Author Topic: Valkyrie (humanoid robot)  (Read 23006 times)

Offline ChrisWilson68

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Re: Valkyrie (humanoid robot)
« Reply #40 on: 12/23/2013 09:10 PM »
Where do I go to vote for my tax dollars to be taken away from a NASA team spending millions on a third-rate last-place robot and give it to a team from the University of Michigan trying to develop a water-based ion thruster to send cubesats into interplanetary space any of the six university teams that placed ahead of JSC?

Seconded, with some minor changes.  I'm sorry for the team, but from a management point-of-view, this has been a wasteful allocation of resources in today's very constrained budget environment.  Worse, it makes it that much harder to argue for a larger agency budget when so much, especially in comparison to the other competitors, is being squandered on a tangential project with such poor performance.

No wonder NASA doesn't fund any sizable competitions with its prize program.

I absolutely agree that the robotics teams that did well should get more funding.  I mentioned that cubesat thruster project as another alternative just because not only is it doing a lot on a small budget, but it's also more directly related to spaceflight than robotics is.  I'd rather see DARPA, NSF, etc. funding robotics so the NASA budget actually goes to spaceflight research.

Offline savuporo

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Re: Valkyrie (humanoid robot)
« Reply #41 on: 12/23/2013 09:15 PM »
I'd rather see DARPA, NSF, etc. funding robotics so the NASA budget actually goes to spaceflight research.
And that would be a fundamentally bad call because engineering robots that work reliably in space is a whole different engineering discipline than engineering robots that work on earth , in air or under sea for that matter.
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Online KelvinZero

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Re: Valkyrie (humanoid robot)
« Reply #42 on: 12/23/2013 10:14 PM »
And if you really really think that staying upright when kicked is the pinnacle of robotics...
Some day they are going to stand up to those scientist bullies and kick back :)

Offline savuporo

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Re: Valkyrie (humanoid robot)
« Reply #43 on: 12/23/2013 10:20 PM »
Some day they are going to stand up to those scientist bullies and kick back :)

Yep, i was afraid of the same thing when DLR guys took baseball bats to their latest creation a while ago http://bit.ly/199c4RW

http://www.engadget.com/2011/05/13/robot-arm-learns-to-use-hammer-mocks-pathetic-humans-attempt-t/
« Last Edit: 12/23/2013 10:24 PM by savuporo »
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Valkyrie (humanoid robot)
« Reply #44 on: 12/24/2013 04:03 AM »
Using hydraulics for a robotic hand would be quite a challenge. But if you need a very strong robot, hydraulics is quite good. A hydraulic cylinder seems to have about an order of magnitude more power density than a high-torque electric servo (energy density is another story...). Of course it's not the ONLY way to build a humanoid robot, but it's not a horrible way, either, especially if you're operating in the real world, carrying real loads.

http://www.me.umn.edu/~wkdurfee/publications/Xia-Durfee-small-scale.pdf
According to this, 500-1000psi hydraulic systems are lighter than comparable electromechanical systems. (some industrial hydraulics can operate at 5000psi, which would be MUCH lighter) This is looking for small systems, in the 10-100W range, comparable for a robotic hand or arm (which are basically always electromechanical at that scale because of the complexity of the custom hydraulics needed for that scale), but at larger scales (legs), hydraulics win pretty handily.

I'm not trying to tell you that hydraulics is an end-all, be-all technology (like you seem to think about electromechanical), but having lots of power in a low mass is quite useful, and there are significant, fundamental advantages of hydraulics over electromechanical in certain power/strength/torque regimes.
« Last Edit: 12/24/2013 04:15 AM by Robotbeat »
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Offline savuporo

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Re: Valkyrie (humanoid robot)
« Reply #45 on: 12/24/2013 04:47 AM »
....having lots of power in a low mass is quite useful, and there are significant, fundamental advantages of hydraulics over electromechanical in certain power/strength/torque regimes.
And i keep telling you these supposed advantages have no relevance to todays real challenges in hard problems of robotics and every segment of automation and controls industry is moving away from hydraulics because of their massive disadvantages. It's a dead end unless you want to label an automated bulldozer or backhoe a "robot".
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Valkyrie (humanoid robot)
« Reply #46 on: 12/24/2013 05:32 AM »
A robust, strong, but lightweight and fast robot is not a real challenge? I guess we're arguing over something entirely subjective right now: savuporo's idea of what the REAL challenges in robots are.

