DARPA's Low Cost Hand Hardware

The ARM-H track of DARPA's Autonomous Robotic Manipulation (ARM) program focuses on development of robust, low-cost and dexterous robotic hand hardware. DARPA funded performers to design and build hand mechanisms that could replace the claw-like hands currently used on robots with hands incorporating 3-4 fingers and useable palms. The teams successfully produced hands that can be manufactured for as little as $3,000 per unit (in batches of 1,000 or more), down from the $50,000 cost of current technology. The new hands also incorporate sufficient dexterity to enable manipulation of objects in their fingers when controlled by a skilled operator.

RoboBees

Demonstration of the first controlled flight of an insect-sized robot is the culmination of more than a decade's work, led by researchers at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard. Half the size of a paperclip, weighing less than a tenth of a gram, the robot was inspired by the biology of a fly, with submillimeter-scale anatomy and two wafer-thin wings that flap almost invisibly, 120 times per second.

Applying Motion-capture Data From Animals To Quadruped Robots

IEEE Spectrum has a short article about how the Italian Institute of Technology and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology are using motion-capture from horses walking, trotting, etc and transferring it to the locomotion of their quadruped robots.

$45 BeagleBone Black Announced

Latest generation BeagleBone is up for sale today!

Inexpensive Tactile Sensors for Robotic Hands

TakkTile's technology leverages MEMS barometers to deliver 1-gram sensitivity for a fraction of the cost of existing systems, in a package durable enough it can survive being hit with a baseball bat. From original research paper: A new approach to the construction of tactile array sensors based on barometric pressure sensor chips and standard printed circuit boards. The chips include tightly integrated instrumentation amplifiers, analog to digital converters, pressure and temperature sensors, and control circuitry that provides excellent signal quality over standard digital bus interfaces. The resulting array electronics can be easily encapsulated with soft polymers to provide robust and compliant grasping surfaces for specific hand designs. The use of standard commercial-off-the-shelf technologies means that only basic electrical and mechanical skills are required to build effective tactile sensors for new applications. For $299 the TakkTile Starter Kit includes two TakkStrips cast in rubber and a Arduino Micro.

The First Level of Super Mario Bros. is Easy with Lexicographic Orderings and Time Travel.

After that it gets a little tricky.

HoverFly Cameras To Cover Upcoming Golf Events

The Golf Channel is apparently testing the use of radio controlled HoverFly cameras to cover upcoming golf events. From the captured video below i'm not sure they with be using them for actual championship play and instead just for secondary or stock shots because the copters are pretty dang loud.

National Robotics Week Meetup In New York Tomorrow

Honeybee Robotics, Huge, and the NYC Economic Development Corporation are organizing a National Robotics Week meetup in New York on April 9. Researchers, developers and enthusiasts are gathering for an evening of presentations, live demonstrations and inspired discussion. The theme: New Frontiers in Robotics: Extending the possible. It's a chance to learn about -- and see firsthand -- how machines built and used in New York City are transcending simple automation, instead enhancing new capabilities and enabling discoveries. What: Presentations and demonstrations of leading robotics R&D from New York City Where: HUGE, Inc -- 45 Main St, Suite 220, Brooklyn When: Tuesday, April 9, 7-10pm Why: To learn, to share, to show off some cool homegrown robots The program is listed at  http://nycroboticsweek.com/ . RSVP required.

Wind Turbine Inspection Robots

Helical Robotics, HR-MP20 Magnetic Platform Lifting Vehicle Lightweight and portable design for easy deployment, use, and transport. Mecanum wheel drive system offers best in class maneuverability. Magnetic adhesion system does not contact the work surface.

Kirobo Tested In Zero-gravity

Kirobo , a communication robot that will be sent to the International Space Station in summer 2013 as part of a JAXA proposal is tested in a zero-gravity environment:

Festo's BionicOpter

The mechanics of dragonfly flight are unique: dragonflies can manoeuvre in all directions, glide without having to beat their wings and hover in the air. Their ability to move their two pairs of wings independently enables them to slow down and turn abruptly, to accelerate swiftly and even to fly backwards. With the BionicOpter, Festo has applied these highly complex characteristics to an ultra-lightweight flying object at a technical level. For the first time, there is a model that can master more flight conditions than a helicopter, plane and glider combined. In addition to controlling the flapping frequency and the twisting of the individual wings, each of the four wings features an amplitude controller. This means that the direction of thrust and the intensity of thrust for all four wings can be adjusted individually, thus enabling the remote-controlled dragonfly to move in almost any orientation in space. The intelligent kinematics correct any vibrations during flight and ensure flight stability both indoors and outdoors.

Salamandra Robotica 2

Salamandra robotica II walking and swimming outdoors and performing the transition from swimming to walking indoors.

Bebionic3 Myoelectric Hand In Action

The new bebionic3 myoelectric hand, which is made from aluminium and alloy knuckles, moves like a real human limb by responding to Nigel's muscle twitches. Incredibly, the robotic arm is so sensitive it means the father-of-one can touch type on a computer keyboard, peel vegetables, and even dress himself for the first time in six years.

Low Cost Hobbyists FPGA Kickstarter

If you have been thinking of dipping your toe into the world of FPGAs (field-programmable gate arrays) but always thought they were too expensive for hobbyist then you might want to check out the 'Mojo FPGA' on Kickstarter . The Mojo is designed to make digital design easy and cost effective for anyone who is just getting started. FPGAs do not retain their configuration when the power is lost, so they must be reconfigured every time the board is turned on. Typically, a PROM is used to load the configuration file (also known as bit file) into the FPGA automatically. The problem with that is you generally need a fairly expensive programmer to program the PROMs. The Mojo features a basic serial port (similar to an Arduino) that can be used to program a new bit file into on-board flash memory. When the board is powered on, a microcontroller reads the flash memory and configures the FPGA automatically. All that is required is a low-cost USB to serial converter. The original Kickstarter goal was 7,000 but they blew through that goal and are currently at 70,000. If you pledge $65 dollars you get a fully assembled board.

The Kinetic Sculptures Of Bjorn Schulke

The Pratt Institutes' Manhattan Gallery is currently running an art exhibit entitled " KINESTHETICS: ART IMITATING LIFE ". The show runs till the end of April and features cool drones created by artists is Bjorn Schulke. His personal website also has some really cool works from previous exhibits.

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