Tag Archives: Robot

It’s not every day that you see a robot sink a hole-in-one


Move over, Tiger! 


In 1997, Eldrick Tont “Tiger” Woods aced the 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale. Now almost 20 years later, a robot named after him sank the exact same shot. You heard that correctly: a robot hit a hole-in-one. What’s even more impressive is that, unlike most golfers who probably couldn’t accomplish that feat in an entire lifetime, LDRIC (which stands for Launch Directional Robot Intelligent Circuitry) needed just five tee-off attempts to master the 163-yard 16th hole.

LDRIC is the brainchild of San Diego-based Gene Parente, owner of Golf Labs, whose robots are widely used throughout the industry. The bots are capable of being programmed to perform perfect swings, as well as replicate hooks, slices and other flaws inherent to the average player.

Alpha 2 is the humanoid robot you’ve always wanted


A small robot with a big brain.


After watching Robin William’s title role in “The Bicentennial Man” (1999), did you dream of having a humanoid robot of your own? One that walks, talks and performs various duties, just like a member of the family? Well, the time of having your own “Bicentennial Man” is almost here. Meet Alpha 2, the smart humanoid robot by Shenzen-based startup UBTECH Robotics.

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UBTECH founder and CEO James Chow has devoted his career to creating intelligent robots for family use. With Alpha 2, Chow and his team of experienced robotics experts deliver a smart and interactive humanoid with social skills and practical household service. It’s easy to underestimate this small and cute robot as a toy, but Alpha 2 is touted to be smarter than your smartphone.

Alpha 2 is an all-in-one companion, personal assistant, tutor, in-home nurse, housekeeper and more. Using his Internet-connected brain with face and voice recognition, the bot can meet many of the daily needs for each family member. Its programmed conversation skills, general knowledge database and web search function makes it a great companion, tutor or helper around the house. You can ask Alpha 2 to make calls, check voice mails, read emails, send texts and control appliances, among countless other tasks.

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Not only can he take care of office work, he can take care of you. Alpha 2 can remind you when medications need to be taken, as well as control smart appliances including lights, locks and set Wi-Fi-enabled alarms and security systems. For fun, Alpha 2 can read to children, play music, dance, take photos and videos and work out with you. He has 20 joints replicating human movement, equipping it with the widest range of motion of any consumer robot to date.

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To get Alpha 2 alive and kicking, you simply connect it to your Wi-Fi network, teach it to recognize your face and voice, and download the accompanying mobile app for control and additional functions. At the heart of Alpha 2 is digital servo, an automatic control system that consists of a control board, a gear set and a motor. The humanoid is comprised of eight 8kg servos (head and hands) and 12 20kg servos (lower limbs), each driven by an ATmega8 MCU.

Beyond that, he is equipped with a Samsung Exynos 5260 processor with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage, a 3W stereo speaker, a number of sensors (accelerometer, touch and sonar), and runs the Android 4.4 OS. The cute companion has several RGB LEDs throughout his body, including his eyes, hands and chest, and offers both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity. While the software is proprietary, UBTECH will provide an open API and SDK for Android app development.

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Intrigued? Head over to Alpha 2’s Indiegogo campaign, where UBTECH Robotics has well surpassed its goal of $100,000. The first batch of units is expected to ship in February 2016.

RoBoHoN is a cute robot that doubles as a smartphone


Sharp’s new humanoid can dance, play games and serve as your personal assistant. 


Most smartphones today look alike. Despite a few differences here and there, a vast majority consist of a rectangular device, a large touchscreen display, a few buttons and some ports for your earbuds and charging. They easily fit in your hand and slide into your pocket, but when off, don’t offer much to look at. However, what if you converged the functionality of that smartphone with the shape and capabilities of a cute little robot? That’s exactly what Sharp has done with RoBoHon.

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Resembling a robotic pal like Pepper mixed with a LEGO figurine, the aptly named RoBoHon stands roughly seven inches tall and is capable of doing just about everything your phone does — make calls, send emails, receive texts, etc. but with a smile and the extremely lovable face of a humanoid, of course.

