Tag Archives: robotic arm

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.


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.”

Gil Weinberg with Tyler White playing drums with a robotic arm

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]

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.


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.


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.


KATIA is a robotic arm that can scan, 3D print, laser cut and even decorate a cake

KATIA brings the functionality of an industrial robotic arm to mainstream consumers. 

Will robots replace humans? This is a question we have speculated for decades, and the World Economic Forum released a report this week predicting the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” in 2020. While the thought of robots taking over can be daunting, one San Francisco-based startup offers a positive near future where robots can work with us.


Meet KATIA — short for “Kick Ass Trainable Intelligent Arm” — the brainchild, or shall we say brain arm, of Carbon Robotics. Behind this great name is an even greater product. KATIA is a robotic arm that is modular, open source and can be manually trained for those not fluent in code, making it incredibly versatile and easy to use. Co-founders Rosanna Myers and Dan Corkum sought to create a robotics platform designed for the consumer market. Ordinary people can make use of KATIA, no programming skills or roboticist required.

KATIA is hackable, modular and customizable for each use and environment. It was built on an open platform so users can access its API via tools like Arduino and Python. Add-on attachments can be swapped on and off the robotic device, allowing KATIA to be more than a just an arm that can grab and move objects. It can be transformed into a 3D scanner, 3D printer, laser cutter, and even a cake decorator.


KATIA can be taught new movements if you simply guide the arm as it will replicate the desired motion, or you can draw a path for it to follow in the accompanying app. So if you wanted to decorate a cake, for example, KATIA can squeeze the icing in the design of your choosing.

The Carbon Robotics team recently presented at TechCrunch’s Hardware Battlefield finals back at CES 2016, where Myers said in the presentation, “The problem is that [robotic arms] are expensive. They’re difficult to use, and quite frankly not that safe. And that’s where we come in.”

KATIA can carry up to 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) and moves with sub-millimeter precision. This powerful robotic arm also ensures safety. Enclosed in its carbon fiber frame are sensors that can detect humans and things that come within close range.

Marketed as having the capabilities of an industrial robot at the price of a laptop, KATIA will be selling for $1,999 starting this March. To stay up-to-date, be sure to check out the Carbon Robotics website here.

This five-axis robotic arm will lend you a helping hand

One Maker decided to build his own 5-DOF robotic arm using ServoCity parts, a Pololu Mini Maestro controller and an Arduino Uno. 

If you’re wondering when you’ll get the time to work on all of your crazy projects, you might look forward to retirement. This is great if you’re close, though possibly discouraging for younger workers. Either way, 62-year-old “CyberMerin” decided to make his own robotic arm from scratch. As he puts it, “I promised myself was that when I did retire I was going to complete all those projects I had running around inside my head … That’s about 50 years or so of projects.”


He also notes that microprocessors didn’t exist years ago, and a machine shop was needed to make mechanical parts. It’s a great time to be alive for those that love to build stuff!

This particular project, a five-axis robotic arm is quite ambitious, works well and is extremely well-documented, even including pictures of 3D CAD models. Though complicated, the Arduino wiring is relatively simple since it communicates serially with a Mini Maestro USB servo controller. This allows the Maestro to do the “heavy lifting” for each servo. (Be sure to check out his article for a huge amount of background on building something like this.)


Human interface is handled by a nice graphic slider setup running in Processing 3. As shown in the video below it responds quickly to commands. (Check out around 3:00 when it stacks a green block on the other two.)

For an entirely different take on a robotic arm, here’s one that employs only three servos, a coffee tin for a base, and a gaming controller. Even with these limitations, it still manages to be able to manipulate objects.

Making a wearable toothbrush machine with MeArm

Punch Through Design’s Simone Giertz has created a helmet that brushes your teeth. 

With seemingly everything around us becoming smarter, it was only a matter of time before your toothbrush became Internet-connected as well. Equipped with sensors, these accessories are now capable of detecting improper brushing habits, analyzing the healthiness of your teeth and ensuring that you’ve spent enough time cleaning. Despite how intelligent they’ve become, they still lack one major convenience factor: hands-free control. Perhaps that may all change after companies lay their eyes upon Simone Giertz’s latest creation.


