Maybe One Of The Most Adorable Obstacle Avoiding Robots You’ve Seen

We’re all pretty well-acquainted with the obstacle avoiding robot. These little inventions use a proximity sensor to detect an object in front of the robot, then circumvent the object accordingly. Brown Dog Gadgets’ little robot really caught our eye, mostly because it’s kind of cute.

This little robot combines a few LEGO pieces, Arduino, and Brown Dog Gadgets’ own in-house invention, Crazy Circuits. The LEGO pieces make up the body of the robot, craftily enclosing a small portable battery pack used to power the bot. Brown Dog Gadgets uses another home-grown design, their robotics controller board, breaking out a few GPIO pins of an Arduino-compatible microcontroller into LEGO-compatible connections. This makes it easy to interface two of our favorite DIY STEM tools using a solderless connection.

Add a few LEGO wheels and a caster for pivoting and you’ve got a pretty simple, little robot. Fortunately, Brown Dog Gadgets was very thorough in their write-up, so head on over to their Instructable for all the details.

In the meantime, we’ve got a rich history of obstacle-avoiding robots here on Hackaday. Take a look around.

Robotic Cornhole Board Does The Electric Slide

There’s a reason why bowling lanes have bumpers and golf games have mulligans. Whether you’re learning a new game or sport, or have known for years how to play but still stink at it, everyone can use some help chasing that win. You’ve heard of the can’t-miss dart board and no-brick basketball goal. Well, here comes the robot-assisted game for the rest of us: cornhole.

The game itself deceptively simple-looking — just underhand throw a square wrist rest into a hole near the top of a slightly angled box. You even get a point for landing anywhere on the box! Three points if you make it in the cornhole. In practice, the game not that easy, though, especially if you’ve been drinking (and drinking is encouraged). But hey, it’s safer than horseshoes or lawn darts.

[Michael Rechtin] loves the game but isn’t all that great at it, so he built a robotic version that tracks the incoming bag and moves the hole to help catch it. A web cam mounted just behind the hole takes a ton of pictures and analyzes the frames for changes.

The web cam sends the bag positions it sees along with its predictions to an Arduino, which decides how it will move a pair of motors in response. Down in the cornhole there’s a pair of drawer sliders that act as the lid’s x/y gantry.

We love how low-tech this is compared to some of the other ways it could be done, even though it occasionally messes up. That’s okay — it makes the game more interesting that way. We think you should get 2 points if it lands halfway in the hole. Aim past the break to check out the build video.

Seems like there’s a robotic-assisted piece of sporting equipment for everything these days. If cornhole ain’t your thing, how’d you like to take a couple strokes off your golf game?

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Animatronic Nikola Tesla Sets The Record Straight

While the Hackaday reader likely knows all about Nikola Tesla and his incredible body of work, the same can’t necessarily be said for the average passerby. Even a child can be counted on to know the names of Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell, but as [Daniel Springwald] laments, the name Tesla is more often associated with the line of sleek electric cars than the brilliant Serbian inventor they were named for.

Hoping to level the playing field a bit, [Daniel] has come up with a way for the great man to plead his case. This custom designed robotic facsimile of the alternating current aficionado is able to speak about Tesla’s life and accomplishments in an interactive, if rather creepy, format.

There isn’t a lot of technical detail on this one yet, but what we can glean from the image gallery and video below is that there are an incredible number of OpenSCAD-designed 3D printed parts knocking around inside Mr. Tesla’s head. Add into the mix a healthy dose of springs, linkages, and servos, and you’re just a mustache short of a museum exhibit.

Most of the animatronic projects we’ve covered in the past have been based on animals, so it’s certainly interesting to see what goes into approximating human mannerisms mechanically. We’re not sure if this talking Tesla head will help educate the masses, but it’s certainly an impressive technical achievement.

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Slothbot Lives Up To Its Name

For moving about in the real world, robots can crawl along the ground or take to the sky. Both options have disadvantages, with obstacles being a problem on the ground and flying being very energy intensive. What we don’t often see are robots that move along aerial cables, which can offer the best of both worlds for certain use cases. Taking inspiration from a sloth’s slow and efficient movement through the trees, researchers from Georgia Tech created a robot to crawl slowly along a cable network and monitor the world around it, and of course named it Slothbot.