First revealed at CEATEC 2015, RoBoHon is equipped with a camera, a projector, a mic, built-in speakers, as well as a facial and voice recognition system. Although it can be controlled by speaking to it, there is also a small two-inch touchscreen on his back for more complex actions.

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As a robot, it can stand up, walk, sit and even dance to downloaded tunes. It can wave its arms when talking, play music, check your calendar and offer reminders like a personal assistant, help you navigate while driving, or simply act as companion when you’re alone. Plus, RoBoHon can serve as an alarm clock and wake you up in the morning through sound and movement.

The gadget runs on a 1.2 GHz quad-core processor, and packs 3G, LTE and 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi connectivity. And when it’s time to be used as a phone, it will indicate an incoming call by illuminating the lights around its eyes and raising a hand to its ear. RoBoHon will then reposition its limbs slightly forward to mimic the shape of a handset as you bring it near.

Okay, so using RoBoHon to make calls looks a little weird, but watching him get his groove on is well worth it. Right? See it all for yourself in the video below!

Mira is the cutest robot you’ll ever see (and hide from)


This adorable bot uses facial recognition software to play peek-a-boo with humans. 


While you’ve probably seen countless robots before, we guarantee you that none have made you say “awwwww” quite like this one. That’s because Alonso Martinez, a character technical director at Pixar, has built a social bot that he calls MiraWhereas other humanoids have been designed to automate tedious tasks and lend a helping hand with chores around the house, this egg-shaped unit has one job: to make life better one smile at a time.

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Proving just that, Martinez recently posted a video of Mira playing peek-a-boo with humans. In terms of appearance, the robot is pretty basic — but in the best way possible. The somewhat spherical device is equipped with a pair of eyes, a color-changing base, and if you look close enough at an earlier video, it appears to be driven by an Arduino Uno (ATmega328).

Being a Pixar character director and all, it’s no wonder Mira was inspired by the simplicity of animated robots like Iron Giant and Big Hero 6’s Baymax. Martinez tells PSFK that he began designing the friendly toy with a pencil and paper before migrating to modeling software, and ultimately, 3D printing her parts on an Ultimaker.

The project was originally designed, in collaboration with fellow Makers Aaron Nathan and Vijay Sundaram, as a way to explore human-robot interactivity and emotional intelligence. Over time, she will be able to understand more about the world and feelings, improving her ability to engage with people in a much more meaningful manner.

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For now, Mira uses facial tracking technology to play the game of peek-a-boo. She will get sad when a user hides, which in turn, causes her color will change to purple. Yet as soon they reappear, Mira will wiggle in excitement, let out a joyful sound and emit various colors. If you think about it, pretty much like a pet.

While Martinez has yet to reveal if he will bring this cute companion to consumers, it is evident by its rising popularity — already 200,000 views on YouTube — that there are plenty of people out there who’d love a Mira for themselves. (Us included.) Not to mention, she’d be a nice little stress-releiver to have on your desk at work or home. After all, who doesn’t love a game of peek-a-boo?!

As we await to find out more, you can stay connected here. In the meantime, watch Mira in action below.

Which Arduino board is right for you?


Picking an Arduino is as easy as Uno, Due, Tre! 


Thinking about starting a project? See which Arduino board is right for the job.

Arduino Uno

This popular board — based on the ATmega328 MCU — features 14 digital input/output pins (of which 6 can be used as PWM outputs), 6 analog inputs, a 16 MHz ceramic resonator, USB connection, power jack, an ICSP header and a reset button.

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The Uno does not use the FTDI USB-to-serial driver chip. Instead, it features the ATmega16U2 (ATmega8U2 up to version R2) programmed as a USB-to-serial converter.

In addition, Revision 3 of the Uno offers the following new features:

  • 
1.0 pinout: added SDA and SCL pins that are near to the AREF pin and two other new pins placed near to the RESET pin, the IOREF that allow the shields to adapt to the voltage provided from the board. Note: The second is not a connected pin.
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Stronger RESET circuit.
  • ATmega16U2 replace the 8U2.

Arduino Leonardo

The Arduino Leonardo is built around the versatile ATmega32U4. This board offers 20 digital input/output pins (of which 7 can be used as PWM outputs and 12 as analog inputs), a 16 MHz crystal oscillator, microUSB connection, power jack, an ICSP header and a reset button.

