NASA is developing robots made from a tensile system of interlocking rods and cables that can transform from flat components into a ball shape then tense and flex to roll around the surface of planets
Researchers at the Intelligent Systems Division of NASA’s Ames Research Center in California designed the Super Ball Bot robots as a more flexible and robust alternative to conventional probes, which can be damaged by the impact of landing on a planet’s surface.
“Current robot designs are delicate, requiring combinations of devices such as parachutes, retrorockets and impact balloons to minimise impact forces and to place a robot in a proper orientation,” said the research team led by Vytas SunSpiral and Adrian Agogino.
“Instead, we propose to develop a radically different robot based on a ‘tensegrity’ built purely upon tensile and compression elements.”
Constructed from a network of rods and cables that surround and protect the scientific payload at its centre, the lightweight collapsible design is developed using the principles of tensegrity pioneered by American architect and engineer Buckminster Fuller in the 1960s.
Instead of employing wheels or tracks, the robots move by using a system of motors to shorten and lengthen cables connecting the rods, which changes the balance of tension in the structure and causes it to jerk and roll across the ground.
This robot foosball set from a recent UC Berkeley grad can be a Rookie or an Expert, depending on how you play against it. via hackaday.
Sometimes we find a project that is so far outside of our realm of experience, it just makes us sit back and think “wow”. This is definitely one of those projects. [Saba] has created a Robotic Foosball set that learns.
[Saba Khalilnaji] is a recent engineering graduate from UC Berkeley, and his passion is robotics. After taking an Artificial Intelligence class during his degree (you can take it online through edX!), he has decided to dabble in AI by building this awesome robot Foosball set.
His “basic” understanding of machine learning includes a few topics such as Supervised Learning, Unsupervised Learning and Reinforcement Learning. For this project he’s testing out a real-world application of Reinforcement Learning using the Markov Decision Process or MDP for short. At an extremely top level description it works by programming an agent to learn from the consequences of its actions in a given environment. There are a set of states, actions, probabilities for given state and action, and rewards for specific state and action sets.
Chinese engineers Lei Sheng, Jie Zhang and Jing Liu at Tsinghua University in Beijing manipulate liquid metals with electric fields. via medium:
In the science-fiction classic, Terminator 2: Judgement Day, the T-1000 is a robotic assassin with a liquid metal endoskeleton that can assume the form of any object or person. Its liquid nature makes it immune to attack by bullets and impervious to mechanical damage in general.
The T-1000 is an entirely fictional device that might as well be magic as far as conventional manufacturing techniques are concerned. And yet this might be about to change thanks to the pioneering work of Lei Sheng, Jie Zhang and Jing Liu at Tsinghua University in Beijing.
These guys have taken the first tentative steps to making liquid machines that work like the T-1000. Their first attempts can assume various shapes, move around and then transform into other shapes more or less without limit. And they say the work has profound implications for the design of robots, future machines and the nature of manufacturing.
While the most familiar liquid metal is the toxic mercury, there are other metals and alloys that are liquid at room temperature and much more benign. In particular, a gallium-indium-selenium alloy, with a melting point of around 10°C, has received much recent attention because it can be used for cooling microprocessors and even for liquid metal printing techniques.
Now Lei Sheng and co have made this liquid metal assume simple shapes by placing a thin film of it in water and applying an electric field.
With careful arrangement of the voltages and electrode geometries, these guys can make the metal form into a sphere. They say this is the result of the balance between the surface tension in the liquid metal and the electronic forces applied to its surface.
As you can see in the system diagram the brains of Magpi Radio is a Raspberry Pi computer. These are small, cheap linux computers that pack a lot of horse power, making them perfect for internet-of-thingsy projects like this. Here are some of the benefits of the Pi when picking your hardware:
• Speed: The Pi runs at 700 mhz with 512 MB of RAM. I never experienced any latency when making this project.
• Audio: Playing audio files is a breeze through the audio jack and supports pretty much any format you throw at it.
• Programming: You’re not limited to a specific library or language. I wrote the Magpi software in Ruby to leverage the excellent Twitter gems (twitter and tweetstream).
