Beta Testing Dynamixel XL-320 Servos

Dynamixel XL-320 is a digital servo (in this case, featuring a 8-bit STM8 controller).

Flexible Muscle-Based Locomotion for Bipedal Creatures

From John Goatstream's Vimeo Videos: We present a muscle-based control method for simulated bipeds in which both the muscle routing and control parameters are optimized. This yields a generic locomotion control method that supports a variety of bipedal creatures. All actuation forces are the result of 3D simulated muscles, and a model of neural delay is included for all feedback paths. As a result, our controllers generate torque patterns that incorporate biomechanical constraints. The synthesized controllers find different gaits based on target speed, can cope with uneven terrain and external perturbations, and can steer to target directions... ( full paper ) ( follow up videos )

DARPA Begins Phase One of VTOL X-Plane Program

From DARPA : DARPA tasks four companies with designing new aircraft to revolutionize vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) flight capabilities. For generations, new designs for vertical takeoff and landing aircraft have remained unable to increase top speed without sacrificing range, efficiency or the ability to do useful work. DARPA’s VTOL Experimental Plane (VTOL X-Plane) program seeks to overcome these challenges through innovative cross-pollination between the fixed-wing and rotary-wing worlds, to enable radical improvements in vertical and cruise flight capabilities. In an important step toward that goal, DARPA has awarded prime contracts for Phase 1 of VTOL X-Plane to four companies:  Aurora Flight Sciences Corporation The Boeing Company Karem Aircraft, Inc. Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation “We were looking for different approaches to solve this extremely challenging problem, and we got them,” said Ashish Bagai, DARPA program manager. “The proposals we’ve chosen aim to create new technologies and incorporate existing ones that VTOL designs so far have not succeeded in developing. We’re eager to see if the performers can integrate their ideas into designs that could potentially achieve the performance goals we’ve set.” VTOL X-Plane seeks to develop a technology demonstrator that could: Achieve a top sustained flight speed of 300 kt-400 kt Raise aircraft hover efficiency from 60 percent to at least 75 percent Present a more favorable cruise lift-to-drag ratio of at least 10, up from 5-6 Carry a useful load of at least 40 percent of the vehicle’s projected gross weight of 10,000-12,000 pounds All four winning companies proposed designs for unmanned vehicles, but the technologies that VTOL X-Plane intends to develop could apply equally well to manned aircraft. Another common element among the designs is that they all incorporate multipurpose technologies to varying degrees. Multipurpose technologies decrease the number of systems in a vehicle and its overall mechanical complexity. Multipurpose technologies also use space and weight more efficiently to improve performance and enable new and improved capabilities. The next major milestone for VTOL X-Plane is scheduled for late 2015, when the four performers are required to submit preliminary designs. At that point, DARPA plans to review the designs to decide which to build as a technology demonstrator, with the goal of performing flight tests in the 2017-18 timeframe. 

Soft Robotic Fish

MIT News : Soft robots — which don't just have soft exteriors but are also powered by fluid flowing through flexible channels — have become a sufficiently popular research topic that they now have their own journal, Soft Robotics. In the first issue of that journal, out this month, MIT researchers report the first self-contained autonomous soft robot, a "fish" that can execute an escape maneuver, convulsing its body to change direction, in just 100 milliseconds, or as quickly as a real fish can.

What to Look for When Specifying a Robot Cable

In order for a cable to withstand repeated torsional movement, it's necessary for the cable to have a special design. It's important that the conductors, shield construction and jacket materials of the cable compensate for major changes in bending load and diameter.

Robotic Welding Series: Robotic Flexibility Can Open Up Opportunities For Job Shops

This is the final installment of a 4-part series by KC Robotics about the automated arc welding industry.


SimpleCV library for Python: WHAT IS IT? SimpleCV is an open source framework for building computer vision applications. With it, you get access to several high-powered computer vision libraries such as OpenCV – without having to first learn about bit depths, file formats, color spaces, buffer management, eigenvalues, or matrix versus bitmap storage. This is computer vision made easy... ( cont'd )

Spherical Parallel Manipulators

The Agile Eye by Gosselin, Université Laval: The Agile Eye is a 3-DOF 3-RRR spherical parallel manipulator developed for the rapid orientation of a camera. Its mechanical architecture leads to high velocities and accelerations. The workspace of the Agile Eye is superior to that of the human eye. The miniature camera attached to the end-effector can be pointed in a cone of vision of 140° with ±30° in torsion. Moreover, due to its low inertia and its inherent stiffness, the mechanism can achieve angular velocities above 1000 °/sec and angular accelerations greater than 20000 °/sec2 which is beyond the capabilities of the human eye... ( cont'd ) Hip Joint of the Bipedal Autonomous Robot LISA by Institute of Automatic Control: The hip joint consists of three active rotational degrees of freedom whose rotational axes intersect in one point. In contrast to most hip joints of other bipedal robots LISA's hip joint are built as spherical parallel manipulators. A comparable cardanian joint would lead to a heavier weight and due to the functionality the masses of some engines would have to be accelerated by other engines during motion. Due to the parallel manipulator all engines rest to the trunk. Only a coordinated interaction of all engines leads to a controlled motion of the thigh. This enables a design with a thigh of minimal and a trunk of maximal weight which is an advantageous weight distribution for bipedal walking. Because of the parallel manipulator structure forces applied on the thigh are distributed among all three engines and therefore the power of the engines adds up... ( cont'd )

