle. Maybe comparable to Newsweek or the Spectator. Emily: You are a famous star now (“Stern” means “star” in German)!”

So apparently, I’m huge in Germany. David Hasselhoff, eat your heart out.