Hopping Robot Has Soft Outer Layer with Metal Insides


Origami Frog

An origami frog is not able to jump or even move at all unassisted.  It is folded from a single piece of paper as in the image at the left.  However, engineers at two universities have come up with a jumping robot that is something amazing.  About all it has in common with a real frog is that it has a soft body and the ability to hop.  That is because the robotic hopper has a soft outside and a metal interior and is made of 3-D printed parts.

Scientists at Harvard University and UC San Diego have created the first robot with a 3D-printed body that transitions from an outer layer that is soft to the touch into a rigid metal core.  (The Christian Science Monitor – Science Notebook)

So far in tests, the robots have proven to be durable and powerful.  The engineers have demonstrated that the bots can hop about 2.5 feet high and last for more than 30 jumps.

Engineers have designed and built a frog-like jumping robot that incorporates hard and soft parts — and they’ve done it with a 3D printer.  (Los Angeles Times – Science Now)

What applications may this robotic hopper have in the future?  The engineers reported in the journal Science that the primary applications in the search and rescue field.  But, because it is designed to have a soft exterior, it may also be able to operate around humans more safely that a robot with a hard metal exterior.

Biologically inspired robots continue to be a mainstay for robotic designs.  This is only one of the latest in the field of biomimetics.  Many robots fall into this category.  There have been snakebots, robofish, and now a frog-inspired robot.

Let RobotNext know what you think about this.


Los Angeles Times,  Watch it jump! 3D-printed hopper could lead to better rescue robots

The Christian Science Monitor, Hopping 3-D printed robot has soft exterior, heart of metal

Seahorse tails provide inspiration for future robots

imageAdding to the list from nature that has inspired robotics development is the seahorse.  And what is it about the seahorse that is so applicable to robots?  It’s the tail. Actually, it’s the shape of the tail that is important for future bots.

I did not realize until I read this post on Gizmag, that seahorses have square-shaped tails.  This unique structure allows for great strength and flexibility.

The researchers used 3-D printers to build prototypes of the seahorse tail structures and found that the square shape was more durable and stronger than a cylindrical shape.

The key to better, tougher and more coordinated robots as well as improved surgical procedures, among other advances, could derive their inspiration from an unlikely source – the odd, square tail of the all-around strange seahorse.

So, once again nature is proving to be a model for the development of new and useful robots.  You can read the complete article on this at the link below.  Let RobotNext know what you think about this.

Source: Gizmag – The key to awesome future robots could be seahorse tails

Perth engineer invents world’s first robotic bricklayer

imageOne of the oldest skilled jobs in the world may now be done by robots.  Mark Pivac, an engineer from Perth, Australia built a robotic bricklayer that can lay the brick walls for a house in two days.  The bot is capable of laying 1,000 bricks an hour and it can basically do this 24 hours a day.  It could potentially build the brickwork for 150 homes in a year.

Hadrian the robot is named after the famous Roman wall.  It works from a 3D computer-aide design program that pinpoints through its algorithms, the location of each and every brick going into the house.  Because the brickbot has an telescoping arm with a reach of 28 meters, it’s able to work from one location on the home site.

There are two ways to look at this development:  Either the end of a labor-intensive, back-breaking job for a human, or one more job a robot will take from people.  What is your take on this?


“WORLD, meet your new bricklayer.”

Source:  MARA FOX,  PerthNow

Perth inventor creates robot brickie



The end of the week is here and its time to look back and see some of the stories about robotics from the past few days. Here are the links to the items that showed up on the RobotNext feeds over the past few days. Enjoy.

"I am looking for (a) floor cleaning robot(s)." Robot Reviewshttp://bit.ly/1iItmi2

"First animatronic robots speaking any world language appearing in Astana." AKIpress News Agency – http://bit.ly/1iItIFn

"Haslett High School robotics team takes top 'bot' in the world." Lansing State Journal | lansingstatejournal.comhttp://on.lsj.com/1iIuimr

"Sphero Robot Maker Orbotix Raises $15.5 Million." Re/codehttp://on.recode.net/1pYzjLs

"Fear not the 'bot? As robots take jobs, experts ask if humans will keep up." Crain's Detroit Businesshttp://bit.ly/1pYzQ0a

"Interact, Program & Play w/Romo, Your iOS Robot Companion" – Mac Observer Dealshttp://bit.ly/1pYALO4

"Wearable Robots on the Rise to Help Paraplegics Walk." ABC News | WTKA-AM http://bit.ly/1pYBEGf

"Everything You Need to Know About Terrifying, Wonderful Robotic Snakes." Mother Joneshttp://bit.ly/1pYCa7a

"Mysterious robotic plane hits 500 days in space; what's it doing?" http://bit.ly/1pYCjYk

"Robotic Automation: Another Moore's Law?" Innovation Insights | Wired.comhttp://wrd.cm/1pYCzGU

"Robotic harvesters may be the future." The Growerhttp://bit.ly/1pYCMK1

"Robotic rock stars shine at festival." Stripes Central | Stripeshttp://1.usa.gov/1pYDqqU


RobotCity Workshop – Where You Can Make Your Own (Robot) Friends

Robotcity workshop-thumb-407x387-177649   

Photo Credit:  RobotCity Workshop

RobotCity Workshop may well be the only store of its kind in the country, a visionary shop with the slogan "Make your own friends."  Education has been a central part of this establishment's mission for years, as they have worked with school students to build robotics projects.  Now, they are doing the same for adults.