I suspect that part of the reason is that people simply aren't as familiar with the very big power:weight advantage of hydraulics at low torque vs just about anything else. By an order of magnitude.
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Offline savuporo

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Re: Valkyrie (humanoid robot)
« Reply #47 on: 12/24/2013 06:08 AM »
A robust, strong, but lightweight and fast robot is not a real challenge?
Its not, as its trivially achieved with electromechanical actuators ( read : plain old permanent magnet motors ). The question is only how much money are you willing to shell out for high RPM, slotless servos with forced cooling and expensive transmissions. Thats about it.

And again, much more important is the feedback loops, control bandwidth and the algorithms that you put behind that power

Quote
I suspect that part of the reason is that people simply aren't as familiar with the very big power:weight advantage of hydraulics at low torque vs just about anything else. By an order of magnitude.
Wrong. Anyone that has actually worked in robotics for any length of time remembers prevalence of pneumatics and hydraulics and why we got rid of them.
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Offline RanulfC

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Offline manboy

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Re: Valkyrie (humanoid robot)
« Reply #49 on: 12/24/2013 06:40 PM »
Where do I go to vote for my tax dollars to be taken away from a NASA team spending millions on a third-rate last-place robot and give it to a team from the University of Michigan trying to develop a water-based ion thruster to send cubesats into interplanetary space any of the six university teams that placed ahead of JSC?

Seconded, with some minor changes.  I'm sorry for the team, but from a management point-of-view, this has been a wasteful allocation of resources in today's very constrained budget environment.  Worse, it makes it that much harder to argue for a larger agency budget when so much, especially in comparison to the other competitors, is being squandered on a tangential project with such poor performance.
If you watch some of the pre-competition interviews than you wold know that the Valkyrie team didn't believe they would win. Tangential projects are important because this is a competition. Valkyrie was built in about a year and the Valkyrie team had far less experience than the others. NASA only spent $3 million on it out of their $17 billion dollar budget. If you're complaining about waste than look to SLS where billions are being wasted. I haven't seen any evidence that more was spent on Valkyrie in comparison to the other competitors.

Where do I go to vote for my tax dollars to be taken away from a NASA team spending millions on a third-rate last-place robot and give it to a team from the University of Michigan trying to develop a water-based ion thruster to send cubesats into interplanetary space any of the six university teams that placed ahead of JSC?

Seconded, with some minor changes.  I'm sorry for the team, but from a management point-of-view, this has been a wasteful allocation of resources in today's very constrained budget environment.  Worse, it makes it that much harder to argue for a larger agency budget when so much, especially in comparison to the other competitors, is being squandered on a tangential project with such poor performance.

No wonder NASA doesn't fund any sizable competitions with its prize program.

I absolutely agree that the robotics teams that did well should get more funding.  I mentioned that cubesat thruster project as another alternative just because not only is it doing a lot on a small budget, but it's also more directly related to spaceflight than robotics is.  I'd rather see DARPA, NSF, etc. funding robotics so the NASA budget actually goes to spaceflight research.
DARPA funded half the project.  NASA funded the other half because Valkyrie has applications to spaceflight research.
« Last Edit: 12/24/2013 06:54 PM by manboy »
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Offline savuporo

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Re: Valkyrie (humanoid robot)
« Reply #50 on: 12/24/2013 07:13 PM »
Couple of articles for what they are worth:
http://www.mbtmag.com/articles/2012/05/hydraulic-vs-electromechanical-actuators

http://www.exlar.com/pages/362-Electro-Mechanical-vs-Pneumatic-Actuators

Randy

That is marketing talk by automation industry component supplies, and just confirms again the issues of energy efficiency, maintenance , reliability, accuracy and repeatability etc etc.