Robot Launch 2014 Startup Competition

From  Robot Launch : Robot Launch 2014 is open to any robot startup pre/partial Series A. We're looking for startups with prototypes and business models. But we're also interested in any great robot startup idea. What is a robot startup? Well, it could be a robot or an autonomous mobile manipulator. OR it could be an appliance or connected device. OR it could be a sensor or actuator or AI that makes robots better. Prizes include money, mentoring, meetings and free legal and startup services from our supporting organizations, Silicon Valley Robotics, Indiegogo, WilmerHale, Grishin Robotics, Bosch Venture Capital, Lemnos Labs, Luxr, Robolution Capital, Lux Capital, OATV, Khosla Ventures, a showcase at Solid and media coverage by Robohub. Round One entries open Feb 20 Round One entries close March 30 midnight (PST) Top 30 announced April 10 Finalists announced April 30 Final Showcase (tbc) May 20 You can enter here.

Why I Automate: Vickers Engineering

Robotics allows us to draw a different level of employee. Employees that aren't just looking for a paycheck, but looking for a career.

The Unmanned Platform Common Control System (CCS)

The CCS prototype was developed for the U.S. government and its goal is to simultaneously control multiple unmanned assets in various environments (water, air and ground).

Google Project Tango

From  Johnny Lee and the ATAP-Project Tango Team : What is it? Our current prototype is a 5” phone containing customized hardware and software designed to track the full 3D motion of the device, while simultaneously creating a map of the environment. These sensors allow the phone to make over a quarter million 3D measurements every second, updating its position and orientation in real-time, combining that data into a single 3D model of the space around you. It runs Android and includes development APIs to provide position, orientation, and depth data to standard Android applications written in Java, C/C++, as well as the Unity Game Engine. These early prototypes, algorithms, and APIs are still in active development. So, these experimental devices are intended only for the adventurous and are not a final shipping product. How do I get one? We’re looking for professional developers with dreams of creating more than a touch-screen app. These devices were built with the unique ability to sense 3D motion and geometry. We want partners who will push the technology forward and build great user experiences on top of this platform. Currently, we have 200 prototype dev kits. We have allocated some of these devices for projects in the areas of indoor navigation/mapping, single/multiplayer games that use physical space, and new algorithms for processing sensor data. We have also set aside units for applications we haven’t thought of yet. Tell us what you would build. Be creative. Be specific. Be bold. We expect to distribute all of our available units by March 14th, 2014... cont'd  

Timo Boll vs. KUKA Agilus Robot

From KUKA's Youtube page: On  March 11th 2014 ping pong champion Timo Boll will challenge KUKA's Agilus robot to a ping-pong showdown. Watch the final on March 11th 2014 at to find out the winner. Timo Boll, German table tennis star, is the new brand ambassador for KUKA Robotics in China. The collaboration celebrates the inherent speed, precision, and flexibility of KUKA's industrial robots in tandem with Boll's electrifying and tactical prowess in competition. To celebrate the new KUKA Robotics factory in Shanghai, the two giants will battle to the end on March 11th 2014. The 20,000 sq. meter space will produce the KR QUANTEC series robot as well as the KRC4 universal controller for the Asian market. As a market leader in China, KUKA aims to further develop automation in the country while providing a modern and employee-friendly working environment.


Eugénie von Tunzelmann: Ever since reading Richard Dawkins' book 'The Blind Watchmaker' I'd wanted to try my hand at some evolutionary programming. The idea is to model natural selection inside the computer by generating procedural creatures and allowing them to vary and improve over time without user intervention. The code to build and rig the robots was written in Python, as was the code to run the rigid body simulation, using the Open Dynamics Engine to drive the sim. I wrote an importer for Side Effects' Houdini to read in my robot simulations so I could render them out as pictures.

The Less is More Approach to Robotic Cable Management

There are different options available for guiding and protecting cables on six-axis robots. Three well- known solutions include flexible tubing, enclosed dress packs and robotic cable carrier systems.

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Industrial Robotics - Featured Product

Robotic Tool Changers Increase Productivity and Reduce Cost

Robotic Tool Changers Increase Productivity and Reduce Cost

The ATI Robotic Tool Changer provides the flexibility to automatically change end-effectors or other peripheral tooling. These tool changers are designed to function reliably for millions of cycles at rated load while maintaining extremely high repeatability. For this reason, the ATI Tool Changer has become the number-one tool changer of choice around the world. ATI Tool Changer models cover a wide range of applications, from very small payloads to heavy payload applications requiring significantly large moment capacity.