CU-Boulder researchers are working to build a swarm of small robots that can work together to accomplish complex tasks. In the future, teams of intelligent robots could be deployed to tackle a number of challenging problems, from containing an oil spill to self-assembling into a piece of hardware after being launched into space. For now, the CU researchers, led by Assistant Professor Nikolaus Correll, have built a swarm of 20 robots, each about the size of a pingpong ball, in their lab.
Started last year on Kickstarter and now available through their website, as well as several other distributors, OpenBeam is a T-Slot aluminum framing systems that uses standard M3 nuts and bolts.
T-Slot extruded aluminum framing systems have been in use throughout the manufacturing and automation industries for machine building, prototyping and robotics applications for the past 30 years. Unfortunately, all the vendors in this industry utilize a razor and blade business model; while the extrusions are priced low, they require the use of specialty nuts and plates, which can be priced as high as $3.00 per nut and $10.00 per joining plate.
Starter kits cost $80 and include:
- 4 pieces of 150mm long extrusion
- 4 pieces of 120mm long extrusion
- 4 pieces of 90mm long extrusion
- 4 pieces of 60mm long extrusion
- 4 pieces of 30mm long extrusion
- 8 pieces of T bracket
- 16 pieces of L bracket
- 100 pack of nuts, 100 pack of bolts and a 2mm hex key
At CES Lego announced their new Mindstorm EV3 robotics platform. The big changes are the improved processor, USB 2.0 WiFi dongle, and the switch from a proprietary OS to an open-source Linux-based OS. Below is the promo video but for further in-depth info read the rundown at The NXT STEP Mindstorm Blog.
NASA Television will broadcast the annual FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Kickoff event on Saturday, Jan. 5, starting at 10:30 a.m. EST from Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester. The event also will be streamed live on NASA’s website.
As in past years, NASA plays a significant role by providing public access to robotics programs to encourage young people to investigate careers in the sciences and engineering. Through the NASA Robotics Alliance Project, the agency provides grants for almost 250 teams and sponsors four regional student competitions, including a FIRST regional competition in Washington that will be held March 28-30.
Each year, FIRST presents a new robotics competition scenario where each team receives an identical kit of parts and has six weeks to design and build a robot based on the team’s interpretation of the game scenario. Other than dimension and weight restrictions, the look and function of the robots is up to each individual team. This year more than 2,500 teams from 49 states, and 12 countries will participate.
For the past two weeks, in the woods of central Virginia around Fort Pickett, the Legged Squad Support System (LS3) four-legged robot has been showing off its capabilities during field testing. Working with the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory (MCWL), researchers from DARPA’s LS3 program demonstrated new advances in the robot’s control, stability and maneuverability, including "Leader Follow" decision making, enhanced roll recovery, exact foot placement over rough terrain, the ability to maneuver in an urban environment, and verbal command capability.
The Arduino Esplora is a microcontroller board derived from the Arduino Leonardo. The Esplora differs from all preceding boards in that it provides a number of built-in, ready-to-use set of onboard sensors for interaction. The Esplora has onboard sound and light output interfaces. It alos has the potential to expand its capabilities with two Tinkerkit input and output connectors, and a socket for a color TFT LCD screen. Like the Leonardo board, the Esplora uses an Atmega32U4 AVR microcontroller with 16 MHz crystal oscillator and a micro USB connection capable of acting as a USB client device, like a mouse or a keyboard.
The Esplora has the following on-board inputs and outputs :
- Analog joystick with central push-button two axis (X and Y) and a center pushbutton.
- 4 push-buttons laid out in a diamond pattern.
- Linear potentiometer slider near the bottom of the board.
- Microphone for getting the loudness (amplitude) of the surrounding environment.
- Light sensor for getting the brightness.
- Temperature sensor reads the ambient temperature
- Three-axis accelerometer measures the board's relation to gravity on three axes (X, Y, and Z)
- Buzzer can produce square-waves.
- RGB led bright LED with Red Green and Blue elements for color mixing.
- 2 TinkerKit Inputs to connect the TinkerKit sensor modules with the 3-pin connectors.
- 2 TinkerKit Outputs to connect the TinkerKit actuator modules with the 3-pin connectors.
- TFT display connector connector for an optional color LCD screen, SD card, or other devices that use the SPI protocol.
Helen Greiner left iRobot four years ago to start a new robotics company now called CyPhy Works. Their website has info on two of the robots they have been working on.
The Extreme Access System for Entry (EASE) (pictured above)is a small hovering robot designed for inspection and ISR (intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance) applications. EASE is intended for operating in close quarters, beyond line of sight, and in GPS denied areas; all of which are critical when performing search and rescue missions, building clearing, or civil infrastructure inspection.