For a bit more in depth look about the applicability of mobile and dexterous robots you can read here

http://www.iit.it/advr-events/icra-2013-ws-on-hydraulic-robots.html
http://forums.trossenrobotics.com/showthread.php?1356-Why-doesnt-no-one-use-hydraulics

If you are really interested you can listen to the talk by there guys discussing the challenges
http://techtalks.tv/talks/scalf-a-hydraulic-quadruped-robot/59105/
« Last Edit: 12/24/2013 07:15 PM by savuporo »
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Offline darkbluenine

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Re: Valkyrie (humanoid robot)
« Reply #51 on: 12/25/2013 02:27 AM »
If you watch some of the pre-competition interviews than you wold know that the Valkyrie team didn't believe they would win.

There's a huge difference between merely losing and placing dead last in a large field.  Again, I'm sorry for the team, but JSC and STMD management shouldn't be pouring funding and man-hours into a project that turned out to be incapable of satisfying even one requirement (from the competition).  Center and HQ leadership should have a much better sense of what teams and disciplines under their management them truly possess competitive, world-class talent and which will perform worse than part-time university students and professors.

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Tangential projects are important because this is a competition.

I mean tangential to JSC and NASA's core competencies.  It makes no sense for JSC to be duplicating robotics work when JPL, as shown by the competition, does it so much better.  It makes no sense for NASA to be duplicating robotics work that could be performed much better under a contract at LockMart, as shown by the competition.

Get JSC out of this area and focus them on what they do best -- human space flight operations.  Ideally get them doing what no one else does -- human deep space operations.

This is symptomatic of a much larger illness at NASA where the agency and even individual field center leadership try to build up and maintain institutions that are all things good to everyone aerospace.  (Heck, all things technical -- Valkyrie isn't even an aerospace project.)  But logically they can't do everything well in aerospace, even with multi-billion dollar annual budgets.  Management has to learn how to set priorities, align the workforce accordingly (which may include letting some less than world-class talent go), and contract appropriately for the rest. 

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Valkyrie was built in about a year and the Valkyrie team had far less experience than the others.

If the JSC robotics team has less experience than multiple other university teams staffed by students, then they're not professionals in this area and should not be getting paid for it.  They're civil servants on the taxpayer's dime, not trainees still supported by their parents.

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NASA only spent $3 million on it

It's a lot more than that when the fully loaded FTEs are included.

Quote
If you're complaining about waste than look to SLS where billions are being wasted.

You'll get no disagreement from me on SLS.  But waste is waste.  I don't know what kind of neighborhood you live in, but where I come from $3-10 million is a lot of dough.  With competent teams, that kind of money could advance ground technology work in a lot of areas.  Instead, it was wasted demonstrating that JSC is not world-class or even competitive in robotics and showing that JSC and STMD leadership can't set priorities appropriately even in the most constrained budget environment the agency has seen in years.

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Valkyrie has applications to spaceflight research.

Not with this performance it doesn't.  Some of the results from Valkyrie's attempted tasks in the competition would have killed a suited astronaut working side-by-side with Valkyrie.  No wonder Robonaut 2 hasn't been allowed to do much since joining ISS back in 2011.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Valkyrie (humanoid robot)
« Reply #52 on: 12/25/2013 04:53 AM »
Couple of articles for what they are worth:
http://www.mbtmag.com/articles/2012/05/hydraulic-vs-electromechanical-actuators

http://www.exlar.com/pages/362-Electro-Mechanical-vs-Pneumatic-Actuators

Randy

That is marketing talk by automation industry component supplies, and just confirms again the issues of energy efficiency, maintenance , reliability, accuracy and repeatability etc etc.

For a bit more in depth look about the applicability of mobile and dexterous robots you can read here

http://www.iit.it/advr-events/icra-2013-ws-on-hydraulic-robots.html
http://forums.trossenrobotics.com/showthread.php?1356-Why-doesnt-no-one-use-hydraulics

If you are really interested you can listen to the talk by there guys discussing the challenges
http://techtalks.tv/talks/scalf-a-hydraulic-quadruped-robot/59105/
Good links.

I agree for a dexterous robot (i.e. hands), while hydraulics /might/ actually be better and lighter, it would only be so if you needed high strength. Everything would have to be custom, and it'd be very expensive and dangerous.

On the scale of legs, hydraulics looks more attractive. Anything larger than human scale makes hydraulics look actually cheaper (up-front) than electromechanical.

We're rapidly approaching the point where we're in violent agreement.
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