Archive for June, 2007

Project CONDOR: Musical dirigibles descend on Chicago!

Friday, June 29th, 2007

Let’s get right to the heart of this thing.  Project CONDOR is a high-tech immersive multimedia sensory experience.  An array of eight robotically controlled helium-filled blimps, each with a speaker hanging from it, dynamically repositioning sound sources, with audio streaming to each blimp via Bluetooth, playing a separate part of an electronic musical composition, floating around inside a large indoor space, accompanied by a light show and video projections…  I’m on the verge of a flashback just from writing that sentence, so I can only imagine how trippy the actual performance is going to be.  Tonight and tomorrow night (That’s June 29 and 30, 2007), starting at 8 pm, Project CONDOR will take flight in Chicago’s Broadway Armory.  Admission is only 10 bucks, and I have no idea how many people they’re letting in, so get there early if you want to check it out.

Thanks to Chicago Public Radio for covering this story while I was on my way to work this morning.  Their pledge drive is still going on, so head over to and give them some money.

Story at

Project CONDOR event posting at Metromix

psychedelic blimp!
I couldn’t find any Project CONDOR pictures, so I ran a Google image search for “psychedelic blimps” and this is what I got.

iRobot Create Challenge: Entry Compilation

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

For those of you that do not know, the iRobot Create Challenge is just that, a challenge to see who comes up with the most creative idea with the fully programmable iRobot Create Platform! Well, Don over at Tom’s Hardware has put together a nice compilation of the publicly available entries into the challenge.

This one was by far my favorite:

IRobot Tennis

Taken from the post:

Professor David P. Miller of the University of Oklahoma has managed to program the iRobot Create to see and respond to visual stimulus. Using an XBC robot controller – complete with camera and firmware that allows the robot to track multiple objects of different colors – Professor Miller has gotten the iRobot Create to play tennis. It tracks a colored ball to its side of the net and returns it at an angle that the robot calculates as appropriate. To clarify, this robotic “tennis” is a bit slower than human tennis but the mechanics are there. It’s impressive, and you can find movies of this project and others at Adding vision to the iRobot Create

Read the full post

Product Spotlight: Serializer WL .NET robot controller

Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

It occurred to me recently that there may be some people who do not know how awesome the Serializer is. This is unacceptable. The Serializer WL is the newest robot control board from Robotics Connection, and it’s a nice all-in-one solution for anybody looking to dive into the sometimes intimidating realm of hobby robotics.

RS-232 Serializer Configuration
The Serializer

It’s features include:

  • Interchangeable communication modules (see below for details)
  • 6 servo outputs
  • 5 analog inputs (plus one to monitor supply voltage)
  • 2 H-bridge dc motor outputs
  • I2C port
  • 2 quadrature encoder inputs
  • TTL serial port
  • General purpose digital I/O ports

All that and more is crammed onto a 3.5″ x 3.75″ board. Cool! Now, let’s take a look at those interchangeable communication modules:

RS-232 Serial Interface Module
RS 232 (Included)
USB Serial Interface Module
Bluetooth Serial Interface Module
XBee Serial Interface Module

There they are. The DB-9 serial connector comes with the Serializer. A USB module is available for those of you with new-fangled laptops, or if you just like the convenience and versatility of USB. Best of all, two wireless options are available (Bluetooth and Zigbee), so you can finally make that un-tethered PC-controlled robot you’ve always wanted.

In addition to all of the great hardware features, the Serializer also has a very nice .NET API for all of you higher-level programmers out there. The Serializer also works with Microsoft Robotics studio, if that’s your thing! For more details, check out our Serializer WL product page.

Robot Pours Beer, Thousands of Dollars Wasted

Monday, June 25th, 2007

I’m embarrassed to be posting this. It’s essentially as useless as this one. But someone will think it is cool…

Fruity Robots

Monday, June 25th, 2007
robo picker has an interesting blurb about fruit picking robots. It’s nice to see the occasional post about potential actual real world robots that have actual real world uses and actual real world feasibility using actual real world technology. If you’re not catching on to the gripe see here for full detail :)
Via Robotster, SCI FI Tech

UGOBE Pleo: Now available for pre-order at Trossen Robotics!

Thursday, June 21st, 2007

For real this time!

Pleo at Trossen Robotics
Everybody’s favorite designer life form!

