Friday, May 27, 2011

Dear TI

Dear TI,

If you are not too busy, perhaps you could develop a new calculator for professional engineers, one that is not limited based on the demands of the College Board and the SAT.

Perhaps you find someone at TI that could develop a calculator with a modern display, or even one that could compete with MATLAB.

TI please understand that some of us use our calculators to do work instead of just take tests. Hassling hobbyists, who are actually innovating, just reminds us how little effort you have put into improving your calculator products for engineers.

How about wireless support, an SD card slot, data logging or if you don't have any hardware people around maybe you could provide some updates to ME*Pro and EE*Pro. You don't even have to do the programming, you can just upload the code somewhere with an open source license and we will take care of it.

If you are not interested in improving on the TI-89 Titanium, let us know so we can get started with an OSHW calculator design.



Thursday, May 26, 2011

ROS Documentation Contest: Round One

We have sent out t-shirts to our first round of winners of the ROS Documentation Contest.

Ugo Cupcic from the Shadow Robot Company provided complete documentation for the shadow robot stack. The stack includes not only the software necessary to get the Shadow Robot hardware up and running, but also includes a CyberGlove driver and a 3D Mouse driver.

While we can not approve of the robot's method for making "coffee", the pneumatic muscles 20 electric motors clearly allow the hand to be quite dexterous and capable of many useful tasks. The hand can also perform delicate operations such as picking up light bulbs or using tweezers, though it looks like it may need gloves to do the dishes.

David Lu!! from the Media and Machines Lab at Washington University in St. Louis is another great documentor providing documentation for several stacks.

The Polonius stack provides a GUI interface for researchers to perform Human Robot Interaction (HRI) experiments. The GUI provides a means for non-programmers to control a smach state machine and trigger actionlib events to control the robot during 'wizard of oz style' experiments.

The motion_capture stack provides tools for integrating data in c3d format from a motion capture systems into a point cloud in ROS.

Mr. Lu!! has also developed roswiki_node, a concept for meta documentation that generates wiki formatted documentation from a package's source code. A great idea that could use more contributors to expand the package's capabilities. The tool could also be useful for documenting your next ROS package.

Speaking of documentation, we still have t-shirts so Round Two of the ROS Documentation Contest is now open. So enter your documentation today!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

In Stock: OLLO and more

There are some new products available in the I Heart Engineering store.

OLLO?! OLLO is robot dinosaurs! You may also be able to construct things other than robot dinosaurs with OLLO, but I'm not sure why you would. The kit comes with one gear motor to enable your robot dinosaurs to move. Available here.

The Robotis Dynamixel AX-12+ servo is being discontinued and is replaced by the AX-12A. The AX-12A has some external design improvements but looks to be backwards compatible for most uses. Now in stock.

There are also a variety of cordless butane powered soldering irons available.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Denso Academic Industrial Robot

Denso looks to be getting into the low cost industrial robotics market with a 7 axis (6+gripper) arm that they claim should be available for less than 2000 €.  This product aims to give students a chance to get practical experience programming an industrial robot arm with a maximum payload of 150 grams.

On the software side it can work with Denso specific software that is used for larger arms such as WINCAPS III, b-CAP and  ORiN2. It can also be used with LabView.

More information is available here here.

It will be interesting to see how this compares to some of the other low cost robot arms.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Astromech Droid running ROS

If you have recently come into possession of a astromech droid such as an R2-D2 or R2-M5, good news, they are now compatible with ROS.

This R2-M5 built by Björn Giesler, a member of the R2 builder's club, has working motion control, voice recognition, SLAM and people tracking using a Kinect 3D sensor.

Source code and documentation is available here.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Playback: Assorted ICRA 2011 Videos

Now we return to our regularly scheduled programming.

A footstep planner for the Nao

Nao localization using a head mounted 2D laser

Whiteboard cleaning robot

"Textured Occupancy Grids for Monocular Localization Without Features"

OpenGrasp looks interesting.

The use of GPUs will continue to improve computer vision performance. Hopefully the GPUs will keep getting smaller.

Mapping with Kinect