WowWee brings expensive university bots to store shelves

By Corinne Iozzio for Scientific American:  Hong Kong–based WowWee's success stems from bringing university research projects to life that might otherwise languish in the prototype stage. A licensing agreement with the Flow Control and Coordinated Robotics Labs at the University of California, San Diego, for example, provides WowWee with access to patents and the labs with a healthy cash infusion. The collaboration has already netted a series of toy robots that balance like Segways. More recently, the avionics lab at Concordia University in Montreal began working with the company to perfect flight algorithms for a four-rotor drone. Next, chief technology officer Davin Sufer says he has his eye on the Georgia Institute of Technology and its work with swarming behaviors, which would allow a group of robots to function in tandem. In the case of Switchbot, WowWee adapted a locomotion system developed in part by former U.C. San Diego student Nick Morozovsky. The robot moves on tank-tread legs either horizontally to navigate uneven terrain or on end to stand and scoot fully upright. Morozovsky built his prototype with off-the-shelf parts, including a set of $50 motors. The motors were a compromise; each one had the size and torque he wanted but not the speed. Over the past few years he has worked with WowWee to customize a motor with the exact parameters needed and to cut the final cost of the part down to single digits. That back and forth yields low-cost, mass-producible parts, which means university-level robotics could become available to everyday people. “One of the reasons I went into mechanical engineering was so I could create real things that have a direct impact,” Morozovsky says. “I didn't expect that to necessarily happen in the process of grad school.”   Cont'd...

OSU Engineers Test Locomotion Abilities of Two-Legged Robot

In a rolling, outdoor field, full of lumps, bumps and uneven terrain, researchers at Oregon State University last week successfully field-tested for the first time the locomotion abilities of a two-legged robot with technology that they believe heralds the running robots of the future.

Yale Robotics Engineers Collaborate on Study of Superior Grasping Ability of Primates

Scientists are coming to grips with the superior grasping ability of humans and other primates throughout history.

EU-Funded Research on Automatic Guided Vehicles for Automating Logistics in Factories

Mass production and packaging in factories is already highly automated these days, but the same cannot be said for logistics. Movements of raw materials and finished products still depend heavily on manual labour. However, EU-funded research on Automatic Guided Vehicles means this is about to change over the next decade - and could create thousands of new jobs.

The Commercial Drone Market Is Set To Soar According to New Report from Market Research International

The commercial drone market is set for massive growth, according to a new report available from Market Research International.

Can Robots Work Alongside Humans Safely?

The same technology that has provided value for warfighters can be brought into the commercial world to provide safety and efficiency for forklifts, golfcarts, lawnmowers and porters to carry your luggage in resorts and shopping carts that can follow or lead you in retail stores.

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