Archives for October 2008

FIRST Report: Drivetrain Concept Explored on Chief Delphi


In the latest feed from Chief Delphi, this post caught my eye. Thought this would be a good entry for the weekly RobotNext FIRST Report.  At RobotNext, we are using Tuesdays as our weekly update for FIRST robotics.  Watch here for information that might be useful to your FIRST Robotics Challenge team. 

So, in this entry, there is a design for a very interesting drivetrain concept.  To quote from the post: 

"Lately several members of the team have been discussing the possibility of doing a wooden drive platform with a live axle system. This is one rendition of the concept that I came up with."

Click on small photo above for a link to the original post on Chief Delphi if you want to see the original and larger version of the design.

This drivetrain is built around the idea of being simple.  Using only basic tools and commonly available materials to construct it, the platform is lightweight and uncomplicated.

"For this particular version I was trying to cut manufacturing down to a minimum. Ideally it could be built with a drill press and a bandsaw (or even a hand drill and a hacksaw), but there are some details that still need to be worked out."

Check out the original post below on the Chief Delphi site:

pic: Drivetrain Concept
Mon, 27 Oct 2008 05:21:17 GMT

Technorati Tags: ,

The Build-It Guy: Mini Robot – Sculpture

Ok, so it's not really a robot, but this little "pretend robot" would be fun to try to build nonetheless. The website I Make has a neat project on how to make a mini robot sculpture. Like this quote from the person who put up this project, see what monstrosities you can make.  Follow the link by clicking on the small photo for more information.


"One day I took some of the parts and soldered them into what I wished was a functional spider robot – but even though it didn't work, it was pretty in its own way. It was also fun and inexpensive and fast to make."

All you need to make the one shown which is a spider bot is some capacitors and resistors and a small chip. Well, if anything you could practice some soldering and have a little spider bot to keep you company, or a cool Halloween decoration.

HEALTH and WELLNESS: Robots to help elderly stay independent

As the baby boomers age, there will be a large segment of the population that will be living into their seventies, eighties, or even nineties.  This means sometimes that a person will need some type of extended care in the home.  Here come robots to the rescue.  Robots can help the elderly keep up with medicines, schedules, and even be a companion.

“This is the future of aging,” said Fillia Makedon, a professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Texas at Arlington. “Technology will let people grow old at home.”  Follow the link below to the article.

HEALTH & WELLNESS: Robots to help elderly stay independent
Grand Forks Herald, ND – 1 hour ago
Like smart pets that never require feeding, robots will scoot from room to room to wake the homeowners in the morning, remind them to eat and send for help

HEALTH & WELLNESS: Robots to help elderly stay independent – Grand Forks Herald
Sat, 25 Oct 2008 05:04:19 GMT

Technorati Tags: ,

Miniature jumping robot mimics grasshopper

Insects have the solution to a very serious limitation of small robots.  When a small robot has to navigate difficult terrain such as a rock-strewn surface of another planet, it faces a problem.  This difficulty is that to a small robot even a small pebble is a giant boulder.

Researchers have described the problem in the following way: 

"Small robots have big problems when it comes to efficient locomotion in natural and rough terrains. This effect is usually referred to as the 'Size Grain Hypothesis' [1], which is described as an 'increase in environmental rugosity with decreasing body size'. That is the smaller the robot, the bigger the obstacles. To circumvent the inefficiencies of crawling, walking, or running for miniature robots, researchers at EPFL are exploring jumping as a more efficient approach (others have also developed jumping robots.)"

Some insects have utilized this mode of transportation for a long time.  Certainly, this is a very efficient way for insects to get over blockages in their path.  Jumping allows a more direct line of travel in most cases.  Small robots can utilize this same way of getting around in a rough terrain.   In this paper researchers present their research on an original 5cm, 7g jumping robot. It can leap over obstacles "more than 27 times its own size and outperforms existing jumping robots by one order of magnitude with respect to jump height per weight and jump height per size."

The big question is–how does this little bot work? The short description as given by the researchers in the recently published paper  is the following.

"It employs elastic elements in a four bar linkage leg system to allow for very powerful jumps and adjustment of the jumping force, take-off angle and force profile during the acceleration phase."

So now you have to see this little machine in action.  Follow the link to see this little bot in action.  I have found the download to be a little slow so have patience–it is worth the wait.


Miniature jumping robot
Awesom-o (
Wed, 22 Oct 2008 07:27:00 GMT


M. Kaspari and M. D. Weiser, “The size-grain hypothesis and interspecific
scaling in ants,” Functional Ecology, vol. 13, no. 4, pp. 530–538,

Kovac, M. , Fuchs, M. , Guignard, A. , Zufferey, J.-C. and Floreano, D. (2008) A miniature 7g jumping robot . Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA'2008), pp. 373 – 378.

