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Comment Gazebo, ROS, OpenCV, Point Cloud Library (Score 4, Informative) 78

Yes, you can learn a lot of robotics without actual hardware. I develop software for self-driving vehicles, and spend 95% of my time away from the hardware!

ROS + Gazebo will let you assemble a robotics software stack and explore different planning and control algorithms in simulation: and

If you want to explore perception and computer vision, take a look at OpenCV ( ) and the tutorials there. The great thing about computer vision is you can run your software against the standard research sets or images you pull off Flickr.

Point Cloud Library is a nice package for looking at 3D laser data (but has some numerical quirks):

I would definitely take a look at some MOOCs, Andrew Ng's Machine Learning at Coursea ( or the MIT Courseware ( )

Comment Re:Anki is clever but simpler than it looks (Score 2) 19

I think you're missing the brilliance of the phone doing the gameplay part. They're building an AI stack for one of the most ubiquitous portable computing devices of our time. One that can be had for $200.

Anki Drive performs real-time planning and control of multiple vehicles. It contends with dynamic obstacles (human drivers don't "stay in their lane") and relatively high speeds. These are non-trivial problems to solve, especially for objects with inertia and latency, and it's a first-step for more sophisticated platforms.

Once you have planning and control, you can start thinking about adding sensors for obstacle detection. And since the customer supplies the computing, it's a relatively cheap upgrade.

So I'm interested in seeing what they do next, and whether they can move beyond toys and entertainment.

Comment Been the case at UofM for a while (Score 1) 532

This was the case when I was an Engineering student at the University of Michigan in '03 and continues to be the case now.

Your first two years as Engineering student will cost you about $100/$400 (out-of-state/in-state) more per semester versus general undergraduate. Those numbers shoot up to $1000/$1500 more your second two years (when courses are typically more lab intensive).

Comment Re:Laser scanners covertly map? (Score 1) 148

LIDARs (laser scanners) are pulsed, both for eye-safety and to measure the time of flight. These pulses are on the order of a few microseconds in duration. So it's not as simple as putting on some IR glasses or using a cheap web-cam. You need to time your shutter precisely. Long-exposures won't work because you'll accumulate too much ambient.

Comment Youtube of this vs. the Prior Art (Score 1) 156

A quick search on youtube revealed this video which seems to be of the software in question.

The summary mentions prior work by Hoiem at CMU (slashdotted here), a video of which can be also seen on Youtube.

I'm not sure I'm very impressed by the Stanford videos. In the few examples of non-vertical surfaces, you can see quite a few artifacts.
The Courts

Submission + - RIAA ordered to divulge expenses-per-download

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes: "The Court has ordered UMG Recordings, Warner Bros. Records, Interscope Records, Motown, and SONY BMG to disclose their expenses-per-download to the defendant's lawyers, in UMG v. Lindor, a case pending in Brooklyn. The Court held that the expense figures are relevant to the issue of whether the RIAA's attempt to recover damages of $750 or more per 99-cent song file, is an unconstitutional violation of due process."

Submission + - CMU wins Robot Car Challenge 2

qeorqe writes: Tartan Racing Team from CMU has been declared the winner of The Urban Challenge. Autonomous (unmanned)robot cars competed in tasks in an urban setting. Professional human drivers drove on the course as moving obstacles. Vehicles were penalized for violating the California driving laws, collisions, hitting the curb, and various other restrictions.

DARPA sponsored the competition. Tartan Racing Team (CMU) won the $2 million first prize with their entry "The Boss" based on a Chevy Tahoe. Stanford Racing Team won the $1 million second prize with their entry "Junior" based on a Volkswagen Passat. VictorTango (Virginia Tech) won the $1/2 million third prize with their entry "Odin" based on a Ford Escape. Junior had line honors being the first to cross the finish line. The Boss finished shortly after Junior. Because starts were staggared and penalties were applied for errors, a corrected time was used to determine the winner.

MIT's car cut off and hit Team Cornell's car during the competition. Both cars were eventually able to resume.

Congratulations to all participants and especially Tartan Racing Team. Is there any chance of The Boss leading a victory parade through the streets of Pittsburgh?

Some other coverage may be found at WIred and itwire. Earlier slashdot coverage can also be found.

Submission + - CMU takes the Urban Challenge $2m prize (

pacopico writes: CMU has taken first place in the Urban Challenge robotic car race sponsored by DARPA, according to this story in The Register, which looks like the first account. For winning, Carnegie Mellon grabbed $2 million, while second place Stanford took $1 million and third place Virginia Tech won $500,000. CMU lost to Stanford in the previous race. But, in this year's contest, the robots had to battle it out on an urban course, competing with other robot vehicles and stunt driver, as opposed to the desert race in 2005.

Submission + - 3 Bots Win Pentagon's Robotic Rally (

An anonymous reader writes: We've got a winner in the Pentagon's $3.5 million all-robot street rally, the Urban Challenge. Three, actually. WIRED reports that 'bots from Stanford, Virginia Tech, and Carnegie Mellon all completed the course within the six-hour time limit. The robo-cars had to complete different missions taking varying times, so the flesh-and-blood judges will take a day to figure out who takes home first prize.

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