Friday, April 29, 2011

Bilibot Special Offer

The developer of the Bilibot have a special offer for getting a developer rebate of up to $350 on the purchase of a new BiliBot if you develop an opensource application and share video taped results. Bonus points are awarded for co-operation with other biliboters!

As Garratt Gallagher says, "Our goal with this promotion is to get new developers involved in the community, and encourage people to share their efforts. Also, we feel that the developer community is our biggest asset, because with every cool application, Bilibot and ROS become more attractive as robotics platforms."

More information is available here.

MIT 150 Open House Tomorrow!

It looks like MIT wasn't able to participate in events earlier this month, since it has been busy planning it's birthday party.

The MIT 150 Open House will have lots of flying robots, underwater robots, Lego robots, Lincoln Robots. There will also be lectures on sticky robots, repair robots, safety robots and more. There will also be plenty of non-robotic events, and events for kids.

The MIT Open House kicks off the Cambridge Science Festival, soft of like a rock festival dedicated to science.

It all happens tomorrow April 30th in Boston Cambridge, Massachusetts. You may want to bring a map.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

NRW2011: Boston Robot Block Party

Here is the final bits and bytes of our National Robotics Week coverage, with photos from the Robot Block Party at the Museum of Science in Boston.

There was lots of excitement at the Robot Block Party!

The VGo robot provides a great telepresense solution for highschool students.

There was training available for kids to learn how to operate a giant robot arm.

A robot from the UMass Lowell's robotics lab.

Myomo is a robot for teaching people how to move, this helps with recovery after a stroke.

MakeIt Labs was showing off some of the things they built at their workshop.

We caught one of the robots taking a nap amidst all of the chaos.

Boston has a harbor, therefore Boston Engineering has robofish.

 Researchers from the Tufts University Center for Engineering Education and Outreach presented some great Lego NXT and Tetrix based robots. The are working diligently to improve the LabVIEW experience when programming the NXT brick.

Unlike their rivals who were unable to attend, the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences had a great presence at the party and helped raise awareness of academic robotics research in Boston. Professor Robert Wood’s Microrobotics Lab presented their work building RoboBees.

The Boy Scouts were excited to receive their robotics merit badges delivered by an iRobot SUGV.

We will back in Boston in the near future for more field reporting. If you are near Boston or New York and your company, research lab or hacker space would like to show off your robots, send us an email to arrange a visit!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Later this week

Please, submit your entries in for the ROS documentation contest ASAP.

In other news from Maryland, this weekend will be the 11th Annual Robot Fest and Mid-Atlantic Mini Maker Faire. Hopefully there will be some crab robots or robots for automated crabbing or crab fighting robots.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Updated BiliBot Info

We managed to get some more details on the BiliBot Developer Edition from the busy roboticists over at the BiliBot Project.

The on-board computer will come with room for expansion, in addition to USB it will have PCI & MiniPCI slots available. Built-in wireless connectivity is provided via 802.11. Connectivity via Bluetooth, ZigBee, and etc can be added separately.

We are serious about Bilibot being a platform for developers, and not just a robot toy.
- Garratt Gallagher The Bilibot Project

On the electrical side, the BiliBot has a 12V power bus shared with the computer that has 2 amps of current available. There is also a 5V supply that can provide 3 amps. The power board provides headers to access both of these supplies and an Atmel ATMega128 microcontroller with additional features available via add-on boards. The add-on boards will have a similar layout and functionality to Arduino shields. Actual Arduino shields may or may not be pin compatible, though power and ground will be in the same place. Arduino code however will need to be ported to the ATMega128. If you need Arduino Compatibility, pre-drilled holes are provided to attach your own board. The source code for the BiliBot will be included so developers can easily add sensors or other custom functionality.

The arm is equipped with two limit switches and an encoder where it attaches to the base, while the gripper will use current sensing to estimate the force being applied.

A URDF model of the BiliBot should be available for test drive using Gazebo in a week or so. CAD models will be available at some point in the future after BiliBot 1.0 is released.

The BiliBot is really looking like an excellent platform for open source robot development using ROS and I'm looking forward to all of the great videos the BiliBot will star in.

NRW2011: More Videos

Here is some video from our visit to the Robotics Institute.

This video shows only a sparse sampling of the excitement at the MoS Robot Block Party in Boston.

Friday, April 22, 2011

BiliBot Developer Edition

The BiliBot is now available for sale! The developer edition is available in a variety of stylish colors (Red, Blue, Green, White, Black), and includes custom laser engraving, perfect for putting your robot's name or URI.

The BiliBot comes with Ubuntu and ROS pre-installed, to make it easy to get started with development. The on-board computer is equipped with a 3.1 GHz Intel i3 processor with 4GB RAM which should provide enough processing power to perform most tasks on-board and at the very least it is sufficient for compressing the data before sending it to the ground station.

One of the great new features is the BiliArm, a basic robot arm with two degrees of freedom (elbow, gripper) driven by gear motors it allows the Bilibot to lift objects up to 3 lbs from ground level to 17" into the air.

Everything you need to get running, including a modified Kinect, is in the BiliBot kit available here for $1,200.00

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

NRW2011: RobOrchestra

Our National Robotics Week coverage continues with more from the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Club and their work on the amazing RobOrchestra.

The Vibratron is the newest member of the RobOrchestra. This amazing musician was built by club members with a total budget of $1000.

