Category Archives: Robots

This 3D-printed, Arduino-powered robotic mower will take care of your lawn for you


Build your own Ardumower for less than $300.


Mowing the lawn; it’s a nice slice of solitude and exercise for some, and an arduous task for others, to be avoided at all costs. If you fall into that second category, then the Ardumower might be for you. According to its description,“With this download project you can build your own robotic lawn mower at a fraction of the cost that one would have to apply for a commercial one.”

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The mower itself is an interesting build, with a nicely sloped canopy and driving wheels that resemble something found inside of a clock. Housed inside is an Arduino Uno (ATmega328) and a motor driver board for control. Two 12V electrical motors are used for locomotion around a yard, while another motor turns the cutting blade.

The robo-mower is kept within your yard using a boundary wire fence to tell it when it has reached the limits of its domain. As seen in the video below, it also has some obstacle avoidance capability, though it would likely be best to keep it in an area free from animals, children, and irresponsible adults!

If you want to assemble one yourself, you can do so for about $250-$300 — a fraction of the cost of its commercial counterparts. A manual, which is available for $12.16, claims to give step-by-step directions to build your own Ardumower (or maybe two for larger lawns!), as well as info on how to create the boundary fence.

SumoBoy is an Arduino-based fighting robot


Build your own lean, mean fighting machine with this robot kit. 


If you’re competitive, but not the fighting type, robot sumo may be the sport for you. Robot sumo is exactly what it sounds like – sumo wrestling for robots. Instead of you facing your opponent inside the ring, you have a robot attempting to push another out of the arena. Sound like something you’d be interested in? Luckily for you, a team of die-hard robotics enthusiasts have created a DIY kit to help jumpstart your new hobby – no technical skills required.

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Meet SumoBoythe world’s first mini sumo robotics kit that is intended for both sport and education. SumoBoy is the brainchild of RobotNest, a company started by a team of engineers and programmers who also happen to be world champions of mega and mini sumo robot tournaments in Japan, U.S. and Europe. Their goals are to popularize robot sumo worldwide while proving to the younger generation that programming and electronic engineering can be both fun and exciting.

The novelty of robot sumo is that the competing robots, called sumobots, are autonomous and not remote controlled during battle. Sumobots are successful based on the best strategy programmed prior to the competition. The SumoBoy kit comes with an assembled robot that complies with industry standards, and it includes additional components to tinker with the robot’s fighting capabilities. An instructional book will be available on the company’s website, which will address the basics of electronics, programming and other topics including artificial intelligence.

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SumoBoy boasts an Arduino Micro (ATmega32U4) at its core, which can be programmed in C or C++ languages. Additionally, the kit includes a prototyping board that serves as a learning platform for the fundamentals of electronics and coding. With this board, users can play with dozens of components, combine them into numerous algorithms and learn how to program in order execute their own winning strategy.

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The kit also provides a power supply, USB cable, a set of electronic components comprised of sensors, resistors, capacitors, transistors, wires, LEDs, motors and a high-quality screwdriver, and a cardboard dummy that serves as the opponent when testing the robot in action.

Ready to take on the sport of robot sumo? Head over to SumoBoy’s Kickstarter page, where the RobotNest team is currently seeking $100,000. Delivery is slated for September 2016.

 

Hate clapping? Simone Giertz’s latest machine is for you


Let’s give this project a round of applause! 


Guess who’s back with another robotic solution to yet another problem. Simone Giertz, of course! Any of us who’ve ever had to sit through a graduation ceremony, an hour-long presentation, a tennis match, a ballet recital or a political debate know all too well how annoying having to constantly give an applause can be.

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So, as part of her aptly named “There Must Be A Better Way” series, the frequent YouTuber and Maker has developed an automated applause machine. Why? Because “clapping your own hands is tiresome and a cruel practice.”

For the mechanism itself, Giertz employed a pair of kitchen tongs and attached a metal spring below the grippers, then put an oval-shaped DC motor between the two arms. This way, when the motor spins, it forces the tongs to open and close, creating a clapping motion.

