Make Prototyping Easier with the ATmega Feather Basic Proto

The Feather 32u4 Basic Proto board. (Photo credit: Adafruit.)

One of many in Adafruit’s new line of tiny microcontrollers, the ATmega Feather Basic Proto is designed to make protoyping easier. The small prototyping area is perfect for adding a sensor or button. The onboard ATmega32u4 clocks at 8 MHz with 3.3V logic. It features 32K of flash and 2K of RAM, with built in USB. With a USB-to-Serial program & debugging capability built-in, there’s no need ... Read More »

LERN: New robot tries to hold our interest

Humanoids such as Hiro, above, would be better at engaging humans if they noticed when we weren't interested and adjusted the conversation accordingly. (Photo credit: Elhuyar Fundazioa)

Humans communicate using words and body language. When we sense the other person is distracted, we change the course of our conversation and our actions to regain their attention. Most robots, however, use monologue mechanisms even when engaging in dialogue with a person: they continue speaking in the same way, even if the human isn’t paying attention. Researchers at the Interactions and ... Read More »

LERN: Robotic worm for head surgery can cut around corners

NiLiBoRo is held in place during surgery using its expandable bladders. Researchers are currently optimizing the pocket geometry using multiple prototypes. (Photo credit: Fraunhofer IPA)

Removing tumors from within the inner ear is a very delicate matter that typically requires surgeons to remove the entire mastoid bone. However, in the future, all doctors will need to do is cut a tunnel of 5 mm in diameter through the bone using a miniature robot named NiLiBoRo. The system is capable of adjusting its path while drilling ... Read More »

R2D2 Moving Refrigerator

More than a butler, this R2 unit knows how to chill... your beverages. (Photo credit: Aqua).

Finally, someone has combined the coolness of R2D2 with the coolness of… a mobile fridge. This 1:1 scale model of R2D2 won’t just cool your beverages, it will bring them to you! The wheeled bot also includes the same lights and sounds as the R2D2 from the Star Wars films. It’s made by Aqua — a company with a history of combining ... Read More »

LERN: Improving Communication Between Robots and Astronauts

The international UNISONO project, which is coordinated by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, has developed a new system so that astronauts can better control robots. (Photo credit: VTT)

Recently, astronaut Andreas Mogensen placed a metal connector in a receptacle that had a mechanical tolerance to the connector of only 150 micro-meters. The success was notable because Andreas wasn’t trained to perform this task and performed while in space — some 160000 km away from the robot. But the procedure took a whopping 45 minutes. Researchers with the European Space ... Read More »

Kamigami: An Inexpensive, DIY Robot for Kids

Bring your Kamigami robots together for multi-robot games such as freeze tag, sumo and chase. (Photo credit: Dash Robotics.)

If you’re looking for a great gift for the junior roboticist in your household, check out the Kamigami critters. These bots have bodies made of a highly flexible, plastic-fabric composite material that ensures minimal friction between moving parts — making them very fast. The pieces also easily snap together together without tools, using pop rivets. No need for tools! The custom electronics include a ... Read More »

Raspberry Pi 2 Starter Kit

Bake your first Pi 2 project with Sparkfun's Starter Kit. (Photo credit: Sparkfun)

  This kit from Sparkfun includes everything you need to quickly start building simple projects with a Raspberry Pi 2. In addition to a Pi 2 model B, the kit also includes a SparkFun Pi Wedge. The Wedge connects to the 40-pin GPIO connector on the Raspberry Pi and breaks out the pins so that they are easier to connect ... Read More »

Drive into the Action with Robotic Enhanced Vehicles

Race against an autonomous vehicle. (Photo credit: WowWee)

WowWee’s new toy is more than a set of remote-control cars. The Robotic Enhanced Vehicles pack includes two vehicles: one that can be controlled remotely and one with a GPS and onboard processors that can detect where the other vehicle is and respond accordingly. Humans can test their driving skills against the drone’s in several battles and games. The remote-controlled vehicle pairs with your  iOS or Android ... Read More »

LERN: ‘Spring-mass’ technology heralds the future of walking robots

Researchers lob balls at ATRIAS to test its balance. (Photo credit: Oregon State University.)

A study by engineers at Oregon State University suggests that they have achieved the most realistic robotic implementation of human walking dynamics that has ever been done, which may ultimately allow human-like versatility and performance. The system is based on a concept called “spring-mass” walking that was theorized less than a decade ago, and combines passive dynamics of a mechanical ... Read More »

Nao Robot Gets into the Driver’s Seat

Let your Nao go for a spin in his own BMW. (Photo credit: RobotsLab)

The Nao miniature humanoid is impressive on its own. The Wi-Fi enabled bot can detect faces, respond to a lot of spoken phrases, record images, and walk. Now, the little guy can drive his own car! His blue BMW is Arduino-based and includes two independent motors and a laser range finder. It even has an autonomous driving mode and can avoid ... Read More »

LERN: How to fall gracefully, if you’re a robot

By planning ahead, the robot above is able to brace for impact and avoid hitting his head. (Photo credit: Georgia Institute of Technology.)

Researchers at Georgia Tech have identified a way to teach robots how to fall with grace and without serious damage. The work is important as costly robots become more common in manufacturing alongside humans. The skill becomes especially important, too, as robots are sought for health care or domestic tasks — working near the elderly, injured, children or pets. Ph.D. ... Read More »

LERN: BesMan: A Robot for Menial Labor in Space

If the project is successful, Besman will be able to learn by imitating humans. (Photo credit: David Schikora, DFKI GmbH)

There’s a lot of work to do on the International Space Station, and only a handful of humans to do it! That’s why researchers from the German Research Centre for Artificial Intelligence and the University of Bremen are working on a bot to perform menial labor in space, and assist with tasks that normally require two people. The goal is to have the ... Read More »

LERN: Dive of the RoboBee

The Harvard RoboBee, designed in Wood's lab, is a microrobot, smaller than a paperclip, that flies and hovers like an insect, flapping its tiny, nearly invisible wings 120 times per second. (Photo credit: Harvard Microrobotics Lab.)

In 1939, a Russian engineer proposed a “flying submarine” — a vehicle that can seamlessly transition from air to water and back again. While it may sound like something out of a James Bond film, engineers have been trying to design functional aerial-aquatic vehicles for decades with little success. Now, engineers may be one step closer to the elusive flying ... Read More »