The Vibratron uses an Arduino Mega to control 30 individual solenoid gates which drop steel balls onto the vibration keys. Using the Arduino Mega they were able to avoid complications with multiplexing I/O lines. Notes are read in using a MIDI shield to receive standard MIDI signals from a sequencer or keyboard. The balls are recirculated using an Archimedes screw to raise them to the bucket at the top.

This video includes portions of a performance of Marc-André Hamelin's "Circus Galop" written for player piano. All of the notes were transposed into the Vibratron's musical range.

If you are musically inclined or know anyone who is, Andrew Burks, the project leader from the CMU Robotics Club, offered to have the Vibratron perform musical compositions submitted from the internet.

Anyone who has a song they want us to play, a question about the group, or a suggestion for our next instrument, should contact roborchestra =at=

If you want to compose music for the Vibratron, there are only a few things you need to know:
It is set up to play MIDI notes 48-77.
  • It listens on channels 3 and 13. The difference being, on channel 3 any notes out if its range are ignored, while on channel 13 any notes out of its range are transposed to the closest octave.
  • It only plays NoteOn commands, and the velocity needs to be set greater than zero.
  • It cannot play more than around 10 notes at once (because of power limits). the xylophone has no such limitations.
  • The Xylobot is the same, but on channels 2 and 12 for MIDI notes 60-76

Any MIDI files we get before May we will record the robot playing and post by mid-May.

You can catch more videos and updates on the RobOrchestra by subscribing to CMUroboclub on YouTube.

NRW2011: CMU Robotics Club

The Carnegie Mellon Robotics Club, founded in 1984, is one of the oldest collegiate robotics clubs in the country. We stopped by again this year during National Robotics Week to see what kind of robots they have been working on recently.

The HyLo Project looked interesting, with the goal of developing robots capable of hybrid locomotion (HyLo). The Stairbot is an early example of this.

The MonkeyBot is the continuation of the HyLo project, with current efforts focusing on control.

Another one of the many projects under development was a quadrotor helicopter.

The club also has an excellent selection of shirts available.

Up next is a performance of the CMU Robotics Club's RobOrchestra.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

NRW2011: Robotics Institute

Just finished our adventure into the Pitt, and this time we decided not to walk from the train station to the CMU campus.

In addition to being famous for robots, PGH is also famous for its plethora of bridges.

Before heading over to the Robotics Institute at CMU we stopped by and checked out some of the Mobot races.

This farm bot is designed to work in an orchard where it can help with spraying and monitoring the condition of the crops.

Kids were having fun driving a snake bot along a series of pipes. The modular design can allow it to have different lengths for different tasks.

Even on earth this robot is so spacy.

Here is CMU's lunar X-Prize robot. It was interesting hearing about how much testing they did, and how they were able to use non-radiation hardened equipment by using redundancy, consensus based computing and testing to ensure functionality. Also, if you are interested in radiation hardened robotics this may be interesting.

A mine exploration robot for subterranean mapping.

I believe this one is used for sampling ice cores autonomously.

Autonomous robot boats for environmental monitoring.

Calliope is an educational robot designed to work with the Tekkotsu robotics framework.

We will be posting more photos and videos from Pittsburgh soon, in the mean time we will be at the Boston robot block party later today. You can find more National Robotics Week events near you.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Unsorted Data

The main benefit of predator is that it means that SkyNet will be open source. On the downside, it looks like SkyNet will be very robust and difficult to stop.

Here is an excellent analysis of how to select an appropriate battery for small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS).

Some comics for National Robotics Week.

An Egg-Bot contest.

I'm not sure what you need ±20,000°/sec for but this gyro can measure it.

Also, if you are in Boston you may be interested in The Flea at MIT this Sunday.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

NRW2011: Video from AUVSI Robotics Demo in DC

Here is the video from the National Robotics Week event in DC.

Later this week, I Heart Robotics will be providing IRL coverage of events in Pittsburgh this Friday and the robot block party in Boston on Saturday. You can find out about more robot related events near you here.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

NRW2011: Photos from AUVSI Robotics Demo in DC

The AUVSI Foundation's robotics demonstration has been a great kickoff to National Robotics Week.

The IGVC demo will continue into Monday, so if you can't make it to DC, you can call or email your senator or representative and suggest that they check out the robots just outside their offices.

The University of Delaware team had a ground robot with strong emphasis on computer vision. They utilized the Segway RMP for the drive system, and worked with OpenCV to implement their vision algorithms. For more information about the University of Delaware IGVC team you can check out their website.

The team from the City College of New York has a robot called CATA that used an interesting omnidirectional camera system, on the software side they utilized ROS and OpenCV.

The team from Fordham University used a Pioneer 3-AT along with a Bumblebee stereo camera on their IGVC robot.

The team from the US Naval Academy had a robot that used a solar panel for accessory power, and it also acted as a sun shade helping make the laptop screen visible. Their robot was controlled with MATLAB and used OpenCV for computer vision.

The robot from UMass Lowell had a beautifully machined frame. In a show of ingenuity the team utilized an Android based cellphone as a magnometer replacement.

All the way up from the University of Central Florida, this robot is fully JAUS compliant. This allows algorithms to be tested on the ground station and easily moved to the on-board computer running Ubuntu.

Video of the event will be up tomorrow as part of our continuing coverage of National Robotics Week 2011.