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The Leonardo contains everything needed to support the microcontroller; simply connect it to a computer with a USB cable or power it with a AC-to-DC adapter or battery to get started. Plus, the ATmega32U4 offers built-in USB communication, eliminating the need for a secondary processor. This allows it to appear as a mouse and keyboard, in addition to being recognized as a virtual (CDC) serial / COM port.

Arduino Due

The Arduino Due is an MCU board based on the Atmel | SMART SAM3X8E ARM Cortex-M3 CPU.

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As the first Arduino built on a 32-bit ARM core microcontroller, Due boasts 54 digital input/output pins (of which 12 can be used as PWM outputs), 12 analog inputs, 4 UARTs (hardware serial ports), an 84 MHz clock, USB OTG capable connection, 2 DAC (digital to analog), 2 TWI, a power jack, an SPI header, a JTAG header, a reset button and an erase button.

Unlike other Arduino boards, the Due runs at 3.3V. The maximum voltage that the I/O pins can tolerate is 3.3V. Providing higher voltages, like 5V to an I/O pin, could damage the board.

Arduino Yún

The Arduino Yún features an ATmega32U4, along with an Atheros AR9331 that supports a Linux distribution based on OpenWRT known as Linino.

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The Yún has built-in Ethernet and Wi-Fi support, a USB-A port, a microSD card slot, 20 digital input/output pins (of which 7 can be used as PWM outputs and 12 as analog inputs), a 16 MHz crystal oscillator, microUSB connection, an ICSP header and 3 reset buttons. The Yún is also capable of communicating with the Linux distribution onboard, offering a powerful networked computer with the ease of Arduino.

In addition to Linux commands like cURL, Makers and engineers can write their own shell and python scripts for robust interactions. The Yún is similar to the Leonardo in that the ATmega32U4 offers USB communication, eliminating the need for a secondary processor. This enables the Yún to appear as a mouse and keyboard, in addition to being recognized as a virtual (CDC) serial?COM port.

Arduino Micro

Developed in conjunction with Adafruit, the Arduino Micro is powered by ATmega32U4.

The board is equipped 20 digital input/output pins (of which 7 can be used as PWM outputs and 12 as analog inputs), a 16 MHz crystal oscillator, microUSB connection, a ICSP header and a reset button. The Micro includes everything needed to support the microcontroller; simply connect it to a computer with a microUSB cable to get started. The Micro even has a form factor that lets the device be easily placed on a breadboard.

Arduino Robot

The Arduino Robot is the very first official Arduino on wheels. The robot is equipped with two processors — one for each of its two boards.

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The motor board drives the motors, while the control board is tasked with reading sensors and determining how to operate. Each of the ATmega32u4 based units are fully-programmable using the Arduino IDE. More specifically, configuring the robot is similar to the process with the Arduino Leonardo, as both MCUs offer built-in USB communication, effectively eliminating the need for a secondary processor. This enables the Robot to appear to a connected computer as a virtual (CDC) serial?COM port.

Arduino Esplora

The Arduino Esplora is an ATmega32u4 powered microcontroller board derived from the Arduino Leonardo. It’s designed for Makers and DIY hobbyists who want to get up and running with Arduino without having to learn about the electronics first.

The Esplora features onboard sound and light outputs, along with several input sensors, including a joystick, slider, temperature sensor, accelerometer, microphone and a light sensor. It also has the potential to expand its capabilities with two Tinkerkit input and output connectors, along with a socket for a color TFT LCD screen.

Arduino Mega (2560)

The Arduino Mega features an ATmega2560 at its heart.

It is packed with 54 digital input/output pins (of which 15 can be used as PWM outputs), 16 analog inputs, 4 UARTs (hardware serial ports), a 16 MHz crystal oscillator, USB connection, a power jack, an ICSP header and a reset button. Simply connect it to a computer with a USB cable or power it with a AC-to-DC adapter or battery to get started. The Mega is compatible with most shields designed for the Arduino Duemilanove or Diecimila.

Arduino Mini

Originally based on the ATmega168, and now equipped with the ATmega328, the Arduino Mini is intended for use on breadboards and projects where space is at a premium.

