This robot ‘mermaid’ grabs shipwreck treasures

OceanOne robot diver

A robot called OceanOne with artificial intelligence and haptic feedback systems gives human pilots an unprecedented ability to explore the depths of the oceans.

Oussama Khatib held his breath as he swam through the wreck of La Lune, over 300 feet below the Mediterranean. The flagship of King Louis XIV sank here in 1664, 20 miles off the southern coast of France, and no human had touched the ruins—or the countless treasures and artifacts the ship once carried—in the centuries since.

With guidance from a team of skilled deep-sea archaeologists who had studied the site, Khatib, a professor of computer science at Stanford, spotted a grapefruit-size vase. He hovered precisely over the vase, reached out, felt its contours and weight, and stuck a finger inside to get a good grip. He swam over to a recovery basket, gently laid down the vase, and shut the lid. Then he stood up and high-fived the dozen archaeologists and engineers who had been crowded around him.

This entire time Khatib had been sitting comfortably in a boat, using a set of joysticks to control OceanOne, a humanoid diving robot outfitted with human vision, haptic force feedback and an artificial brain—in essence, a virtual diver.

When the vase returned to the boat, Khatib was the first person to touch it in hundreds of years. It was in remarkably good condition, though it showed every day of its time underwater: The surface was covered in ocean detritus, and it smelled like raw oysters. The team members were overjoyed, and when they popped bottles of champagne, they made sure to give their heroic robot a celebratory bath.

The expedition to La Lune was OceanOne’s maiden voyage. Based on its astonishing success, Khatib hopes that the robot will one day take on highly skilled underwater tasks too dangerous for human divers, as well as open up a whole new realm of ocean exploration.

“OceanOne will be your avatar,” Khatib says. “The intent here is to have a human diving virtually, to put the human out of harm’s way. Having a machine that has human characteristics that can project the human diver’s embodiment at depth is going to be amazing.”

Meet the robo-mermaid

The concept for OceanOne was born from the need to study coral reefs deep in the Red Sea, far below the comfortable range of human divers. No existing robotic submarine can dive with the skill and care of a human diver, so OceanOne was conceived and built from the ground up, a successful marriage of robotics, artificial intelligence, and haptic feedback systems.

OceanOne looks something like a robo-mermaid. Roughly five feet long from end to end, its torso features a head with stereoscopic vision that shows the pilot exactly what the robot sees, and two fully articulated arms. The “tail” section houses batteries, computers, and eight multi-directional thrusters.

The body looks far unlike conventional boxy robotic submersibles, but it’s the hands that really set OceanOne apart. Each fully articulated wrist is fitted with force sensors that relay haptic feedback to the pilot’s controls, so the human can feel whether the robot is grasping something firm and heavy, or light and delicate. (Eventually, each finger will be covered with tactile sensors.)

The bot’s brain also reads the data and makes sure that its hands keep a firm grip on objects, but that they don’t damage things by squeezing too tightly. In addition to exploring shipwrecks, this makes it adept at manipulating delicate coral reef research and precisely placing underwater sensors.

“You can feel exactly what the robot is doing,” Khatib says. “It’s almost like you are there; with the sense of touch you create a new dimension of perception.”

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The pilot can take control at any moment, but most frequently won’t need to lift a finger. Sensors throughout the robot gauge current and turbulence, automatically activating the thrusters to keep the robot in place. And even as the body moves, quick-firing motors adjust the arms to keep its hands steady as it works. Navigation relies on perception of the environment, from both sensors and cameras, and these data run through smart algorithms that help OceanOne avoid collisions. If it senses that its thrusters won’t slow it down quickly enough, it can quickly brace for impact with its arms, an advantage of a humanoid body build.

Dangerous situations

The humanoid form also means that when OceanOne dives alongside actual humans, its pilot can communicate through hand gestures during complex tasks or scientific experiments. Ultimately, though, Khatib designed OceanOne with an eye toward getting human divers out of harm’s way. Every aspect of the robot’s design is meant to allow it to take on tasks that are either dangerous—deep-water mining, oil-rig maintenance, or underwater disaster situations like the Fukushima Daiichi power plant—or simply beyond the physical limits of human divers.

“We connect the human to the robot in very intuitive and meaningful way. The human can provide intuition and expertise and cognitive abilities to the robot,” Khatib says. “The two bring together an amazing synergy. The human and robot can do things in areas too dangerous for a human, while the human is still there.”

Khatib was forced to showcase this attribute while recovering the vase. As OceanOne swam through the wreck, it wedged itself between two cannons. Firing the thrusters in reverse wouldn’t extricate it, so Khatib took control of the arms, motioned for the bot to perform a sort of pushup, and OceanOne was free.

