Krave Antweight Robot Gets Eaten And Stays Alive

The battle’s are done and the results are in — [AltaPowderDog]’s, aka [Carter Hurd],  cardboard and foam armor, lightweight Krave robot beat its metal cousins in 2016 and fared well in 2017. How did a cardboard Krave cereal box and foam board robot do that you ask? The cardboard and foam outer structure was sliced, smashed and generally eaten while the delicate electronics, motors and wheels remained buried safely inside.

We covered the making of his 2016 version but didn’t follow-up with how it fared in that year’s Illinois Bot Brawl competition. As you can see in the exciting first video below, despite suffering repeated severe damage to its armor, it won first place in the 1 lb Antweight category!

For 2017 he made another one but managed to halve the weight — and so he made two of them! By starting them both within a twelve-inch by twelve-inch area, they were allowed to fight as a team. How did he make it lighter? Partly it was done by doing away with the ability to lift the metal lip in front, the wheels were reduced from four to two, and a smaller servo was used for opening and closing the mouth. The full build video is shown below along with a video of the 2017 battles wherein he won seventh place.

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GuitarBot Brings Together Art and Engineering

Not only does the GuitarBot project show off some great design, but the care given to the documentation and directions is wonderful to see. The GuitarBot is an initiative by three University of Delaware professors, [Dustyn Roberts], [Troy Richards], and [Ashley Pigford] to introduce their students to ‘Artgineering’, a beautiful portmanteau of ‘art’ and ‘engineering’.

The GuitarBot It is designed and documented in a way that the three major elements are compartmentalized: the strummer, the brains, and the chord mechanism are all independent modules wrapped up in a single device. Anyone is, of course, free to build the whole thing, but a lot of work has been done to ease the collaboration of smaller, team-based groups that can work on and bring together individual elements.

Some aspects of the GuitarBot are still works in progress, such as the solenoid-activated chord assembly. But everything else is ready to go with Bills of Materials and build directions. An early video of a strumming test proof of concept used on a ukelele is embedded below.

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Simple Step-Climbing Robot Climbs Like It’s On Mars

[Navin Khambhala] is a master at making simple what most would expect to be a complex build. Now he’s done it again with a remote controlled robot that can easily climb steps and role over rough terrain. The parts count is small and many of them are commonly available.

The suspension that makes it all possible is the rocker-bogie. It’s the same suspension we’ve all seen used by the various rovers ambling around on Mars. The whole frame is made of PVC pipes with some connecting metal bars, and each wheel has its own twelve-volt DC motor. Motor control is done simply with a module that combines the 2.4 GHz receiver with motor controllers. When you watch the video below, note where only one hole is drilled through the PVC for making connections instead of two holes. Where there’s only one hole, the two sections of PVC are free to rotate independently of each other. Turning the robot is done by rotating the wheels on one side in one direction and the wheels on the other side in the opposite direction. This is called a differential drive or tank drive, and we’ve highlighted it before for use in making hamster-drive type BB-8 droids.

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Hackaday Prize Best Product Finalist: Reconfigurable Robots

Reconfigurable robots have been around for ages. One of the first and most popular reconfigurable robots came out of the MIT Media Lab, and last year, DTTO, a modular snake-like robot, won the 2016 Hackaday Prize. There’s a lot that can be learned from a robot that can turn from a walker to a swimmer to something that clambers over rough terrain, and [Salvador]’s EMME does just that. It’s a 3D printed robot and controller that’s the closest you can get to, ‘the Lego of robots’. All you need to do is plug some wheels into a controller and you’re off to the races.

[Salvador]’s EMME is a brilliant little robot that’s only made of a few generic parts. These parts snap together or join with magnets to turn into any device you can imagine that somehow turns rotation of a wheel into linear motion. All the parts are 3D printed, work without cables or connectors, and the robot itself is controlled by a wireless gem-shaped 3D printed controller.

Already, [Salvador] has on-road wheels for EMME, off-road wheels, above-water wheels, and submersible accessories. This is already an all-terrain robot that’s easy to put together and easy to control, but [Salvador] isn’t done yet. he’s working on new hardware based on the ESP32 and working on the vast amount of documentation required for a robot that can do anything.

You can check out [Salvador]’s pitch video for EMME below.

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Mindstorms Soccer Robot Inspired by Real Soccer Robot

[Bram], a 17-year-old robot fan from the Nertherlands, had an opportunity to watch a RoboCup soccer match played by autonomous robots, and was inspired to create his own Mindstorms version of the robot for a school project.

The robot he created is around 80 cm in diameter and is controlled by four daisy-chained EV bricks. There are nine large motors for controlling the wheels, two more large motors for grabbing the ball, and two medium motors for the ball-shooting mechanism. It uses a Pixycam for ball detection, and it can identify and move toward the ball so long as it’s within 2.5 m. A gyro sensor determines the robot’s rotational direction.

Our favorite detail of the robot is its giant omni wheels, constructed out of LEGO elements. Each one consists of sixteen Mindstorms-standard wheels arranged in a circle, with an offset double row of rollers to give the same angled effect as a Mechanum wheel’s rollers.

This story has even geekier roots. [Bram]’s robot was based off of the Turtle, a soccer-playing robot used to teach programming to college students. Like [Bram]’s creation, they also have omni wheels, and see with a Kinect as well as a 360-degree camera up top that uses a parabolic mirror to keep an eye on its surroundings. The Turtle uses a compass sensor to distinguish its goal from the opposing team’s goal.

We’ve covered soccer bots in the past, watch a soccer-playing robot score on a human goalie.
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Explore Venus with a Strandbeest Rover

There’s a little problem with sending drones to Venus: it’s too hostile for electronics; the temperature averages 867 °F and the pressure at sea level is 90 atmospheres. The world duration record is 2 hours and 7 minutes, courtesy of Russia’s Venera 13 probe. To tackle the problem, JPL has created a concept for AREE, a mechanical robot designed to survive in that environment.

AREE consists of a Strandbeest configuration of multiple legs with a monster fan propelling it, and one can imagine it creeping over the Venusian landscape. While its propulsion system might be handled by the Strandbeest mechanism, it will still have to navigate and transmit data. We’re not sure how a mechanical radio wave might work–maybe like those propeller arrow-cutters that [Dain of the Iron Hills] busts out in movie version of the Hobbit? Chemical rockets that somehow don’t spontaneously ignite? Or maybe it can just “transfer all energy to life support” and AC the heck out of the radio.

We’re space nerds here at Hackaday–check out our piece about NASA employees’ talks at the 2016 Hackaday Superconference and our extracurricular tour of JPL.

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The Hackaday Prize: Exoskeletons for the Masses

While medical facilities continue to improve worldwide, access to expensive treatments still eludes a vast amount of people. Especially when it comes to prosthetics, a lot of people won’t be able to afford something so personalized even though the need for assistive devices is extremely high. With that in mind, [Guillermo Herrera-Arcos] started working on ALICE, a robotic exoskeleton that is low-cost, easy to build, and as an added bonus, 100% Open Source.

ALICE’s creators envision that the exoskeleton will have applications in rehabilitation, human augmentation, and even gaming. Also, since it’s Open Source, it could also be used as a platform for STEM students to learn from. Currently, the team is testing electronics in the legs of the exoskeleton, but they have already come a long way with their control system and getting a workable prototype in place. Moving into the future, the creators, as well as anyone else who develops something on this platform, will always be improving it and building upon it thanks to the nature of Open Source hardware.