The San Francisco-based Maker and Creative Technologist at Punch Through Design has developed a prototype of what she calls the Toothbrush Machine a clever combination of both a skateboard helmet and a MeArm. Whereas most MeArms are equipped with a claw, she replaced it with a toothbrush instead.

The system, which we covered on Bits & Pieces earlier this year, is powered by an Arduino Uno (ATmega328) along with a servo shield and motor. As you can see from the GIF below, the Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor-like contraption features a robotic arm that drops down and precisely paces the bristles in front of the wearer’s teeth, as it begins scrubbing back and forth.


For those unfamiliar with the MeArm, the Arduino-compatible device is the brainchild of Benjamin Gray and Jack Howard, and was designed to be a simple and affordable way to put robotic arms into the reach of Makers. Essentially a shrunken-down version of ordinary industrial machines, the portable mechanism opens the doors to countless projects — clearly demonstrated by Giertz.

According to the Maker, the helmet was devised as part of a pilot episode for a kids TV show with hopes of teaching viewers about electronics by building more or less “useless robots.” It also serves as a great reminder that you don’t always have to take your projects too seriously. Regardless of how silly it may look, however, such an innovation could one day help those with impaired mobility regain their independence while providing tremendous oral hygiene benefits.


While you may not see your dentist or the ADA endorsing a product like this anytime soon, it’ll certainly be a conversation starter to say the least! And now, you can create one of your own by following Giertz’s step-by-step tutorial on Instructables.

Better yet, maybe MAKE: Magazine is onto something: why not take it step further and add a few extra arms for a Q-tips ear cleaner, a brush makeup applicator and a Gillette beard shaver.


Makerarm is a versatile robotic arm for Makers

Makerarm is a complete personal fabrication system crammed into a single, beautifully-designed robotic arm for your desktop. 

While a handful of robotic arms have emerged onto the scene recently, we’ve been holding out for one that was brought to our attention back in May. And the time has finally arrived! Now live on Kickstarter, the aptly named Makerarm is a complete personal fabrication system packed into a sleek robotic arm that sits right on your desktop.


The affordable gadget, which has an impressive work area of 378.5 square inches, is equipped with interchangeable heads for various applications. These include 3D printing both filament and resin, plotting on any surface, CNC milling at high speeds, engraving with a 500mW laser and soldering PCBs, among countless others. What’s more, Makerarm boasts a reach of 15.7 inches and is capable of assembling electronics by picking parts up and placing them down using either vacuum pump coupled suction cups, electromagnets or grippers.

Makerarm is being billed with many of the components you would expect from today’s most popular 3D printers, namely a 10″ Z-axis and the ability to extrude an assortment of materials. The modular tool also comes with features like auto-leveling to ensure consistency and Wi-Fi connectivity for wireless control. Plus, it can work in coordination with other Makerarms to accomplish specific tasks.


The impressive SCARA robot is built around an ATmega2560 responsible for handling the I/Os and motion control, as well as another MPU that serves as its brain. Makerarm comes with its own browser-based software, which allows remote management from any device via Wi-Fi. This means you’ll be able to do things like view Makerarm in 3D, train it to perform repeated actions, load designs and models for one-click 3D printing, milling and engraving, connect third party apps, and even create custom apps of your own through its hardware development kit and API.

On top of all that, Makerarm’s UI can detect which head is attached and will only display options and information relevant to that particular function. And, should you wish to use your favorite CAD/CAM and tool path generation program such as Autodesk Fusion 360, you can go right ahead!


Is this the piece of machinery you’ve been dying to have on your workbench or desktop? Then head over to Makerarm’s Kickstarter campaign, where the team is currently seeking $349,750. Units are expected to begin shipping a year from now.

Dobot is an open source, ATmega2560 based robotic arm

Dobot is an affordable robotic arm with industrial precision that can be controlled in seven different ways.

