Mindstorms Forkliftbots Gonna Take Your Job

With every advance in robotics, we get closer to being able to order stuff from Amazon and have no human being participate in its delivery. Key step in this dream: warehouse robots, smart forklifts able to control and inventory and entire warehouse full of pallets, without the meat community getting involved. [Thomas Risager] designed just such a system as part of his Masters Thesis in Software Engineering. It consists of five LEGO Mindstorms robots working in concert (video embedded below), linked via WiFi to a central laptop. Mindstorms’ native OS doesn’t support WiFi (!!!) so he reflashed the EV3’s ARM9 chip with software developed using Java and running under LeJOS. On the laptop side [Thomas] wrote a C++ application that handles the coordination and routing of the forklifts. We can see a lot of weary forklift drivers ready to kick back and let a robot have the full-time job for a change.

The robots use WiFi to a central laptop. Mindstorms’ native OS doesn’t support WiFi (!!!) so [Thomas] reflashed the EV3’s ARM9 chip with software developed using Java and running under LeJOS. On the laptop side he wrote a C++ application that handles the coordination and routing of the forklifts. [Thomas] is sharing his forklift design.

Now to scale up — maybe with DIY forklifts like we published earlier? We can see a lot of weary forklift drivers ready to kick back and let a robot have the full-time job for a change.

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Enlarged Miniature Forklift

How do you classify something that is gigantic and miniature at the same time? LEGO kit 850, from 1977 when it was known as an Expert Builder set, was 210 modular blocks meant to be transformed into a forklift nearly 140mm tall. [Matt Denton] scaled up the miniature pieces but it still produced a smaller-than-life forklift. This is somewhere in the creamy middle because his eight-year-old nephew can sit on it but most adults would demolish their self-esteem if they attempted the same feat.

[Matt] has been seen before building these modular sets from enlarged LEGO blocks, like his Quintuple-Sized Go-Kart. He seems to have chosen the same scale for the pieces and who wouldn’t? If you’re printing yourself a ton of LEGO blocks, it just makes sense to keep them all compatible. Isn’t combing all your sets into one mishmash the point after all? We’ll see what his nephew/co-host constructs after his uncle [Matt] leaves.

In the time-lapse video after the break, you can see how the kit goes together as easily as you would hope from home-made bricks. With that kind of repeatability and a second successful project, it’s safe to say his technique is solid and this opens the door to over-sized projects to which LEGO hasn’t published instructions.

Hackaday is bursting with LEGO projects, K’Nex projects, and even Erector set projects.

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Zero gravity (sort of) on a budget

zeroGravRoom

At $250,000, Virgin Galactic is probably out of most people’s price range; even reduced gravity flights run $5k. You may be in luck, though, as [Justin] and his friends have built a spinning room for $350 (Warning: loud noise @ beginning) that can turn your world upside down. The video provides a time-lapse of the build, but you’ll probably want to skip ahead 5 minutes in for the real fun.

It may not be anti-gravity, but holding onto furniture to keep from flying into the ceiling looks pretty entertaining. The room works like the fairground favorite “Gravitron” ride turned sideways. 2 forklifts support a massive wooden cube, which includes familiar features from home: drywall, flooring, and some furniture. [Justin] managed to borrow two car wheels, which he mounted in the middle of the walls on opposing sides of the cube. Two casters support each rim, and the forklifts hold the casters just high enough to allow a few friends to manually sling everything around.

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DIY forklift for the home shop

lift

[Robert] does a fair bit of metal casting, and of course that means carrying around hundreds of pounds of sand, scrap, and other materials. He came up with a great solution to the inevitable back pain: a small, workshop-sized forklift able to carry around a half ton pallet.

In the actual build thread for this forklift, [Robert] goes over the design. The lift is designed to fit inside a 30″ x 7′ door frame, but is more than capable of hoisting hundreds of pounds over the operator’s head. It’s driven by two electric wheelchair motors with power provided by two car batteries. There’s also a clever bit of engineering that went into tipping the forks: instead of a hinge on the mast, [Robert] used a linear actuator on the rear wheels to put the forks at an angle.

It’s a great build, and since [Robert] does metal casting, there’s a whole bunch of custom metalwork that really adds to the build. After the break you can see a video of [Robert]’s forklift transferring a pallet weighed down with 5 gallon buckets from one really high shelf to another. The job doesn’t take long and doesn’t require any lifting, so we’ve got to hand it to [Robert] for this build.

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