Intel Labs: Building Better Robot Butlers, Digital Homes, Cloud Systems

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Intel Labs: Building Better Robot Butlers, Digital Homes, Cloud Systems

by Jeffrey Burt

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Intel Labs Pittsburgh

Intel's nine-year-old Pittsburgh lab is located on the campus of Carnegie Mellon University in the city, where the 21 full-time Intel employees work with the school's staff and students in research that spans the key areas of cloud computing and embedded real-time intelligent systems.

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HERB, or Human Exploring Robot Butler, is a robot that features two arms, hands that can grasp, a high-level interface, a Segway base and image and range sensors. The goal, according to researchers, is to get robots out of the factories and into the homes.

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Spinning Laser

The laser on top of HERB spins to give the robot a 240-degree, 3D view of its environment so that it can "see" people, furniture and other obstacles. HERB can take in 40,000 points a second through the sensor.

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Person Recognition

Intel researchers are creating technology designed to enable robots such as HERB to quickly detect an entity and then quickly recognize it. The technology shown here will help robots recognize people, an important capability for robots that will interact with humans. The technology, which uses RGB-D cameras and new vision sensors, is very new and will be incorporated into HERB soon.

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The goal of Intel's Collaborative Robots project is to make robots more commonplace in people's lives by enhancing their usefulness and acceptance. Like HERB, a key for CoBot2 is the ability to detect people in their environment and interact with them.

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Robot Navigation

On top of CoBot2 is a module called Stargazer, to the right, that helps the robot orient itself in its environment, and a Sony Evid-70 camera.

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Robot Interface

A tablet PC from Hewlett-Packard is used as the onboard touch-screen interface for CoBot2.

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Project Zoni

The cloud software, still under development, is designed to make cloud computing environments more responsive, more efficient and more elastic.

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Project Fawn

One of the key issues in data centers today is the rising consumption of power. With Project Fawn, Intel researchers are looking to see if certain workloads can be run more efficiently by replacing a few traditional servers with more, smaller and lower-power nodes running Intel's Atom chip. Much of the project's focus in developing ways that software can work well in such hardware environments.

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Shrinking Boards

Intel researchers are looking for ways to take the components from the board on the left, which can be bought now, and shrink them into a smaller form factor, such as the one on the right.

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Connected Home 2020

Intel Lab's project is investigating the appropriate architectures for the digital homes of the future, looking at a cloud-based approach to the delivery of wireless services. Intel is developing visualization algorithms for the disparate networks that offer services within the home, including WiFi, Zigbee and z-wave. The project touches upon diagnosing the wireless services and controlling access to the networks.

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Counting Bees

Honey bees are crucial to the health of crops such as cranberries, and the flight activities of the bees are a key indicator of the colony's strength and condition. Intel researchers are creating a video monitoring system that would enable farmers to monitor arrivals and departures at the hive entrance, record the data and then analyze it. Pictured is a display of a monitor on a hive. On the panel are videos of bees.

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