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.