The Official Arduino Robot

The Arduino Robot is the first official Arduino on wheels. The robot has two processors, one on each of its two boards. The Motor Board controls the motors, and the Control Board reads sensors and decides how to operate. Each of the boards is a full Arduino board programmable using the Arduino IDE.

Both Motor and Control boards are microcontroller boards based on the ATmega32u4. The Robot has many of its pins mapped to on-board sensors and actuators.

Programming the robot is similar to the process with the Arduino Leonardo. Both processors have built-in USB communication, eliminating the need for a secondary processor. This allows the Robot to appear to a connected computer as a virtual (CDC) serial / COM port.

As always with Arduino, every element of the platform – hardware, software and documentation – is freely available and open-source.

On sale at the Maker Faire in San Mateo (May 17-19) and available online starting in July.

Makr Shakr

The Moscone Center, San Francisco

Makr Shakr is a new robotic bartending system that allows users to create, in real-time, personalized cocktail recipes through a smart phone application and transform them into crowd-sourced drink combinations. The cocktail creation is assembled by three robotic arms, whose movements - visualized on a large display positioned behind the bar - mimic the actions of a bartender, from the shaking of a martini to the thin slicing of a lemon garnish. The system explores the new dynamics of social creation and consumption - ‘design, make and enjoy’ - and in just the time needed to prepare a new cocktail.

MoveIt! Software Framework for Motion Planning in ROS


Willow Garage is proud to announce the initial release of MoveIt! : new software targeted at allowing you to build advanced applications integrating motion planning, kinematics, collision checking with grasping, manipulation, navigation, perception, and control. MoveIt! is robot agnostic software that can be quickly set up with your robot if a URDF representation of the robot is available. The MoveIt! Setup Assistant lets you configure MoveIt! for any robot, allowing you to visualize and interact with the robot model quickly.

MoveIt! can incorporate both actual sensor data and simulated models to build an environment representation. Sensor information (3D) can be automatically integrated realtime in the representation of the world that MoveIt! maintains. CAD models can also be imported in the same world representation if desired. Collision-free motion planning, execution and monitoring are core capabilities that MoveIt! provides for any robot. MoveIt! updates its representation of the environment on the fly, enabling reactive motion planning and execution, which is essential for applications in human-robot collaborative environments.

MoveIt! interfaces with controllers through a standard ROS interface, allowing for ease of inter-operability, i.e. the ability to use the same higher-level software with a variety of robots without needing to change code. MoveIt! is architected to be flexible, using a plugin architecture to allow users to integrate their own custom components while still providing out-of-the-box functionality using default implementations. Furthermore, the ROS communication and configuration layer of MoveIt! is separated from core computational components such as motion planning or collision checking, the latter components being provided separately as C++ libraries.

Available here.

RIO (Raspberry IO) Card

Roboteq, Inc launched a kickstarter project named RIO (for Raspberry IO) and aimed at creating an intelligent I/O card that stacks over the $35 Raspberry PI Linux Single Board computer.

Power for the PI from any DC source
RIO includes a 3A DC/DC converter that may be connected to a 10V to 40V DC supply, and generates the 5V needed by the PI and the RIO cards.

21 I/O lines to Connect Just About Anything
RIO provides a total of 8 digital outputs rated up to 1A and 30V max, which may also be used as digital inputs.

The card includes 13 inputs, each of which can be configured as a digital input, 0-5V analog input with 12-bit resolution, or as a timer input. In the timer mode, the inputs can capture pulse width, frequency, quadrature encoder counts, or duty cycle. Most of the input pins can also be configured as PWM outputs for driving RC servos, or dimmable lights.

Serial Connectivity and CAN Networking
Two serial ports are present on the card. One is fully RS232 compliant with programmable baud rate up to 115200 bits/s for connection to motor controllers, scanners, PC or any other RS232 device. The second is RS485 compatible, enabling, among other things, DMX512 connectivity to light show equipement. Optionally, a 3rd serial port uses TTL levels for direct interface to non-buffered, non-inverted USARTs as these found on most microcontrollers, like the Arduino.

A CAN bus interface is also present on the Rio card for connecting to CAN-compatible device, on a low cost twisted pair network at speeds up to 1Mbit/s.

Full Kickstarter details here.

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.


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 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.

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Featured Product

ST Robotics - r12 robot arm

ST Robotics - r12 robot arm

ST Robotics have decades of experience in industrial robots having sold hundreds of robots over the years. The company has 3 main models, R12, R17 and R19 all using a unique simple industrial technology that dramatically reduces costs resulting in the lowest priced industrial robots available. The same uncomplicated technology vastly improves reliability. ST backs this up with a 2 year warranty. Typical applications are routine testing, sample handling and also education. The software is a different paradigm from most robots. It is command based; you type a command and see immediate action. Programming is a building block approach, building confidence as you program in small 'mind-sized bytes'. ST offers free unlimited technical support.