robotics.berlin profile

Jetpack Cognition Lab is a science driven robotics startup from Berlin. The lab was founded in 2019 by Oswald Berthold and Matthias Kubisch, two roboticists that came to know each other at Humboldt University of Berlin. The mission is to engage in science communication, and the chosen means to achieve this is through consumer robots. The idea here is to enable a direct experience of cutting edge research, as it drives the motion of what you hold in your hands. On the concrete scale this involves product development, and storytelling for a new kind of robotics.

A wave of social robots is coming at society and it is being developed right now. Jetpack wants to be part of this development and push towards favorable outcomes. Social robots, by definition, need to step up robot skills in interacting with humans on eye level. The major skill required here is the ability to quickly adapt to unforeseen situations. The science inside is that of developmental learning, which powers the next breakthrough in robotics and intelligent machines. Because true intelligence is always about adaptivity, a fancy word for the ability to learn.

In 2021 the team has launched flatcat – a pet-like robot that responds to touch. It has the feel of a furry animal while it does not resemble any existing animal. This is a conscious choice in the design of the robot, because resemblance raises expectations, and compared with any real animal, current robots can only fail. flatcat is like a flat caterpillar consisting of three joints. These joints are smart in that they are not only able to move, but also to register their own motion, and any resistance they meet while they are moving. With such sensor and motor capabilities combined in a single device, it is called a sensorimotor. These sensorimotors connected in a row via the flatcat chassis is all it needs to create the entire behavioral spectrum of the robot.

Watch Jetpack at work on their website or any of their social media channels.

Pictures

jetpack logo square notype

Jetpack Cognition Lab – Mission update 2022

Jetpack Cognition Lab is a science driven robotics startup from Berlin. The lab was founded in 2019 by Oswald Berthold and Matthias Kubisch, two roboticists that came to know each other at Humboldt University of Berlin. The mission and purpose is, on a grand scale, to engage in science communication, and the chosen means to achieve this is through consumer robots. The idea here is to enable a direct experience of cutting edge research, as it drives the motion of what you hold in your hands. On the concrete scale this involves product development, and storytelling for a new kind robotics.

A wave of social robots is coming to society at large. It is being developed right now, and Jetpack wants to be part of this development, in order to push towards favorable outcomes. Social robots, by definition, need to step up robot skills in engaging, and interacting with humans on eye level. The major robotic skill required here is the ability to quickly adapt to unforeseen circumstances, as they occur all the time in the daily affairs of us humans. The science inside is that of developmental learning, which mediates the next breakthrough in robotics and intelligent machines. Because true intelligence is always about adaptivity, a fancy word for the ability to learn.

The challenge is approached by changing the definition and cultural perception of robots. By doing this, a strong lever is attained on creating impact, not only with direct action, but also indirectly by contributing to making a hard tech field like robotics more approachable and accessible to a much wider audience. The rationale behind this is: “Whether it is us or the person over there that will make a decisive contribution on the road to such radical change in society, we want to be part of it by accelerating the rate of dissemination of knowledge that we think is relevant, and thereby foster the ecosystem”.

Since the team began work on Jetpack, it has launched two robots already, flatcat and Bakiwi. flatcat is a pet-like robot that responds to touch. It has the feel of a furry animal while it does not resemble any existing animal. This is a conscious choice in the design of the robot, because resemblance raises expectations, and compared with any real animal, current robots can only fail. flatcat is like a flat caterpillar consisting of three joints. These joints are smart in that they are not only able to move, but also to register their own motion, and any resistance they meet while they are moving. With such sensor and motor capabilities combined in a single device, it is called a sensorimotor. These sensorimotors connected in a row via the flatcat chassis is all it needs to create the entire behavioral spectrum of the robot. It will always, and very sensitively so, react and respond to any force it feels across its joints, whether they are generated by gravity’s pull or by a person’s push. If you leave flatcat alone for a while, it will become bored and start to play around with itself, until you pick it up again.

