Autonomous metal detector lets you sit back, get rich

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As a kid, metal detectors seemed like great fun. Every commercial I saw beckoned with tales of buried treasure “right in my own back yard” – a bounty hard for any kid to pass up. In reality, the process was both time consuming and tedious, with little reward to be had. [Gareth] liked the idea of scouring the Earth with a metal detector, but he liked sitting and relaxing even more. He decided he could easily partake in both activities if he built himself an autonomous metal detecting robot.

He stripped down a hand held metal detector, and installed the important bits on to the front of an R/C chassis. An Arduino controls the entire rig via a motor shield, allowing it to drive and steer the vehicle while simultaneously sweeping the metal detector over the ground. He fitted the top of the rover with a camera for remotely watching the action from the comfort of his patio, along with a laser which lets him pinpoint the location of his new found goods.

Continue reading to see a short video of the robot in action, and be sure to check out his site for more build details.

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Robotic farming means more corn for everyone

You know we’re all going to starve, right? If the world’s population keeps growing exponentially and food production grows linearly, we’re eventually going to find out what Soylent Green is made of. This is where [David Dorhout]‘s Prospero robot farmer comes in. [David] has come up with the idea of using small autonomous robots to plant, tend and harvest fields. Right now, he’s working on stage 1: planting seeds.

A swarm of six-legged Prospero robots are dispatched to a field. There, each member of the swarm plants seeds one at a time. The robots keep in contact with each other over a wireless connection to ensure the optimal planting pattern for an entire field.

The Prospero prototype is based on the Parallax Propeller with a Ping ultrasonic sensor used to avoid obstacles. Each hexapod is equipped with a bunch of seeds, a small auger, and a supply of fertilizer for the future corn plant. The next step in the plan is to build a ‘tending’ robot that will monitor and apply nutrients if needed. Check out the Prospero video after the break.

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I have seen the future, and it has Swarmanoids

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Imagine that you want a book that is located on a shelf several rooms over, but you do not want to get out of your chair. Short of developing telekenesis on the spot, there’s little you can do other than get up and fetch the book yourself – that is, unless you have an army of Swarmanoids to do your bidding.

This robotic swarm is the pet project of [Dr. Marco Dorigo] from the Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium, and is impressive to say the least . As the Mission: Impossible-esque video plays out, you see several different robots working in concert, flying, climbing, and driving around to fetch a book from a shelf. The robots have no information regarding their surroundings, forcing them to learn and “speak” to one another in order to reach their goal once the target has been located.

It really is amazing to watch these robots work together, but don’t take our word for it. Check out the Swarmanoids in action below.

[via Geek.com]

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Autonomous tank will track you down, cover you in welts

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[Dan] wrote in to share a project he recently finished up, an autonomous Airsoft tank. The toy tank makes use of a wide array of technologies to get the job done, and will stop at nothing to hunt you down (provided you are wearing an IR beacon).

An Arduino board is used to control the tank’s motors, while a Lego NXT module handles most of the other operations. The tank makes its way around using an ultrasonic sensor, which ensures it doesn’t get stuck on any errant furniture or hung up in a corner. While driving around autonomously is well and good, [Dan] upped the ante a bit by making the Airsoft turret completely autonomous as well.

He fitted a Wiimote IR sensor to the tank, successfully interfacing it with the NXT module after a bit of trial and error. Now that things are up and running, he can place his IR beacon anywhere in the room, and the tank will drive around scanning its surroundings until the target is found. Once the tank locks on, a flurry of Airsoft pellets take down whatever stands in its way.

We think that [Dan] did a fantastic job here, but see for yourself in the videos embedded after the break.

[via HackedGadgets]

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An Autonomous Car Using a “Webcam”

This autonomous remote control-style car from Cornell students was designed for a senior level engineering course there. It’s main “sensor” is a low-res webcam style camera. As shown in the video after the break, this car does quite well staying within two black lines on a white surface using it’s vision processing. It also has an IR sensor to detect objects in front of the car and stop without crashing.

All “vision” computations are handled by an Atmel Mega644 MCU, an 8-bit processor. Because of the processing limits of this chip, much work had to be done to make this process computationally efficient. These students go through an incredibly detailed account of their project, focusing on the code and electrical design. Check out the video of their car in action after the break. [Read more...]

Scout, the autonomous transatlantic boat

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Sailing a small boat across the Atlantic ocean is quite the daunting task. As many have discovered, it is a journey often fraught with perils, typically ending in failure. A team of four college students decided the best way to get a small boat across the ocean would be to remove the human element from the process, so they set off to build an autonomous craft to take on the task.

Like most projects, this one started as a handful of wild ideas exchanged between friends [Dylan Rodriguez and Max Kramers]. As they thought about it more, they decided that turning [Max’s] sailboat into an autonomous ocean-going craft would be pretty awesome, so they got to work. Recruiting help from their friends [Brendan Prior and Ricky Lyman], the project started to quickly take shape, and Scout was born.

Scout is 8 feet long and consists of foam core covered in carbon fiber. It is filled with various electronic components such as a SPOT tracker, a battery bank that will power the boat for up to 25 hours, and the various servos and motors which will be used to pilot the craft.

It’s a rather ambitious project, though the boat is nearly complete – just in time for their launch, slated for May 29th. We’ll certainly be keeping an eye on this project as the launch date approaches – good luck guys!

Head on over to their Kickstarter page to see a promo video introducing Scout.

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Remote-controlled tank tread robot will walk the dog for you

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Instructables user [IAMTHEBOT] recently finished building his robot which can be controlled by a human using an R/C transmitter, via a PC, or through its built-in object avoidance system. The robot doesn’t seem to have a name, though Johnny Five might be appropriate.

The robot was built using plenty of erector set parts, as well as a Lynx motion tank tread kit. The robot is crammed full of controllers, including a Propeller USB servo controller which operates the arms, and a pair of Parallax motor controllers to manage the tread movement. A pair of Parallax Stamp controllers are used to drive these controllers as well as to manage the remainder of the robot’s functions.

The robot’s head consists of a custom pan and tilt wireless camera system, which allows him to drive it around from the comfort of his home, while watching the video stream on his PC. The robot also has the ability to roam around autonomously, avoiding objects using a ping sensor that can be mounted where the camera is currently located. It seems all that’s missing is Steve Guttenberg.

As you can see in the videos below, the robot manages pretty well on all sorts of surfaces, and even walks this guy’s dogs.

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