Monster Zero: Vintage SF Design

Vintage movies! They are great. Some days ago I discovered this video. Not that many robots in it, but at least great designs and atmosphere, that should serve perfectly as room for inspiration and imagination.

Tags: muvie, video, vintage, inspiration
Nov_04:2008 .020200 Comments(0)

Chumby: The customizable hard- and software


Picture (cc) by Mint on a Chumby

Chumby is nothing new, but it is something I wasn't aware of yet. It is a sort of "one-device-for-all-purposes". Fine, you think. That's also every laptop. The special thing about Chumby is the explicit reference to being a social technology.

It is basically a touch-screen, that is wrapped into a beautiful, unusual and I guess also robust case. The Chumby's got all the features you want to have with technical data like: 3.5" LCD color touchscreen, two external USB 2.0 full-speed ports; 350 MHz ARM processor, 64 MB SDRAM, Wi-Fi onnectivity, touch-sensitive accelerator-sensors on the outside, audio-output, microphone input... You can upload contents and applications. Whether an RSS-reader, some video-playing software or games. It really do not matter: make one Chumby your personal Chumby one. Here I grabbed a video, that shows how Chumby feels in action:

Ok, you have guessed it. Chumby would be a great think for robotics. Make it a face or make the heart of a robot. Since a Chumby just cost about 180 Dollar, it is something to consider, if building and programming robots. They got a section for developers, too.

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Tags: do-it-yourself, homebrew, parts
Nov_03:2008 .020200 Comments(0)

Recon Scout Robot: New designs in Axis- and Exploration-Robots

The "California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR)" is testing a new kind of robot, that should be useful not only for the army. They follow a very unique design, are not much bigger then a grenade, can be moved by remote-control, are silent like a whisper and can record or transmit movies and pictures on its own.

The design approach is very unique, because the robot IS only one axis with two wheels, that has all the core functionality attached to the axis. The robot is turned on by pulling a pin. This should make the robot even good to handle on situations, when soldiers are wearing gloves. The lack of an on/off switch will also benefit in such situations, when the robot is falling, what could hit the off-button incidentally. The robot can be controlled by a handheld device from remote, that has a build in monitor. It provides actually pictures from the robot-cam.

The robot is developed by ReconRobotics and was made for military purpose. The scenarios are quite exotic, Popular Mechanics write about the possible usage:

Even if the drone is spotted, and immediately stomped to death, a quick peek could reveal what kinds of weapons are present, and what condition the hostages are in. ReconRobotics also sells a command monitoring kit, which consists of an additional antenna and software that allows the footage to be viewed and recorded on a laptop. "You could throw it in, and do a quick 360 of the room," says Bignall. " So even if all you get is 30 seconds of footage, you can go back and review it frame-by-frame.

If you ask me, this sounds like pure Science Fiction that even tops James Bond and games like "Impossible Mission". Popular Mechanics continues:

The Recon Scout is inexpensive when it comes to robots—it costs $6000, or $9000 with an IR camera—and is built to survive a 30 ft drop onto concrete. ReconRobotics has also tested other options, like dropping the robot from a low-flying unmanned aerial vehicle, and launching it from the same kind of compressed-air guns used to fire tear-gas canisters.

You will definitely also check out this NASA-robot, that follows the same design of axis-control. It is extremely useful and flexible (see the video below).

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Tags: research, design, axis, military, space, indoor, outdoor, telepresence, reconrobotics
Oct_30:2008 .020200 Comments(0)

Robo-Q: Mini Soccer-Robots

Cute and playful - how great. This I want to have. Robo-Q are tiny bipedal, humanoid machines, that are about the height of a matchbox. They are remote controlled and things will get interesting if you think of games you are able to play with them. Two ideas are on the picture below: maze and soccer. The idea to playing soccer one against the other with a paper-football and two robots I like best. You can also start to automate this mini-machines.

The blog Bouncing Red Ball writes the following, I almost can believe:

Pressing its Auto button puts it into Artificial Intelligence Mode when it gets information from the two "Obstacle Recognition Units" on its sides and determines the proper way of action from the built-in database and decides whether it should evade or pursue its target.

They should cost about 36 Dollars each, so not too much for having one. Making a bigger soccer-match with 22 players indeed would be a little bit more expensive.


Second picture from Bouncing Red Ball

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Tags: play, toy, cute, indoor
Oct_30:2008 .020200 Comments(0)

Jambot: Research on aspiring music robot on its way

Jambot is the name of a project from researcher Toby Gifford from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT). The core of the robot will be a "suite of algorithms" that will enable robots to extract meaningful data from live-music performances, in order to play along and jam with the music.

Gifford says about the project, that is currently in the prototyping phase:

It is common for a band or solo musician to have a computer-based backing track or use looping pedals, but these kinds of technology are not very flexible or responsive to what's happening on stage.

We are very sorry to hear about that one:

Jambot is a musical robot, but it's not made of metal and it doesn't blow smoke.

So, why is it a robot then? Gifford says, that Jambot utilizes recent discoveries in audio music perception combined own clever algorithms to keep up with musicians as they play. It should be a software, that will enhance the artificial-creativity experience and that can be applied to various hard- and software instruments.

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Tags: artificial creativity, living-with-robots, music, research
Oct_25:2008 .020200 Comments(0)

Browse components at Let's make Robots

Ladies and gentlemen. The one and only homebrew robot-community Let's make robots has a major increase on their components section. It is a part of their site, where they collect wisdom to robotic parts - or better to motors, microcontrollers and that kind of stuff, that will form a robot. Ok?

Fritsl wrote that the components section was for a long long time not very crowded. But then they figured out, that a store called Pololu has lots of interesting robot-parts, also "self-made" ones in their portfolio. A good dash of their catalog is now ready to poke and learn into at the Let's make Robots component section.

PS: We also added Pololu to our linklist-section. If you got other interesting stuff, just let us know.

Tags: parts, buy, sell, lmr, homebrew, do-it-yourself
Oct_25:2008 .020200 Comments(0)

Flying Fishes and other sea-creatures in the air

Did I sensed a microtrend? It seems, that fishes and other biological stuff that is normally hidden under the surface of the ocean, is going to prepare the takeover in the air. At least in the robotic variant.

Festo is pushing this boundary project like the Airjelly or the air ray: In German you call this "Manta Rochen" and I think it is a real clever idea, to fill up ultralight structures with gas, that is lighter than air. In the result you get floating objects, that are move and navigate like object under water. The controls of this are very subtle. The only question that remains: What can be the use of such robots..? Well, except pure pleasure of competition and excitement?

Nautical objects in the air seem to get popular. In fact, the entry-barriers are not very high. In the end pleasure days like the Airship Regatta will become a counterpart to American events like the Death Match Killer Fighting Robots?

More infos on the Festo Blu Ray at their website. I also found more floating stuff on Eggshell: the Blimp and the Blubber Bots.

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Tags: air, festo, biological, play, floating, festival, europe, germany
Oct_23:2008 .020200 Comments(0)

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