A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about robots

Tokyo - more bots!


View RTW Oct - Dec 2014 on tdeits's travel map.

On Saturday we headed out to Odaiba - an artificial island that is a tourist destination and office park that looks just like the future. Our first stop was the National Museum of Emerging Science It's a spectacular hands-on science museum that has quite a bit of material that is at a fairly adult level as well as stuff for younger folks. Here's the really amazing live globe that is a good 20 feet in diameter that displays various global features such as weather, temperature, ocean currents and more in a mesmerizing format.

OI000113.jpg

The exhibits have a decidedly philosophical tone in part and just plain cool tech as well. Here are a couple of faves - a mechanical version of the internet that routes messages to destinations in the form of black and white balls

OI000105.jpg

and Asimo (more bots!) who gets decidedly more agile every time I see it - in this picture it is hopping forwards and backwards on one leg.

OI000111.jpg

Even more bots! Another exhibit explored the 'uncanny valley' - the idea that as robots become more lifelike they actually look creepier than more artificial constructs. Here's an example from the exhibit. This robot is controlled by an operator who converses with the audience; the robot can move, breathe, has facial expressions and is really, truly creepy.

OI000117.jpg

There are arcades, giant ferris wheels, shopping malls, auto museums and other attractions within walking distance so this is really a cool place to spend a day. So we did - then ate some sushi and crashed again. The good news is that Robin and Michele were just as tired as I was so I knew I had had a good workout as well as good fun.

Posted by tdeits 17:00 Archived in Japan Tagged museums science robots odaiba Comments (0)

Robots - The Final Chapter

....or is it?

overcast 71 °F
View RTW Oct - Dec 2014 on tdeits's travel map.

Tuesday was the day for Robin's talk at the University of Tokyo, so getting ready and getting over there consumed most of the day. U Tokyo is a pretty standard university campus, with one attractive and unusual feature - a beautiful 17th century garden and pond (shaped like the character for 'heart').

IMG_20141021_124640.jpg

The talk went well - both Robin's and the U Tokyo team are friendly rivals in the DARPA Robotics Challenge so there was considerable interest in his work on robot locomotion. Here's Robin in action.

IMG_20141021_140758.jpg

After the talk we were treated to a tour of their robotics lab, which is just stuffed with robots. We watched an HRP-2 as it opened the door to let us in then loaded a cart and pushed it out of the room. We were served a beverage by a Willow Garage robot (sadly, not a beer - robotic beer delivery being the Holy Grail of robot/human interactions, of course). And saw their Baxter and the robot that did the barista demo at Japan Robot Week. Oh, and another Willow Garage robot. All of these critters in a single lab! Finally, we were introduced to one of their latest projects, a humanoid robot with movement controlled by cables and electrical actuators. Here's Robin getting to know it -

robin_robot_picture.jpg

This robot is intended to help understand human movement, so it is being designed to be as close to human in structure as possible. Does knowing that make it seem a little less creepy? I didn't think so.

We also got to see the robot under development for the DARPA Robotics challenge, but we didn't take any pictures; friendly rivalry only goes so far!

On the way out, I spotted another cool UAC

IMG_20141021_123804.jpg

We headed to the Ginza for a shabu shabu dinner including Waygu beef to celebrate, and wandered the Ginza for a while.

This was our last day as a group; Robin and Michele head home tomorrow and I head to Korea the next day.

What a start to the adventure!

Posted by tdeits 15:59 Archived in Japan Tagged tokyo university uac robots Comments (0)

Paris

I visit a science museum - with robots !!!

overcast 49 °F

Had an early morning flight from Athens to Paris (economy class - oh, the horror!) and then negotiated the train and met with my host in Paris, Jean Jay. Settled into the apartment and did a bit of blogging, shopped for some food for breakfast and got ready for the first day in Paris.

Of course, the first place you go in Paris is the hands-on science museum, right? I Googled it up and when I got into the vicinity I thought to myself - 'interesting- they put the science museum right next to this enormous basketball stadium..'

My bad - the enormous building was the Cite des Sciences et de l' Industries

cite_outside.jpg

And unlike the Tardis, it's just as big inside as outside.

cite_interior.jpg

Fortuitously, there was a special exhibition on Robotic Art

robot_art_sign.jpg

so I headed there first. It seems that there are two major universal challenges in the world of robotics that everyone is trying to solve and the rest of us can't figure out why. The first is a robot that can bring you a bottle of beer. The second is to make a 'real' Transformer. The exhibit attempted to tackle the second - but really, a mighty robot that transforms into..... a Citroen sedan?

cite_transformer_car.jpg

They were doing a video shoot while I was there so I got to see it transform. It took like 10 minutes; Megatron has nothing to be jealous of.

Here's a display from my favorite robot art exhibit

large_centriductor.jpg

The exhibit, complete with mad scientist video, describes some truly amazing thrill rides. Rather than try and shoot video of video, I strongly encourage you to visit the website of the Institute for Centrifugal Reseach, whose motto is "Gravity is our Enemy" or "We are spinning people around for future generations" or "Unpredictable since 1976" or something. Watch out, Cedar Point, you have some real competition!

A couple of other cool displays were a robot painstakingly drawing a 10 foot long mural of the surface of Mars using an image from the Curiosity Rover and a weird installation of 20 robotic hospital beds that slowly and subtly change elevation to ethereal music.

robot_drawing_mars.jpgcite_hospital_beds.jpg

You may have seen videos of Theo Jansen's 'Strandbeest's as they march down beaches. They had one of his creations on hand and I got to see it in motion

The other exhibits were quite impressive, very well designed and pitched to an older child/adult audience. There was an interesting exhibit on risk assessment that explained some of the techniques and pitfalls due to personal psychology to accurate risk assessment, a large exhibit on molecular biology and evolution and another on transportation. You can see the scale of the exhibits from the picture below of part of the transportation exhibit.

cite_risk_assessment.jpgcite_trans..ion_exhibit.jpg

They also have fablab. It's downstairs from the main exhibit hall and accessible without paying museum admission. It really has no interaction with the rest of the museum, either in space or in programming. I wandered in when it was opened and was basically ignored; I guess they get tired of tourists sticking their noses in, but I hope we can be sure that the outcome of the Innovation 5 project will be a more immediately welcoming place.

There are also separate areas for kids 2-7 and 5 - 12. I wasn't able to visit those on this day but I contacted the staff and they gave me permission to visit later. They normally don't let adults without children into these areas, understandably, but I used my Impression 5 credentials and, as they say, voila! There is even a third area for older teens and adults which I also haven't visited yet.

cite_childrens_areas.jpgcite_zone_3.jpg

Of course, there is a gift shop to exit through, but again, as in Perth essentially no branded merchandise. No doubt there is a career for some marketer to go around and teach museums overseas how to exploit their brands for revenue!

cite_gift_shop.jpg

Of course, given the scale and quality of the Cite, it may just be that they don't feel the need for more money - weird, right?

Posted by tdeits 03:53 Archived in France Tagged paris france museum science robots makerspaces Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 3 of 3) Page [1]