The joint junior undergraduate seminar between the University of Tokyo (UT) and Tokyo University of the Arts (TUA) started in the Winter semester 2010. The junior students in Departments of Mechanical Engineering/ Mechano-Informatics, UT, and Department of Sculpture, TUA, discuss and work on the Beauty of Posture and Motion of Humanoid Robots. The seminar is co-organized by Tatoru Kitago, Professor and Vice President of TUA, Wataru Takano, Lecturer of UT, and myself. Humanoid robots, NAO, are used in the seminar. Each of three groups consists of students from both of TUA and UT and uses each NAO. On December 1st, 2010, each of the groups choreographed a short motion of NAO synchronized with music. After a few weeks of programing training, the students are getting used to it and starting to think about the beauty of posture and motion. (video)
The meeting at Yamanaka-Ryo was for 2-days brainstorming (November 27,28th) among the board members and the stuff members to the president. I am among the stuff members. Discussions include the strength and weakness of UT, which was an opportunity for me to think about the international relationship and the English-speaking environments. Our laboratory currently welcomes nine international students and three post-doctoral researchers from abroad as well as twenty Japanese students. It has been an open question to myself how the creative laboratory is supposed to be in terms of communication for both our Japanese students and international members. On the way back, I visited Beni-Fuji-no-yu for the second time after the summer lab tour in August, 2010. One can see the Fuji mountain being in the hot-spring. The Fuji mountain observed is like a painting at the walls of typical Japanese public bathes. It was a perfect shape unobstructed. The photo is Mt. Fuji from a bus on the way from Beni-Fuji-no-yu to Fuji-Yoshida.
There was the Informal Meeting on High Technology on November 20th at Uji Campus of Kyoto University. Resear chers and engineers who studied at Automation Research Lab under the guidance of Professor Hideo Hanafusa gathered there. The speaker of the day was Hirotoshi Yamamoto, a ph.d student of Kyoto University. His talk was on “Towards Assistive Technology for Quality of Life of Dementia Patients.” It was an impressive talk. The challenge of his research is how technology can monitor and improve the quality of (mind) life of dementia patients. The monitoring is called as “Dementia Care Mapping” and currently done only by the professionally trained counselors by checking Behavioral Category Codes.
On the way to the meeting I spent a few hours walking in the Higashi-Yama area in Kyoto. The Japanese maple trees beautifully turned red and yellow, thanks to the weather in this year and rain in November. Photos: (top) the three-storied pagoda at Shin’nyo-d o Temple, (bottom) Nandaimon Gate o f Nanzen-ji Temple, which is known by Goemon Ishikawa in Kabuki.
The 43rd IFToMM Executive Council was in Sousse in Tunisia on November 12 and 13th. I attended it as the vise president. IFToMM (International Federation for the Promotion of Mechanism and Machine Theory) is the international society involving 44 countries. The members are not individual researchers, but the countries (member organizations). All the researchers and students of the member organization are eligible for the benefits of IFToMM membership. The Executive Council is the annual meeting of IFToMM officers. The managements of IFToMM is like those of the United Nations. The highest decisions are made at the General Assembly at the World Congress opened every 4 years by voting. Each country has only one vote. Tunisia is one of the newest members of IFToMM and kindly hosted the EC meeting at University of Sousse. One in robotics might remember IFToMM by “ROMANSY” (CISM-IFToMM Symposium on Robot Design, Dynamics, and Control), that has the longest history in robotics and is the flagship symposium sponsored by IFToMM Technical Committee of Robotics and Mechatronics.
The left photo was the officers and their families at a hotel in the Berbera’s area in Tunisia. The Hotel Sidi Driss is a traditional Berber underground building at Metmata village. The hotel was use shooting a film of Star Wars as the home of Luke Skywalker in planet Tatooine. Visit here for more information. The Berbera house consists of caves made on the foot of rocky mountains. Temperature inside the rooms is naturally kept 25 degree Celsius all the year round.
