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Robots

Catching up with Robots (April 29th, 2012)

Posted 30 Apr 2012 at 03:54 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

The video above shows the action of a gear-and-lever assembly designed to operate the legs of the TE+ND Rover, a gardening robot which will be on display at the Bay Area Maker Faire, May 19th & 20th. In the last week we have also been treated to another peek into the continuing drama of Q.bo's exploration of its environment, as one Q.bo meets another, and a pair of robot arms one of which draws pictures while the other holds the drawing surface. (videos after the break)

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Hardware

4WD Mecanum-wheeled kit from Nexus Robots

Posted 29 Apr 2012 at 19:16 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

We recently received an announcement of a Mecanum-wheeled kit available from Nexus Robot (a.k.a. or at least co-located with Nexus Automation Ltd., possibly renamed due to a conflict with Nexus Automation GmbH). At first glance the announcement seemed to refer to a new product, however the product page on their website merely calls it a "special". I was unable to determine just how special since the online order system wouldn't work for me (perhaps you need an account first) and the price doesn't appear elsewhere. Nevertheless, these minor irritations which may simply be growing pains aside, and to judge from the collection of videos posted to YouTube last year by nexusrobot, the engineering side of this company seems quite competent, leading me to suspect that we'll all be hearing from them again. Nexus Robot is located in Dongguan, China, about midway between the urban center of Guangzhou and the port city of Shenzhen.

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Competitions

2012 VEX Robotics World Championship

Posted 26 Apr 2012 at 21:03 UTC by steve

The 2012 VEX Robotics World Championship is over and I've returned with hundreds of photos. This year's championship was held at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, CA. Last year, VEX cohosted several other events including BEST competitions, a Coast Guard robot contest, and a Boy Scount merit badge event. This year it was all VEX, all the time. The special guests were Nobel Prize winning physicist Dr. Douglas D. Osheroff, Dave Lavery of NASA, and Miral Kotb's dance troupe iLuminate. Read on for more photos and coverage of the event.

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Announcements

Russian Robot Demonstrates Delicate Touch

Posted 26 Apr 2012 at 14:28 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

While the robot in this video appears to be entirely glove controlled, rather than autonomous, it does demonstrate that at least one Russian team is making progress towards dextrous manipulation.

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Robots

President Obama drives Sphero

Posted 25 Apr 2012 at 04:59 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

President Obama arrived in Boulder today, primarily to deliver a speech at the University of Colorado in support of extending the halving of student loan interest rates, currently due to expire July 1st. But before repairing to the Coors Events Center to deliver that speech, he made a quick visit to The Sink (locally famous because Robert Redford worked there while attending CU). The President made the rounds of those inside and then stepped outside to discover that a crowd had gathered around the restaurant. In that crowd was one of the team members from Orbotix, who had with him a Sphero robotic ball, which he demonstrated. He then turned the controller (iPhone?) over to President Obama, who tried it out for himself.

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Software

Eliminating boilerplate code with rosserial

Posted 24 Apr 2012 at 16:26 UTC (updated 24 Apr 2012 at 16:30 UTC) by John_RobotsPodcast

In the above video, posted by WillowGaragevideo, Adam Stambler, a student at Rutgers University, who spent last summer working at Willow Garage, explains how rosserial can help alleviate the need for writing new drivers from scratch when attaching new hardware or assembling a new machine.

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Hardware

Bird Brain's Hummingbird kit unboxing

Posted 24 Apr 2012 at 04:57 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

The above video shows Tom Lauwers of Bird Brain Technologies unboxing their Hummingbird robotics kit, which appears to be quite close to being ready for market.

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Military Robotics

Upgraded Reaper can fly 42 Hours

Posted 22 Apr 2012 at 17:52 UTC by John_RobotsPodcast

General Atomics MQ-9

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems has announced the near-term availability of a trio of field retrofits for the Predator B (MQ-9 Reaper) Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS). Taken together, these enhancements increase the endurance of the Reaper from 27 to 42 hours, or, without the extended wings, from 27 to 37 hours. The upgrades consist of stronger landing gear, underwing fuel pods, and longer wings that take the wingspan to 88 feet. (via Danger Room)

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Aquatic Robotics

Knifefish: UUV minehunter for LCS shps

Posted 22 Apr 2012 at 16:45 UTC (updated 22 Apr 2012 at 16:47 UTC) by John_RobotsPodcast


Knifefish UUV

At last week's Sea-Air-Space Exposition, sponsored by the Navy League, General Dynamics showed it's Knifefish Surface Mine Countermeasure Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (SMCM UUV), intended to be incorporated into the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) mine countermeasures mission package. The 20 ft., 3000 pound submersible will prowl for 16 hours at a time, to detect and identify mines in high-clutter underwater environments without putting sailors in harm’s way, including mines that are suspended in the ocean, resting on the sea floor or buried. The Knifefish will help alleviate what's seen as a deficiency in the LCS's collection of capabilities. UUVs have been integral to the Navy's planning process for some time, as evidenced by the now declassified 2004 report The Navy Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (UUV) Master Plan.

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