Archives for October 25, 2008

HEALTH and WELLNESS: Robots to help elderly stay independent

As the baby boomers age, there will be a large segment of the population that will be living into their seventies, eighties, or even nineties.  This means sometimes that a person will need some type of extended care in the home.  Here come robots to the rescue.  Robots can help the elderly keep up with medicines, schedules, and even be a companion.

“This is the future of aging,” said Fillia Makedon, a professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Texas at Arlington. “Technology will let people grow old at home.”  Follow the link below to the article.

HEALTH & WELLNESS: Robots to help elderly stay independent
Grand Forks Herald, ND – 1 hour ago
Like smart pets that never require feeding, robots will scoot from room to room to wake the homeowners in the morning, remind them to eat and send for help

HEALTH & WELLNESS: Robots to help elderly stay independent – Grand Forks Herald
Sat, 25 Oct 2008 05:04:19 GMT

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Miniature jumping robot mimics grasshopper

Insects have the solution to a very serious limitation of small robots.  When a small robot has to navigate difficult terrain such as a rock-strewn surface of another planet, it faces a problem.  This difficulty is that to a small robot even a small pebble is a giant boulder.

Researchers have described the problem in the following way: 

"Small robots have big problems when it comes to efficient locomotion in natural and rough terrains. This effect is usually referred to as the 'Size Grain Hypothesis' [1], which is described as an 'increase in environmental rugosity with decreasing body size'. That is the smaller the robot, the bigger the obstacles. To circumvent the inefficiencies of crawling, walking, or running for miniature robots, researchers at EPFL are exploring jumping as a more efficient approach (others have also developed jumping robots.)"

Some insects have utilized this mode of transportation for a long time.  Certainly, this is a very efficient way for insects to get over blockages in their path.  Jumping allows a more direct line of travel in most cases.  Small robots can utilize this same way of getting around in a rough terrain.   In this paper researchers present their research on an original 5cm, 7g jumping robot. It can leap over obstacles "more than 27 times its own size and outperforms existing jumping robots by one order of magnitude with respect to jump height per weight and jump height per size."

The big question is–how does this little bot work? The short description as given by the researchers in the recently published paper  is the following.

"It employs elastic elements in a four bar linkage leg system to allow for very powerful jumps and adjustment of the jumping force, take-off angle and force profile during the acceleration phase."

So now you have to see this little machine in action.  Follow the link to see this little bot in action.  I have found the download to be a little slow so have patience–it is worth the wait.


Miniature jumping robot
Awesom-o (
Wed, 22 Oct 2008 07:27:00 GMT


M. Kaspari and M. D. Weiser, “The size-grain hypothesis and interspecific
scaling in ants,” Functional Ecology, vol. 13, no. 4, pp. 530–538,

Kovac, M. , Fuchs, M. , Guignard, A. , Zufferey, J.-C. and Floreano, D. (2008) A miniature 7g jumping robot . Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA'2008), pp. 373 – 378.

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