BAMF2010: Look sir, droids!

Ask any engineer what originally sparked their interest in technology, and almost universally the response will be a Hollywood film or TV robot — Star Wars’ R2-D2, the B9 robot from Lost in Space, or Short Circuit’s Johnny 5, to name a few. Engineers need a creative outlet too, and some pay homage to their inspirations by building elaborate reproductions. At this year’s Maker Faire, droid-builders had their own corner in the center hall, their work ranging from humble craft materials to ’bots surpassing their film counterparts in detail and workmanship.

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S.P.A.R.K. beginer robotics resources

spark

We love to see educational resources appear. iRobot has put together Starter Programs for Advancement of Robotics Knowledge or S.P.A.R.K to serve as not only education, but amusement with the purpose of getting people interested in robotics. With sections divided into different grade levels, it is obvious that this is mainly meant for school aged kids. There are some games as well to keep them amused when they need a break. We looked around a little bit and it seems that they are still fleshing it out. We hope to see some structured content specifically created for education of youngsters. Right now it is mainly links to other resources.

[via botjunkie]

I-Swarm robot update

I-Swarm_Micro_Robot_On_Thumb

Back in October we reported on the I-Swarm robotics project. [Travis] sent us some more information. These tiny robots are programmed optically and are able to respond to programming commands via an infrared signal. Locomotion is facilitated with piezoelectric actuators and the power to the units provided through a solar cell. It is not clear that this project is still ongoing as the I-Swarm web page lists a project termination date of 6/31/2008. That being said, the video embedded after the break was posted two days ago showing swarm movement and detailing the programming, testing, and hardware specifics. [Read more...]

Clever stair climbing robot

Stairs are one of the most commonly faced mobility challenges for a robot. This robot’s design eliminates the need for a complex drive train or computer, and instead uses a clever mechanical design to climb stairs. Version three of the robot uses five servos modified for continuous rotation, a Picaxe28, sharp IR sensors, and bump sensors.

[via BotJunkie]

TGIMBOEJ robot edition

robotjunk

Since we last reported about The Great Internet Migratory Box of Electronic Junk, several of these boxes have begun circulating in different areas of the world. Team Hack-a-Day launched three themselves. Robots.net decided that there was a need for a specialized box just for those who hack robots, and have launched their own.

[Read more...]

Swarming robot ants

European researchers in the I-SWARM project are hard at work developing small, autonomous robots that can work together and communicate to perform different functions. They successfully built two types of robots: the I-SWARM, and the Jasmine robots. The I-SWARM robots are three millimeters in size, are powered by a solar cell, and move by vibration. The Jasmine robots are the size of two-Euro coins, have small wheels, and are powered by battery. These tiny robots have several advantages over their bulky predecessors, such as high redundancy, greater flexibility, and the ability to manage tough terrain. They could even be used to repair larger robots. They also come with distinct challenges. Because of their minuscule size, programming memory is necessarily limited, and the team had to come up with special algorithms to manage and control the machines. Though they haven’t been able to meet their goal of making a thousand of them, the researchers are hopeful and confident about their abilities to mass produce the robots cheaply.

[via io9]

VIA’s EPIA Pico-ITX based robots

VIA, the Taiwan-based supplier of chipsets and low power processors, showed off its latest creations at the Taipei International Robot Show. The Lynxmotion Johnny 5 kit, based on the robot from the animated film Short Circuit, is powered by the compact VIA EPIA P700 board, and aimed at beginner robotic hobbyists. VIA claimed that its use of the latest board allows for much easier software development. VIA also showcased the Mini-ITX powered Vecna Battlefield Extraction-Assist Robot (or BEAR), a cuddly-looking robot with potential uses in military and rescue operations.

[via Engadget]