Santa’s Autonomous Helping Hands Let the Jolly ol’ Fellow Kick Back this Season

For those skeptical about the feasibility of Santa’s annual delivery schedule, here’s an autonomous piece of the puzzle that will bewilder even the most hard-hearted of non-believers.

The folks over at the Center of Excellence Cognitive Interaction Technology (CITEC) in Germany have whipped together a fantastic demo featuring Santa’s extra pair of helping hands. In the two-and-a-half minute video, the robot executes a suite of impressive autonomous stocking-stuffing maneuvers: from recognizing the open hole in the stocking, to grasping specific candies from the cluster of goodies available.

On the hardware-side, the arms appear to be a KUKA-variant, while on the software-side, the visualizations are being handled by the open source robot software ROS‘ RVIZ tool.

If some of the props in the video look familiar, you’ll find that the researchers at CITEC have already explored some stellar perception, classification, and grasping of related research topics. Who knew this pair of hands would be so jolly to clock some overtime this holiday season? The entire video is set to a crisp computer-voiced jingle that serves as a sneaky summary of their approach to this project.

Now, if only we could set these hands off to do our other dirty work….

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The Geek Group Installs Robot, Destroys CRT Monitor

GEEKSMASH

The Geek Group recently documented the process of overhauling part of their workspace to accommodate Project Jeff, a massive KUKA KR-350/1 industrial robot.

We don’t see many behind the scenes industrial-scale projects here at Hackaday, but we’re definitely impressed with the clever techniques employed to pull off this precision install. At around 5 inches deep, the original floor was far too thin to handle the weight and tortional loads imposed by Project Jeff, so The Geek Group carved out a 15′ square space of old concrete and dumped it piece by piece in the rubbish. They then dug a new hole to a depth of 2.5′ and filled it with a fresh pour that amounted to 67,500 pounds of concrete. Sheesh.

That concrete will inevitably expand and move around, which meant installing a pool-noodle-looking slip cover to protect a buried conduit from damage, as well as placing some gaskets around the edges to prevent cracking while maintaining a seal. Around 10 minutes into the video, they tackle the challenge of embedding bolts that connect to the robot’s base; it takes some patience and creative ladder positioning to fit the template in the correct position.

As an added treat, The Geek Group smashed a CRT monitor in our honor, and while they claim software limitations and a steel frame prevented Project Jeff from completely annihilating the monitor, we like to think the skull and cross-wrenches just refused to be destroyed. Because, you know, science. Videos after the break.

Continue reading “The Geek Group Installs Robot, Destroys CRT Monitor”