“For the machine’s hands, I wanted to find a pair that would create the most realistic clapping sound possible. So I bought four different types of plastic hands from a party-supply store. After some experimentation, I decided that hollow hands made of rigid plastic created the best noise. I fastened them to the tongs’ grippers with small bolts,” the Maker explains.

The machine was brought to life using no other than an Arduino Uno (ATmega328) connected to a MOSFET, housed inside a laser-cut base. What’s more, a slider was added to the front of the device to control the speed. According to Giertz, she can now gradually adjust the applause from a “snarky slow clap” to a “breakneck 330 claps per minute.”

Admittedly, this may be one of her best, most practical and well-polished projects yet. We love it! Now how ‘bout a round of applause for Giertz?! You can watch the future of clapping hands below, as well as read her recent write-up in Popular Science here.

Robot turns musicians into three-armed drummers


Georgia Tech researchers have created a wearable robotic limb that allows drummers to play with three arms.


Georgia Tech researchers have created a wearable robotic limb that allows drummers to play with three arms. The two-foot long smart arm attaches to a musician’s shoulder, and responds to human gestures and the music it hears.

The robotic arm is ’smart’ for a few reasons. First, it knows what to play by listening to the music in the room. It improvises based on the beat and rhythm. For example, if the musician plays slowly, the arm slows the tempo. If the drummer speeds up, it plays faster.

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Beyond that, the extra limb knows where it’s located at all times, where the drums are, as well as the direction and proximity of the human arms. When the robot approaches an instrument, it employs its built-in accelerometers to sense the distance and proximity. On-board motors ensure the stick is always parallel to the playing surface, enabling it to rise, lower or twist to ensure solid contact with the drum or cymbal. The arm moves naturally with intuitive gestures because it was programmed using human motion capture technology.

“If you have a robotic device that is part of your body, it’s a completely different feeling from working alongside a regular robot,” explains Georgia Tech professor and project supervisor Gil Weinberg. “The machine learns how your body moves and can augment and complement your activity. It becomes a part of you.”

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The team is currently exploring the use of an EEG headband, so future robotic arms could read a drummer’s brain waves to detect when they think about changing tempo or position. But why stop at music? Looking ahead, the researchers also hope to expand their efforts into the healthcare and industrial fields.

“Imagine if doctors could use a third arm to bring them tools, supplies or even participate in surgeries. Technicians could use an extra hand to help with repairs and experiments,” Weinberg adds.

You can see their prototype in action below, and read all about it here. Rock on!

[Images: Georgia Tech]

Kamibot is a programmable paper robot for kids


This Arduino-compatible bot teaches children how to code and can be remotely controlled by smartphone.


Let’s face it, there’s nothing more synonymous with DIY than arts and crafts. And while there are all sorts of paper projects out there, many lack in terms of interactivity and movement. That was until now. Thanks to one South Korean startup, young Makers will soon have the ability to create their own toy characters and personalize them as often as they choose.

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Kamibot is a programmable paper robot hybrid that can be wirelessly controlled by smartphone or tablet. Completely modular, children can customize their character by simply attaching and detaching various magnetic designs to its body, which include Count Dracula, Frankenstein and a Transformers-like robot. And you don’t need to be an origami master to do so either — all the templates are available online. Just download, print and let the fun begin!

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The robot itself is equipped with an ATmega2560 at its core and Bluetooth connectivity, along with three IR sensors, a pair of DC motors for mobility, a servo motor for rotation, RGB LEDs for color effects, two encoders for speed control, and an ultrasonic sensor for detecting any obstacles that may stand in its way. Each Kamibot is also rechargeable via USB.

An accompanying mobile app enables kids to remotely control their gadget and change its behaviors, as well as switch to “line mode” if they rather have its infrared sensors take over along a black line course. Aside from that, the app’s dashboard features a battery indicator, the distance from a nearby object, a speedometer, and a bar for adjusting the LED colors.