Technorati Tags: ,

Robotic Ants Building Homes on Mars? – ICT Results

ICT Results

Robots based on life forms such as insects are the model for most swarm-type robot systems.  This is just one more example of that idea.  Small machines that work together for some larger purpose bring efficiency to space robotic explorers. 

This efficiency comes from the fact that such systems as these can actually adapt themselves to multiple functions.  At least this is how I see this developing.  These robot systems can be used for many applications, but may have found their "home" in exploring other planets.

For more on this, read the article listed below.

Robotic ants building homes on Mars?
ICT Results, Belgium – 54 minutes ago
Robot swarms are particularly useful in situations where you need high redundancy. If one robot malfunctions or is damaged it does not cause the mission to

Robotic ants building homes on Mars? – ICT Results
Mon, 20 Oct 2008 22:02:16 GMT

Technorati Tags: ,,

FIRST Report: Labview 8.5.1 Now available for download

Hey, for all of you involved with FIRST robotics, this entry came across from Chief Delphi last week. In keeping with our efforts to have Tuesdays be our day for FIRST, we thought this might be helpful.

For anyone interested in the software for this version of LabVIEW, you can follow the link to the full post on Chief Delphi.

“I’m not sure if it’s been widely or clearly announced, but…
You can now download and install the LabVIEW 8.5.1 environment with an extended trial license good until Jan 15 2010 if you want to follow along with the beta testers here at the following link.….aspx?id=10934

Labview 8.5.1 Now available for download
Thu, 16 Oct 2008 15:21:12 GMT


Technorati Tags: ,

The Build-It Guy: Controlling A Robot With A Wii Fit Board

Well, this past week, as I was looking through hackaday  I found a very interesting project. Juan Gonzalez has built a control using the wii fit board for a robot that he calls Skybot. A youtube video can be seen here at Wii fit board controlling Skybot .

"[Gonzalez]managed to control a robot of his own design with the balance board, making it turn when he leans to the sides and moving forward and back when he leans in those directions."

The best thing about this project is that the Skybot can be controlled from a Mac, GNU/Linux, FreeBSD, or Windows operating systems. The site for this project is in Spanish, so you may have to use Babel Fish  or Google Translate  to read it, but the site can be found at . It gives you the instructions you need to build a Skybot and maybe you can change it up and control it from your IPhone.

New mission for Mars robot


This is a mission that the robotic visitor to the Red Planet may not complete.  Officials at the Jet Propulsion Lab realize the difficulty of the long trip.  See the JPL press release.  The Sun has a report on the journey and the robotic explorer which will attempt it.

THE NASA robot roaming Mars is set to embark on a two-year mission to reach a giant crater on the planet. The Mars rover Opportunity needs to travel seven miles to reach the crater, named Endeavor.  See the rest of the article here.

New mission for Mars robot – The Sun
Fri, 17 Oct 2008 06:17:00 GMT

Technorati Tags: ,

Koreans Develop Robotic Plant

Chonnam National University /Yonhap

Chonnam National University /Yonhap

The robot research laboratory at Chonnam National University has developed a robotic plant that has humidifying, oxygen-producing, aroma-emitting, and kinetic functions. The robot was developed using characteristics of plants normally grown for ornamental purposes. It is 130 cm tall and 40 cm in diameter and consists of a pot, a stem, and five buds of a flower reminiscent of a rose of Sharon.  See the rest of the story here.

Robotic plants to produce oxygen are an interesting idea.  So if the plant robot could also remove carbon dioxide in the process, then it would mimic a real plant's function in limiting greenhouse gases.  Of course, you would need a lot of robotic plants to accomplish the task of removing excess carbon dioxide from our atmosphere, but it does make you think about it.

This article also makes the point that this type of robot opens a new field (pun intended) for robotics

.  We have seen many types of robots imitating animal and insect functions.  Now it is the turn of the flora of the world to provide the next innovative robots.

Links for this article.

( )

Technorati Tags: ,

Immune System For Electronics? = Robot Apocalypse?

For those who don’t know me, let me tell you that I like to be prepared for the impossible. So when I say, I’ve been preparing for the Robot Apocalypse; truth be told, I’ve actually been researching anything that may lead to such end. So when I see Bristol Robotics Lab, which is run by University of Bristol and University of the West of England, doing research on an Immune System for Electonics, i.e. giving robots self-awareness and self-regenerative powers–I begin to fear the end is nigh.

God Save Us All!

NOTE: Comments Expressed by the Author are not in any way affiliated with RobotNext and the other Authors

Immune System For Electronics? Electronics That Can Diagnose And
Science Daily (press release) – 23 hours ago
The part of the project to be carried out in Bristol will be based at Bristol Robotics lab (BRL), which is jointly run by the University of Bristol and UWE.

Immune System For Electronics? Electronics That Can Diagnose And … – Science Daily (press release)
Thu, 02 Oct 2008 14:32:05 GMT

Verified by MonsterInsights