Archive for December, 2010

Hall 1 – IRC Korea 2010

Monday, December 13th, 2010

Some of you saw the Diary Of A Mad Roboticist! post 2 months ago where Andrew and I were getting ready to fly over to Korea and do some humanoid competing. As usual we were biting off way more than we could chew and were building robots up until hours before leaving on a 22 hour trip.  It turned out we were being over zealous as usual too, because the competitions were way more chill than what we expected. So we spent much more of our time meeting people and exploring the wonders of Korea than competing. Andrew did get to do some exhibition matches with the local college students and Giger fell over a lot. Andrew also got a lot of R&D time in with a future humanoid code named Shadow Blade (Video) (all RX-24F servos!) which should be on shelves in 2011. Andrew ALSO did a lot of work on the RX-24/28 PLM robot also coming out in 2011 which will be a “soldier” series bot specifically designed for fighting. Coming later-ish maybe… a 3rd video of Andrew and I exploring Korea. That video needs, um, editing due to copious amounts of soju being consumed during the making.


IRC 2010 picture galleries

IRC 2010 hall 2 Video

Pet Laser Dazer

Monday, December 13th, 2010


Screwing with pets is fun. They are furry and cute but despite what your ex-girlfriend used to go on and on and on about, they really aren’t that smart.  Case in point is the laser game where any seemingly sane cat or dog can be sent into a frenzy over a quickly moving dot of light. Endless fun can be had watching their minds break as they hopelessly chase something they cannot physically grab. This is why humans rule the earth. We should stop showing our children movies where animals talk and are smart, because we are just setting them up for disappointment.

The pet Laser Dazer is a fun project that can be done with the Vision Tracking Starter Kit or the Desktop RoboTurret (need to pick up the laser separate.) The concept is simple, take the age old game of “catch the laser dot” and add robots to the mix! It even works with kids. Watch the end of the video to see Andrew’s daughter throw herself against the wall in excitement. See, robots ARE fun people.

Laser Dazer Demo App can be found here.



Robot Gift Guide

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010


Still looking for cool gifts and stocking stuffers for Xmas? Checkout the Buyers Guide for robots :)

Code Project Contest – Round 2!

Monday, December 6th, 2010


Code Project had so much fun the first time around that they are doing it again. Up for grabs are more cool robot prizes. This time they decided to concentrate on Beginner Tutorials to help introduce people who are new to the basics of Physical Computing. This is a great chance for the robotics and physical computing community to show computer programmers what they are missing. Anyone can go join the community over there and post articles. Just please read the guidlines they have carefully first. Good luck to all who enter!

The contest begins on December 6, 2010 and will end February 6, 2011 at 11:59:59 PM US Eastern Standard Time.

Contest Page (Beginners Hardware and Device Programming Competition)

Contest Rules

General Article Submission FAQ & Guidelines

The Hardware Zone (Where the articles are posted)

Winners from last time

The Kinect Can Fly!

Sunday, December 5th, 2010

Or rather, it can be placed on robots that are capable of flight. Pretty sure this is a world first here- Quadrotor from UC Berkeley using a Kinect for autonomous navigation. How cool is that? I bet Microsoft never realized just how many people would be hacking these in short time. Given my own circle of friends, I know more people using them for robotics than playing videogames!

This work is part of the STARMAC Project in the Hybrid Systems Lab at UC Berkeley (EECS department).

Researcher: Patrick Bouffard
PI: Prof. Claire Tomlin

Our lab’s Ascending Technologies [1] Pelican quadrotor, flying autonomously and avoiding obstacles.

The attached Microsoft Kinect [2] delivers a point cloud to the onboard computer via the ROS [3] kinect driver, which uses the OpenKinect/Freenect [4] project’s driver for hardware access. A sample consensus algorithm [5] fits a planar model to the points on the floor, and this planar model is fed into the controller as the sensed altitude. All processing is done on the on-board 1.6 GHz Intel Atom based computer, running Linux (Ubuntu 10.04).

A VICON [6] motion capture system is used to provide the other necessary degrees of freedom (lateral and yaw) and acts as a safety backup to the Kinect altitude–in case of a dropout in the altitude reading from the Kinect data, the VICON based reading is used instead. In this video however, the safety backup was not needed.