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.
Meet BBot, an open source remote-contolled drink serving robot with Beagle Bone Black brain. via Tara Stratton
What’s your perfect vacation? Mine involves sitting out by the pool under the sun as people deliver me ice-cold drinks. Andy Gikling seems to have a similar dream, and he figured out a way to live the good life every weekend—by developing the BBot robot!
The BBot is an open source, remote-controlled drink serving robot. This “cooler camel” puts a cooler on a mini trailer and delivers drinks to people at the pool. As Andy put it, “Why not have a robot go get the drinks? It’s 2013 people!” And with the ability to haul 30-40 lbs, BBot keeps the drinks flowing. This robot does more than just deliver drinks. It can talk to you, see the world around it and even display drink prices and beer advertisements on the screen. One very unique feature is that when people try to steal drinks, the robot kicks on its absurdly loud alarm system.
Andy used 900 MHz XBee radios to transport remote control data from the Microsoft .NET GUI to BeagleBone Black. XBee connectivity enables very long range control, making it possible to “order” drinks from miles away. “The XBee radios were a treat to finally work with,” said Andy. “They are so cool and simple to use.”
The BeagleBone Black computer is the brain of the device. It parses the data and routes it to the various control systems on the robot. “There’s nothing like it with as much computing power, flexibility, and size of active community at the $45 price point,” said Andy. “I needed the vast number if I/O found on BeagleBone Black for my robot. I love how small it is too!” It also provided Andy with a great way to learn more about Linux and C++. “Although BeagleBone Black is rather new, there are an amazing number of sources on the Internet that show you how to do common things,” said Andy. He specifically credited Derek Molloy’s videos for helping him go from “zero to hero” with some of the software development challenges he faced.
Andy stacked a ValentFX FPGA cape on top of BeagleBone Black to provide a robust means of low-level hardware interfacing.
Andy coded the names of the classes and variables to be anthropomorphic. For example, rather than calling the code that runs the robot’s wheels “Motors.cpp” or “Drives.cpp,” he named them things like “Voice.cpp” and “Legs.cpp.” Functions might be “Walk int speed );” instead of “Drive ( int speed );.” The GUI follows the same trend, with the main window user controls named things like “eye ball,” “legs,” and “voice.” Each control communicates with one of BBot’s systems. Another cool feature of the GUI is that the user can connect it to a Leap Motion controller so that the robot can be driven by a simple wave of the hand above the sensor!
Andy says that the robot has a fairly simple mechanical design. The main chasse consists of some simple Plexiglas disks stacked on top of each other with threaded steel rods, nuts and washers. Everything for the mechanical assembly can be purchased at a hardware store.
It seems like BBot already has it all, but Andy has plans to keep adding features to the platform. He would like to add a precision pan/tilt camera system and incorporate a tracking algorithm called TLD so that the robot can follow its user around. He is also contemplating having the main data, video and audio link run through the cell network so he can approach people on the street and offer them a free soda from a friendly and seemingly autonomous robot!
Want your own BBot? (We do too!) Working source code, photos, video and documentation can be found at https://github.com/andygikling/BBot.
The future of science may only need to look at nature, as Harvard engineers develop small robots that mimic termites. The project was unveiled at the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The robots were 8 inches long and performed simple construction duties like putting down a brick, turning around or climbing. The robots were able to access their tasks, by working together and seeing what else needs to be done, like the insects.
But why would these mini robots act like termites?
Termites as insects are extremely intelligent; they take cues from one another, work as a team, and can build complicated mounds of soil, complete with tunnels and chambers. Some scientists even believe that termites have been able to create their own air conditioning in these formations that are more complicated than we think.
This technology could be used to build and re-build constructions in dangerous areas. These robots could be sent to earthquake prone regions, to build homes, and repair damage. Humans may no longer need to risk their lives building in dangerous situations.
Discovery News has an interesting story about this cool looking robot prototype.
RoboCop may be blasting his way into theaters this week, but in reality, a cyborg like him is probably still 100 years away from patrolling our streets.
But don’t tell that to this team of undergrads from Florida International University’s Discovery Lab. They’re already hard at work on a real-life RoboCop. Granted, it’s nowhere near as advanced as the tech depicted in the movie, but their “Telebot” is nothing to ignore.
