Tuesday, January 31, 2012

TurtleBot Xtion

The ASUS Xtion is an excellent 3D sensor and would be a great addition to a TurtleBot. Previously the problem has been a matter of mounting the sensor and configuring the TFs and visualizations. This has now been solved with the release of our TurtleBot Xtion Mounting Kit. This kit provides all of the parts to attach an ASUS Xtion 3D Sensor to your TurtleBot. As a matter of convenience, it can also be ordered with an ASUS Xtion Pro Live sensor.

We also provide all of the necessary software for using this in rviz and gazebo. It also provides the necessary TFs.

The software is currently part of the iheart-ros-pkg repository and is available via github. Debian installers will be made available in the near future.

The accessory is Open Source Hardware and fabrication data can be downloaded from Thingiverse.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

KiCAD Part Libraries

We have decided to go with KiCAD for all of our OSHW electronics projects. Parts are now available in github under the FreeBSD Documentation License.

Friday, January 27, 2012

ROS Merchandise

Here are some fashionable t-shirts for the stylish roboticist.

ROS Diamondback T-Shirt

ROS Electric Emys T-Shirt

Now available on DVD

If you have been wondering where we have been, January has been product development month at I Heart Engineering. We are pleased to announce that ROS (Robot Operating System) is now available for pre-order on DVD. We are currently planning to start shipping on February 7th.

This DVD has a few great features that make it a convenient way to get started with ROS. It can be used as a LiveDVD so you can boot from it and try out things like rviz and Gazebo without having to format your hard drive. Once you are ready, the DVD installer will take care of the basic configuration to help you get started quickly with Ubuntu 10.04 and ROS Electric Emys.

$10 of every purchase will be set aside to help fund the creation of a ROS Foundation. In the event that things don't work out and a ROS Foundation can not be established in the next three years the funds will be donated to the EFF.

The 64-bit version is recommend but a 32-bit version is also available in the store.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Reinventing higher education

Sebastian Thrun gives a talk about the recent online AI course which he and Peter Norvig delivered at the end of last year.  This was apparently quite successful, and now he plans to continue the same kind of education system with a new venture called Udacity, starting with two new courses on building a search engine and programming a self-driving car.

As Thrun points out, the existing university system hasn't seen much innovation over the past 1000 years, and the internet allows new forms of interaction between teacher and student in which education can be delivered at scale whilst still feeling like one-on-one tuition.  Counter-intuitively the students paying $30,000 at Stanford preferred the online lectures to ones delivered conventionally in person.

There definitely seems to be a need for changes in how higher education is delivered, since the existing way of doing things is becoming prohibitively expensive and obviously suffering from scaling issues (hence the "weeder" effect).