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Next month, OceanOne will return to the Stanford campus, where Khatib and his students will continue iterating on the platform. The prototype robot is a fleet of one, but Khatib hopes to build more units, which would work in concert during a dive.

The expedition to La Lune was made possible in large part thanks to the efforts of Michel L’Hour, the director of underwater archaeology research in France’s Ministry of Culture. Previous remote studies of the shipwreck conducted by L’Hour’s team made it possible for OceanOne to navigate the site. Vincent Creuze of the Universite de Montpellier in France commanded the support underwater vehicle that provided third-person visuals of OceanOne and held its support tether at a safe distance.

In addition to Stanford, Meka Robotics and the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia supported the robot’s development.

Source: Stanford University

The post This robot ‘mermaid’ grabs shipwreck treasures appeared first on Futurity.

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general design discussion • Re: Core77 supports Fiverr?

Kinda a stream of thought post.

jon_winebrenner wrote:
Just because it is something designers don’t want to hear doesn’t mean it is any less true. Of course it doesn’t apply to all designers, but I would agree with Sasha that it applies to a significant chunk of designers who charge too little or nothing at all. Our profession holds significant value in the business food chain.

Exactly why I said a blanket statement isn’t the best way to get that point across. There are plenty of designers who know this and most importantly can provide that value. There’s also plenty of people who can’t. This idea isn’t specific to design. Plenty of professions fall into this trap.

The big problem is that designers in general don’t know how to go about and even sell their services. Or most importantly what to charge If Sasha wants the playing field to be more level and designers to “respect” themselves more then you have to give out salary and specific hours. How are these new designers suppose to know what to charge? with a cryptic spread sheet that you fill out? And when they do know what to charge they need to feel confident asking for it. That confidence to demand your rate is one thing they don’t teach anywhere and one of the most important parts in in the equation of getting paid.

And, if you didn’t get into design for making money, why did you?

I love building and experimenting in the physical world. Getting paid to make products that people fall in love with is fun. Also there’s something fun about creating a commodity product (watch/shoe/bag) That is entirely product/brand based. People choose it because of how it was designed and the lifestyle in conveys. Not the tech is holds. So when you see someone walking down with a product you helped make its a great feeling. I get way more satisfaction when I see someone wear a watch I designed than I do when I see someone have the Roku I designed in their house.

Secondly industrial designs allows me to collect and extremely high set of skills. Model making, CAD, rendering, electronics, photography, video as well as the business side of thing.

If I wanted to make money in design I would have gone into the digital realm and done UI/UX or computer science. And followed my friends who went to the major tech companies (FB, google, apple, microsfot, etc) and make 100+K plus right out of college. But I don’t want to push code/pixels around all day.

It can be, and should be a significant money maker if you apply some business sense to your skillset.

Exactly, this but this is true to everything. I can become a serious money maker if I apply some business sense to reselling things on Amazon that I buy from eBay/Aliexpress. I agree though, designers should learn to harness the business side. Elon Musk wife said it best.

Choose one thing and become a master of it. Choose a second thing and become a master of that. When you become a master of two worlds (say, engineering and business), you can bring them together in a way that will a) introduce hot ideas to each other, so they can have idea sex and make idea babies that no one has seen before and b) create a competitive advantage because you can move between worlds, speak both languages, connect the tribes, mash the elements to spark fresh creative insight until you wake up with the epiphany that changes your life.

http://www.businessinsider.com/elon-mus … ire-2015-4

Get the design chops, get some business chops and learn that you have a unique advantage because you understand how to talk the talk. Unless you’ve worked as in intern that they were extremely transparent with. When you graduate you’ve probably never even seen a proposal before. Never known how to scope work and set up a rate. How to talk with clients professional about pay and rates.

At your job, have you sat down and talked to the junior designers about this? Did anyone ever do this for you? Unless your junior designer has bought coffee for a freelances and picked their brains on practical advice. I bet the designer that sit next to you right now doesn’t really know this.
I’m sure you weren’t making 6 figures as an industrial designer when you started out.

general design discussion • Re: Core77 supports Fiverr?

Great quote.

It sounds like we’re speaking from the same soapbox, just using different words.

My experience so far is that many designers stick their fingers in their ears when it comes to the money/business discussion because of that tendency to land on the side of artisan that believes business is evil. Budgets? Who cares? Money’s evil.

No, it isn’t all designers, but it is enough that it is enough of a problem that I believe it holds our industry back.