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.

BigDog Throwing In Slow Motion

New video of Boston Dynamics' BigDog, equipped with a 5th limb, demonstrating how fair it can throw a 35 lbs cinder block. Youtube vidoes of BigDog are always interesting if for no other reason than for the comments provided by "the teens":

Top Gear: New Range Rover Vs Unmanned TerraMax

Last weeks episode of Top Gear had James May, in a Range Rover, battle the military cargo UGV "TerraMax" through various terrain at a Nevada test course. If you live in Britain you can watch the entire race here and if you live anywhere else you can watch this youtube clip and imagine an old British guy in a fancy car racing beside it.

Foxconn Stops Recruitment, Moves To Robots: Report

Foxconn, the manufacturer of Apple (AAPL) iPhones and Amazon (AMZN) Kindles in China, has stopped hiring workers at its key Zhengzhou and Shenzhen plants in what may be a shift toward robotic production, a Chinese news report said Wednesday.

CBN Daily, in a story picked up by other Chinese media, quoted insiders as saying that the recruitment freeze is being done to adjust the production line and prepare for "artificial intelligence production."

Taiwan-owned Foxconn's Henan Employment Center in central China is said to have a notice saying that due to production line adjustments, recruitment has been changed. The Zhengzhou plant, which is located in Henan province, also is said to have halted hiring since December and no large-scale recruitment is expected until June. The Shenzhen plant is situated north of Hong Kong in southern China.

A worker at the Henan Employment Center reportedly said the recruitment suspension might have something to do "with the diminished output of iPhone 5."

Reports since late last year have said that Foxconn has been gradually installing robots on its production lines in Zhengzhou and Shenzhen to improve production of Apple and other devices. Foxconn also has announced plans to install 10,000 robots on its factory lines that could replace up to 1 million workers over several years.

Russian Ostrich!

Inventables: The Hardware Store For Designers

Inventables has all kinds of interesting raw materials available for purchase in small quantities. Materials include:

  • Aluminum Foam
  • Conductive Velcro
  • Conductive Paint
  • Temperature-Sensitive Glass
  • etc.

Y Combinator Hardware Hackathon

From Upverter:

Y Combinator has seen a huge increase in the number of hardware startups they fund. And so in an effort to encourage the renaissance and throw some gas on the fire, we are hosting a hardware hackathon. The focus is on getting like-minded hardware hackers into the same space, sharing ideas, designing hardware and ultimately creating more hardware startups.

Want a taste of what goes on in a hardware hackathon? Read about Upverter's first ever hackathon in August 2012: Day 1,Day 2 and the wrap up. We also held a hardware hackathon at the Open Compute Summit just this past month.

If you’re hardware savvy and interested in starting a hardware startup, you should apply to come and hack with us!

Want to start a startup? Get funded by Y Combinator.

Whe​n
February 23rd, 2013, 10AM - 10PM

Wher​e
Y Combinator
320 Pioneer Way
Mountain View, CA 94041
map

You can apply here.

Three-legged Robot Uses Exploding Body To Jump 30 Times Its Height

New Scientist:

George Whitesides from Harvard University and colleagues have created a three-legged robot lined with tubes filled with a mixture of methane and oxygen. When an electrical spark ignites the gases, the combustion reaction generates bursts of pressure that propel the robot aloft. "By actuating all three legs simultaneously, we caused the robot to jump more than 30 times its height," write the team. As the height of the jump was limited by the size of the experimental chamber, they think it could spring twice as high without the attached tubing.

Changes At Willow Garage

Yesterday IEEE Spectrum reported that Willow Garage might be closing its doors, with information coming from several current employees. Then late last night Steve Cousins, President and CEO, released an official statement on their website:

Willow Garage is changing

Willow Garage has decided to enter the world of commercial opportunities with an eye to becoming a self-sustaining company. This is an important change to our funding model.

 

The success of the PR2 personal robot and of ROS will continue. There are close to 50 PR2 robots in the world and Willow Garage support of the platform will not diminish. And of course, ROS, as an open source platform, will continue independent of our business model choices. In addition to Willow Garage, its supporters include the Open Source Robotics Foundation and all the other contributors in the ROS community (academic, industrial and individual) who have made it the platform of choice for Robotics.

The statement doesn't confirm IEEE Spectrum's story but it doesn't dismiss it either. The original Spectrum story can be found here.

RobotsLab Box

IEEE Spectrum article about RobotsLab new box of robots for making robots available in school systems:

Black Hornet Nano Unmanned Air Vehicle Being Used In Afghanistan

British troops in Afghanistan are the first to use state-of-the-art handheld nano surveillance helicopters.

The Black Hornet Nano Unmanned Air Vehicle measures around 4 inches by 1 inch (10cm x 2.5cm) and provides troops on the ground with vital situational awareness.

The Black Hornet is equipped with a tiny camera which gives troops reliable full-motion video and still images. Soldiers are using it to peer around corners or over walls and other obstacles to identify any hidden dangers and the images are displayed on a handheld terminal.

The Black Hornet weighs as little as 16 grams and has been developed by Prox Dynamics AS of Norway as part of a £20 million contract for 160 units with Marlborough Communications Ltd in Surrey.

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