Origami Robots

Ramses Martinez, Carina Fish, Xin Chen and George Whitesides have published a paper describing a soft pneumatic actuator constructed by combining paper with a silicone elastomer. On pneumatic inflation, these actuators move anisotropically, based on the motions accessible by their composite structures. They are inexpensive, simple to fabricate, light in weight, and easy to actuate. This class of structure is versatile: the same principles of design lead to actuators that respond to pressurization with a wide range of motions (bending, extension, contraction, twisting, and others). Paper, when used to introduce anisotropy into elastomers, can be readily folded into 3D structures following the principles of origami; these folded structures increase the stiffness and anisotropy of the elastomeric actuators, while being light in weight. These soft actuators can manipulate objects with moderate performance; for example, they can lift loads up to 120 times their weight. They can also be combined with other components, for example, electrical components, to increase their functionality.

LS3 AlphaDog Heads Outdoors

Boston Dynamics' LS3 is a four legged military robot designed to go anywhere and carry up to 400 lbs of gear with enough fuel for missions covering 20 miles. The development of LS3 is being funded by DARPA and the US Marine Corps. The project has been in development for sometime and now DARPA released a new video of the prototype traversing hills and uneven ground as they test it outdoors.

Liquid Silver Printed Circuit Boards

University Of Illinois engineers have demonstrated a method of printing liquid silver onto flexible surfaces to create conductive trails. The advantage of silver is that the particles are much smaller than other conventional electronic ink making it easier to print using a inkjet nozzle. Hopefully in the future this silver ink will make printing circuit boards with a simple desktop printer a reality.

Britain's UAV Industry Plans New PR Effort

Companies seeking to enable the routine use of surveillance drones across Britain are planning a long-term public relations effort to counter the negative image of the controversial aircraft. The Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Systems Association (UAVSA), a trade group that represents the drone industry to the UK government, has recommended drones deployed in Britain should be shown to "benefit mankind in general", be decorated with humanitarian-related advertisements, and be painted bright colours to distance them from those used in warzones, details from a UAVSA presentation show. Plans are also under way to establish corridors of segregated airspace to fly drones – or UAVs – between restricted "danger zones" (airspace where test flights take place) in isolated parts of England and Wales. A series of presentations given by industry figures in recent months show public opposition is considered a major hurdle. UAVSA has discussed how it could use the media to disseminate favourable stories, creating a narrative that presents the introduction of drones in the UK as part of a "national mission".

Interview - Unmanned Arial Vehicle (UAV) Tech

You can pretty much give UAVs any use you want, provided that you have enough imagination and patience to see that function come alive. Some of the most common uses right now and in the future will probably be related to photography, mapping, surveillance, surveying and any other activities that might involve risking human lives.

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

Cubeâ„¢ 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.

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