DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) Begins

The DARPA robotics challenge aims to jump start the development of humanoid robots that can do dangerous tasks that right now can only be performed by a human. DRC will provide funding for the participating teams and an expected $2 million prize to the winning team.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is part of the United States Department of Defense and is charged with promoting development of new technology that can aid the military.

The DARPA Grand Challenge of 2004, 2005, and 2007 offered $1 million and $2 million prizes for cars that could drive themselves and led to the development of the Google Self Driving car.

Visit DARPA Robotics Challenge web site

humanoid robot photo

Adding a Relay to Your Micro-Controller Project

Micro-Controllers are amazing devices, with built in memory,  a cpu, and input and output ports, they’re are like a complete compter system on a single chip. The digital output ports can directly control small current devices such as LED’s that require 5 volts or so and only a few tens of mili-watts. But what if you want to use a micro-controller to control a device with larger current requirements, for instance a 100 watt light bulb or a fan. One of my favorite ways to accomplish that is to use a relay. A relay is like an electronically contolled switch. Relays come in many different configurations, but today I will be discussing the new 10 Amp Relay Board available at Roslyn Robot Company. This inexpensive board can be controlled by any 5 volts micro-controller, or even by a small switch with a 5 volt power source, and can control devices with power requirement of up to 10 amps, and 250 volts. It features a built in switching transistor to reduce the current required from the micro-controller to a very low value.

This relay board has two screw down connectors. One for the micro-controller side, and one for the device you want to control. On the device side the terminals are labeled NC, COM. and NO. They stand for Normally Closed, Common, and Normally Open respectively, making this a Single Pole Double Throw switch.

 

The video below does a great job of explaining the different type of swithces.

Send in Pointman before People

You’re a police officer responding to a burglar alarm call. You arrive at the scene at 2 am, alone. It’s a pharmacy in a desolated area. The door has been kicked in. Now what?  Do you draw you gun and go inside? Is there someone waiting for you in there?

Sounds like a job for Pointman, watch the video

You can learn more about Pointman here.

Visit Roslyn Robot Company

History of an iPhone App

Roslyn Robot Company released the Weej App to the Apple App store in June of 2010. The Weej app is a game, its sort of a cross between a Ouija Board and a Magic 8 Ball game. To play, you touch and hold the screen and ask your question out loud. Then release the screen and wait for the Spirits to respond. After a few seconds the planchette or shuttle will begin to move rapidly and spell out an answer to your question one letter at a time.

Since this was our first offering in the app store we had no idea what to expect.

We were off to a great start, with 24 sales the first full day. We were excited and wondered how many we would sell on day 2.

Yikes, only 5 sales on day 2.

Graph showing stats for first month of weej sales

Gradually sales settled down to average about one sale a day. We did no advertising and no updated versions, and sales remained steady at this rate for about two years.

Only in the last few months for whatever reason, did sales start to pick up. I think now we are averaging about 2 a day.

Every once in a while you get a surprise like “Wow, we sold 5 copies in Belgium yesterday, wonder what’s up with that?”

Graph showing number of downloads for weej app for the past 60 days

We sell Weej for $0.99 on normal days. We make Weej free whenever there is a Friday the 13th and on Halloween.

In the chart below you can see that the first time we did this there were 500 downloads. The second time 350 downloads. After that it fell to about 100 each time we offered it for free.

Graph showing weej download stats for all time

We are about to start a social media campaign and we will see how that affects sales.

You can see the weej app in the app store here

Don’t forget to visit us at www.Roslyn-Robot.com

Robotic Fish

New from Osaka City University, a robotic fish that propels itself using magnets instead of motors which results in huge energy savings. It has the ability to propel itself forward as well dive or surface, and it movements are very lifelike and do not resemble what we tend to think of as robotic.

Looks tasty too!

Visit Roslyn-Robot.com

MIT’s “Hugable” Robot

 

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At first glance “Hugable” may look like a toy, but is actually a very sophisticated machine.

