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19 May
2009

The 2009 International Conference on Robotics and Automation just finished in Kobe, Japan. Notable in addition to the technical content of the conference were the measures being taken regarding swine flu.

Among the hundreds to papers that were presented there were a couple that discussed recent developments regarding automated flight be quad-rotor helicopters. Wolfram Burgard's group won the best paper prize for work on doing automated mapping and localization (SLAM) with such a helicopter. Our friend and former McGill student Nick Roy also won the early career award for his achievements, which include work on such helicopters (mentioned on this blog a few weeks ago).

Junaed gave a presentation of our work using "spatio-chromatic" trackers to follow human dives with our underwater robot. This work uses a very large set of possible image filters with both spatial and color tunings to detect the person. The combination of filters to use is practice is optimized using the Adaboost machine learning algorithm.

Philippe gave a talk on our work using simple contact dynamics to measure the surface texture of the ground the robot is walking on, and classify and identify it using unsupervised learning.

Yiannis presented work with Dave and Dimitri on using a combination of Extended Kalman Filters and Monte Carlo Markov Chain methods for state estimation. The work is applied to computing node positions for a sensor network. In that work, the hybrid MCMC/EKF combines advantages of each individual algorithm.




Junaed giving his talk
Junaed giving his talk


Philippe Giguere giving his talk
Philippe Giguere giving his talk


By Gregory Dudek at | Leave a comment |    
27 July
2009

While out of the city on the weekend recently, I spotted a huge insect flitting against the window at night. In the morning, I discovered it was a Luna Moth: an exceptionally large and visually striking month quite unlike the normal grey ones we are accustomed to. These moths are a strong green, the color of new leaves, and are up to 8-11 cm across.

At night it was a real shock as I had been quietly reading by the window and it made a lot of noise out of the blue. In the daytime, it was stunning and provoked a very enthusiastic response from Natasha.

They are also endangered species according to my Petersen Field Guide to insects, although Wikipedia claims they are common. I think the rarity is related to specific parts of its range.

When I saw it flitting against the window that night I turned off the light, but it landed and apparently slept (I hope it was sleeping) nearby. The one on our window flew away eventually (or at least it was gone a week later).

In addition to the size and color, the extensive antenna are notable. As an aside, the luna moth is apparently unable to hear sound and does not eat in the adult form.




By Gregory Dudek at | Read (6) or Leave a comment |    
30 July
2009

I will be off the net for almost 4 days. This is the first time in more years than I can remember. I didn't think going off-net was any big deal, until I actually confronted it and realized how many little interactions would be thrown off.

[ I made it! Phew! No so bad after all, except for a battle if the auto-reply daemons between myself and an organization that tried to email me.]


By Gregory Dudek at | Leave a comment |    
18 October
2009

Last week I was in Mexico and gave a keynote talk at the International Congress on Multidisciplinary Research at Monterrey Tec (more formally Tecnologico de Monterrey). The general chair was Dr. Marco Iván Ramírez-Sosa Morá n who turns out not only have be working on some interesting topics in control theory, but to be an extremely nice guy. The meeting and the campus were quite impressive. It also didn't hurt to have a chance to warm up a bit. In addition, I had a chance to visit Luz Abril Torres-Mendez who is now a faculty member at Cinvestav in Saltillo, Mexico. Her lab is looking at computer vision systems for underwater vehciles, among other things, and thus shares several interests with our own lab.

In a bit of free time one afternoon I visited the Desert Museum in Saltillo. It's quite diverse and includes an exhibition on fossils, dinosaur reconstructions, a huge taxidermy collection, a substantial live snake collection (serpentarium), various cacti, and lots of other stuff. Well worth checking out if you are in the area.



By Gregory Dudek at | Leave a comment |    
11 January
2010

Air Canada now allows frequent flyers to track their annual activity. In 2009 is seems I flew 33 segments on Air Canada. That's sickening... No wonder I don't find flying that exciting any more!


By Gregory Dudek at | Leave a comment |    
13 January
2010

We leave for our Sea Trials in just 36 hours or so. One more long day. The last week has been a wild ride and many software and hardware systems for our robots got a final checkout and some fine tuning. Of course, there was also a mad rush to include some last features or goodies after the last "drop dead" date.

Even our kooky underwater GPS until was waterproofed and attached. I added some final audio feedback elements and software flags. A possible leak was found and fixed. A bad solder joint led to a whole bunch of wiring getting replaced in a much better format. Everything seemed almost under control, until the bad smell came.

Late this afternoon a bad burning plastic small came from inside the robot. From Ramius too, the healthy young stallion, not from crusty old Aqua 1. Everything seems to work, but clearly something was wrong. Well, it looks like the CPU fan on the ADL CPU card died. We have a spare we can swap in, but it involves a major strip-down effort and, if we rush it, there is a risk we'll damage a cable or cause some other mayhem. It not clear there is time. Since the students need to meet at the lab at 3am to be sure to clear security in these crazy days, there is precious little time to lose.

I am still not sure how this is going to work out. Swap out now? Swap out after we arrive? Run slow and brave the heat? This is too frustrating for words!

Changing the ADL CPU board. Philippe is giddy from working so hard.
Changing the ADL CPU board. Philippe is giddy from working so hard.



Well, Philippe is swapping it out now. If all goes well, we can struggle to pack everything in time.


By Gregory Dudek at | Leave a comment |    
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