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Robotics Space Hardware

German Aerospace Robot Plays Catch With Two Balls 60

HizookRobotics writes "German Aerospace Center (DLR) designed "Rollin' Justin" to fix satellites in space. But robotics work isn't all work and no play ... In the past, DLR engineers had Justin 'dancing like in Pulp Fiction.' More recently, in work to be presented at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) in two weeks, DLR engineers demonstrated whole-body real-time control, allowing Justin to catch two balls at once, or prepare you a cup of coffee."
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German Aerospace Robot Plays Catch With Two Balls

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  • A machine using another machine to make coffee? Should we really be teaching robots to be slave drivers?
    • Your comment was meant to be amusing but there is something to to think about here: Emergent behaviors from physical interaction between robots. For example imagine an Asimo trying to drive a semi-automated car: The car's systems, built to respond to a human driver, keep cycling modifications of control outputs in a way a human driver can easily work with but Asimo keeps fighting them, causing a crash. This kind of problem isn't terribly hard to deal with in software but the only way to deal with possibl
      • That's nothing... imagine what happens when a male sexbot and a female sexbot get together... who's going to clean up _that_ mess?
      • by Firehed ( 942385 )

        Sounds like an interfacing problem... There's no need for two pieces of technology to interact in a way designed for humans - think acoustic coupler modems. Should a robot ever need to drive a car (unlikely as the car would probably be self driving by that time) it should just plug into a network or service port, or even some sort of Bluetooth interface, not use the pedals and steering wheel.

        This is why we need proper engineers coming up with new technology. They try to solve the actual problem, rather than

    • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Saturday April 30, 2011 @09:41AM (#35984102) Homepage

      Huh? How is this different from say a CPU and a GPU, where the CPU feeds the GPU command stream instructions. Ooh, computer slavery. Not.

      That you have generic robots that interact with more specialized robots or non-robot machinery seems like a natural way of organizing stuff. Just like humans and their appliances.

    • Teach it to sew a shirt and you could start a revolution.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I like to think I am the master of all the bacteria in my system. If I don't feed them they die (as I would likely do as well). If they die I can get new ones. Biological slavery!

      For a car analogy: The turn of the wheels is a slave to the computer or steering wheel.

      This really boils down to a debate about what "self" is. If I was a starfish and I was cut in half. Would the other starfish out of the pair be me? If I killed it, would it be suicide or murder? Are the parts of a machine individuals or just part

    • by isecore ( 132059 )

      Reminds me of that quote by C-3PO:

      "Oh my goodness! Shut me down. Machines building machines. How perverse."

  • Does it run Linux?
  • We should stop this kind of research...haven't we learned anything from the Terminator movies?!?
    • This is moot since April 21st. []
      • Judgement Day itself can change according to different realities, but the main concept is the day that the machines become self aware. How long until this robot decides that he is sick and tired of making coffee or catching balls?
        • How long until this robot decides that he is sick and tired of making coffee or catching balls?

          What does a coffee shop employee or minor-league baseball player do at that point?

          • by Anonymous Coward

            Duh. The natural impulse at this point, regardless of an entity's mechanical or biological nature is "KILL ALL HUMANS!". This has been true since ancient Babylonian times and is enshrined & celebrated in the Code of Hammurabi.

        • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

          Damn it, I was moderating and you guys forced me to comment.
          There's not much chance of them becoming self-aware when we don't even have a clue what sentience is, or why we're sentient. There not only aren't any theories, there aren't even any hypotheses -- only vague, untested and possibly untestable conjectures such as "it becomes sentient when it reaches a certain level of complexity". If that were true, then surely the Earth itself is sentient, since it as a whole is far more complex than any of its com

  • I thought it was about a german astronaut playing with his balls in space.
  • by crow_t_robot ( 528562 ) on Saturday April 30, 2011 @09:56AM (#35984178)
    "Two balls one robot."
  • by l0ungeb0y ( 442022 ) on Saturday April 30, 2011 @10:00AM (#35984198) Homepage Journal

    "In the past, DLR engineers had Justin 'dancing like in Pulp Fiction.'"

    The Robopocalypse will begin when they start 'dancing like in Reservoir Dogs'

    • And now it's making coffee like in Pulp Fiction.

      "You don't have to tell me how good the coffee is; I MAKE the fucking coffee. When humans make coffee, they make SHIT!"

  • justin looks like a young Calculon, hopefully theyll work on Hedonism Bot next

  • by Locke2005 ( 849178 ) on Saturday April 30, 2011 @10:53AM (#35984396)
    When someone asks it to make coffee, it's going to grab 2 balls and say, "Yo! I got your coffee RIGHT HERE!"
  • Can it fetch the house keys out of its pants pockets and unlock the door while not dropping three full bags of groceries? While its raining?

    • But in the future, it will be humans doing all the menial boring jobs for our robotic masters anyway... oh wait the future? Who is building cars and who is mopping floors?

      The future is here. And it got balls.

  • ... for the Mariners outfield.

  • OK this one is definitely Skynet material. Where are the Skynet jokes?

  • Real robots run QNX (Score:5, Informative)

    by Animats ( 122034 ) on Saturday April 30, 2011 @01:26PM (#35985300) Homepage

    That robot runs QNX. So does BigDog. When the process absolutely, positively has to get control when it's supposed to, QNX is the way to go. It offers a POSIX API, but underneath, it's a tiny message-passing microkernel.

    If only the company behind QNX weren't so screwed up. QNX used to be a standalone company. Then one of the founders died, and the company was sold to Harmon, which is mostly an audio company. They then focused on car dashboard systems. Harmon had no clue what to do with a real-time OS company, and sold off QNX to Research in Motion, the Blackberry company.

    QNX used to be closed source. Then they issued a free version around 2001 and opened up some of the code. Then they closed the source around 2004. Then they made the whole thing open source (free for noncommercial use) around 2008. Then in 2010, they closed the source again and cancelled the free program. So nobody ports free software to QNX any more, and the developer community is fed up. There's still a non-commercial license, so you can still play with QNX, but few people do.

    It used to be possible to run QNX on the desktop, which is useful if you're developing for QNX. But nobody has ported a browser since 2002 or so.

    • Criminy. This is the coolest thing posted to Slashdot in a while and I have to scroll all the way down here to get an interesting and informative post. The only one it looks like.

  • While this is a very impressive piece of engineering, how exactly is a rolling robot supposed to fix satellites?
  • "The versatility of Justin is achieved by combining the performant hardware with intelligent software."

    No shit. I always wondered why that Tinker Toy/Speak-N-Spell robot I built never did much.

    Don't get me wrong, this stuff is impressive. But that last statement is so...axiomatic? Banal?

  • but can it manipulate a rod with just the right tactile pressure?

Air is water with holes in it.