North American Robotics Industry Breaks Records For 2011

A total of 19,337 robots valued at $1.17 billion were sold to companies in North America, beating the previous record of 18,228 robots sold in 2005. When sales by North American robot suppliers to companies outside North America are included, the totals are 22,126 robots valued at $1.35 billion. Robots sold to automotive component suppliers in North America jumped 77% over 2010, while robots sold to automotive OEMs increased 59%. Sales to non-automotive customers grew 27%, led by metalworking industries (+56%) and semiconductor/electronics/photonics (+24%).

GRASP Lab Demonstrates Nano Quadrotors Swarm

The GRASP Lab at the University of Pennsylvania have developed tiny versions of their quadrotor swarming robots. The swarm is able to align in complex formations and remain in formation while traveling through small areas like windows or doors.  

TurtleBot Xtion Mounting Kit

The ASUS Xtion Pro Live is ASUS' Kinect alternative. I Heart Engineering now sells a Xtion Mounting Kit for the TurtleBot personal robot development platform . The mount is available for $39.95 here or can be purchased with a ASUS Xtion Pro Live for $249.95 here .

Tactical Micro-Robots Prove That Less Is Often More

Designed to be thrown up to 120 feet, the Throwbot could also move quietly throughout a structure and send back real-time video that revealed the layout of rooms, the location of barricaded subjects and the condition of hostages.

Interview - 3D Printing with the Cube and Cubify.com

Cube™ is the first 3D printer specially designed for the home. From the sleek industrial design to the dimensions and weight - Cube will fit right in from the kitchen to the family room. Retailing for $1299.00 the Cube is ready to print right out of the box, you initialize like you would a cell phone and we will download 50 free print files to you immediately. The printer includes a cartridge of material that will deliver 8 - 15 average size models in a color of your choice - then simply reorder your next cartridge for just $49.99. Models will cost a few dollars to up to $10.00 for a large model. The printer dimensions are 14 X 14 X 18 inches high and it weighs under 9 pounds making Cube portable . . easy to use, fun to watch - and fit right into your home as a new member of your creative 3D family

Interview - Robotics in the Military

Mr. Pedersen founded RE2, Inc. in July of 2001 to advance the state of the art in robotics technologies for the military. Since that time, Mr. Pedersen has grown the company to over 60 employees with work in all aspects of robotics from innovative research in actuation and control to manufacturing of highly complex 2-arm manipulation systems. Mr. Pedersen currently serves as the Vice Chair of the Robotics Division of National Defense Industry Association (NDIA) and sits on the NDIA Board of Trustees. He also sits on the Robotics Technology Consortium (RTC) Board of Directors and the OSD Joint Ground Robotics Enterprise Senior Steering Group.

Unlock the Secret to Selling to the Military

Selling to the military is not easy, but if you are persistent and take one step at a time, asking questions along the way, military sales can add substantially to your bottom line.

$25 Raspberry Pi Credit-card Sized Computer Almost Ready For Shipment

The Raspberry Pi is a ARM based single-board computer developed to run Linux for just $25 ($35 for model B with WiFi). The board contains an ARM1176JZFS, with floating point, running at 700Mhz, and a Videocore 4 GPU. The GPU is capable of BluRay quality playback, using H.264 at 40MBits/s. It has a fast 3D core accessed using the supplied OpenGL ES2.0 and OpenVG libraries. The board has an HDMI port, one USB 2.0 port, one micro USB port for power, an audio jack, RCA video out and a SD card slot. They aren't taking orders yet but you can track the status by joining their mailing list here .

NASA Open Sources Aircraft Design Software

OpenVSP (Vehicle Sketch Pad) is a parametric aircraft geometry tool. OpenVSP allows the user to create a 3D model of an aircraft defined by common engineering parameters. This model can be processed into formats suitable for engineering analysis. VSP allows even novices to quickly become proficient in defining three-dimensional, watertight aircraft geometry. The predecessors to OpenVSP have been developed by J.R. Gloudemans and others for NASA since the early 1990's. On January 10 2012, OpenVSP was released as an open source project under the NASA Open Source Agreement (NOSA) version 1.3. Windows, Mac or Linux versions are available here . A set of video tutorials can be viewed here .    

