Dr. Khatib, Georgia Tech RIM Seminar Series

Georgia Tech’s Robotics Initiative has continued the free lecture series this semester. The bad news is that this semester’s schedule has been so poorly advertised to the public (no eye catching flyers like last semester) that I missed the first three of the year. The good news is that if you search for it, you’ll find that this semester’s schedule has lectures planned almost every week.

Last week’s guest speaker was Dr. Oussama Khatib, who is a member of Stanford University’s Artificial Intelligence Lab and Professor in computer science. Furthermore, he is the President of the International Foundation of Robotics Research. Dr. Khatib presented his research which focuses on human-centered and human-friendly robotics.
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DIY: Shoes, Dye and Paint

As a Christmas present, I decided to dye and paint a pair of shoes for my sister. I wanted them to match some clothes I bought her for her birthday. I also knew that I liked the Van’s Prison Issue #23 shoe (which I bought from Abbadabba’s), so I bought RIT Fabric Dye and generic fabric paint. The canvas/rubber combination of the shoe served as the perfect setup to add color without loosing the white soles. I started with the buff white / true white shoe, dyed it pink, and painted-on white flowers.

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Dr. Leonard, Georgia Tech RIM Seminar Series

Several weeks ago , I had the pleasure of attending another lecture organized by the Robotics Initiative at Georgia Tech . This time the speaker was Dr. John Leonard who presented his current research in Simultaneous Localization And Mapping (SLAM). Dr. Leonard is a member of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). His lecture was an amalgamate of theory, research applications, and future aspirations.

Dr. Leonard concisely describes SLAM by saying on his website:

The problem of SLAM is stated as follows: starting from an initial position, a mobile robot travels through a sequence of positions and obtains a set of sensor measurements at each position. The goal is for the mobile robot to process the sensor data to produce an estimate of its position while concurrently building a map of the environment.

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Light Bulb Efficiency Calculator

8/18/2012 UPDATE: From the comments, Andy pointed out that I had a mistake in my calculations. In the c_total equation, I should have divided by 1000, instead of multiplying by 1000. After he pointed this out, I checked the java script code as well. I had made an even more egregious mistake there. I had correctly divided by 1000 but I also had divided by power cost (dollars per kilowatt hour). I’ve now fixed the equation and the script. I also regenerated the results from the examples.


I am slowly upgrading the incandescent light bulbs in my house with more efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs. However the higher purchase price of the new bulbs has me wondering if they are actually “worth it.” I also thought whether an even more efficient type of bulb, perhaps an LED light bulb, would be better.

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So, I set out to determine a value which would best quantify the “worth” of different bulbs and rank each based on this value.
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Dr. LaValle, Georgia Tech RIM Seminar Series

Last week, Dr. Steven M. LaValle, a Professor of Computer Science at The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, presented as part of Georgia Tech’s Robotics and Intelligent Machines (RIM) Seminar Series. This was the second is a series of eight seminars spanning the Fall 2006 semester and I had the pleasure of attending and hear him speak.

Dr. LaValle structured his lecture around his new book, Planning Algorithms, which is available for free download here. He describes the book by saying:

This book presents a unified treatment of many different kinds of planning algorithms. The subject lies at the crossroads between robotics, control theory, artificial intelligence, algorithms, and computer graphics. The particular subjects covered include motion planning, discrete planning, planning under uncertainty, sensor-based planning, visibility, decision-theoretic planning, game theory, information spaces, reinforcement learning, nonlinear systems, trajectory planning, nonholonomic planning, and kinodynamic planning.

While he was there to present his entire book, he chose to focus on three areas of overlap between mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and computer science which present “great potential for impact”: motion planning with differential constraints, feedback motion planning, and information spaces.
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