You’ll also notice an Arduino in the diagram, which handled the physical interface (the knobs and light). The reason I used the Arduino in addition to the Pi is because the Pi doesn’t have great support for analog io. I was able to read the volume potentiometer with an ADC chip through the GPIO pins, but because there’s only 1 PWM pin I wasn’t able to control the RBG LED. (If you’re interested in using the Pi’s GPIO pins for sensor io, I’d recommend the WiringPi lib).
MCP3008 – 8-Channel 10-Bit ADC With SPI Interface – Need to add analog inputs? This chip will add 8 channels of 10-bit analog input to your microcontroller or microcomputer project. It’s super easy to use, and uses SPI so only 4 pins are required. We chose this chip as a great accompaniment to the Raspberry Pi computer, because its fun to have analog inputs but the Pi does not have an ADC.
Each Friday is PiDay here at Adafruit! Be sure to check out our posts, tutorials and new Raspberry Pi related products. Adafruit has the largest and best selection of Raspberry Pi accessories and all the code & tutorials to get you up and running in no time!
NEW PRODUCT – 3DR Iris – autonomous multicopter – This is the new consumer-grade 3DR Iris is an all-in-one autonomous aerial vehicle with a compact and durable design. Stylish and powerful, Iris runs on the innovative Pixhawk autopilot system–the newest in advanced autopilot electronics from the PX4 open-hardware project. With wide-angled arms and a GoPro-compatible camera mount, Iris is perfect for any aerial imaging application. Add a GoPro HERO3 to capture breathtaking aerial video. The IRIS comes with a custom radio control transmitter.
Iris features the complete set of APM:Copter autonomous capabilities, including automatic takeoff and landing, custom mission planning with GPS waypoint navigation, stabilized loitering, return to launch, circling mode, and more. Combine Pixhawk’s high availability hardware model with APM:Copter’s robust automatic recovery for superior reliability in the air.
Fully-assembled Iris UAV
Custom FlySky RC transmitter
Lithium polymer power pack, balance charger, and guard bag
Micro-USB ground station connector cable
Android tablet USB adapter
3DR Radio wireless data in 915 or 433 Mhz
Interchangeable red legs for improved visibility in the air
Tool kit and operation manual
Multiple control options provide redundancy and flexibility: RC, computer, phone, and tablet
Wireless data for real-time mission monitoring, data-logging, and control
Powerful cross-platform ground station/mission planning and analysis software that runs on Windows, OS X and Linux, providing simple point-and-click programming and configuration
Mobile apps allow intuitive “draw a path” mission planning
Mounting system integrated into the arms provides easy mounting for future accessories (stay tuned!)
Camera options include a fully integrated stabilized camera gimbal with autopilot control
GoPro® compatible camera mount
Available with a 9-channel RC transmitter pre-programmed for the most popular flight modes.
Pre-programmed GPS waypoints allow for professional-grade mission capabilities, such as: mapping, scripted cinematography, scientific research, and other applications where repeatable flight plans are required
Robust arms and feet produced from Zytel Nylon® for the ultimate in wear, abrasion, and impact resistance over a wide temperature range (these can be easily and inexpensively replaced if required)
Auto takeoff and landing along with return-to-launchpoint command at the press of a button or under programmable failsafe conditions
Follow-me function for the ultimate “selfies.” In this mode, IRIS will follow (at an adjustable distance) any ground station device equipped with a GPS antenna and one of our 3DR radios
Geo Fencing provides a virtual box to keep your drone within a user-selected space
Failsafe programming options bring peace of mind in the event of lost control signal, GPS or low battery conditions
External micro-USB port
Multicolor LED status indicator
Buzzer for audible status and warning messages
Safety switch adds a second level of protection
Open source flight code, ground station software, and electronics are all freely distributed under standard open source licenses. This means that IRIS’ capabilities are always improving and expanding with a simple firmware update!
Robohub has the story about the new security measures being taken for the World Cup this year.
PackBots will be deployed in Brazil during the 2014 World Cup Soccer season to bring a high-tech approach to security. The nation’s government has secured a $7.2 million deal with PackBot’s creators for 30 of the military bots. The robots will be stationed throughout Brazil’s 12 host cities, during the soccer matches to boost security and help examine any suspicious objects.
