Rex: A Single-board Computer With A Full OS That Is Designed For Robots

From the Rex Kickstarter : Why do you want Rex? There are two general classes of electronics used in robot hardware: microcontrollers (ex. Arduino) and single-board computers. Microcontrollers are great for projects that only require a single program to be run, quickly and without overhead, like controlling LEDs and motors. Single-board computers are great for anything you'd need a cheap, small computer for - like networking applications and image processing. Advanced autonomous robots require the strengths of both. A system developed around Rex, being made specifically for robots, brings it all together in one nice little package in a way that has never been done before. Hardware Specs: Texas Instruments DM3730 1GHz 32-bit ARM Cortex-A8 Processor core 800MHz DSP core 512MB LPDDR RAM USB Host port MicroSD slot Camera Module port 3.5mm Audio-in jack 3.5mm Audio-out jack 5V DC input for desktop development Each Rex will come pre-installed with Alphalem OS, a FOSS custom linux distribution. It includes a core set of built-in device drivers - ones that we've hand-picked as being the most useful for robots (like USB WiFi adapters and cameras). We'll publish the list in a wiki on our website. Here are the other main features: An Arduino-style programming environment with support for multiple programming languages (C, C++, Python). A special task manager called the Master Control Program (MCP). An API for message passing in multi-process applications. A standard Linux filesystem which will allow you to install just about any Linux software that can be cross-compiled for ARM. Libraries for common processes such as I2C communication, face detection, and sensor reading.

DARPA Trials 2013

The two day DARPA Robotics Challenge Trials 2013 officially ended Saturday, December 21 and here are the results.

Integrated Force Control

A force‐controlled robot can be programmed to mimic the movements of a human arm, applying search patterns to find the correct position to assemble a given part.

DARPA Robotics Challenge Trials Live Broadcast

The DRC Trials are happening today and tomorrow (December 20-21, 2013) at the Homestead-Miami Speedway. Teams will attempt to guide their robots through eight individual, physical tasks that test mobility, manipulation, dexterity, perception, and operator control mechanisms; You can watch the live stream here.

Robo-Stox: Investing in the Robotics Revolution

"I've worked a long time to make this happen and am very pleased with the results. It enables investors everywhere to capitalize on the accelerating growth and promising future of robotics." Frank Tobe, Co-founder, Robo-stox LLC and Editor/Publisher, The Robot Report.

Using Drones To Prevent Animal Poaching

These drones are solely surveyors. They must be well equipped to notice when something is out of place or detect potential threats and weapons and alert park rangers immediately.

Robotic Welding Series: Alleviate Skilled Welder Shortages With Robotic Welding Cells

A robot system, fully deployed is going to give two to three-hundred percent return on investment per year.

Google Puts Money on Robots, Using the Man Behind Android

New York Times: Over the last half-year, Google has quietly acquired seven technology companies in an effort to create a new generation of robots. And the engineer heading the effort is Andy Rubin, the man who built Google’s Android software into the world’s dominant force in smartphones.... ( full article )

Using Robots to Clean Oil Spills

As this technology is still in its infant stages, we do not truly know how efficient the process will be. We can only hope that the technology will be there when the next spill happens.

ABB Robotics' Introduces 7th Generation IRB 6700 Family Of Large Robots

ABB Robotics has introduced the IRB 6700 robot family, its seventh generation of industry-leading, large industrial robots.

Hunters: A Good Patent is Good, a Great Lawyer is Even Better

There has to be some way to separate the wheat from the chaff, the frivilous/worthless lawsuits from the honest patents based on hard, sweaty creative efforts that deserve protection.

Dynamic Probabilistic Volumetric Models

From Ali Osman Ulusoy, Octavian Biris, Joseph Mundy of Brown University: This paper presents a probabilistic volumetric frame- work for image based modeling of general dynamic 3-d scenes. The framework is targeted towards high quality modeling of complex scenes evolving over thousands of frames. Extensive storage and computational resources are required in processing large scale space-time (4-d) data. Existing methods typically store separate 3-d models at each time step and do not address such limitations. A novel 4-d representation is proposed that adaptively subdivides in space and time to explain the appearance of 3-d dynamic surfaces. This representation is shown to achieve compres- sion of 4-d data and provide efficient spatio-temporal pro- cessing. Theadvancesoftheproposedframeworkisdemon- strated on standard datasets using free-viewpoint video and 3-d tracking applications.... ( full paper )

Trainable Arduiono Arm

From Navic209's youtube channel:   Inspired by the Baxter robot, this arm can be trained to move with your own hands. Once the train button is pressed, you move the arm and gripper as needed while the Arduino stores the positions in EEPROM. After that the arm will replay the motion as needed.   Youtube channel Source on Github Additional projects

PrimeSense Reportedly Aquired By Apple

According to AllThingsD Apple is in the process of buying PrimeSense. PrimeSense is the company that developed and licensed the hardware and chip design used in the original Kinect. This could have an effect on several low cost depth cameras including the ASUS Xtion which uses  PrimeSense  hardware  or the $200 developer camera sold directly from PrimeSense . Their online store is still open but who know for how long.

Triquad

IEEE Spectrum: As cool as quadrotors are, in most cases they're simply not as good as helicopters. Because of the way they're designed (with four small rotors instead of one big one), they're less powerful, less efficient, and less maneuverable. The power and efficiency issues come from the fact that one big rotor generates more lift per aircraft footprint than four small rotors, and as for maneuverability, a helicopter that can alter rotor pitch instantly will always outmaneuver a quadrotor that can only control blade speed. Seriously, try doing this with a quadrotor. So, the thing that quadrotors have going for them is that they're simple. Helicopters have complex main rotor heads, with shafts and bearings and linkages all over the place, while quadrotors just have four motors and that's it. The University of Queensland researchers came up with a "Y4" configuration that aims to take all the good bits of helicopters and make them as simple as quadrotors. I'm just going to start calling this new design a triquad. Keep in mind that this is still a quadrotor: it just had things shifted around a little bit. Almost all of the triquad's lift comes from its big main fixed-pitch rotor, located at the center of the "Y" (pictured below). The three little fixed-pitch rotors in the "Y" configuration are angled (at a fixed 45 degrees) to provide counter-torque (which they do slightly more efficiently than a helicopter tail rotor) along with pitch and roll control. Here's how the control works... cont'd at IEEE Spectrum Follow up discussions: DIY Drones post and discussion. Hackernews post.

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Industrial Robotics - Featured Product

Harmonic Drive Introduces New Lightweight Versions of Select Gearhead Products.

Harmonic Drive Introduces New Lightweight Versions of Select Gearhead Products.

Harmonic Drive LLC, a leader in high precision motion control introduces new lightweight versions of select gearhead products. The new gearheads are ideal for designs where weight is a critical factor. Building on the success of Harmonic Drive LLCs current gear units, new lightweight versions were the next logical evolution of the CS/ SH product lines. With weight reductions of 20-30% without any reduction in torque ratings, the Lightweight (LW) gear units provide exceptional torque density.