About

RoboTribune is a weblog dedicated to future service robotics. It offers a professional-like insight on latest information, technoly progresses and developments that could happen in the robotics realm within the next years.

The targeted robotics field is the commercial (general public) service robotics. It does not focus on industrial robotics, robotoys or individual (DIY) robot makers (except in the case they show innovation usable for the targeted field). In other words: clever actuated domestic appliances.
This weblog is not technology-centered. However a subsection is provided for this subject. Otherwise this weblog is talking about anything that can influence the targeted field: academic researches, new industrial actor, economic dogmas applicable to robotics, political decisions, etc.

This weblog aims at explaning what the futur of commercial service robotics will be made of, made by and made for.

This site publishes articles (texts) as well as shared items which are just links with short comment or description. Shared items are used to easily share contents that are not sufficent for an article.

Short bio

Axel Voitier is a young engineer in computer science and electronics (School).

He hold a MSc diploma in Robotics from the University of Plymouth.

He led different robotics projects and got significant rankings with his teams in the french Eurobot contest.

He is now working at CERN as a fellow in Industrial Control providing services for CERN’s particle accelerators and other machines as well as detectors of CERN’s experiments.

Relevant robotics background

Since 2009: Beta tester of the Nao robot

Nao the robot
Nao the robot

Nao is a humanoid robots devised by the french company Aldebaran Robotics. The company opened a first beta test program for 30 French and English persons in June 2009. This small community of testers is currently exploring many different ways of using such robot in a household.
Nao is usually programmed in Python, C++ or URBI.

Current interesting works in progress:
- Use of a pico projector.
- BPM/Rythm extraction and dancing movements generation.
- Implementation of various robotics library (vision, heuristic localisation, etc.).
- Exploration of how to run or stack several behaviour at the same time.
- Exploration about the usage of parallel computation chips (not embodied in Nao though).
- Datamatrix decoding.
- Possible bindings with ROS.

Various links:
- Nao on Wikipedia
- Aldebaran’s forum
- Zirup’s social page
- The NaoForge community
- All Nao tester’s blogs

2007-2008: MSc project: devising a walking controller on a Bioloid robot

Humanoid Bioloid
Humanoid Bioloid at Euroby

Bioloid robots are modular kits from the company Robotis. They can be used for building various kind of robots, especially a humanoid one. The University of Plymouth allows their students to work on various projects with these robots. They are especially interesting to get a first hand in some very common robotics problem as:
- impact of mechanics tolerance and plays on the long term behaviour.
- impact of inertia and friction on the control side.
- computation and synchronisation of complex control commands.
- embedded or remote controlling.

Bioloid’s actuators are also interesting due to their ability to parametrise the torque control applied by each local motor controller in function of the error/distance to the target position. This specificity allows to give damp and spring effects to the servomotors.

Works made on these robots:
- MSc Project thesis: Primitive controller for bipedal motions (exploration of the torque control of the actuators in order to use the natural dynamics of the robot to self-produce oscillations on hip and ankle roll joints)
- Euroby 2008 (creation of strategy progams for some contests of Euroby/FIRA)

2003-2007: 4 years of participation to the Eurobot/Coupe de France de Robotique

Eurobot 2007 ESEO Game Hoover
Eurobot 2006 ESEO Twister

The Eurobot competition is mixing every year hundreds of students from, usually, engineering schools. The contest is especially well known in France where it born and benefited of a national television coverage during many years. The rules change every year but they have a tendency to keep certain criteria: two robots competing during 90 seconds on a limited rectangular area. Lately the themes have been focused on “humanist” topics: waste sorting, building cooperation, food gathering, etc.

Participating students have to build a new robot every year. As they are made by “ephemere students” in clubs, it also encourages innovation and transmission of knowledge accross the years to the new students within the school teams.
Some of these clubs are having an organisation very similar to a small company with ~30 members in average per year and a budget of 5 to 10 thousands euro per year, as the robotics association at ESEO.

Positions and rankings:

Year Robot name Theme Position Rankings
2006-2007 Game Hoover Waste sorting President, main board manager and software quality France: 11th, Belgium: Fair Play cup
2005-2006 Twister Golf Main board assistant and quality chief France: 44th, Belgium: 2nd
2004-2005 Up & Down Bowling Webmaster and software quality France: 2nd, Belgium: 1st
2003-2004 Minus and Cortex Coconut rugby Webmaster France: 28th

Working on the main board (“strategy brain”) helped to understand many concepts in such robots:
- Internal communications between the different boards inside the robot.
- Virtual localisation of the robot on the arena.
- Devising strategies to avoid “invisible” obstacles and hunting “invisible” items.
- Conception of event-driven brain: adaptation of many paradigms like finite state machines with events triggering unexpected states in addition to tasks priority scheduling.

Zirup

The Zirup robots are a familly of robots owned and/or devised by Axel. They are meant to provide services to humans.

Zirup01 was a Bioloid robot on which a reflexive walking controller using primitives assembly has been devised. It had no common name.

Zirup02 are Nao robots from Aldebaran Robotics.
Zirup02a is a beta version of this robot. Its common name is Zirup.
Zirup02b will be a public release version of Nao, named Zquash.