The cable switching mechanism

Slothbot trades speed for efficiency, letting it operate for very long periods on solar power alone. It does require the set up and maintenance of a cable network, but that brings the advantage of no obstacles, and the ability to stop and recharge. To us the most interesting feature is the cable switching mechanism, that allows it to navigate its way along a web of interconnected cables.

Ring gears with a section removed hold the upper part of the pulley mechanism, but can rotate it’s opening to the left or right to allow an interconnecting cable to pass through,  The body is in two pieces, with an actuated hinge in the middle to allow it to turn onto a different cable section. Each section of the body also has a powered wheel which pushes up against the cable and moves the robot along slowly. Not surprisingly, researchers say that making the cable switching mechanism reliable is the biggest challenge. It does look like the current design would not work well with thicker cable joints. Watch the video after the break for a better look at the mechanism Continue reading “Slothbot Lives Up To Its Name”

DIY Baby MIT Cheetah Robot

3D printers have become a staple in most makerspaces these days, enabling hackers to rapidly produce simple mechanical prototypes without the need for a dedicated machine shop. We’ve seen many creative 3D designs here on Hackaday and [jegatheesan.soundarapandian’s] Baby MIT Cheetah Robot is no exception. You’ve undoubtedly seen MIT’s cheetah robot. Well, [jegatheesan’s] hack takes a personal spin on the cheetah robot and his results are pretty cool.

The body of the robot is 3D printed making it easy to customize the design and replace broken parts as you go. The legs are designed in a five-bar linkage with two servo motors controlling each of the four legs. An additional servo motor is used to rotate an HC-SR04, a popular ultrasonic distance sensor, used in the autonomous mode’s obstacle avoidance mechanism. The robot can also be controlled over Bluetooth using an app [jegatheesan] developed in MIT App Inventor.

Overall, the mechanics could use a bit of work — [jegatheesan’s] baby cheetah probably won’t outpace MIT’s robot any time soon — but it’s a cool hack and we’re looking forward to a version 3. Maybe the cheetah would make a cool companion bot?

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This Iron Man Suit Is A Hacker’s Dream Come True

[Techmaster], like probably a lot of us, was hugely inspired by the engineering wonder that is the Iron Man suit. So, like any good maker, he decided to build his own. [Techmaster’s] social media pages are filled with promotional videos that are sure to get you excited for your next Comic-Con (when you can go in-person of course).

It’s difficult to summarize all the work [Techmaster] has put into his suit in a single post, so we’ll let his social media pages do the talking. From the knuckle launcher to the repulsor and the beloved Arc rector, [Techmaster] is really putting together an impressive set. Now, we’ve seen our fair share of Iron Man-inspired projects here on Hackaday, but [Techmaster’s] designs might be the closest attempt to a full suit with the projectiles to match.

[Techmaster’s] goal is to develop the most realistic Iron Man suit ever, well..other than the original we suppose. Given the dynamic nature of his development process, there aren’t any DIY instructions for the rest of us to follow as of yet (though he does host live streams), so you’ll have to piece together design ideas from his promotional videos.

[Techmaster] might be living the dream a lot of us wish were our realities and we certainly can’t wait to see an official version 1 release. Feel free to support his development if you feel so inclined.

Robotic Biped Walks On Inverse Kinematics

Robotics projects are always a favorite for hackers. Being able to almost literally bring your project to life evokes a special kind of joy that really drives our wildest imaginations. We imagine this is one of the inspirations for the boom in interactive technologies that are flooding the market these days. Well, [Technovation] had the same thought and decided to build a fully articulated robotic biped.

Each leg has pivot points at the foot, knee, and hip, mimicking the articulation of the human leg. To control the robot’s movements, [Technovation] uses inverse kinematics, a method of calculating join movements rather than explicitly programming them. The user inputs the end coordinates of each foot, as opposed to each individual joint angle, and a special function outputs the joint angles necessary to reach each end coordinate. This part of the software is well commented and worth your time to dig into.

In case you want to change the height of the robot or its stride length, [Technovation] provides a few global constants in the firmware that will automatically adjust the calculations to fit the new robot’s dimensions. Of all the various aspects of this project, the detailed write-up impressed us the most. The robot was designed in Fusion 360 and the parts were 3D printed allowing for maximum design flexibility for the next hacker.

Maybe [Technovation’s] biped will help resurrect the social robot craze. Until then, happy hacking.

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