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The board is loaded with 14 digital input/output pins (of which 6 can be used as PWM outputs), 8 analog inputs and a 16 MHz crystal oscillator. It can be programmed with the USB Serial adapter, the other USB, or the RS232 to TTL serial adapter.

Arduino LilyPad

The LilyPad Arduino is designed specifically for wearables and e-textiles. It can be sewn to fabric and similarly mounted power supplies, sensors and actuators with conductive thread.

The board is based on the ATmega168V (the low-power version of the ATmega168) or the ATmega328V. The LilyPad Arduino was designed and developed by Leah Buechley and SparkFun Electronics. Readers may also want to check out the LilyPad Simple, LilyPad USB and the LilyPad SimpleSnap.

Arduino Nano

The Arduino Nano is a tiny, complete and breadboard-friendly board based on the ATmega328 (Arduino Nano 3.x) or ATmega168 (Arduino Nano 2.x).

The Nano has more or less the same functionality of the Arduino Duemilanove, but in a different package. It lacks only a DC power jack and works with a Mini-B USB cable instead of a standard one. The board is designed and produced by Gravitech.

Arduino Pro Mini

Powered by an ATmega328, the Arduino Pro Mini is equipped with 14 digital input/output pins (of which 6 can be used as PWM outputs), 8 analog inputs, an on-board resonator, a reset button and some holes for mounting pin headers.

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A 6-pin header can be connected to an FTDI cable or Sparkfun breakout board to provide USB power and communication to the board. Note: See also Arduino Pro.

Arduino Fio

The Arduino Fio (V3) is a microcontroller board based on Atmel’s ATmega32U4. It has 14 digital input/output pins (of which 6 can be used as PWM outputs), 8 analog inputs, an on-board resonator, a reset button and holes for mounting pin headers. It also offers connections for a lithium polymer battery and includes a charge circuit over USB. An XBee socket is available on the bottom of the board.

The Arduino Fio is intended for wireless applications. The user can upload sketches with an a FTDI cable or Sparkfun breakout board. Additionally, by using a modified USB-to-XBee adaptor such as XBee Explorer USB, the user can upload sketches wirelessly. The board comes without pre-mounted headers, facilitating the use of various types of connectors or direct soldering of wires. The Arduino Fio was designed by Shigeru Kobayashi and SparkFun Electronics.

Arduino Zero

Last year, the tandem of Atmel and Arduino debuted the Zero development board – a simple, elegant and powerful 32-bit extension of the platform. The Arduino Zero board packs an Atmel | SMART SAM D21 MCU, which features an ARM Cortex M0+ core. Additional key hardware specs include 256KB of Flash, 32KB SRAM in a TQFP package and compatibility with 3.3V shields that conform to the Arduino R3 layout.

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The Arduino Zero boasts flexible peripherals along with Atmel’s Embedded Debugger (EDBG) – facilitating a full debug interface on the SAMD21 without the need for supplemental hardware. Beyond that, EDBG supports a virtual COM port that can be used for device programming and traditional Arduino bootloader functionality. This highly-anticipated board will be available for purchase from the Arduino Store in the U.S. on Monday June 15th.

Arduino AtHeart

The Arduino AtHeart program was specifically launched for Makers and companies with products based on the open-source board that would like to be clearly identified as supporters of the versatile platform. The program is available for any device that includes a processor that is currently supported by the Arduino IDE, including the following Atmel MCUs:

Participants in the program include startups like:

EarthMake – ArLCD

The touchscreen ArLCD combines the ezLCD SmartLCD GPU with the Arduino Uno.

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Bare Conductive Touch Board

The ATmega32U4 based Touch Board can turn nearly any material or surface into a sensor by connecting it to one of its 12 electrodes, using conductive paint or anything conductive.

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Blend Micro

The RedBearLab integrated dev platform “blends” the powers of Arduino with Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy into a single board. It is targeted for Makers looking to develop low-power IoT projects in a quick, easy and efficient manner. The MCU is driven by an ATmega32U4 and a Nordic nRF8001 BLE chip.

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littleBits Arduino Module

The fan-favorite Arduino module, which happens to also be based on an ATmega32U4, lets users easily write programs in the Arduino IDE to read sensors and control lights and motors within the littleBits system.