The EASE system consists of a lightweight ground control station (GCS) and a micro Vertical Takeoff and Land (VTOL) air vehicle. It is not dependent on a GPS signal for operation, making it not only effective as a micro UAS in the traditional sense, but also enables it to fly indoors and in confined spaces as effectively as it does in open spaces. It has unmatched endurance due to our patented microfilament technology that enables the use of hot-swappable batteries, which power the entire system from the base station. The fishing-line thin microfilament provides directly connected communication between the GCS and the air vehicle, as well as power. Unlike all other RF controlled UASs, the microfilament makes the EASE impervious to jamming while the microfilament is unaffected by water, power lines, etc.
The Persistent Aerial Reconnaissance and Communications (PARC) system is designed to provide long term persistent stare capabilities and enable reliable long distance communications. PARC uses CyPhy Works' patented microfilament system to deliver extreme endurance, increased capabilities, and a smaller logistical footprint. PARC flies itself, so very little user training is required; and when operating the system the user can focus on the data that PARC produces, instead of the system itself.
The PARC system consists of a Ground Control Station (GCS) and a purpose built quadrotor VTOL air vehicle. The PARC vehicle carries a gyro-stabilized, gimbal mounted, EO/IR camera payload. In addition to the camera system, PARC has additional payload capacity for communications devices. If additional payload capacity is required, the camera payload can be removed. The PARC vehicle can operate at altitudes of up to 1,000 feet above ground level, or 11,000 feet density altitude. This high altitude capability enables long distance communications and extends visual reach.
Liquid Robotics today announced the first Pacific Crossing (PacX) Wave Glider, "Papa Mau", completed its 9,000 nautical mile (16,668 kilometers) scientific journey across the Pacific Ocean to set a new world record for the longest distance traveled by an autonomous vehicle. Throughout his journey, Papa Mau navigated along a prescribed route under autonomous control collecting and transmitting unprecedented amounts of high-resolution ocean data never before available over these vast distances or timeframes. The Company is providing open access to this data as part of its PacX Challenge, a global competition seeking new ocean applications and research using the PacX data set.
Disney Research has published a bunch of papers related to robotics. Topics covered include biped robot to maintain balance and walk on a rolling ball, playing catch and juggling with a humanoid robot, siting and standing, and using a swarm of mobile illuminated robots to coordinate and form images.
Lehmann Aviation's LA100 is a fully autonomous UAV designed to capture 5 minutes of flight at the height of 80m-100m using a mounted GoPro camera. Camera can be mounted on the top of the wing for Oblique images (Hero, Hero2 or Hero3) or at the bottom of the wing for Vertical images (Hero3). You can also choose to fly with 2 cameras at the same time.
ST Robotics announced today the latest addition to their R12 robot product line, the Tandem R125, a low cost two-armed robot system. Including the programmable carousel, ST Robotics' Tandem R125 robot has a total of 11 axes. The entire system is available for less than $20,000 and includes everything to get up and running: the two R12 five-axis robot arms mounted on the carousel, two K11R controllers, RoboForth II software, intuitive teach pad, simple interfacing with other equipment, cables, manuals, a two-year warranty and unlimited free technical support.
The Inebriator is a home made automated cocktail machine. The Inebriator is powered by an Arduino Mega 2560 Microprocessor Project Board. A Hitachi HD44780 compatible display is used to allow display drink information, coupled with a couple of buttons to navigate the menu. A stepper motor is used to drive the drinks shelf, with acceleration and deceleration to allow high speed without spilling. All mixers are in plastic bottles in a cool box, each bottle has two pipes, one that is hooked to the gas tank (70% Nitrogen and 30% Carbon Dioxide), and the other goes from the bottom of the bottle to a valve. When the gas tank is opened (through a regulator) the bottles are pressurised to a low safe pressure. When 12v is applied to the valve it opens, and the pressure causes the liquid to flow through the pipe and ultimately into the glass. Each mixer has its own valve and individually controllable.
TechJect, a company formed from Georgia Tech's Robotics & Intelligent Machines Lab is looking for crowd funding of their robot dragon fly. They are looking for $110,000 and are currently at $73,000 with 54 days left so there is a good chance they will reach their goal. They are offering several different models of the dragonfly. The most basic $100 dollar model is sold out but you Delta Dragonfly for a $179 dollar donation or for $250 you can get one with WiFi and a camera. Check out their video below and their Indiegogo page for all the donation and models available.
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