Archive for December, 2006

Nokia 770 Bioloid Puppy Robot

Tuesday, December 19th, 2006
Nokia robot dog

Biloid is a custom-built puppy bot that incorporates a Nokia 770 tablet, which allows you to control its movements by using another tablet — it’ll even update its facial expressions to reflect whatever it’s doing at that moment.

Via Engadget, TechEBlog, RoboSavvy

Coming soon from WowWee: FlyTech Dragonfly

Monday, December 18th, 2006

click for big.

Being billed as the world’s first remote controlled flying insect, the FlyTech Dragonfly from WowWee is a significant step in RC flight technology. As an added bonus, it also looks like tons of fun! It might not be as good for tormenting your pets as the PiccoZ, but I still can’t wait to get my hands on one.
Oh look, videos!

Because we love our readers so much, we’re going to give you a sneak peek at the Dragonfly manual!Thanks to for breaking the story.

Controlling a robot with signals from a human brain

Saturday, December 16th, 2006
brain controlled robot

Scientists have created a way to control a robot with signals from a human brain.

By generating the proper brainwaves—picked up by a cap with electrodes that sense the signals and reflect a person’s instructions—scientists can instruct a humanoid robot to moves to specific locations and pick us certain objects [video].

The commands are limited to moving forward, picking up one of two objects and bringing it to one of two locations. The researchers have achieved 94 percent accuracy between the thought commands and the robot’s movements.

“This is really a proof-of-concept demonstration,” said Rajesh Rao, a researcher from the University of Washington who leads the project. “It suggests that one day we might be able to use semi-autonomous robots for such jobs as helping disabled people or performing routine tasks in a person’s home.”

The person wearing the electrode cap watches the robot’s movement on a computer screen through two cameras installed on and above the robot.

When the robot’s camera sees the objects that are to be picked up it passes on the information to the user’s computer screen. Each object lights up randomly on the computer screen. When a person wants something picked up and it happens to light up, the brain registers surprise and sends this brain activity to the computer and then to the robot as the choice object. The robot then proceeds to pick up the object.

A similar algorithm is used to decide where the robot will go.

“One of the important things about this demonstration is that we’re using a ‘noisy’ brain signal to control the robot,” Rao said. “The technique for picking up brain signals is non-invasive, but that means we can only obtain brain signals indirectly from sensors on the surface of the head, and not where they are generated deep in the brain. As a result, the user can only generate high-level commands such as indicating which object to pick up or which location to go to, and the robot needs to be autonomous enough to be able to execute such commands.”

In the future, the researchers hope to make the robot more adaptive to the environment by having them carry out more complex commands.

“We want to get to the point of using actual objects that people might want the robot to gather, as well as having the robot move through multiple rooms,” Rao said.

The results of this research were presented last week at the Current Trends in Brain-Computer Interfacing meeting in Whistler, B.C.


Robotic Decoys Help Catch Poachers

Friday, December 15th, 2006

It’s deer season in many parts of America, and hunters are heading out into the wilderness in search of that elusive trophy buck. Most follow the rules, but some refuse to play fair. Poaching is an age-old problem, but game wardens have some new high-tech tools to turn the odds in their favor. They’re using decoys from Custom Robotic Wildlife, of Mosinee, Wisconsin.


CRW takes the skins and antlers and whatnot from real animals and turns them into animatronic decoys. This deer features a rotating head. They also make decoys for other applications, such as a stuffed fox that runs along a track to scare off geese.

Original story found via NPR.

Firgelli micro linear actuators

Wednesday, December 13th, 2006
Firgelli Actuators1

Tiny things are cool and these are some very tiny linear actuators. I first saw the Firgelli actuators at Robonexus and have been keeping an eye on them ever since. They are starting to sell some of their first models now. I get images of teeny tiny little robot arms with teeny tiny little grippers in my head when I think about these actuators.

Firgelli Actuators2
Firgellie Actuators3

Lending a Sensitive “Robotic” Hand

Wednesday, December 13th, 2006
Sensitive Robotic Hand

An artificial hand built in the UK has fingertip sensors that let it grasp delicate objects without crushing or dropping them.

A previous prototype has proved itself capable of grappling with door keys and twisting the lid off a jar (see New robot hand is even more human). The latest incarnation not only moves more like a real hand but also has improved sense of touch

Check out the video!
“We’ve added new arrays of sensors that allow it to sense temperature, grip-force and whether an object is slipping,� says Neil White, an electronic engineer at Southampton University who developed the hand with colleagues Paul Chappell, Andy Cranny and Darryl Cotton.

Link via TechNudge

–Development Ideas–
For those developers out there who want to add finger or toe touch sensors to their robots and don’t have piles of grant money in the closet check out these low cost FSR analog touch sensors.


Animated Musical Holiday Light Show

Tuesday, December 12th, 2006

Brian Peek has written a wonderful tutorial over at Microsoft’s Coding4fun website showing how to control your Xmas lights from your computer. Many people might recall the viral xmas lights video from last year where the whole house flashed to intense Christmas music. This article tells you how to build such a system yourself! Have fun driving your neighbors crazy.The article makes use of the Phidget 0/0/4 Interface Kit.

Waterproof Action Camera

Tuesday, December 12th, 2006
Waterproof Action Camera

Robotics is finding a lot of use in exploratory research. This small rugged camera might be good for projects of this sort where a camera signal can’t be sent back to a station. Only $129.99!
From Oregon Scientific: “Play hard, record everything – even underwater with ATC2K, the ultimate waterproof self-contained action cam! Weighing in at half a pound (with batteries), this hands-free action cam delivers full color digital video in 640 X 480 VGA at 30 frames per second.

ATC2K works seamlessly with most video editing software. Expandable up to 2GB, ATC2K mounts easily and all mounting hardware is included. Wipeouts in a white out or an unexpected barrel roll? No worries, ATC2K is waterproof up to 10 feet!”

Do you know of other good cameras to recommend for robotic use? Please feel free to post links in the comments section.


Via Yann’s Techno Toys Blog

Mecanum Wheels

Monday, December 11th, 2006
mechanum wheel

Omnidirectional drive systems are a great way to maneuver your robot in tight spaces. Mecanum wheels combine the simplicity of a differential “tank” style drive system with the omnidirectional maneuverability of omni-wheels.Here’s a video of a Mecanum-driven electric wheelchair. Not a robot, but the video does a good job of showing how the wheels work. you want to buy some Mecanum wheels (and you should), head on over to AndyMark and check them out.

And for the Wikipedia junkies out there:

Featured Robot: “Helios”

Monday, December 11th, 2006

This is Helios:

Helios will show you much pain.

This wrecking machine, brought to you by the fine people at Team Cosmos, utilizes a surprizingly simple and effective weapon. A spinning drum with ridges that catch under the edge of an oponent and litterally pitch it up into the air.

I know this bot isn’t exactly new, but once I saw this video of Helios in action, I knew we had to give it the spotlight.
Watch the video, and you’ll understand why Helios has such an impressive track record:

  • First place at HSRC 02
  • First place at Steel Conflict
  • First place at Botbash 2002
  • First place at Steel Conflict 2
  • First place at Motorama
  • Third place at Botbash 2003
  • First place at Robot Assault
  • First place at ROBOlympics
  • Second place at Motorama ’06

More links!
Team Cosmos