When we were out at Robogames 2010, the multimedia crew from WIRED Magazine showed up and hung out with us for a bit. They loved the Mech Warfare competition and asked if they could do some interviews with the competitors. Here is the result!
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Okay, not only is this little custom hexapod outstanding looking, it’s control solution is beyond cool! Controlled via a custom iPhone app that utilizes the touchscreen and onboard accelerometer, the iHexi’s IK driven movements are controlled precisely and wirelessly. Check out the forum thread for more info and videos (definitely check out the last video, the quad-variant walking gait is equally awesome)!
Dr. Dennis Hong, who is in charge of the RoMeLa program at Virginia Tech recently made a presentation at TEDx showcasing some of his department’s very advanced, very cool robotics projects! I couldn’t help but notice watching through this rather lengthy video (it’s worth watching all of it, trust me) that a good number of Dynamixels from Robotis made an appearance. Check it out!
On Jan 7th, Sparkfun did an awesome thing for the DIY hobbyist community; they gave away $100,000 worth of stuff for free. Free Day was a massive thank you to all that supported them growing as a company, a way to give back to the community. While we at Trossen Robotics cannot fully express just how much we appreciate such a gesture, the move was one that sparked both love and hate from their many fans, customers, and followers. The website was up and down all day under the immense amount of traffic they were experiencing and many of those who were not able to get their free stuff were ‘outraged’. How one can be mad over such a generous gesture is beyond me, but as the age-old saying goes: “No good deed goes unpunished”.
Anyway, Sparkfun put together a pretty cool video highlighting the chaos from their POV, check it out!
We’re a little late to get this posted, but have been busy working on new robotic monstrosities in our lab, as well as moving to a much bigger facility! Check it out! iHobby was a blast this year.
Whoa. Just Whoa.
I won’t even pretend that I understand all that is going on in the walking gait here, but this is darn near human-like in every aspect. And being able to walk like that is one thing, being able to recover from a sideways push is an entirely different accomplishment all together. Absolutely brilliant.
Looks like iRobot is determined to bring Judgment Day upon us. First with the military bots, and now they’re trying to build a liquid-metal-shape-shifting robot that will surely ask us if we are John or Sarah Connor. Okay, not quite, but it looks like they’re headed in that direction.
This week at IROS 09 (Intelligent Robots and Systems), iRobot and the University of Chicago unveiled a soft, blobby robot that looks something like an inflating marshmallow.
The new robot, called chembot, changes the shape of its stretchy polymer skin using a technique called “jamming skin enabled locomotion”. This means that different sections of the robot inflate or deflate separately; controlling this inflation and deflation enables the robot to move. DARPA, which is funding the project, hopes to use the robot to squeeze into small holes or under doors, which I’m guessing would be used for sophisticated surveillance.
This month’s Make Magazine (Issue 19) is the yearly Robotics Hobbyist special, and features my boss Matt Trossen once again stealing all of my glory and talking about his take on the current state of hobby robotics. That is okay however, and I’m prepared to take it with stride because anyone reading this blog knows I’m the true brains behind this operation. Not only that, but I’m also better looking (it’s the beard) and I embrace an air of dignity and modesty.
Speaking of my dashing good looks and superior mental prowess; Make also featured my currently shelved and ego-crippling project Hagetaka. Rest assured; my wife and 2 year old have picked up 2nd jobs to fund this project further and it will return with even stronger servos and bigger guns, ready to assist me in my plan for world domin- err, winning Mech Warfare.
Last but not least, Make Magazine readers got a quick and to the point review of the Roboard, the first full featured Robotics Computer on the market.
But seriously, be sure to pick up a copy as the entire issue is full of fun projects and robotic tidbits sure to appeal to your average robot-geek. And like Christmas, it only comes once a year!
Our good friends over at Lynxmotion have been a force to be reckoned with for well over a decade in the robotics industry; producing some truly inspiring and amazing robots over the years. My first ‘real’ robot was a Lynxmotion Hexapod 1 (the 3 servo variety) that I picked up back in 1997, and their product lines were one of the driving forces that got me addicted to robotics.
Well, they’ve impressed me yet again; Lynxmotion owner Jim and his son James, being robot enthusiasts and likewise fans of the Mechwarrior franchise, were intrigued with the Mech Warfare competition. Specifically they loved the biped aspect of it and so they set out to create a low cost competitive platform for Mech Warfare, and succeeded. Nicknamed ‘Hunchback’ and based around their BRAT biped platform, this is turning out to be one of the lowest cost and straight forward platforms for the competition. Currently there is a work-in-progress tutorial showing the build and code, and it looks like we have a very high chance of being treated to a complete kit allowing you to build your very own. If you’re interested in seeing how it progressed from prototype to near final revision, check out the project thread over on the Lynxmotion forums. Check out the following video of the Hunchback in action!
We’re good friends with the folks over at Vanadium Labs; some very talented people who have been in the robotics game for quite awhile but have just now established their official company. This is great news for the robotics community however, as they have some pretty amazing products on the horizon. One product in particular is the new arbotiX Robocontroller, an advanced Open Source microcontroller tailored for the Bioloid system and AX-12+ servos.
The arbotiX robocontroller is an advanced control solution for small-to-medium size robots. It incorporates a powerful AVR microcontroller, XBEE wireless radio, dual motor drivers, and 3-pin servo-style headers for IO.
The arbotiX robocontroller is specifically designed to control robots built using Bioloid servos, although it is also a very high-end solution for powerful rovers. It is not intended to be a drop-in replacement for a CM-5, rather it is intended as a high level development tool for building more sophisticated robots.
So what we have here is an Arduino IDE compatible microcontroller with a plethora of I/O, plug and play capable with AX-12 servos, and an Xbee Wireless Link to your PC. It’s also worth mentioning that this was the controller used in the robot that won Year 1 of Mech Warfare, Issydunyet. For more information on the controller check out the Vanadium Labs website.
Trossen Robotics will be exclusively distributing this exciting and powerful new Robocontroller with an estimated release date of Mid-October 2009. We’ll have more details in the near future, stay tuned!
Want to see the arbotiX in action? Here is a quick video showing a basic Inverse Kinematics demonstration on Issydunyet!