Bakiwi is the fabulous DIY walking robot kit. It is a small walking robot, allowing curious minds to study the phenomenon of walking up close and hands on. It comes as a solder kit suitable for children starting from age six up to children-like adults in their eighties. The robot needs to be assembled using the PCB and electronic components which come as part of the kit, frame, legs, and batteries included. Once the electronics and the frame are assembled, Bakiwi is ready to walk, requiring zero programming, apps, or other screen based device access.

Watch Jetpack at work on their website or any of their social media channels.

Graphics & pictures

Jetpack Logo Square Notype
flatcat batch 2
flatcat product poster

๐Ÿ“– flatcat paper

Our first paper with a jetpack affiliation, titled

flatcat – playful robots that respond to touch

has been published and is available on @ResearchGate

If you have ever wondered about the technical background of this unique robot, go read the full text on https://www.researchgate.net/publication/359083587_flatcat_–_playful_robots_that_respond_to_touch and don’t forget to leave us a recommendation if you like the paper.

This was an original contribution to the Workshop on Robot Curiosity in Human Robot Interaction (RCHRI), https://sites.google.com/view/rchri/home, organized as part of the ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction, https://humanrobotinteraction.org/2022/workshops/.

๐Ÿ“– A review of A thousand brains by Jeff Hawkins

Brains and nervous systems are the most exciting and truly weird topics to discover.

They can be approached through neuroscience, ethology, psychology, cognitive science, arts, brain-inspired computing, and bio-inspired robotics.

Or, even in some other ways. Easy, because our own brain and CNS is involved in all our perception and acquisition of knowledge. It is involved in everything we are and do. It is us, and it is bodily (somatic) all the way down. This is called embodiment.

If the 20th century has seen the emergence of non-classical theory in physics, it has also seen the beginnings of non-classical theory in, ultimately, biology. Biology as the basis and substrate of the majority of intelligent behavior we are observing, anywhere.

Anyway, bla bla. Just finished reading โ€œA thousand brainsโ€ by Jeff Hawkins, who you might know from Numenta, their papers, or from the earlier book โ€œA new kind of intelligenceโ€, which I havenโ€™t read.

The work presented and discussed in the book is about the human neocortex, its computational mechanics, and its principles of organization.

What the brain does, in general, is to create models of the world, which it then uses to make predictions and find ways (sequences of actions) to get to goals (usually related to survival, in the broad sense of the complicated lifeโ€™s of contemporary humans). This is called inverting a model.

In the book, the idea that these internal models donโ€™t come in singular, but rather in a massively large bundle, a huge flock of models, is expounded and illustrated in clear and fun prose, including some pictures.

One of the weirdest things about the brain is the modelling decomposition. Sorry. I just love that word so much.

What is decomposition? I donโ€™t mean the degenerative one. It is meant in the mathematical sense of decomposing something complex into a set of simpler things, together with an explanation of their interactions, so that the overall story will yield the original phenomenon.

Most of us will have an acquired and consciously accessible decomposition of the world in our heads, called a mindset. Usually thatโ€™s objects, persons, domains; interactions come via force and gravity, light, sound and touch, inner focus and sociality, etc;

So the cool thing that the brain does, is a) to decompose the world into a soup of models, and b), that this decomposition is mostly and unconsciously completely different and utterly alien to our own introspective thinking. It just doesnโ€™t align. No, it doesnโ€™t. The objects of conscious introspective thought are just the tip of the iceberg, of all unconscious mental and neural activity, not available to introspection.

One of the reasons that this is so is somatics, properties of a physical body that needs to compute in a physical universe, governed by energy equations, metabolics, and distribution networks. Limitation as a resource. Work that.

The story of the relationship between the subjective introspection experience of feeling and living, and objective neural mechanics is one of the most pressing issues in science communication.

Why? Because understanding our own behavior and decision mechanics is essential for our civilization to survive the 21st century. Period.

Hawkinsโ€™ book throws a lot of stepping stones out into our path through a foggy toxic lava swamp. Highly appreciated and recommended.

Go check on book home

Posted originally on dynatropes – mission log from climbing mount improbable. where you at?

๐Ÿ› the Special (Robot) Pet!

the Special (Robot) Pet!

