Over the years bicycle design has changed. Materials were upgraded as technology advanced, and accumulated knowledge helped bicycle builders make improvements along the way. But deep analysis with the intent to make meaningful improvements has not been widely embraced. Reasearchers at UC Davis are looking to expand into this frontier by letting the bicycle tell us how it can be improved. This is one of the test bikes they’ve been working on, which is mainly aimed at data harvesting. They’re hoping to find some real improvements based mostly on how the machine can get out of the rider’s way as much as possible. The thought here is that the rider’s body makes up 80-90% of the volume of the vehicle and should be accommodated in every way possible.
Sure, this could be a case of trying to build a better mouse trap. But listening to the discussion in the video after the break really drives home the complex issues of stability and locomotion that go into these seemingly simple vehicles. We’re going to guess the final recommendations will not involve making the bike five times taller.
Continue reading “The bicycle can tell us how to make it better”
This is [James’] latest android build, a set of legs that use gyroscopes for balance.
He started off by planning the build with some LEGO pieces to get an idea of how each foot and leg joint would fit together. This let him achieve one of his goals. From the start he wanted to create a robot that would remain stable, and not build up enough momentum to tip itself over if there is a problem. With the dimensions established he cut out parts from 2mm sheets of HIP plastic using a hobby knife. They work in conjunction with a frame made from aluminum and HDPE. The whole thing houses eight servos responsible for movement, but he found an interesting way to use them for balance as well.
[James] came across some gyroscopic sensors which are made for use with RC helicopters. They connect in-line with a servo motor and offset it based on the gyro data. He’s using four of them with this bot, playing the hip and ankle servos against each other for balance. What results is a set of legs that look like their jonesin’ for a fix. See for yourself in the clip after the break.
Continue reading “Android legs stability testing”
While the Segway enjoyed a few years of fame before falling off the radar, [Marcelo Fornaso] is hoping his creation has quite a bit more staying power. Inspired by the Segway’s ability to balance itself, he started thinking about how the concept could be improved. He felt that one of the Segway’s shortcomings arose out of the fact that the base platform was rigid and required the user to lean back and forth outside the device’s frame in order to turn it. He thought that this made the riding experience uncomfortable as well as risked causing the rider to fall over.
His creation, the Tilto, aims to both improve on the turning ability of the Segway while eliminating the need for handlebars. Based on a tilting mountain board design he had been tossing around for a while, the Tilto uses accelerometers and gyros to keep its balance, much like the Segway. His goal was to keep the vehicle balanced while traveling forwards and backwards, but also allowing the device to tilt from side to side without tipping over. This design keeps the rider mostly upright, allowing the user to direct the vehicle by leaning much like you would on a bicycle.
As you can see in the video below, the Tilto works pretty well, even in its prototype form.
Finally, a people mover that lets us get our gangsta lean on!
Continue reading “Watch out Segway, here comes Tilto”
Medical conditions that prevent individuals from being able to walk are difficult to handle, even more so if the patient happens to be a child. Shriner’s hospitals treat a good number of children suffering from cerebral palsy, spina bifida, or amputations. They are always looking for creative treatment methods, so their Motion Analysis Laboratory looked to some Rice University undergrads for help. They asked the group of engineers to design a system that would make physical therapy a bit more fun, while helping encourage the children along.
The team recently unveiled their project, called the Equiliberator. The game system incorporates a series of five Wii balance boards situated between a pair of pressure-sensitive handrails. The platform communicates with a computer via Bluetooth, registering the patient’s movements as he or she moves along the path. The software portion of the system consists of a monster-slaying game which requires the child to step on a particular section of the pathway to dispose of the oncoming enemies.
The game is designed to get more difficult as the child’s balance and coordination improve, encouraging them with an ever growing bank of points as they progress. The final goal of the project is to enable the pressure sensitive handrails to determine how much the child is relying on them for balance, offering in-game incentives to walk with as little support as possible.
We love seeing hacks like this which not only entertain, but truly help people in the process. Kudos to the team at Rice University – they have done a fantastic job here.
Continue reading to see a quick video describing the Equiliberator in the designers’ own words.
Continue reading “Teaching children to walk using video games”
Who wouldn’t want to install this little bot as your newest pencil holder? Place a pencil tip-down and it will keep it from falling using two motors. There is a Dynamic Vision Sensor for each axis that provides feedback, but it’s not the same as using a camera. These sensors pick up changes in pixel contrast, outputting a positive or negative number based on the direction the pencil is beginning to fall. An NXP2103 running at 64 MHz reads in the values and drives the pair of servo motors accordingly.
If you’re interested in the nitty-gritty the full paper is available from the page linked above. It goes into great detail about the algorithm used, and includes plots and histograms showing the data capture during a balancing session. Or you can skip the eggheaded exercises and watch the video after the break.
Continue reading “Pencil balancer a bit noisy for desk use”
No, it’s not an extra from Wall-E. “QB” is the latest telepresence robot from Silicon Valley firm Anybots. QB combines two-way videoconferencing with a Segway-style self-balancing platform. The idea is to provide mobility and more natural interaction than desktop-tethered conferencing can provide.
The 35 pound robot’s battery runs for six to eight hours, and the telescoping head allows the eye level to be adjusted to match the user’s natural viewpoint. What looks like stereo vision is actually a single camera on the left eye and a steerable laser pointer on the right.
Shipping this October for $15,000, QB will appeal mostly to businesses with specific telepresence needs. This is half the price of their prior QA model — and in time the technology may reach the mass-market level. Until then, we’ll just have to amuse ourselves by remotely attending meetings with our ankle-nipping Rovio robots.
This art-meets-robot has the grueling task of standing on one foot all day long while other robots get to bend to their heart’s content. It balances on that single point by adjusting its center of gravity with six pendulum-like appendages. To make the system more like the Borg, each of those six modules shares sensor data with the rest and work together to keep the unit upright. Give in to loving the design because resistance is futile.