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It’s pretty smart, too. Kamibot can sense and navigate around objects in your living room and even illuminate various hues to double as a nightlight for children. But that’s not all. According to its creators, Kamibot was specifically made to serve as an educational toy. Since it’s built around the highly-popular Arduino platform and is compatible with Scratch, coding has never been easier — even for beginners.

Interested? Head over to its Kickstarter campaign, where the team is currently seeking $50,000. The first batch of bots is expected to begin shipping in May 2016.

Maximo is an Arduino-driven, 5-axis robotic arm


This affordable, easy-to-assemble arm will let you learn a thing or two about robotics.


Whether you’re a novice Maker or a well-seasoned engineer, Maximo is a new five-axis robotic arm perfect for your desktop. The brainchild of Montreal-based startup InnoTechnixMaximo boasts a laser-cut acrylic body and a wide range of applications.

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The arm itself is driven by an Arduino board and servo shield. Maximo provides many add-on options like motion sensors, webcams, LED lighting and wheels to make it mobile. Beyond that, the board offers Bluetooth compatibility which opens up a realm of interesting possibilities including wireless control from your PC. The possibilities are simply endless.

Maximo comes with Robotic Studio software, which enhances what you’re able to do with the arm executing complex automations that would otherwise be impossible to do manually. Robotic Studio enables you to move the robot with a game controller and perform different series of recorded steps. You can even connect up to 10 robots at the same time in Robotic Studio to create amazing automations.

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Another advantage of Maximo’s design is the head of the arm, which can be removed and switched with other modules in seconds. Although each kit includes a standard claw, this can be swapped out for a more sophisticated gripper that can grab (smaller and rounder) objects by applying balanced pressure as well as a palletizer head, which is miniature reproduction of the ones found in factories and warehouses. Plus, there’s a pen-holder module that allows various items to be placed on Maximo’s head, including writing utensils, laser pointers and drumsticks, for drawing, painting, playing music and more.

Interested? Head over to Maximo’s Kickstarter campaign, where the InnoTechnix crew is currently seeking $18,044. The kit will ship with a black and clear acrylic body, a set of screws, nuts and standoffs, six high-torque servo motors, a bearing base, an Arduino with servo shield, wiring, USB cable and a power supply. You will also receive the standard gripper head module, align with a Robotic Studio license and the easy-to-follow assembly manual. Delivery is slated July 2016.

 

The iBoardbot is an Internet-controlled whiteboard robot


This ATmega32U4-powered bot can precisely draw images, write text and more.


The iBoardbot is an Internet-controlled, whiteboard marker-equipped robot that can write, draw and erase on a colorful glass surface. Developed by Scottish startup JJ Robots, the device was designed to serve as a fun and interactive way to keep in touch with family and friends.

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Whether you’re using it as a Twitter wall or to simply doodle nifty graphics, the system is managed through an accompanying app which enables users to easily create and send images directly to their iBoardbot via the cloud. With three different modes to choose from, users can do everything from draw pictures, to write messages, to upload graphics. It even boasts a multi-user interface so folks can collaborate on a project or compete against one another in a game of tic-tac-toe at the same time.

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Beyond that, the iBoardbot comes with an open API that allows developers to explore their imagination. This opens up a realm of endless possibilities, from displaying local weather forecasts, motivational quotes and reviews for a store. It can be integrated with an IFTTT recipe, too.

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In true Maker spirit, JJ Robots has made the iBoardbot’s electronics, 3D-printable frame and code entirely open source. The robot is based on an ATmega32U4 along with a Wi-Fi module for communication, and employs a set of stepper motors, bearings and timing belts for its mechanics. Additionally, the iBoardbot has an integrated eraser in its drawing head so it can wipe away the glass and proceed to jot down new text and pictures.

Intrigued? The iBoardbot ships in one of three different kit forms and can found on Kickstarter, where the JJ Robots crew is currently $15,962. Delivery is slated for April 2016. If you loved this, you may want to check out the team’s air hockey-playing robot hack as well.