LERN: Autonomous Drone Assists Naval Firefighters

A quadrotor autonomously navigates through compartments of the ex-USS Shadwell. (Photo Credit: ONR)

Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute and spin-off company Sensible Machines recently flew an autonomous drone through dark, smoke-filled compartments to map fires and locate victims. The demonstration was part of an Office of Naval Research (ONR) project called Damage Control Technologies for the 21st Century (DC-21). “With the micro-flyer, we wanted to show that it could autonomously navigate ... Read More »

PLUG & PLAY: A Battery Monitor, Charger, and Arduino in One

The Qduino Mini effectively combines an Arduino Leonardo with a LiPo battery charger and power gauge. (Image credit: qtechknow.com.)

Want to charge your Arduino projects easily and monitor the life of your batteries? What you need is a Qduino Mini. Designed by Quinn, a 13-year old with impressive electronics skills, the Qduino Mini is small, inexpensive, and handy. It effectively combines an Arduino Leonardo, a battery charger and a power monitor all one one little circuit board. Worried about ... Read More »

LERN: Oculus Rift Robot Displaces Reality

The Intuitive Rift Explorer combines virtual reality and robotics. (Photo credit: Jonas Lauener.)

Jonas Lauener’s Intuitive Rift Explorer combines a robot and a head-mounted display, to create a mobile virtual reality system that’s worth a nod. The camera mount on the robot is wirelessly connected to an Oculus Rift display, so that when the person wearing the Rift tilts their head, the camera mount tilts, too. The vision system uses two wide-angle cameras and a 3-axis gimbal mounted ... Read More »

PLUG & PLAY: Learn to Solder with CHIP the Robot

CHIP is ready to shine in his Power Pixel base. (Photo credit: Soldering Sunday.)

While there are many starter soldering kits on the market, most don’t integrate coding. What makes CHIP notable — aside for his adorable face — is the fact that he’s programmable. Once you’ve finished soldering all of CHIPs parts, he can be plugged into an Arduino and programmed. Learn coding basics by making CHIP’s lights blink fast or slow, or ... Read More »

LERN: Making Legs that Can See

The small, computer controlled actuator adjusts the ankle using cables that work much like the break cables on a bike. (Photo credit: Michigan Technological University.)

Researchers at Michigan Technological University are working on a vision system for prosthetic legs. The system uses an inexpensive camera to get a better sense of the terrain, and an actuator that adjusts the ankle accordingly. “The camera can identify the profile of the ground, while the computer knows where the next footstep will be, based on how the user is moving ... Read More »

PLUG & PLAY: Touch Board Inventors Kit

Paint a piano on a piece of paper and then play it, using the Bare Conductive Touch Board Inventors Kit. (Photo credit: Bare Conductive.)

Bare Conductive’s Touch Board Inventors Kit is ideal for both beginners and those who already have some experience with sensors and Arduinos. The touch board itself is very versatile, intended as a platform for a wide range of projects. Use it to turn just about anything conductive (including Bare Conductive’s paint) into a sensor, via the board’s 12 electrodes. Make a drum kit you never ... Read More »

PLUG & PLAY: Make Cellular-Connected Electronics Easily with the Spark Electron

The Spark Electron up close. (Photo credit: Spark.io.)

There’s a brand new product on Kickstarter, designed to make it easy for anyone to create cellular-connected devices. A 2D/3D development kit, the Spark Electron is poised to bring machine-to-machine (M2M) communications to the masses. At the moment, it’s difficult to develop M2M electronics at home because the market is set up big companies who already work with telcos and can navigate the industry. “If you ... Read More »

LERN: A New Kind of Bionic Hand Restores Function for Three Men

After a brachial plexus injury, this man opted to have the hand he could no longer operate removed and replaced in a new kind of bionic reconstruction. (Photo credit: The Lancet.)

Three Austrian men have undergone a new technique called bionic reconstruction, enabling them to use a robotic prosthetic hand controlled by their mind. The technique involves selective nerve and muscle transfers, as well as amputating the affected limb. The limb was then replacing with a prosthesis containing sensors that respond to electrical impulses in the patient’s muscles. The new technique was developed by professor ... Read More »

LERN: A Robotic Nurse with a Bearish Grin

Force feedback sensors on the ROBEAR robot encourage soft handling of patients. (Photo credit: RIKEN.)

Researchers at the RIKEN-SRK Collaboration Center for Human-Interactive Robot Research in Nagoya, Japan have developed a robotic nurse that looks like an adorable bear. The robot, called ROBEAR, can help nursing staff with the heavy work: lifting patients from beds and wheelchairs, and providing physical support to patients who need help to stand. “We really hope that this robot will lead to advances ... Read More »

PLUG & PLAY: Engineering Slide Chart Card and App

Great Innovations' Engineering Slide Chart features all the numbers engineers, mechanics and CAD designers need to know. (Photo credit: Great Innovations.)

Sick of sorting out measurements for screws, or the numbering system for alloy sheets? Great Innovations’ chart keeps the important numbers handy. The chart has a ton of info, including the tap, drill, and stress area for screws, c’bore sizes, bolt grades, prefixes, fractional drill sizes, pipe threads, beam deflections, and Allen key sizes for imperial screws. Mechanical designers, machinists, ... Read More »

PLUG & PLAY: SuperDroid’s Wi-Fi Enclosed Inspection Robot

Venture into tight spaces and record video using this robot from SuperDroid. (Photo credit: SuperDroid Robotics.)

SuperDroid Robotics has a new low-profile, high-end robot on the market: an inspection bot with a video camera, that can be remotely controlled via an included tablet. At just 12 inches high, the tracked robot is designed to fit into spaces that are less than ideal for humans. The aluminum base is custom welded, with IG42 right angle motors. I ... Read More »

LERN: Soft Robotics Competitions Offer $10,000 in Prizes

Soft Robotics Toolkit Logo

There’s still time to sign up your team for the 2015 Soft Robotics Competitions! For the design competition, entrants are charged with creating a novel device using at least one of the tools available on Harvard’s Soft Robotics Toolkit Website. The entire robot doesn’t have to be soft — it can incorporate more traditional, rigid elements. But at least one ... Read More »

PLUG & PLAY: Robots Take Aim with Trossen’s Foam Dart Gun Kit

Protect your valuables by adding some foam weaponry to your robot. (Photo credit: Trossen Robotics.)

Ready, aim, fire! Add some fun firepower to your robot with a Foam Dart Gun Kit from Trossen Robotics. The kit is designed to be used with a pan-tilt system and any Arduino-compatible microcontroller. Each kit includes a dart gun, two foam darts, laser cut plate set, mounting plate, and all the hardware required for assembly. Add sensors and create ... Read More »