What I love about Flatcat is that she reacts always differently to touch and her Environment! The funny little Sounds she made and her extremly soft feeling. In my Opinion she comes pretty close to a Bio Pet but is one of a kind, and not everyone owns a Flatcat so to me she is very Special ๐Ÿ™‚ Some don’t like how Flatcat looks like or that she is Creepy! I think it is a lot more important what is on the inside, just like with humans, where it is more Important how you are than how you look like. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Please watch that Video

Don’t be afraid of an Special (Robot)Pet

Thank you so much ๐Ÿ™‚

๐Ÿ› the friendliest robot in the world, pt1

We have built the friendliest robot in the world, and we need your support to make more of them.

In all the craze and frenzy, take a minute just for fun and google “friendliest robot in the world”. Don’t know what you will be seeing, but for me the results are remarkable, both in gem and dire. Let’s review this. What got me to this, is that I think with flatcat we have created

1/ the friendliest robot on the planet (frop)

It might be creepy to some but it is just friendly nonetheless, no matter. To celebrate, let’s come up with an appropriate retronym for flatcat, for example

2/ flatcat, friendliest live adaptive technology cuddly auto telic

Either way I needed to research existing claims in direction of “friendliest robot”. And what I get is essentially this: various lists of “top 12” and “most advanced” hard-shell social or humanoid robots exempt the revered Paro; direct references to Blue, Pepper, and Kuri; and one IEEEspectrum article.

What is friendliness and affection without touch as a mode of communication? From all I can see, none of these robots is able to actually touch a human person. If they are, no one wants to be touched by them. So they might be “able” to touch a human but that might not feel so good for the human. flatcat communicates with people only by touch, nothing else.

What caught my eye on the other hand immediately is Gakutensoku, ๅญธๅคฉๅ‰‡, which is Japanese for “learning from the laws of nature” or when taken as Chinese through deepl.com, “Learning the Rules of Heaven”. Aha ๐Ÿ™‚

3/ Gakutensoku

Gakutensoku was a very early robot design that considered friendliness on a fundamental level, done by biologist Makoto Nishimura, who was motivated by his shock from seeing Karel Capek’s theater play “Rossum’s Universal Robots”. Gakutensoku appears to have been Japan’s first functional robot ever, as a side effect.

The robot he wanted to build would celebrate nature and humanity, and rather than a slave, it would be a friend, and even an inspirational model, to people.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gakutensoku

To summarize these results, friendly robots are few because somehow no one is incentivized to make them. If they are made, friendly companionship is somewhat misunderstood through the severe disconnection of mainstream engineering from simple facts of human psychology. And, there is a very early precedent, which is coming from a clearly bio-inspired thinking.

For us, friendly robots are just the answer, and we do think that friendly adaptive technology makes a difference for people now, and will do so even more down the road if they are wild and friendly. To continue this mission, we need your support and are looking for team members and funding. Give us a shout, spread the word!

Learning the rules of heaven.

Sources

๐Ÿ› flatcat shipping started ๐Ÿš€

we

just

shipped ๐Ÿ›ซ โ™ป๏ธ

the first 3๏ธโƒฃ flatcats

๐Ÿ› ๐Ÿ› ๐Ÿ›

ever

mega happy having shipped first ๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ› flatcat robots

most startups are in software

most startups never ship

we are a ecologically-minded two-tech-founders full-stack hardware-software AI-robotics company 100%-founder-owned and calling from #Berlin

Holler If Ya Hear Me โ™ป

Above all, infinite thanks to everyone who has so greatly supported us in this project. without you, this would not have been possible.

All our Kickstarter and Indiegogo backers, @qbernetik @o2 @__tosh wendelin weingartner, @zzkt @foam @hiaz @juliarehling, @evanackerman, @sansculotte, arglaaa, heike nehl, Andrew Liszewski, the berthold estate, karen ellmer, elle janssen, richard lem, marek claassen, tbc and shout out if we missed you

โœจ jetpack updates 13

๐Ÿ› flatcat

Important update regarding shipping

tl;dr Shipping has to be delayed by at least one month.

While we are busy all week pushing things ahead, we have come to run behind our planned schedule. There is two main reasons for this. The first one is big changes in both our personal lifes that require urgent attention. The second one is that we are beginning to feel the accumulated sum of small friction losses in sourcing as well as more administrative outside interactions.