The six-foot tall, 75-pound prototype combines telepresence and robotics to eventually allow disabled police officers and military personal to serve as patrol officers. Built from scratch, Telebot functions via an Oculus Rift headset, a motion-tracking vest, arm bands and gloves — all worn by a remote person. The headset gives that person a live-feed of the robot’s field of vision while the vest relays movements to the robot. The motion-sensing gloves control robot’s hands.
The Telebot was made possible by Jeremy Robins, a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy, who donated $20,000 towards the project to help his disabled veteran friends get back into the work force.
Meet DoodleBorg, the 6 wheel rover robot with a Raspberry Pi brain. via PiBorg
DoodleBorg is a 6 wheel rover robot we built to show the power capability of the PiBorg motor controller
Brains controlled by a Raspberry Pi
Controller: Motors powered by 6x PicoBorg reverse controllers
Batteries: 1-2 x 12 V DC (10 Ah each)
Motors: 6 x 350 W high torque motors
Chassis: 6 mm thick laser cut steel
Power: Approx 3 hp (2.1 KW)
Size: Approx 30 inches long (76 cm), 27 inches wide (69 cm), 15 inches tall (38 cm)
Weight: Approx 143 lb (65 Kg)
Other: 4 x emergency power off switches controlling power relays
Lots more pictures and videos will be here in the next few days.
Happy Valentine’s Day from Adafruit! Today we are highlighting our favorite heart-shaped electronics projects. We have lots of excellent projects to let your loved one know that you care. Be sure to check out our gift guide as well!
Christian Ristow, winner of the Backyard Genius Award, uses his experience as an artist and animatronics designer for the movie industry to create a car crushing mechanical claw. via Popular Mechanics
Our top prizewinner spent years dreaming of the perfect way to crush cars by hand. In 2007 Christian Ristow, an artist and former animatronics designer for the movie industry, demonstrated his first working incarnation of the Hand of Man at a robotics festival in Amsterdam. Much of his time since then has been spent re-engineering and refining the design of the 27-foot-long hydraulically actuated appendage, exhibiting more and more capable crushers at a series of public venuesÂ. Ristow’s latest mechanical steel limb has 90-degree wrist rotation and improved mobility in the finger joints. It is powered by a 90-hp Perkins 1104C-44T four-cylinder diesel engine and is controlled through a glove worn by the operator. At demonstrations, that operator is usually a random member of the audience. “I’ve built other large-scale radio-control robots for shows over the years, but I always felt like I was the one having the most fun,” Ristow says. “This democratizes the crushing power.”
NEW PRODUCT – Sparki – The Easy Robot for Everyone – Sparki by Arcbotics is a new affordable, easy to use, and fun intro to programming, electronics, and robotics. It is geared towards kids elementary-age and above, educators looking for an easy intro to robotics, parents eager to find something affordable but educational and fun, DIY enthusiasts, and more. It is simple enough for beginners, while being feature-packed enough to be a must-have for pro-users. Sparki is your chance to have your very own robot, completely open source and available to do your bidding. Watch the ArcBotics video demoing Sparki.
Sparki is ArcBotics’ answer to robotics in education. After ArcBotics’ first successful Kickstarter for Hexy the Hexapod, a low-cost open-source Arduino robot designed to be an intro to advanced robotics, ArcBotics were approached by many who asked,”Is there anything for beginners?” When they looked around, they saw that other educational robots were mostly expensive, difficult to use, lacked features, or had closed designs. However, ArcBotics know that the interest in programming and robotics from people of all ages is enormous. So they thought, “why not design an adorable new robot that lets people of all ages enjoy robotics, while offering them a wide range of possibilities, and is – most of all – fun?”
Sparki works out of the box with its remote control. To write your own programs, just plug it in via USB, install the custom-enhanced Arduino software and try any of the dozens of example programs. ArcBotics have programs for every sensor and actuator on Sparki:
1x Ultrasonic distance sensor (get distance from Sparki to walls/objects)
1x 3-Axis Accelerometer (pick-up detection, fall detection, hill climbing)
1x 3-Axis Magnetometer (sense the magnetic field around Sparki, coordinate with accelerometer to detect compass heading)
Jose Julio made this awesome project and featured it on his blog with all the details.
