Archive for the 'Video' Category


Wonderful shows from the Demonstration Stream Group

From 13:15 until 15.45, six groups from the Demonstration stream have given wonderful shows in the large public rooms of At-Bristol. Wonderful, but insanely chaotic and hectic! There were many people walking around, visiting the mini-exhibitions — as we like to call them — from the Demonstration team. The New Media stream group was responsible for recording everything from the exhibitions. Photos and videos can be viewed in this blog entry, so that the reader can get an impression of what exactly has been done in the past few days in the Walking with Robots workshop and what the results are.

The New Media group was split into teams and each team member has their own role: photographer, cameraman, storywriter and supervisor. This team was responsible for recording various exhibitions, activities and presentations, each of which will be described below.

Robots are designed to do one thing well

This exhibition shows that robots are often made for the purpose of doing things that they are good at; or, in other words, doing things they have been designed for. In this exhibition, there is a video shown on a laptop of a robot that uses a tennis racket to keep a tennis ball up in the air by constantly softly and swiftly hitting it from the bottom. A large difference can be seen when humans are asked to do the same task. The participants are not as good as the robot itself, as illustrated in the video given below. This is the reason why some tasks can be better left to robots, as they are capable of performing extremely precise tasks with high accuracy, something that humans are not always capable of.

Robots will only do what you tell them to do

During this exhibition, visitors were asked to command a “robot” to do things, such as eating food or walking around. The idea behind this exhibition is that a robot cannot do anything else but whatever it is told to do. It is designed for that purpose, to serve the humans. That is what robotics will be like for the upcoming long time: doing things exactly as they are told, with some exceptions aside (e.g., NASA robots, Sony’s Aibo robots and Honda’s Asimo robots). However, things are surely to change when robots become so advanced that they can think on their own and are capable of performing autonomous tasks without getting humans involved. The Three Laws of Robotics will need to be programmed when technology gets that far (see also Wikipedia). Until then, there is no need to worry about such things.

that's interesting...
She finds it interesting.

A simple change in what a robot needs to do can change the design totally

The idea behind this exhibition is that a small change in the task of a robot can require a large change in the robot’s design. In order to illustrate that, three kinds of terrains of the planet Mars have been designed, on each of which a robot is required to navigate. Instead of an actual robot, however, balls of various sizes are used. They represent robots of different sizes. The terrains have holes. The first terrain has small holes, so small and big robots can walk there without falling through the holes. The second terrain has bigger holes, so only the large ball can travel across the terrain. However, the third and last terrain has a large abyss and requires a robot that can fly or jump over it. The changes in terrains therefore require a completely different design of the robots. This is a very simple but incredibly intuitive idea!

A kid is fascinated about what is being shown and told.

Rights of the robot

Another surprising activity was a robot walking around in the public rooms of At-Bristol, with everyone lining up behind it, carrying large signs. The purpose of this “demonstration” is to “fight” for the rights of the robot. The kids were invited to participate and in return they got a nice badge! They loved it! Some visual material is shown below.

Campaigning for robots
He loves robots!

She loves robots!

Design your own biomimetic robot

In this activity, children were asked to draw a biomimetic robot, which is a robot that has the abilities that exist in living creatures, such as the way of movement or their actions. Basically, the nature is mimicked in the design of the robot. The children used their imagintion and their experience in the field of nature to draw such a robot. Various surprisingly different drawings came out. There was even one child that was so much into the drawing that he did not want to leave, not even when his mum asked him to! Talk about determination!

Biomimetic Robot drawing #2
Biomimetic robot drawing.

Bimimetic robot wall
Many biomimetic robot drawings.

No, I want to stay
“No, I want to stay!”

Online quiz about robotics

In this activity, visitors could test their knowledge about robots and robotics in general by participating in an online quiz. A number of questions needed to be answered by the visitors and then they’d get a score of their knowledge. The results seem to vary much amongst the people.

Filling in the survey
Filling in the quiz and completely absorbed by it.

In the end, the exhibitions were a success and we were able to cover most of them by writing about them and providing photos and videos. It was very interesting to work in such an environment. Although things were rather chaotic, we were able to stay cool — with the exception of the rather shaky camera movements in the videos, apparently — and finish up our story on this blog!


Demostrating with Adrian and Vishu

Adrian Albin-Clark and Vishuu Aran Kumar, both from Manchester University, demonstrate simple robots that can be programmed to work together to do a complex task.

The aim was to find the card where was painted a human body… A short explanation and the conclusion by Adrian is below;

“Excited, I learnt a lot of things today!” was Sifat Momen’s words when he was asked for a opinion about the exercise.

Finally, for me it is all… was a good experience and I learnt a lot of things in this New Media stream…. >>


Making A Robot Hand

We’ve been following what Nathaniel and Dip have been doing for the past couple days. This afternoon they got their first taste of working with the public. As expected, their ‘Make A Robot Hand’ demonstration was hugely popular with the kids here at @Bristol.


Everyone giving the demonstrations was given 30 minutes out on the floor. The robot hands were so popular that Nathaniel and Dip were there for much longer than everyone else.


The tale continues…

Over the last 24 hours, everyone has to think, create or discuss in order to show at Explore @Bristol their work. Today, all this stuff has to be showed to the world and to Explore @Bristol.

Meanwhile, one of the stories that are happening around here is that the Talk & Presentation stream will perform street theatres using nonexistence objects as scenario and some others will be presenting something in PowerPoint…

The most interesting thing is that they are going to present their current research in a simple way, understandable by everyone. A quick shoot of what’s happening;


demonstration preparations

Today is the day of days, the day where everyone has to go out on to the exhibit and bring his science to the public. The lads over at the ‘Demonstrations & Hands on exhibits’ department have done some special preparations for that. Being able to craft some shiny gadgetry is one thing, being able to sell it to an audience is a whole different story. A good stage presence is hard to achieve and there are several things to be aware of. This game teaches the scientists how to be aware of little annoying habits, that a person might have:

If you are up on the stage trying to demonstrate your topic, you need to be confident in yourself and your research. Having the confidence to simply jump on to the stage full of confidence seems to be difficult to achieve, but actually it isn’t! Here you can see how:


Robots may walk

What’s next? The time is consuming, the beginning of the end is coming and we can find @Bristol walking robots…

Bigger or smaller, it doesn’t matter; these wooden machines can walk around @Bristol among real people… These ones work with a couple motors, sensors and some wires which represents the muscles, senses and nerves respectively.

Their application, simple; avoid obstacles.


Combine Science and Arts to unravel evolution

The 60-year old Dutch artist Theo Jansen builds gigantic structures that can walk over the beach of The Netherlands. The way he does this is very unique, in that he uses a genetic algorithm to design the best set-up. What this means is that he does not type any code himself, but let the robots walk over the beach and let them combine the best options to find one that is even better, similar as in evolution.

Let’s see how this looks:

All of these creations are made of 375 plastic tubes, costing only 10cents per meter, making it very light and inexpensive. It is held together by cables, nylon strings and adhesive tape. By trial and error the ideal settings are found to walk as stable as possible over the windy beach. All of the creations are driven by energy from the wind.

The first creations were simulated in a computer program, before building the first real one. These required a lot of tuning (through genetic learning) before they were able to stand. Next versions had to learn how to deal with the strong wind.

This way he has designed a new nature, that is able to evolve using survival of the fittest. Eventually he wants a large number of these creatures walking around on the beach, interacting with eachother, without his interference.

More information about Jansen see his website