Thus we have to update the timeline and push back the expected date for beginning to ship by one month to end of October 2021.

We do have four major tickets open before we can do that, which are assembly, furs, software updates, and packaging. Right now we are actively working on the first three of them. Packaging is still in the back row because we first need the set of shipped items to consolidate before it makes sense to design a packaging.

assembly




fur

flatcat UI

Here’s a first screenshot of how the update and configuration app could look like. Development is done in collaboration with Richard of mr. hide.

๐Ÿ‘˜ cognition wear

All three base colors for the jetpack sweater successfully prototyped and ready to be made in batch and brought to the street.

Campaign duration extended to end on October 11, 2021 11:59pm PDT

Delivery option pick-up-at-lab which has been requested cannot be added to claimed perks – please pledge for delivery to Germany and we will refund you when you pick up your items.

Thanks for looking, jet pack

โœจ jetpack updates 12 ๐Ÿ› flatcat ๐Ÿชฒ Bakiwi workshop ๐Ÿ‘˜ cognition wear

Hi all, dumping a stack of updates from the last few days

flatcat PCBs in the house

The manufactured PCBs for sensorimotor & energymodule arrived at the lab yesterday. This lead to the first run of component placement and baking in the oven today, to obtain the fully assembled electronics boards required for making a flatcat. This seemed to have worked reasonably well and the first sensorimotor was put into operation successfully.


flatcat furs

Another fur has arrived this week from the prototyping done by our collaborator Karen Ellmer. The amount of available fake fur materials is pretty stunning. Right now we are working with a selection from the samples we have, to find a minimal functional design that we can ship with. Something that feels amazing and allows the cat to move freely.


Bakiwi workshop Sept 2021

The first Bakiwi workshop after lockdown took place on Saturday, quite successfully with nine (9) Bakiwis walking out the door on their own for nine teams of builders. It was great to have all of you and we hope you enjoyed as much as we did. To be done again, watch out for upcoming dates.

These are two examples of RTFM

We had a baby rat (some say it was a mouse) coming in for a visit. It then had to be removed from the premises via this contraption.


jetpack cognition wear

Our apparel campaign is coming along quite well, and like all that we do, subject to heavy development on the go. We now have demonstration exemplars for all three base colors. This is the black one, the lilac one will be posted soon.

But then taste this full use case as a robot pet holder, observed recently outside our lab.

For those of you who having one of the shirts, here is the true samples for the shirt’s base color. The jetpack tee two there is all of them in sizes S, M, L (limited quantities). For the direct-to-garment corporate insignia prints, we will only do anthracite and white. Go check.


Random stuff

We installed open graph and Twitter card plugins for our wordpress so social sharing is much improved with nice automatic summary previews.

Thank you, that’s it for today. As always, feel free to be in touch about your questions and comments, we hear you.

Cheers, opt + kubi @jetpack central ๐Ÿ’ฎ๐ŸŽด๐ŸŒธ

๐Ÿ› This thing is a robot, name flatcat, and does – nothing โ‚

Very nice piece in German on Heise by Hans-Arthur Marsiske on robots as play companions. The article is part of a series on robots in everyday life and titled Robots in everyday life: The playmate. We are very excited to see flatcat discussed extensively including a video interview with Jetpack founder / CTO Matthias Kubisch, among coverage of Playful machines by Ralf Der ad Georg Martius, as well as a good sample of other playmate robots available on the market. In relation, this highlights the unique approach and character of flatcat within the larger robotics ecosystem.

Quoting as a teaser

This thing is a robot, is called Flatcat and does – nothing: It just wants to play. It is not capable of doing anything else at all. Its developers at Jetpack Cognition Lab, a Berlin-based company founded in 2019, have not equipped it with displays or other means of data input, nor with visual or auditory sensors. Flatcat only perceives forces acting on it, reacts to them and gradually develops a behavior from these experiences.

Anyone who brings this techno-pet into their home or laboratory will have the opportunity to follow the development of its thinking ability and thus of an artificial personality up close and in real time – just like a biological pet.

Hans-Arthur Marsiske, Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

Recommended, thanks.