Best robot demos from ICRA 2013

best-robots-from-2013-ICRA

The 2013 IEEE International Conference of Robotics and Automation was held early in May. Here’s a video montage of several robots shown off at the event. Looks like it would have been a blast to attend, but at least you can draw some inspiration from such a wide range of examples.

We grabbed a half-dozen screenshots that caught our eye. Moving from the top left in clockwise fashion we have a segmented worm bot that uses rollers for locomotion. There’s an interesting game of catch going on in the lobby with this sphere-footed self balancer. Who would have thought about using wire beaters as wheels? Probably the team that developed the tripod in the upper right. Just below there’s one of the many flying entries, a robot with what looks like a pair of propellers at its center. The rover in the middle is showing off the 3D topography map it creates to find its way. And finally, someone set up a pool of water for this snake to swim around in.

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BASH games

bash-gaming-script

Get serious about your shell scripting skills and maybe you can pull this one off. It’s a game of snake played in a BASH shell. It seems like a coding nightmare, but the final product turns out to be organized well enough for us to understand and took less than 250 lines of code.

[Martin Bruchanov] started on the project after pining for an old DOS game called Housenka. It’s another version of the classic Snake game which we’ve coded ourselves and seen in several projects including this head-to-head version using musical recorders as controllers. When using a terminal emulator capable of ANSI sequences the game is displayed in color using extended characters.

We give [Martin] bonus points for the way he wrote about his project. It describes the mechanics most would be interested in, like how the user input is captured and what drives the update function and food generation. The rest of the details can be gleaned by reading through the code itself.

Fantastic programming makes this Arduino gaming device something special

The hardware that went into this Arduino gaming console is just fine. But the coding that produced this game called Twisted SNAKE is beyond compare. [Rodot] has programmed several games for the hardware, which uses an Arduino, 160×168 TFT screen, a 3 axis accelerometer, and two input buttons. If you’re interested, there is a forum thread in which he talks a bit more about the hardware design. But you’re not going to want to pass up either of the two videos embedded after the break.

The first clip shows off a bouncing-ball platforming game. The accelerometer moves the ball back and forth, and the top scrolling level brings more ledges into play. This in itself is a great game. But the Twisted SNAKE game shown off in the second video makes our own ARM-based Snake game look like a 3-year-old programmed it. [Rodot] filled up all of the program memory of the ATmega328 chip to  make this happen. There’s a menu system which allows for color themes and difficulty selection. The game play itself lets the snake travel anywhere it wishes with the tail following behind in graceful curves. Wow!

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Classic game of Snake on an ARM controller

Every now and again we take a break from looking at all of your awesome projects and get to work on our own. I thought I’d take a minute to show off my game of Snake. It’s a classic that I remember playing on a graphing calculator (TI-83) back in high school. I had never written my own version and decided it would be a good reason to spend some more time on the ARM platform.

The dev board I’m using is the STM32 F0 Discovery board. Once I had a usable template for compiling the code on a Linux box everything else just started to fall into place. The screen is from a Nokia 3595. Several years back I cut off the keypad and made a breakout board for it. It’s pretty dim but it’s small and uses SPI so it tends to be my go-to display for prototyping. But I did get my hands on an SSD1289 TFT screen (after writing about this project) for about $16 and I’ve had some success with that. It uses a parallel interface so it’s not as easy to hook up and I’ve had some crosstalk issues when running at 24 MHz.

But I digress. Check out the demo video of my simple game after the break. There are more details about my programming choices at post link above. You will see this hardware again soon. I’m working on an On Chip Debugging primer and these ARM dev boards are perfect for it!

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Pipe crawling snake robot is a masterpiece of a senior project

Here’s an oldie but a goodie: [Eiki], [Mark], and [Sheraz] built a pipe crawling robot for their senior engineering project at Florida Atlantic University way back in 2004. Despite being a rather old build, its aged well and still demonstrates the clever ways the guys overcame some engineering obstacles.

The original plan for the pipe crawler was to mount three spring-loaded wheels 120° apart at the fore and aft of each robot section. Six independent wheels for each section of the robot is overly complex, and too much for a single operator to control; the team moved on to a ‘screw drive’ system where each wheel is canted forward a few degrees. This drive system propels the snakebot along by simply spinning, although it does bring in a few challenges all its own.

The robot had separate sections consisting to house a motor, camera, and electronics, so a way to pass wires through a rotating shaft was needed. This came in the form of a few pairs of incredibly small ball bearings around a hollow shaft. After the mechanical portion of the build was finished, the team moved on to the electronic part where an IMU was built out of three small gyroscope sensors mounted perpendicularly to each other.

Sadly, there are no videos of the inside of a sewage pipe from the pipe crawler’s point of view, but YouTube wasn’t launched until a year after this project was finished.

http://eikimartinson.com/engineering/pipe/

Recorder controlled Snake game played on a Nokia 6110

Dig out an old cell phone, hit the dollar store for some plastic recorders, and build this sound controlled snake game for your next party. The project will be a snap for those comfortable working with microcontrollers, and a great learning experience if you’re looking to try your first Arduino project.

[László] and his friend call the project the Snake Charmer. As shown in the clip after the jump it uses music notes to direct the path of the solid line in the classic cellphone game of snake. But this isn’t just some PC-based rip-off. They’re playing on the actual cellphone. A camera points at the screen to project it for the enjoyment of spectators. The control scheme uses relays soldered to the pads of the four directional buttons. The pitches are being detected by a Max/MSP program, with the corresponding commands pushed to the Arduino via USB. Yep, it’s overkill but the point was to get this up and running quickly and with a minimum of work. We’d say they succeeded.

Actually, now that we think of it, this isn’t a two player game. Perhaps the recorder control concept needs to be applied to a more modern version of the game.

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Snake-the-Planet makes a game board out of your surroundings

It’s Friday night and these guys are driving around town looking for a good spot to play a head-to-head game of Snake. It’s not that they need somewhere to sit (they travel with a couch and floor lamp for that purpose) it’s that they’re using a projector and camera to make a game out of their surroundings.

A white Mystery-Machine-style van has room for everything they need to make the traveling arcade happen. A mobile power supply provides juice to the camera and projector. To get started, the system takes a high-contrast black and white photo of the surface in front of it. Everything that appears below the white threshold becomes a wall on the game board, everything else is a playable area. Obstacles are formed by windows, doorways, pipes, signs, pieces of foam board the guys hang on a wall, and even your body if you stand in the way during scanning. From there the guys each grab a joystick and play the hacker-favorite game of snake.

After the break you can watch a description of how the system works. [Read more...]