Transforming robot is more than meets the eye

transformer_copter

Let’s face it – building robust robots isn’t exactly easy. When designing them, builders often focus on a single method of locomotion in attempts to create a robust, reliable means of transportation. Whether it moves on the ground or in the air, there are always compromises to be made when designing a robot with the ability to travel over variable terrain. Looking to change that, researchers at the Center for Distributed Robotics have recently unveiled a robot that can travel on the ground with ease, then take to the skies in a matter of seconds.

The robot is rolls along the ground on a set of wheels mounted at either end. When it is time to fly, it pushes itself up onto one end before extending its rotors. As you can see in the video below, the transition occurs pretty quickly.

The current prototype is pretty fragile and carries quite the hefty price tag . More robust revisions are already in the works, so expect to see more in the coming months.

[Thanks Sandeep]

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Coming soon to a store near you: remote-control cockroaches

roboroach

Given a box full of cockroaches, the first thing most of us would do is try to locate the nearest source of fire. Lucky for the roaches, the team over at Backyard Brains look at things a bit differently than we do.

Their latest effort combines cockroaches and electronics to create a bio-electrical hybrid known as the RoboRoach. Using control circuitry donated from a HexBug inchworm and some 555 timers to create properly timed pulses, they have been able to control the gross movement of cockroaches. Stimulation is directly delivered to the antennae nerves of the cockroaches, enabling them to tell the roach which direction to turn and when.

Currently there are some ahem, bugs in the system, which they are working diligently to resolve. Only about 25% of the roaches they wire up can be controlled at present. Once that ratio improves however, they will be looking to offer RoboRoach as a beta product. If you are aiming to add a beetle air force to supplement your remote-controlled cockroach army, be sure to check this out.

Continue reading to see a video of the RoboRoach in action.

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Der Wafflemeister 3000

der_wafflemeister3000

When people think about robots, a few different things come to mind. We like robots because they take care of tedious work. Robots are great for accomplishing tasks in hazardous environments too. When the [Chalmers Robotics Society] thinks about robots however, they think, “Breakfast!”

The CRS constructed a sweet automatic waffle cooking machine known as the Wafflemeister3000. It can produce up to 5 waffles at a time, cooking them to a nice golden brown in a little over 3 minutes. Think about that for a second – that’s about 90 waffles an hour!

This project isn’t exactly new, with the second iteration having been completed in 2007. However, since the third version features a 400% increase in production volume, we thought it was worth a mention.

Be sure to check out the video below of the Wafflemeister3000 doing its thing.

[via Neatorama]

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Some weekend robot goodness in link form

PBS Newshour did a piece on robots. They talked about NASA’s bot pictured above, Asimo, Big Dog, PR2, Robbie the robot and a few others. We didn’t see anything new, but we really do like the coverage getting out there. We also never need an excuse to watch that guy kick big dog around for a while. We know it’ll only be a matter of time before the tables are turned.

Willow Garage, the folks behind PR2, are conducting a survey to see what your favorite robot is. Their list is pretty short, but they did leave a spot for you to add a name. The picture above, is not from willow garage though. This is the picture I got from BotJunkie (we love this site) where I found this story. They didn’t attribute the artist, but I feel they need credit, it is an awesome shirt.

It turns out that it is a t-shirt design available at the chopshopstore. You can see that their eyes are done in glow-in-the-dark material. On a side note, the hackaday store just got glow in the dark material yesterday(as well as a re-design) and will be announcing several new designs in the near future.

I personally inherited several huge boxes full of sci-fi pulp. The robots I’ve seen in these are amazing, ranging from amazingly ridiculous to amazingly awesome. I’ve only just begun scanning in the covers, and plan to post at least one a day. You know what would be awesome though? If I had one of these.

Fully customized robots

i.materialise, a custom 3D printing fabrication house are looking for talented robotics enthusiasts with the skills to design custom robotics parts such as functional frames, decorative shells, as well as unique parts required by robots to look and perform their best. The best part? They are offering free 3D printing of parts to the people they select with the most interesting or useful ideas. Make sure you check out their blog for details on what they are looking for and how to enter, as well as checking out some of the other cool things they do, such as a fully customizable 3D printed frisbee. Let us know what you design, we would love to show it off!

[via Robots-Dreams]

Robot boxing with wrist watches

The classic injection molded plastic Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots has been upgraded to use motion control. The project uses four TI Chronos watches, one on each wrist of both players. In the video after the break we get a good look at the guts of the base unit. We’re quite impressed with the quality craftsmanship that went into retrofitting the plastic bots with four servos each. The electronics include some bells and whistles such as an SD card that records scores and can replay a match via saved inputs. If you’ve got a couple of these watches on hand we’d love to see you port this project and make it a Punchout controller.

RobotsEverywhere

[Spiritplumber] has been sending us updates on a promising project he’s working on called RobotsEverywhere. We’re not completely sure if that name covers the project itself, or just the name of his group that is selling robots (and giving us schematics and source code). Either way, they have some really cool stuff. The really cool part about many of the bots is that they are using Android phones as their brains and they use the same system on land, air, and water. There’s tons of information sprinkled around the site and the Wiki, take a few minutes and look around.

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