IEEE Spectrum has info about a new autonomous lawnmower from the German company Bosch. Seems the only official info available at the moment is a Swedish press release but it appears the mower communicates with its docking station (and maybe GPS) allowing the unit to cut areas in ordered parallel lines rather than the chaotic back and forth paths you see from other sensor based robotic lawnmowers or vacuums. You will still have to install wire around the perimeter so the robot stay on the grass. The battery lasts 20 minutes per charge and resumes where it left of after a 90 minute charge.
The Fluid Mechanics Laboratory and the Swartz Lab at Brown University are in development of a biological inspired bat robot platform that aims to reproduce the amazing maneuverability of these flying mammals. Bats exhibit extraordinary flight capabilities that arise by virtue of a variety of unique mechanical features. These flying mammals have developed powerful muscles that provide the folding and extension of their wing-membrane during flight (morphing). The maneuverability is achieved by reproducing the flapping and morphing capabilities of their wing-skeleton structure. This structure is composed by several joints and a membrane that generates the required lift forces to fly. Each wing has 4 degrees of freedom: the shoulder has two, the elbow joint is actuated by Migamotors SMA-muscles, and the wrist is an under-actuated joint that moves as a function of the elbow. The robot morphology is alike in proportion compared to the biological counterpart (half the size): total wingspan: 50cm, humerus length: 5.5cm, and radius: 7cm. The total weight of the skeleton is 34g (including both wings). The morphing actuation mechanism attached to the humerus bone is based on smart muscles that provide elbow rotation.
More info can be found on their research site here.
ROSCon 2012 was held in St. Paul, Minnesota over the weekend. Willow Garage was showing off a prototype refresh of the TurtleBot. The biggest change is that the iRobot Create bases are being replaced by a new base designed by the South Korean company Yujin Robot. They are calling the new base Kobuki and it has a number of upgrades from the Create base. Changes include an odometry system, integrated gyroscope, large batteries, and access to all the hardware through a panel at the back of the base. Kobuki will also have the ability to use a self-charging dock that can feed power to both the base and the attached laptop make 24/7 operation possible.
Honda Motor Co. unveiled the new UNI-CUB personal mobility device. UNI-CUB features Honda's proprietary balance control technology and the world's first omni-directional driving wheel system (Honda Omni Traction Drive System). The technology thrown into the making of UNI-CUB comes from Honda's research into the ASIMO robot. The UNI-CUB allows the rider to control speed, move in any direction, turn and stop, all simply by shifting his or her weight. Since the rider can freely move forward, backward, side-to-side and diagonally. Starting in June 2012, Honda will jointly conduct demonstration testing of UNI-CUB with Japan's National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation.
HyQ is a fully torque-controlled Hydraulically actuated Quadruped robot (pronounced [hai-kju:]) developed in the Department of Advanced Robotics at the IIT. HyQ is designed to move over rough terrain and perform highly dynamic tasks such as jumping and running with different gaits (up to 3-4m/s). To achieve the required high joint speeds and torques, a combination of hydraulic cylinders and electric motors are actuating the robot’s 12 active joints.
Travis Deyle at Hizook has some interesting info about Redwood Robotics, a Silicon Valley startup with backing from Willow Garage, Meka Robotics and SRI. The company has been in stealth mode for the past year but yesterday at an event in Menlo Park they announced the first real statement about their plans for the company. At the event Aaron Edsinger, who is CEO of Meka Robotics, said the goal of the new company would be: "To enable the personal and service robot markets through a new generation of robot arms that are simple to program, inexpensive, and safe to operate alongside people."
Sounds like a smart plan. Be sure to read Deyle's full post over at Hizook.
The Artisans Asylum in Boston Massachusetts s a non-profit community craft studio. In their next robotics class their goals are fairly simple: build a car-sized two-person hexapod robot and ride it. What makes their plans different from the scribbling of every 12 year old who just found Japanese animation is that the guys teaching the class have worked on projects real projects like Boston Dynamics PETMAN, AlphaDog and BigDog.
The ExoHand from Festo is an exoskeleton that can be worn like a glove. The fingers can be actively moved and their strength amplified; the operator's hand movements are registered and transmitted to the robotic hand in real time. The fingers can be actively moved and their strength amplified; the operator’s hand movements are registered and transmitted to the robotic hand in real time. The objectives are to enhance the strength and endurance of the human hand, to extend humans’ scope of action and to secure them an independent lifestyle even at an advanced age.
Last weekend was RoboGames 2012. IEEE Spectrum has posted a few videos from the Mech Warfare competition where robots battle inside a miniature model city. The videos contain several Each robot is controlled remotely, and the human pilot sees only a first-person view from the perspective of a wireless camera mounted on the front of the robot. Each robot is equipped with pressure sensitive plates that register hits from airsoft pellets.
ROS Fuerte Turtle the fifth ROS ROS distribution release is now officially available. ROS Fuerte has major improvements that make it easier to integrate with other software frameworks and tools. This includes a rewrite of the build system, migration to the Qt framework, and continued transition to standalone libraries. A detailed change log as well as installation instructions are available here.
Diatom design studio are developing an open source drawing robot kit that they hope to sell for just $70 dollars. The kit: "Piccolo", will be powered by an Arduino board, and supports movement along X, Y or Z axes. You can attach a pen, pencil, brush or possibly even an X-Acto knife and it will draw out any sketch you upload to it. They plan on including Arduino and Processing libraries that will allow you to develop dynamic drawings using sensor data. In the video below the prototype draws procedural tree sketches that vary according to the bots proximity to a light source. The kit isn't available yet but on Diatom's website you can sign up now to their mailing list.
Just days after announcing the DARPA Robotics Contest the DARPA website is reporting that Boston Dynamics has been selected as a "sole source" to develop and build the humanoid robots for the contest. Boston Dynamics will build 8 identical humanoids, which will be based on PETMAN. IEEE Spectrum has the full story here.
The Pentagon’s research and development agency has announced a contest to develop ground robotic capabilities to execute complex tasks in dangerous, degraded, human-engineered environments. The program will focus on robots that can utilize available human tools, ranging from hand tools to vehicles.The DARPA Robotics Challenge will consist of three key events – a Virtual Disaster Challenge, and two (2) Disaster Response Challenges. Participation in the Virtual Disaster Challenge is required only for teams working exclusively on control software development. The agency has not yet announced how much it intends to spend on the program or the size of the prize but previous contest awarded two million dollars for the top prize with one million dollars for the runner up. The full contest details and registration can be found here.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is leading an ambitious new project to reinvent how robots are designed and produced. Funded by a $10 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the project will aim to develop a desktop technology that would make it possible for the average person to design, customize and print a specialized robot in a matter of hours.
The project envisions a future desktop technology that prints actual programmable hybrid electro-mechanical devices from simple descriptions on-demand, anywhere, and with performance one would expect from a team of professional engineers, using advanced materials. The project aims to transform manufacturing as dramatically as the personal computer democratized information technology and transformed how we communicate.
Sand Flea is an 11 pound robot that drives like an RC car on flat terrain, but can jump 30 ft into the air to overcome obstacles. That is high enough to jump over a compound wall, onto the roof of a house, up a set of stairs or into a second story window. The robot uses gyro stabilization to stay level during flight, to provide a clear view from the onboard camera, and to ensure a smooth landing. Sand Flea can jump about 25 times on one charge.
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