Inspired by robotic arms found throughout the industrial setting, one Bay Area startup is looking to bring that same precision and versatility to the desk of Makers. Dobot is driven by the combination of Arduino and stepper motors, and boasts a sleek aluminum alloy frame.


Designed for just about everyone, the low-cost, four-axis Dobot can follow your commands as it draws, writes, texts, moves and grabs objects. Not only can you select from five different nozzles depending on the task, it can be controlled in a number of ways — a computer mouse, a smartphone app, EEG, voice, gesture, Leap Motion and vision — and can even double as a tabletop 3D printer, capable of printing with both plastic and food-based filaments. Have your hands full? Hate repetitive chores? Now there’s an intuitive robotic arm that can take care of all that for you.

“Can Dobot use a mobile phone to turn off the lights? Can Dobot fetch an apple in a folder by brain control? Of course! We are firm believers in furthering the possibilities of the Dobot robot arm! Now it’s your turn to make your magic of Dobot happen,” its creators explain. “Dobot can help you feed and tickle your pets, play interactive games with friends, and play board games against the robot.”


The arm itself is built around the mighty Arduino Mega (ATmega2560) along with an Arduino shield, and includes a high accuracy speed reducer motor that provides a consistent supply of power. Meanwhile, communication is handled through UART/Bluetooth.

“For software, we have done a great deal of optimization. The software supports speed look-ahead small line blocks interpolation algorithm, able to fit any type of curve and ensure processing efficiency,” the team writes. “Moreover, with the Three Axes Linkage Method fine interpolation, you can control the trajectory of the end effector of the Dobot accurately, empowering it with complex curvilinear motions.”


However, arguably its most notable feature is its incredible precision, which is down to 0.2mm when performing repetitive actions. So when it’s not laser etching, jotting down notes or even transforming words into Chinese calligraphy, Dobot can basically do anything you want it to. What’s more, Dobot will be a welcomed addition to any household or workbench. That’s because its customized stepper motor minimizes the noise associated with movement, making it much quieter than other low-cost servo robotic arms. And thanks to its four axes of motion, it will take up less room.

Keeping the Maker crowd in mind, the team says that they will open source the robotic arm following its crowdfunding campaign. Users will soon be able to write their own commands, upload them to the server and share them with others in the community. Currently live on Kickstarter, Dobot soared past its initial goal of $36,000 and is inching closer to the $500,000 mark. Delivery is expected to begin in December 2015.

Control a robotic arm with force-sensitive hand gestures

Maker manipulates a robotic arm with pressure-based hand gestures on the Sensel Morph. 

Ray Kampmeier recently finished a project that enabled him to manipulate a robotic arm using force-sensitive, five-finger hand gestures. To accomplish this, the self-proclaimed hobbyist employed a MeArm, an Arduino Uno (ATmega328), four servo motors, and a servo shield to control the mechanism.


Sensel’s soon-to-be-released touch interface — the Morph — is used to command the robotic arm in four different ways: force down, rotation, pinch and forward/backward. For example, placing five contact points down and twisting the wrist will rotate the base, applying pressure on four fingertips will raise and lower the arm, while moving along its XY axes will extend and retract it. What’s more, Kampmeier reveals that pinching all five fingertips together on the center of the touchpad will cause its attached claw to close.


“Without the force sensitivity, I don’t think it would have been as magical of an experience for me to control the robot arm . It would have been a pretty binary detection of force — you have applied force and you have not-applied force. In this device, there’s a very robust range of force sensing. That level of control, and seeing that in the robot arm, gives a magical sense of feedback,” the Maker adds.

Intrigued? Kampmeier has made all of the code available on GitHub. While this may be a simple example of Sensel’s latest technology, it’ll certainly be exciting to see what the future has in store once the Maker community gets their hands on the interface. They won’t have to wait too long, as the Bay Area startup is planning to launch a Kickstarter campaign at the end of August. Until then, watch the project in action below!

