Tag Archives: Humanoid Robot

Watch this Maker remotely control a robot with his LEGO exoskeleton


Danny Benedettelli has added a new dimension to remote manipulators by building a robotic exoskeleton out of LEGO.


A remote manipulator, also known as a “waldo” thanks to the 1942 short story by Robert Heinlein, is an electronic telemetric input device that enables a mechanism to be controlled by a human operator. This method can be found in a variety of applications, ranging from NASA to Hollywood special effects and the Muppets.

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Following the same principles, Daniele Benedettelli has developed an impressive wearable LEGO exoskeleton that can wirelessly control a LEGO Cyclops MK II humanoid. While wearing the upper-body suit, the Maker can command the robot to carry out a movement, such as bending his arms or waving goodbye, by simply acting it out himself.

The Cyclops MK II, which is the latest iteration of an ongoing project from four years ago, is based on a pair of LEGO Mindstorms NXTs (AT91SAM7S256/ATmega48), six motors and his own custom Android smartphone app. The robot is connected over Bluetooth with an Arduino fitted to the back of the suit that transmits motion signals. The LEGO exoskeleton also has a potentiometer for each degree-of-freedom that the robot has. Meaning, when Benedettelli moves his shoulder, the movement is read by the Arduino and sent wirelessly to the Cyclops MK II, allowing it to mimic anything Benedettelli does.

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Benedettelli is far from being done tinkering with his humanoid friend and its corresponding suit, though. The Maker admits that this is merely a prototype, so don’t be surprised if you see a new version boasting an upgraded design with enhanced controls and more functionality. For one, he is hoping to implement a mechanism that would enable the Transformer and Iron Man-like gadget to walk around, as well as open and close its hands. As we wait to see what’s next, you can watch his project in action below!

Video: Watch this little robot ski down a hill


Who said humans should have all the fun in the snow? 


So, this blog may be a little premature for our usual Futuristic Friday posts, however we couldn’t help ourselves. As our friends in Northern California, Colorado or New England hit the slopes, they may soon be joined by a few friendly, pint-sized robots. That’s because University of Manitoba Autonomous Agents Laboratory just taught a humanoid how to ski.

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Jennifer — who has demonstrated her athletic ability before having played both hockey and soccer — was equipped with a pair of custom wooden skis and two poles. While the open-source robot has already proven capable of climbing walls, running and conquering an obstacle course, her latest challenge was alpine and cross-country skiing as part of the lab’s project for the 2015 DARwIn-OP Humanoid Application Challenge.

The team took to snow to test out the humanoid’s skills in both cross-country and alpine skiing. According to the lab, the control of the alpine skiing was their primary focus, along with improving the cross-country gait. After all, different kinds of snow have different effects on cross-country skiing.

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“This is the latest extension of our work furthering our research into dynamic balancing and walking under realistic conditions. The changing nature of snowy ground, and the rapid control response required by alpine skiing, present significant challenges to gait design and dynamic balancing in Humanoid Robots, as does the challenge of operating this equipment in cold weather,” the team writes.

In addition, the team set out to have the robot dynamically switch from cross-country to alpine skiing when it detected a change in inclination. In doing so, the robot must deal with uneven surfaces and the gravity pulling it rapidly downhill, while also figuring out how to properly react to these forces. Not to mention, the snow can wreak havoc with Jennifer’s vision-based systems.

The 2015 DARwIn-OP Humanoid Application Challenge will be held in Seattle this May. Until then, be sure to watch the robot traverse the snowy terrain and down a little bunny slope below. Winter Olympics 2018, anyone?

Humanoid robot Nao can drive its own car

We already know that robot cars will be taking over the highways and byways in the coming years, but what about robot drivers? Aldebaran Robotics and RobotsLab have recently partnered to unveil a version of the NAO robot that can autonomously drive a miniature BMW Z4.

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The vehicle has an integrated laser range finder linked to an onboard Atmel based Arduino, which analyzes the vehicle’s surroundings and then relays steering inputs to the NAO unit in the driver’s seat. Additionally, the robot features a two-camera computer vision system, a sonar distance sensor, two infrared emitters and receivers, nine tactile and eight pressure sensors.

While out of the box, the robot and mini sports car work just fine, the entire platform is designed to be open-source. “Bring your craziest ideas to life, send your robot to do things for you, connect him to the internet and share his adventures with the world, create robot-apps and publish them on the NAO app store. There’s no limit to what you can do with that,” the team at RobotsLab writes.

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The robot and ride pair will cost around $10,000, but if you are purchasing directly from RobotsLab, you can throw the code “TechCrunchie2014” in at checkout to drop $2,000 from the price. What a steal! No matter the price, the open-source platform makes this Atmel powered robotic tool ideal for implementation into STEM curriculums in high schools or universities.

For more information about this project, check out this overview from RobotsLab.