  Hardware
The Huggable™ is a sophisticated robot featuring a full body sensitive skin with over 1500 sensors, quiet back-drivable actuators, video cameras in the eyes, microphones in the ears, an inertial measurement unit, a speaker, and an embedded PC with 802.11g wireless networking. An important design goal of the Huggable™ is to make the technology invisible to the user. You should not think of the Huggable™ as a robot but rather as a richly interactive teddy bear. The actuators are designed to be silent and back drivable so as the Huggable™ moves, you do not hear or feel gears. The movements, gestures and expressions of the bear convey a personality-rich character, not a robotic artifact. A soft silicone-based skin covers the entire bear to give it a more lifelike feel and heft, so you do not feel the technology underneath. Holding the Huggable™ feels more like holding a puppy, rather than a pillow-like plush doll

More info Here.

Visit us at Roslyn-Robot.com

Living with Robots

Yesterday at the Sundance Film Festival Honda debuted”Living with Robots” a short documentary and the sixth installment in its series “Dream the Impossible”.

This film talks about how far Honda has come with its humanoid robot ASIMO (Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility) in the past twenty years

When the ASIMO program started, creating a biped walking robot seemed an impossible task. Today ASIMO walks well, although it will certainly improve as time goes on.

Honda’s focus has now shifted toward the Artificial Intellegence aspect and is working hard on making ASIMO smarter.

Watch the film here.

ASIMO Humanoid Robot

Visit us a roslyn-robot.com

Willow Garage to Give Away 10 PR2 Robots

PR2 Robot, Call for Proposals

Willow Garage invites proposals from research organizations interested in using the PR2 to accelerate robotics research, drive open source robotics development, and contribute to the open source robotics community. Approximately ten PR2s will be made available to research organizations that will make rigorous and creative use of the robot in existing or planned research projects.

By making the PR2 platforms available to researchers and developers, Willow Garage’s objectives for this beta program are fourfold:

•enable scientific breakthroughs in personal robotics
•expand the open source robotics community
•develop reusable components and tools
•explore new applications for personal robots
Willow Garage’s goal is to facilitate progress in the area of personal robotics, and to develop a world-wide community of researchers and developers contributing to open-source. Willow Garage works to facilitate progress in the area of personal robotics by sponsoring community-building activities and events, internship programs and visiting scholars.

This Call for Proposals is the beginning of an important open source robotics community-building effort. It is our hope that the PR2 platform will focus attention and foster the sharing of open source code to enable the development of new robotics systems, tools and applications.

Download the Call for Proposals document

Visit Willow Garage

Visit us at Roslyn-Robot.com

Robovie-II Robot to Aid Shoppers

Robovie-II from ATR, a Japanese robotics research institution has been designed to follow you around the supermarket, carry your shopping basket, and remind you of what is on your shopping list.. This is an experiment and the data collected will be used to help design service robots that in the not to distant future will help provide support to the elderly.

Diana Lee, an author for MATHABA, says that Japan sees its future in service robots.
You can read the article here

Please visit us at Roslyn-Robot.com

Holy Jumping Jehoshaphat!

Yep, that’s what you Great Grand Daddy would say if he saw this video.

This little robot is a new creation from Boston Dynamics, a company that I have written about before.

Here is how they describe themselve on their web site www.bostondynamics.com


Boston Dynamics builds advanced robots with remarkable behavior: mobility, agility, dexterity and speed. We use sensor-based controls and computation to unlock the capabilities of complex mechanisms. Our world-class development teams take projects from initial concept to proof-of-principle prototyping to build-test-build engineering, to field testing and low-rate production.

Organizations worldwide, from DARPA, the US Army, Navy and Marine Corps to Sony Corporation turn to Boston Dynamics for advice and for help creating the most advanced robots on Earth.

They really do make some cool although creepy robots. Click on the links below to see some more videos of these robots in action.

BigDog – The Most Advanced Rough-Terrain Robot on Earth,
LittleDog – The Legged Locomotion Learning Robot
PETMAN – BigDog gets a Big Brother
RHex Devours Rough Terrain
RiSE: The Amazing Climbing Robot

They are also workin on: SquishBot – Advanced Chemistry Robot that Inches, Climbs and Deforms
Sorry, no video of SquishBbot yet.

In our November 2008 post Roslyn-Robot Company intoduced our Robotics PC Interface Prototype After an ten month hiatus, work on that has now resumed and I expect to be posting some footage of the controller in action soon.

visit www.roslyn.robot.com