Category: Education

Dear David Hanson, A good slapping would be well earned now

With love,
Your fellow roboticists.


For reader reference, the video below is now in the process of getting cut to pieces & hugely misinterpreted.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W0_DPi0PmF0

Seriously. Don’t we have enough people already freaking out due to the recent years’ military adoption of drone technology?

Your work is good. Amazing. The best animated dolls ever. You have more experience in robotics than I do. But this is not the way to present your work, no matter what! The shortest line that can be misunderstood when cut in the proper way will be the one circulated around. The joke was awkward even for a roboticist.

For a few minutes of fame you just made yourself and the rest of us look like irresponsible crazy scientists. It doesn’t even do you good as you scared so many people and fuelled endless conspiracy/robot-takeover/singularity theories that tips the acceptance of robots all the way to the negative scale.

We should be concentrating on making people’s lives easier, safer, more meaningful, more pleasant, whatever that is for good, not freaking them out with human-looking dolls talking BS!

Then there are already some famous & smart people who are half-educated on recent AI/Robotics talk fearful nonsense, such as Elon Musk, Steve Wozniak, Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates and others. Do you want to join that club?

Cheers from a fellow roboticist,

Bence

Dear non-robotics people,

Please don’t believe sci-fi level stuff you see on TV.

For a good anecdotal overview of robotics I recommend reading Flesh and Machines by Rodney Brooks.

They say an engineered system is only as good as the worst performance it can give. If you would like to see how the best top-level humanoid research groups failed outside of their labs:

For a full picture on the Darpa Robotics Challenge many references can be found all over the internet or if you are from the US you can watch this documentary by PBS.

Ask me questions if you have any.

Kind regards,

Bence

 

Eclipse Mars on Elementary OS

I had to deal with a monstrous-size Java project that only works with Eclipse Mars. Like a good power-user I downloaded the installer and installed it fine, started right away and worked fine.

eclipse-mars-logo

Then after lunch I tried to start up Eclipse it kept crashing and with weird errors related to GTK. Even when it didn’t crash immediately, I couldn’t access anything of the dialogs.
Tried reinstalling, and it worked again. But why?
I realized that it only worked when I started Eclipse Mars from the installer!!!

At this point I had eyebrows raised all the way to the ceiling. What the hell?
A close inspection on the eclipse.ini file showed the difference of the installer-launched Eclipse vs the installed and then launched one. It seems that by default the system goes for GTK 3 which causes things to go south.

Adding the following line to the eclipse.ini in the _installed_ eclipse folder (whereever you install it) solves the startup crash issue:

--launcher.GTK_version
2

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ROS Indigo with Elementary OS Freya

I’ve recently got my a new laptop for work, which is great, but this means I had to abandon all the comfort of OSX.

Of course for work I need an Ubuntu system but I set my eyes on a distribution called Elementary OS before, that is Ubuntu-based but tries to mimic the style of OSX.

indigoigloo_600

To begin the ROS installation a minor tweak is needed on the first step. Instead of

sudo sh -c 'echo "deb http://packages.ros.org/ros/ubuntu $(lsb_release -sc) main" > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/ros-latest.list'

use

sudo sh -c 'echo "deb http://packages.ros.org/ros/ubuntu trusty main" > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/ros-latest.list'

Since ROS doesn’t have packages dedicated to Elementary, this second line tells it to use the Ubuntu Trusty packages instead (on which Elementary OS Freya is based).

However, when I tried to start up the simulation of TIAGo, I got buckets of errors from rosdep about the operating system not being detected. After a quick sneak peak at the code of it, I discovered that there is an environmental variable that can be used to override whatever is happening, as rosdep is supposed to support Elementary OS, it’s the latter that does something fishy here.

I added

export ROS_OS_OVERRIDE=elementary

to my .bashrc, and the problem was solved.

Here is a video of the working system, with the TIAGo robot from PAL Robotics.

So those are my notes on the Elementary OS + ROS topic. For those who’d like to get started with Elementary OS check the links below.

 

Elementary OS goodies to install,

20 things to do after installing Elementary OS

Do you like Evernote‘s desktop client? NixNote2 provides a fully cross-platform opensource alternative to the official client.

To see if and where your boot process can be optimized, try bootcharting

To see what you can do with your Thinkpad fans and in Linux go here.

Carnegie Mellon University Robotics Institute seminar talks on youtube

I’m always glad to find interesting and inspiring material to watch that is freely available.

In this case, it is about the seminar talks of the Robotics Institute from Carnegie Mellon University. Thanks guys!

ri_logo_crop

At the moment the playlist counts 77 video of internal talks all shared on youtube available for everyone.

I’m embedding the latest on here that I’ve watched today. Take a sneak-peek:

For the rest, please refer to the playlist of CMU RI:

Robotics: Hephaestus does it again – Inaugural lecture given by Jean-Paul Laumond

In particular, it resonates with the sciences that take living beings, including humans, as their research objects. We can however immediately underline an essential difference: the roboticist has to make robots; the neurophysiologist, the bio-mechanical engineer or the psycho-physicist seeks to understand humans and animals. Words have their significance. The missions differ: while the former have to do, and are condemned to innovating, the latter have to understand, and are condemned to producing knowledge.

This is only a segment of his talk, for the entire lecture go:

http://books.openedition.org/cdf/540?lang=en