This Arduino-powered robot will open your beers for you

Having trouble opening your bottle? Let this robotic device do it for you.

We’ve all been there: The big game is about to start, you head over to the fridge to grab a cold brewski, only to find out it isn’t a twist-off cap and there’s no bottle opener in sight. Luckily, thanks to a group of Makers, you won’t even need to get up from the couch let alone have to open your own beer.


Led by Maker Sasha Schrandt, the team successfully modded a non-functioning robot to successfully open a beer bottle using some DC motors, a relay shelf, some resistors and an Arduino Duemilanove (ATmega328), among several other electronic components.

After stumbling across the old robotic device, the Makers decided that it would be a good idea to bring this piece of technology back to life and to give it a new purpose, one in which would come in handy for a party, a big game, or just any lazy Sunday. That purpose? To become an automated beer opener.

“The task of controlling a robot to have it interact with specifically shaped objects and operate heavy loads is challenging and required significant prototyping and modelling. After many tests and many failures, we were very excited to watch our robot successfully maneuver through arm movements to open a beer bottle,” Schandt writes.


The robot is controlled by the ATmega328, which is attached to a relay shield. Connected to those are three recycled DC motors, switches, wires, and a couple resistors. Additionally, the Makers employed a couple zip ties, nuts, bolts, washers and short screws, along with a MDF board to mount everything on, and eight empty soup cans plus various scrap pieces of metal and rods.

Schandt reveals that there were four primary tasks to prepare the hardware for the robot. These included weight reduction of the robot arm to allow maximum torque / force from the arm; bottle holders for the beers (which were created using the empty soup cans); mount the bottle opener and limit switches to the robot; and, mount the robot parts to a sheet of MDF to maintain alignment.


To reduce the weight of the arm, the team simply took off the last two motors of the robot arm to make the carriage head lighter. This left them with an arm that was much easier to control and to get the necessary torque to open the bottle caps. From there, all that was left was a bit of coding and connecting the electronics. After some programming magic and electrical know-how, the robotic contraption was ready.

So, did it work? The robot was able to open seven out of the eight bottles successfully. Not too shabby, if you ask us! Interested in crafting your own bottle bot? Head over to the project’s official page here for a step-by-step breakdown of the build.

Makerarm is a complete fabrication system

This all-in-one personal fabricator can 3D print, laser engrave, mill and more. 

While the 3D printing world has provided us with some pretty remarkable creations thus far, from robots extruding structures to machines whipping up chocolate treats, one Austin-based startup may be raising the bar even higher. That’s because the Techjango team is about to unveil one of the slickest projects yet. Even better, we’ll be able to get a firsthand look right at Maker Faire Bay Area.


Dubbed Makerarm, the gizmo is exactly what it sounds like: a personal fabrication system packed into a sleek robotic arm that sits on your desktop. The modular device, which boasts a build envelope of 32 inches and an arm reach of 30 inches, is equipped with interchangeable heads for various applications that extend well beyond just 3D printing. These include plotting, engraving with a 500mW laser, milling at incredibly high speeds, PCB assembly for electronics, among several others. Future plans even entail pick-and-place capabilities using suction, electromagnetic or gripper heads.

We first saw Techjango’s proof-of-concept nearly a year ago — you too can see it in this video. And from the looks of the clip, though in very rudimentary form, it would appear to be driven by some sort of Atmel based Arduino.


The Makerarm is being billed with many of the components one would expect from today’s desktop 3D printers, including a 10″ Z-axis. What’s more, it comes with features like auto-leveling (particularly useful as it’s meant to be mounted), Wi-Fi for wirelsss connection, and even expandability through add-on compartments. The impressive gadget is built around the versatile ATmega2560 MCU, tasked with handling the I/Os and motion control.

Safe to say after watching its teaser reel, the Makerarm is surely not what most of the DIY community has been accustomed to with conventional Cartesian or Delta-style machinery. While most of the project remains under wraps, we can’t wait to see it in action — that’s for sure!