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Smart Citizen Kit

An Arduino-compatible motherboard with sensors that measure air composition (CO and NO2), temperature, light intensity, sound levels, and humidity. Once configured, the Smart Citizen Kit is capable of streaming data collected by the sensors over Wi-Fi.

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High-tech robot draws on the walls


This Roomba-like bot climbs gallery walls to create giant abstract murals. 


Michael Haas and Julian Adenauer comprise the German artistry duo Sonice Development. Last fall, the innovative collective created a wall-clinging robot that remotely produces vibrant art on the walls of Berlin’s Metropol Park. Inspired by the high-tech futures of films like Minority Report and Blade Runner, their device — which they call “the Vertwalker” — is capable of crawling on interior walls, taking a walk on buildings and exploring the city in ways humans were incapable of. The duo also contend that our ‘up’ is its ‘forward’ promoting a notion that the vertical reach of the machine is opening the door to a new frontier of art.

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In the Vertwalker’s installation at MetroPal Park, dubbed “Rising Colorspace,” the robot continuously produced sweeping curves of various colors. After running eight hours a day, the lines being drawn were bound to intersect and overlap quite a bit — a movement pattern that created an illusion of a lush field of psychedelic grass on every wall the Vertwalker traversed.

Despite its bucolic vision, the production is entirely predicated on algorithms and actuators. Controlled by Arduino-based hardware and programmed with color protocol software, the gadget is instructed to draw parabolic, bow-like lines using a graffiti paint pen onto a shiny metallic wall. The pancake-shaped Vertwalker sports custom silicone wheels for sleek movement and a laser cut shell to assure a vacuum keeps the project fixed to whatever it is attached.

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“All turns and falling movements are left out. Thereof derives a wickerwork of lines in rich botanic coloration. This condenses to a colorspace. Each line grows like a bending culm and modulates the colorspace after a daily color-protocol.
 Rising Colorspace is an evolving system continuously overwriting itself,” the duo writes.

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The Makers’ latest iteration of the Vertwalker is equipped with a 3D-printed case that showcases the robot’s design. The duo describe their recent Rising Colorspace installment as “an evolving system continuously overwriting itself.” They liken the robot’s technique to the way society often overwrites its own past. With the precise mechanics and brilliant displays, it will be intriguing to see what the artistic tandem comes up with next for their wall-climbing robot.

Interested in learning more about Rising Colorspace? View more of the installment here.

 

LocoRobo is an IoT bot inspiring the next generation of Makers


LocoRobo offers a modern, cutting-edge robotics kit and a technology-rigorous learning experience.


Drexel University professor Pramod Abichandani and a team of three undergraduate students have developed LocoRobo, a low-cost robot capable of being wirelessly programmed with minimal to no effort. Born out of his own frustrations with bots, Abichandani aspires to advance programming and robotics education for everyone — from first-graders to experienced Makers — by combining a world-class programming ecosystem with a high-quality device.

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Abichandani hopes that educators and students alike will be able to utilize the ATmega32U4 based LocoRobo to increase awareness and excitement around STEM. While younger Makers can wirelessly control their robot through the companion mobile app, experienced developers can use various programming languages.

“We have developed open-source application programming interface (APIs) in C, Python, Matlab and Node.js which will allow you to dive into programming LocoRobo beyond the apps. Using these languages you will realize a higher level of control of the LocoRobo robot. While working with our APIs, you will be exposed to several robotics exercises and concepts including multi-robot motion planning and multi-sensor fusion.

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As seen inside the Atmel CES booth, the little WALL-E-like gadget is equipped with two wheels, sensors for eyes and antennas in the form of ears. Recently launched on Indiegogo, the Arduino-compatible LocoRobo comes in two separate models: the LocoBasiX and the LocoXtreme. While each possess the same custom main board, status LEDs, differential drive, ultrasponic sensors, lithium-ion battery and BLE, the LocoXtreme model boasts a number of additional features such as motor encoders, an on-board accelerometer and a gyroscopic sensor for those seeking some more sophisticated movement.

Abichandani hopes that every school throughout America (and the world) will one day have a solid robotics program. And, LocoRobo may be able to make that dream possible.