Students at Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences have developed “Ourobot”.
Their project was supervised by a professor at the Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences and a CITEC researcher.
It looks like a bicycle chain, but has just twelve segments about the size of a fist. In each segment there is a motor. This describes pretty much the robot developed by the four bachelor students in Computer Engineering, Johann Schröder, Adrian Gucze, Simon Beyer and Matthäus Wiltzok, at Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences. The project was supervised by Professor Dr. Axel Schneider of the Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences and Jan Paskarbeit from Bielefeld University. A new video introduces the robot.
What distinguishes “Ourobot” from other comparable robots are the pressure sensors found in its chain segments which enable it to detect and overcome obstacles. The name of the robot, by the way, was inspired by an ancient Egyptian symbol depicting a serpent eating its own tail, the Ouroboros. “At the moment Ourobot can only move straight ahead and cannot manage curves yet, but its sensors can detect obstacles, such as a book, and can traverse them”, explains Jan Paskarbeit. The control mechanism behind this, i.e. the way the individual chain links interact in order to roll over an obstacle, involves a complex mathematical task. “It is remarkable how the students have solved this”, says Axel Schneider. The professor is a co-opted member of CITEC and leads a large project at the Centre of Excellence developing “Hector”, a walking robot. “There is no concrete application for Ourobot at the moment. It is a feasibility study, meaning basic research”, explains Schneider. This also makes the project exceptional, as bachelor’s projects at the University of Applied Sciences are usually application-oriented. “However, this does not rule out fundamental research projects, quite the opposite, we integrate the students early into research projects“, adds Schneider.
The collaboration with the University continues with the master’s degree in BioMechatronics, jointly offered by Bielefeld University and the Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences. Matthäus Wiltzok, who worked on the project, is now enrolled in this course. He and his colleagues are infected by the “robot virus”, and all are keen to continue working in this area.
A highlight for the team was the visit of the international robot conference ICRA in Stockholm which took place in May this year. The research paper on Ourobot* was met with great interest there. There is a long way to go, however, before the project Ourobot is concluded, as it is continually in development. The supervisors’ vision is to take the present robot that works in two dimensions “into the third dimension”, as Schneider explains. “We would like to develop a robot that actively changes its form, which can adapt to its environment like an amoeba, capable of stretching and shrinking again”, describes the professor. In this way, Ourobot can move through narrow terrain and overcome obstacles by means of different movements. The team has designed different variations of the new 3D version of Ourobot, similar to a ball or a snake. In this area, however, there is still much research to do.
A video shows Ourobot in action:
Can a robot help Germany integrate its influx of migrants? A new research project thinks the answer might be yes.
More than 1 million refugees reached Germany last year. Children represent around 25 percent of the refugees and migrants arriving in Europe, according to the International Organization for Migration.
That’s where “Nao” comes in. Researchers at Germany’s Bielefeld University are testing whether the high-tech, wide-eyed robot can help teach migrant children language skills.
“Kids respond very positively to the small humanoid robot Nao that we are programming,” said Stefan Kopp, an artificial intelligence expert working on the project. “They are highly motivated and its fun for them to interact with the technology.”
Bielefeld University (German: Universität Bielefeld) is a university in Bielefeld, Germany.
Founded in 1969, it is one of the country’s newer universities, and considers itself a “reform” university, following a different style of organization and teaching than the established universities. In particular, the university aims to “re-establish the unity between research and teaching”, and so all its faculty teach courses in their area of research. The university also stresses a focus on interdisciplinary research, helped by the architecture, which encloses all faculties in one great structure. It is among the first of the German universities to switch some faculties (e.g. biology) to Bachelor/Master-degrees as part of the Bologna process.
Bielefeld University has started an extensive multi-phase modernisation project, which upon completion in 2025 would result in completely new university buildings to replace the 40-year old main building. A total investment of more than 1 billion euros has been planned for this undertaking.
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Bielefeld University research articles from Innovation Toronto
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