Friday Robot Roll Call for Week of 3/2/09

Sorry for the late posting, I was out watching Watchmen on Friday, and I was busy soldering together my Microrobot Avoider  and Geocaching on Saturday 
  • Engadget has an article about a Japanese fire department which is employing a semi-autonomous robot for rescues. This track-crawling bot can get past very hot areas, locate people trapped by the flames, and carry them to safety. While on board, the bot can monitor the vital signs of the occupant. This may also be used for earthquake rescue.
  • Hack-A-Day has an interesting video of a multi-mobility robot which can either use hexapod ground motivation, or fly using helicopter blades and motives.
  • Continuing with the Helicopter theme, Engadget has an interesting article about flying drone robots which can be deployed to disaster relief areas to supply a wi-fi mesh network and phone service to areas during emergencies
  • Engadget continues to wow us with stories and videos of household assistance robots.  I especially like the arm design on these robots, which allows for greater angular postions for thier arms that many other designs I’ve seen.  
  • I’m still vaguely skeptical that it’s real, but Muckflash is reporting on a humanoid robot which “kidnapped” an intern who was working with it.  The robot had an powerful behavioral engine which made the robot “love” anyone who it saw, and it chose to block the intern from leaving the room, requiring technicians to come and shut it off to allow her to go home.

In my own robotic news, I picked up a Microrobot Avoider Robo Jr.  and soldered it together yesterday morning.  The torque it generates is a bit disappointing, but I’m hoping to use it as a simple wheeled robot platform.  I’m going to put together an adapter plate to attach either my Ardino or AXE117 board to the chassis to drive it.  

Also, i’m working on putting together the parts for a Jansen Linkage on the same Ponoko cutting i’ve built my adapter plate on.  Once I’ve got everything together, and tested, I’ll open source the plate(s).


Friday Robot Roll Call for Week of 2/23/09

I’m starting a new feature where I post a blog entry each week about interesting news that I find related to Robots.  The theory is to share ideas, and stimulate the imagination of myself and others about robotics.  Not everything may be directly related to robotics, but it should spur the imagination at least.

  • Tech Digest has a very interesting story about using a mesh of inter-dependent robots with a walking surface on top of them to simulate an endless floor in Virtual Reality a la Holodeck.
  • A friend of mine turned me on to Jansen Mechanical Linkages, which could make some very interesting leg actuators for some walking/climbing robots without requiring the extra degrees of freedom which legged robots typically required.  Related to Jansen Linkages are Klann Mechanical Linkages (which are patented).
  • It’s not exactly new, but while browsing the TED website, I came across a very interesting talk by Robert Full about using animal feet as inspiration for building robotic feet.
  • Engadget has a fascinating story about a woman in New Zealand who has realized mankind’s dream of swimming like a fish with the help of a robotic mermaid tail prosthesis.  Not only does it allow this double amputee to swim, but looks really good while doing so.

Finally, just a bit on my own robotics work.  My latest purchase was a PICAXE 14M experimentation board that I’m planning on using as a motor controller for a simple two-wheel castor mobile robot platform.  It has 4 PWM analog outputs and supports I2C, so I should be able to issue commands to it from an Arduino mainboard.  Unfortunately, I’ve discovered that the PICAXE programming cable/circuit doesn’t work properly with the $10 IOGear USB/DB9 adapter I have, so I’m probably going to have to go track down a serial PCI card for my computer.