The DAY2 has been just completed. The second day started from 9:30 am and ended at 18:00 pm. It was the advanced program that Aldebaran Robotics can offer. It is my fault if the contents were too difficult for students. The nearly 30 students participated, among whom 6 were junior students, the majority were master and ph.d students. A few faculty members also participated. As it goes into the advanced programing, it became clear that the whole system is very well structured as a research tool. The most updated research results are integrated in the system such as motion control with quadratic programing under constraints, voice recognition/generation, vision system and so on. The seminar was a very good experience for not only for students, but also for me to feel how the technology today transforms the high-tech product today.
USTREAM archives are as follows:
=================================== October 17th, morning 9:30-12:00 ==================================== ＋Text to Speech/Speech recognition in Japanese ->Text to Speech in Japanese ->Speech recognition in Japanese ->Practice ＋Vision ->Image processing ->Record and replay video sequences (with timestamper) to reproduce a test with the same data ->Practice ======================================== October 17th, afternoon 13:00-17:00 ======================================== +Interface your software with NaoQi ->Template to interface an external algorithm with SDK ->Practice Extra +Cross-compilation +Real time and syncrhonization - .NET - NaoSim ===========================================================
The DAY1 of two-day course “NAO Programing Seminar at YNL” started with a speech of Bruno Maisonnier, CEO, Aldebaran Robotics. It is intended for students of YNL and those of Department of Mechano-Informatics. It is the first initiative under the Educational Program between our lab at University of Tokyo and Aldebaran Robotics. I would like to express my special thanks to the four engineers of Aldebaran who spent the whole day with the rich contents.
I came back to the class room late in the afternoon, I found some students flustrated being left behind. After talking to the engineers after the seminar, I recognized that the classroom culture in Japan made the situation. The engineers were also embarrassed with almost zero reaction of students in the classroom, while they used to have more expressive interaction with students in France. I hope it is a useful experience that they learned the most difficult skill for Japanese professors.
The USTREAM archives are as follows.
The contents of DAY1 are:
========================================================= October 16th, morning: 9:30-12:00 =================================== Introduction of NAO How to use Choregraphe /Telepathe +Introducation of Choregraphe +Behavior manager ->How to make motion ->Accessing sensor information ->Introduction to NaoQi framework using Python scripts in Choregraphe ->Introduction of Proxy ->Synchronous and Asynchronous programming ->Hardware descriptions and best practices +How to use Telepathe: visualizing sensor data ===================================== October 16th, afternoon 13:00-17:00 ===================================== +Developing with the SDK ->Presentation of the SDK ->Going further with NaoQi architecture (concept of modules) ->Installation of SDK and extra tools cmake, Python ->Creating and using a remote behavior ->Create a behavior using a Python script without Choregraphe (Get an image from the video extractor)) +Create and compile a remote C++ module using ALMemory, Reactive programming --Checking an event/Reacting to an event--) +Motion ->Joint control ->Dynamic Walk ->Practice
We start to use 30 humanoids robots, NAO, for education and research in some laboratories at the Department of Mechano-Informatics, the University of Tokyo. It is based on the educational program of Aldebaran Robotics, France. NAO is a fine educational robot with many input/output peripherals and open software platform. In 2010 winter semester, Prof. Wataru Takano and I open a seminar for junior students on “About Beauty of Posture and Motion Programmed in Humanoid Robots.” We plan to organize it with Prof. Satoru Kitago and his students in Tokyo University of the Arts. It’s going to be a big fun.
I had a chance to visit Aldebaran Robotics in Paris in December 2009. Mr. Bruno Maisonnier, the president, explained that it had about 100 employees among which about 50 were development engineers. I met many of engineers in an open wide floor of the building in Paris, who were working at CAD systems, programming robots, doing hardware experiments and enjoying discussions. The engineers were from several countries including the US and some of them had Ph.D degrees. Just like a typical example of growing IT enterprises, the floor was active, cheerful, and noisy. To be honest, it was my first impression that the hardware would need further developments before the technology reached the level of SONY QRIO. Although Japan is still the leading country of robotics in particular with hardware technology and industrial applications, we could grow neither SONY AIBO nor QRIO in spite of their technical excellence and commercial success as robots. They are gone and we miss them a lot! I am among those who would like to see a hungry robotics venture enterprise spurt out from the robotics of Japan. I hope that the adventure of Aldebaran Robotics sets seeds of hungry robotics ventures, not only in this country.