Everything started when I built my 3D printer. First, the posibility to design and build my own parts and second, how could I hack the components of a 3D printer to make something different?
I have seen several interesting projects of robots that paint or manufacture PCBs, etc … but I was looking for something different…
My daughter loves the Air Hockey game and I love robotics so one day an idea born in my mind… can I construct…??… Mmmmm …. it seemed very complicated and with many unresolved questions (puck detection??, robot speed??), but that is also part of the fun…
Based on the idea of use standard RepRap 3D printer parts : NEMA17 stepper motors, drivers, Arduino Mega, RAMPS, belts , bearings, rods, printed pieces … I started to develop the project. The main advantage of use these parts is that they are cheap and easily available. First I started with the construction of the air hockey table. I choose a medium size (my house is small, ;-)) I wanted something easily transportable but comfortable to play. The final dimensions are 100x60cm.
I Bought some wood boards and wood slats and began to mount the table. First I started to build and airless version but it really lacks the feeling so I decided to make a table with air. I tried different possibilities until I test a very simple combination with 2 old PC fans that works very well. I made the table holes (it seemed a hard work but it was not so hard) and I now I had a fully playable Air Hockey table! Time to enjoy it an play!!
The Verge has the latest on prosthetics that can actually enable the wearer to feel the object they are holding.
The latest bionic hand can do a lot more than just let its wearer hold things: it can actually let them feel. By hooking into nerves in an amputee’s arm, the new prosthetic can let a person tell how hard or soft an object is and even distinguish its basic shape. “The sensory feedback was incredible,” Dennis Sørensen, who wore the hand during its first trial, says in a statement…
“What was amazing in the subject was the possibility to get — very quickly, almost immediately — the ability to use this restored sense of modality in an effective way,” Micera tells The Verge. Though health regulations limited Sørensen’s trial to only a month, by the final week he was able to differentiate between three shapes with 88 percent accuracy and between the hardness of three objects with 78.7 percent accuracy. “It is very intuitive,” Micera says.
Using the bionic hand required Sørensen to have electrodes implanted in his arm, just above where it had been amputated nine years prior. Even though the nerves hadn’t been in use, the prosthetic was able to translate the bionic hand’s input into electrical signals that the nerves could understand.
During the test, Sørensen was asked to differentiate and handle six different objects. For testing hardness, he was given a piece of wood, a stack of plastic glasses, and a pack of cotton. To test how well the prosthetic could relay the feeling of different shapes and sizes, Sørensen was given a bottle, a baseball, and a mandarin orange. Being able to differentiate between objects and hardness also let Sørensen more effectively control how much force the bionic hand exerted while holding different materials.
Dyson, the engineering company best known for its bagless vacuum cleaners, is to invest £5m in a robotics lab at Imperial College, London.
The research will focus on vision systems that can help robots understand and adapt to the world around them, the company said.
Dyson has been working on robotics with Imperial’s Prof Andrew Davison since 2005, and he will run the new lab.
The research will cover domestic robots as well as robotic vacuum cleaners.
Sir James Dyson said: “My generation believed the world would be overrun by robots by the year 2014. We now have the mechanical and electronic capabilities, but robots still lack understanding – seeing and thinking in the way we do.
“Mastering this will make our lives easier and lead to previously unthinkable technologies.”
Howtoons mixes how to instructionals with comic book storytelling to teach kids science and engineering. Here’s an awesome Howtoon on making robotic fingers.
What happens when you take a comic book artist, an inventor, and a toy designer? You get Howtoons. Our mission is to provide engaging content that teaches kids how to build things, combining instructions with storytelling. Howtoons has a foundation of science and engineering education, inspiring creativity through art and imagination.
The primary contributors to Howtoons are Nick Dragotta(comic artist), Saul Griffith(inventor), Ingrid Dragotta(toy designer), and Joost Bonsen(the big kid).
Harvest’s robots can perform as much manual labor as required by each grower, creating more capacity for human workers to focus on other tasks. The robots can also increase plant quality by optimizing plant placement in the fields and reduce non-labor production costs including the use of water, pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers. Harvest Automation is headquartered outside of Boston, Mass.