With a retail outlet in the front of the store, and a workshop on the premises, anyone can learn how to build a robot.  Of course, there are other projects available too. 

The shop carries all types of robots.  They range from personal robots, cleaning robots, security robots, and other categories of robots as well.  In addition, the RobotCity Workshop offers hobby kits for all ages and abilities, electronic parts, and, of course, the hardware to hold it all together.  Everything for the robot builder is available here.

This may very well be the prototype for robotics stores.  Providing not only the materials and means to built the machines, but also the educational experience to enable everyone to learn about robotics.  After all, for those of us that believe the robotics revolution is here to stay, this is the kind of place that needs to be in every city.

Make sure to go to the Chicago Now website and read their story on this groundbreaking and unique store.

via www.chicagonow.com

Hawaii Student Robotics Teams Face Oil Spill Problem Similar to One Off US Coast

In a case of simulation imitating life, high school students in Hawai’i are faced with finding solutions to a theoretical oil spill.  The problem eerily mirrors the massive oil spill now occurring in the Gulf of Mexico.  Robots are being used in the attempt to shut off the flow of oil, but so far none have been called in to help in the actual clean-up efforts.  A quick search with Google turned up this post on robots designed to actually clean up spilled oil, but at the time of the article these bots were only a concept.  

Maybe the high school kids have come up with a real working model.  Check out the article below for the details of the competition.  It was scheduled for today, but so far I have found no results online.

What about the idea of using robots for environmental clean up?  Let me know what you think.

"Thirty-one Hawai‘i student robotics teams from across the state will put their STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education to the test at the 2010 Hawai‘i Regional Botball Tournament Saturday (May 1)."

"This season’s game theme encourages students to research, understand and generate solutions to an environmental disaster. On the simulated competition field, an earthquake has caused an oil pipeline to rupture sending thousands of gallons of oil into the pristine “Lake Capek.” To be successful, teams must apply sorbents to the oil slicks then rescue and clean oil contaminated ducks, release the clean ducks back into the wetlands, and save the frogs trapped on an island all in 120 seconds with two autonomous robots."

Hawaii student robotics teams address simulated environmental disaster | Hawaii247.com | Hawaii 24/7  April 30, 2010

Robotics Competition Taps Into Cirque du Soleil and Hollywood

FIRST Robotics announced in a press release that the Technical Director of Cirque du Soleil and a noted Hollywood film and TV producer have been added to the game design committee for this year’s FIRST Robotics Competition.  This is keeping with their goal of producing “the most spectacular robotics competition in the world.”  Read about the details in the press release at the links below.

Business Wire (press release)

Noted Cirque du Soleil Technical Director and Hollywood Film and TV Producer
Business Wire (press release)
They are welcome additions to Game Design as we work to develop the most spectacular robotics competition in the world.” Calum Pearson is the Senior
and more »

Noted Cirque du Soleil Technical Director and Hollywood Film and TV Producer … – Business Wire (press release)
(author unknown)
Wed, 07 Oct 2009 14:09:29 GMT

Robotics Teams Featured on PBS Special

This public television special showed in our area last week, but it is scheduled to show at various times at other locations throughout the United States during the month of September.  You can see the promo at You Tube by clicking on the image below.  If you get a chance, watch the entire program.  It is well worth it to see how students do the seemingly impossible task they are given during a FIRST competition.  The following excerpt from the Gearing Up website says it all:

“Gearing Up, a one-hour documentary produced by KETC St. Louis and STORY HOUSE PRODUCTIONS chronicles behind-the-scenes drama and excitement leading up to the 2008 FIRST Robotics National Competition.Teams receive identical robot kits with no instructions and have just six weeks to build a robot capable of performing specific tasks. We follow four teams in their regional competitions: Miss Daisy, a seasoned team from Ambler, Pennsylvania; RoboDoves, a small, all-girl rookie team from Baltimore, Maryland; Rambotics, a team of teenaged felons incarcerated at the Ridge View Academy correctional facility for boys in Watkins, Colorado; and Ratchet Rockers, a group of suburban kids from Wentzville, Missouri.”

Gearing up 2


Six weeks. Identical kits. No instructions. All assembly required.

Will they succeed? Will they fail? Gearing Up details the triumphs and disasters high school students encounter while sharing ideas and solving technical challenges.


Robots Can Have Many Applications Besides Military

The Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and Satellite Center at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel will be established by a $5 million donation.  Arnold Goldstein, a New York businessman and philanthropist, is providing the funding.  Although robotics can have a military application, he sees the medical and humanitarian purposes also.

Robots To Help Humans
The Jewish Week,  USA
Goldstein said the center would be working with robots that could be used for warfare as well as for medical and humanitarian purposes. “They have a snake-like robot that can go into rubble looking for earthquake victims,” he said.

Robots To Help Humans – The Jewish Week
Wed, 13 May 2009 05:12:04 GMT