The sleek PackBot robot system, designed by iRobot, a Bedford, Massachusetts-based company, made its debut in 2002 in Afghanistan, where it helped soldiers clear bunkers, caves, collapsed building and to cross minefields. The versatile machine was used again in 2003 in Iraq in urban warfare situations and to search vehicles. By 2007, more than 800 of these military robots were in use throughout Afghanistan, Iraq and several other countries. The PackBot was also the first remote controlled robot to enter the Fukushima nuclear facility after the East Japan Earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.
PackBot is a unique robotic propulsion system that can reach a road speed of up to 9 miles/hour. The bot’s in-built flippers allow it 360 degrees of rotation, enabling it to negotiate rough terrain and even obstacles like logs, rocks, rubble and stairs. PackBot has the capability to climb up to 60 percent grades and survive submersion in water up to two meters depth.
Its robust body can survive a fall from a two meter height to a concrete surface, being flung through a window and falling downstairs. This bot weight less than 40lbs, and is easily carried in a back pack, ready to be deployed within minutes.
PackBot’s other attributes include a state-of-the-art GPS, video image display, system monitoring, electronic compass, temperature sensors. The robot is manipulated with an integrated Pentium-based computer.
More on the future of flexible electronics from gizmag.
If flexible electronic devices are ever going to become practical for real-world use, the circuitry incorporated into them will have to be tough and resilient. We’re already seeing progress in that direction, including electrical wires that can still carry a current while being stretched. However, what if the application calls for the use of fiber optics? Well, scientists from Belgium may have that covered, too. They’ve created optical circuits utilizing what they believe are the world’s first stretchable optical interconnections.
The idea is that devices such as wearable sensors or touch-enabled robot skin could utilize standard glass fiber optic cables for the most part, but could use the interconnections to bridge gaps between those cables, allowing the device to bend or lengthen at those locations.
Made from a clear rubbery substance known as PDMS (poly-dimethylsiloxane), the interconnections feature a transparent core through which the light travels, that’s surrounded by an outer layer of the same material. Because light doesn’t move as easily through that outer layer due to its lower refractive index, the design keeps the light signals contained within the core.
In lab tests, the interconnections were able to guide light signals when stretched by up to 30 percent, or when bent around an object with a diameter as small as that of a human finger. What’s more, they maintained that functionality after being mechanically stretched by 10 percent a total of 80,000 times.
How do you solve the problem of choking road traffic in one of the world’s bustling megacities? You bring in the robot cops. In Kinshasa, the sprawling capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, two humanoid robots have been installed in high-traffic areas to regulate the flow of vehicles and help drivers and pedestrians traverse the roads safely.
In this video I thought I would try something different. Rather than showing you a finished product, I thought to take you all the way through the design process. In this instance I go through designing an ‘L’ connector Robject (my modular robotics building system) and at the end, we 3D print it!
Every Thursday is #3dthursday here at Adafruit! The DIY 3D printing community has passion and dedication for making solid objects from digital models. Recently, we have noticed electronics projects integrated with 3D printed enclosures, brackets, and sculptures, so each Thursday we celebrate and highlight these bold pioneers!
Have you considered building a 3D project around an Arduino or other microcontroller? How about printing a bracket to mount your Raspberry Pi to the back of your HD monitor? And don’t forget the countless LED projects that are possible when you are modeling your projects in 3D!
The Adafruit Learning System has dozens of great tools to get you well on your way to creating incredible works of engineering, interactive art, and design with your 3D printer! If you’ve made a cool project that combines 3D printing and electronics, be sure to let us know, and we’ll feature it here!
On a complete whim about 2 years ago, I decided to make a robot to autonomously play one of my favourite iPhone games: Leap Sheep. The game’s nice and simple so lends itself really well to automation. Sheep run from left to right, and to play, all you need to do is tap them before they crash into the fence.
PBS Off Book has released this short video on the relationship between humans and robots.
As technology speeds forward, humans are beginning to imagine the day when robots will fill the roles promised to us in science fiction. But what should we be thinking about TODAY, as robots like military and delivery drones become a real part of our society? How should robots be programmed to interact with us? How should we treat robots? And who is responsible for a robot’s actions? As we look at the unexpected impact of new technologies, we are obligated as a society to consider the moral and ethical implications of robotics.