This is not a drill, folks. Pleo, the first UGOBE Life Form, is now available for pre-order, and Trossen Robotics is proud to be one of the first to make it available to you! I promise this time it’s legit! I know it’s been a long journey, and it’s not over yet, but the important thing is this: You are one step closer to having an adorable robotic pet dinosaur waddling around your house. This guy is not just a pile of touch sensors, prox sensors, microphones, motors, and microchips. UGOBE has pulled out all the stops to make Pleo as lifelike as possible. The “Life OS”â„¢ artificial intelligence focuses on behaviors that should remind us of the baby animals we’re more familiar with. He explores, communicates, responds to his environment, and develops a personality that reflects the way he’s treated.

Pleo is officially slated to start shipping in October, but it will be a limited production run so you’d better secure yours today.

Pleo at Trossen Robotics
Click the picture above to see all the bells and whistles!

For more tech information and a bunch of high-quality photos, check out our UGOBE Pleo pre-order page.

“Burning Safari”: Funny CGI cartoon

Wednesday, June 20th, 2007
Ape vs. alien robot tourist... GO!
Ape vs. alien robot tourist… GO!

Lem, over at Robots-Dreams, blogged about this outstanding bit of animation a few days ago.  You have to see this.  Imagine a bunch of alien robot tourists landing in the African savanna and infuriating a curious ape.  It’s just as awesome as it sounds.  Strikingly well-animated, clever, and hilarious.  Watching it will only take a few minutes out of your life, and it will leave you smiling and thinking about monkeys.

Watch “Burning Safari” (Requires QuickTime.  Sorry, folks.)

Via Robots-Dreams.

ThreatDown: Creepy Toddler-Robot Becomes Huge, Terrorizes Japan

Wednesday, June 20th, 2007
We will pay for our hubris.

We can always count on Stephen Colbert to let us know when we should be cowering in fear. According to last week’s ThreatDown, the robots are coming. They are coming, and they hate America. He cites a facial expression imitating robot that is disgusted by our president; the ever popular CB2 toddler robot, which will undoubtedly grow enormous and wreak havoc; and of course BEAR, the cuddly and heroic battlefield extraction robot, which Colbert fears is teaching us to trust bears a bit too much. Click the following link if you want to learn more about the threats posed to us by robots, bears, robots, bears, and robot-bears.

And I’ll leave you with one last visual:

A human imitating a robot imitating a human. How deliciously recursive.

Robotic Servants Almost Practical

Monday, June 18th, 2007

Ever wish you didn’t have to hire a babysitter to watch the kids? Well, that time is certainly near, if it isn’t already here if Korea-based KornTech (English translation) has anything to do with it:


At 1-metre tall, Rogun, a robot babysitter and security guard uses two cameras for eyes for facial recognition abilities and is able to recognize “good guys vs. bad guys”. While Rogun runs around your home playing with your kids, it can broadcast video wirelessly so that you can check up on your kids throughout the day. It can also act as a videophone and wireless Internet, so when everyone is gone or asleep, and there’s a stranger lurking around in your home that Rogun doesn’t recognize, it’ll give you a call so you can sneak back into your home and beat the stranger with a wooden spoon!

Rogun is the culmination of only three years’ worth of Korean bipedal robot research, and although prototypes have been very expensive to produce, KornTech expects that a mass-produced Rogun will reach a predicted price point of around US$5000.

Read the full article via Gizmag

Robot Reptile “Released” Into Wild

Thursday, June 7th, 2007

On Stephens Island in New Zealand’s storm-wracked Cook Strait, the tuatara—one of the most ancient reptile species on Earth—is getting a hand from distinctly 21st-century science (see a New Zealand map).

Researchers have placed in the wild a very special male that, like its wild cousins, can put on physical displays to establish its dominance.

Jennifer Moore of Victoria University of Wellington checks in on Robo-Ollie

But this reptile’s skin is made of rubber, not scales, and its “heart” is a nickel-cadmium battery.

The alpha male in question is “Robo-Ollie,” a robotic tuatara created to help researchers understand the behavior of these rare reptiles, the last species in a family that dates back 200 million years.

Specifically, postdoctoral student Jennifer Moore wants to know how male tuatara establish dominance—how they attract and keep females.

Understanding critical behaviors could help tuatara translocation and captive-breeding programs, perhaps by guiding conservation managers to the genetically fittest, most productive males.

Read the Full Article