DIY Drones Amateur UAVs

DIY Drones is an excellent community site for amateur unmanned vehicle development. Using Arduino as a foundation they have created the ArduPilotMega universal autopilot autopilot hardware. It combines sophisticated IMU-based autopilot electronics with free Arduino-based autopilot software that can turn any RC vehicle into a fully-autonomous UAV. The software is open source and currently has three variations: Arduplane, for any fixed-wing aircraft, Arducopter, for any rotary-wing aircraft, and ArduRover, for any ground or water-based vehicle. The site has an active forum as well as a store where you can purchase all the ArduPilot Mega Controller, other Arduino hardware or complete Drone kits.

STMicroelectronic's iNEMO Body-motion Suit

STMicroelectronics has unveiled a smart suit prototype with sewn-in new multi-sensor ST iNEMO® motion co-processor that recognize complex movements of the wearer’s body and translate them to a digital model with outstanding precision and speed. The current-generation prototype of ST’s body-motion reconstruction suit demonstrates the optimal performance of the miniaturized iNEMO multi-sensor nodes attached on each arm, forearm, thigh, calf, and two on the back; additional nodes can be mounted on hands, on shoes or on the head. Tests with realistic, complex human body motions have proven the outstanding precision and speed of ST’s body-motion reconstruction suit, with deviation in spatial accuracy below 0.5 degrees during movements and the time needed to process and apply the sensor data to the skeleton model less than 15 milliseconds.

MAVRK Modular Hardware Prototyping Platform

At CES Texas Instruments was showing off its new open source platform MAVRK. MAVRK is an acronym for Modular and Versatile Reference Kit. The MAVRK platform contains a motherboard, several MAVRK modules, and firmware to communicate between the modules. MAVRK modules are reference designs around TI silicon that will connect to the motherboard with a common footprint. With several modules connected, a user can configure multiple combinations of RF, AD/DA, transceivers, signal conditioning, and driver circuits as a system-level design. In the video one motherboard hosts the TCA8418 keypad scanner to sense user input. The MSP430F5438A on this motherboard decodes the keypad input for motor spin speed and the joystick direction for spin direction. It then beams this information to a second motherboard connected to robotic treads, with an MSP430F5137 processing the signals, and an MSP430F2274 controlling the signals to the DRV88414 motor driver. The DRV8814 drives the two motors that turn the robot treads.

A 3D Printing Primer

Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship "Enterprise". Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before. Do these words sound familiar? Well, today man has gone where no man has gone before. On the star ship Enterprise, there is a device known as a "replicator." The concept was to have a 23rd century technology that could replicate anything by reconstituting raw material into the object desired.

Microsoft Announces Kinect for Windows And New SDK At CES

Earlier this week Microsoft announced that they would officially be bringing their Kinect hardware to the Windows platform. The hardware is the mostly the same but new firmware allows the depth camera to see objects as close as 50cm away without losing accuracy or precision. Microsoft also says Kinect for Windows is 20% faster than it was in the last release and the accuracy rate of skeletal tracking and joint recognition have been substantially improved. Microsoft has allowed the beta SDK to be used with Xbox Kinect and will continue to allow existing projects access to the SDK but they also state that all future projects will need to purchase the Kinect For Windows hardware in order to have access to upcoming SDK releases. Kinect For Windows and the SDK will cost $249 ($149 for an academic license).

Is 2012 The Year That Robot Applications Take Root?

Tell us what apps you want.

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Industrial Robotics - Featured Product

Festo - Complete Mechatronics Motion Solutions

Festo - Complete Mechatronics Motion Solutions

Mechatronic Motion Solutions from Festo is a unique system of components, modules, and software. It integrates all types of pneumatic, servopneumatic and (electro)mechanical automation motion and combines them according to your task. Irrespective of the control system environment you use, Mechatronic Motion Solutions always provides the appropriate interfaces. 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.