LERN: Study of Seahorses Could Lead to Better Robot Arms

The images on the left show how seahorse skeletons are made of highly articulated bony plates that surround a central vertebral column. One the right are the bending and twisting performance of 3D printed prototypes. (Photo credit: UC San Diego.)

Researchers studying seahorse tails believe the novel design might be useful for building better robot grippers and medical devices. According to the team, a tail made of square, overlapping segments makes for better armor than a cylindrical tail. It’s also better at gripping and grasping. “Almost all animal tails have circular or oval cross-sections–but not the seahorse’s. We wondered why,” ... Read More »

LERN: Bluetooth Enabled Multimeter Saves Measurements to Android Devices

Record data on an Android device up to 30 feet away, with the Owon B35T Digital Multimeter with Bluetooth. (Photo credit: Saelig.)

The Owon B35T Digital Multimeter offers a lot more than your Father’s multimeter! The B35T can send data to an Android-based smart device via Bluetooth, so you can keep an accurate recording of all of your measurements for later. Using the free app, the multimeter can send data to an Android device (V 4.0 or higher), up to 30 feet ... Read More »

Infrared Remote Kit

Let your robots communicate with each other by adding a little infrared technology. (Photo credit: Sparkfun.)

Want to make your robot light up from across the room? With Sparkfun’s Infrared Remote Kit you can easily add wireless controls to your next bot. In addition to being able to control your robot remotely, you can also use this kit to allow multiple bots to send signals to each other. The kit includes an infrared remote, two IR receivers, two IR ... Read More »

LERN: Underwater Robots with Collective Cognition

These underwater robots communicate using LEDs. (Photo credit: COCORO.)

Underwater, autonomous robot swarms developed by researchers in the EU act like schools of fish, exchanging information about their environment as they explore. The robots made for the project, called COCORO, can even learn from their experiences. The team produced a series of videos outlining their experimental results. In one experiment, twenty robots in a tank of water counted the ... Read More »

Solder Reel Stand

Keep your solder station neat and tidy with the Hakko Solder Reel Stand. (Photo credit: Pololu Corp.)

If you’re doing a lot of soldering and like to keep things neat and organized, a solder reel stand might be the perfect addition to your workspace. The Hakko 611 Solder Reel Stand can hold up to 1 kg of solder and has a guide wire so that it unravels smoothly. It also keeps the spool from rolling off your ... Read More »

Create Linear Motion with the 785 Gear Rack Kit

The kit can be mounted horizontally or vertically. Photo credit: ServoCity.)

The 785 Gear Rack Kit uses a Hitect HS-785HB rotational servo to create linear motion.  Just send the correct PWM signal from your servo controller and any attachments will glide down the track. Made of aluminum Actobotics components and Delrin plastic, the kit is durable and lightweight. The HS-785HB servo rotates approximately 1.7 degrees/microsecond change in signal. For maximum distance, ... Read More »

LERN: Robotic Art Project Tries to Learn from Audience

Axel Tidemann, their robot [self.], and Øyvind Brandtsegg. (Photo credit: Ole Morten Melgård, NTNU.)

There have been numerous attempts to create a robot that learns the same way as a child. What makes a new project out of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) different, is that one of the primary researchers is a professor of music. “We’re still pretty far away from accurately modelling all aspects of a living child’s brain, ... Read More »

LERN: Transparent Robot Skin With Flexible Touch Sensors Created

The transparent, flexible and sensor-laden skin shown above could lead to a revolution in robotics. (Photo credit: University of Exeter.)

Robots might one day sport a transparent, sensor-rich skin, thanks to a recent advance in graphene production. The new approach is significantly cheaper and easier than previous methods. The research team, led by Professor Monica Craciun from the University of Exeter, say the material produced is also the first transparent and flexible touch-sensor that could enable the development of artificial ... Read More »

New First Tech Challenge Kit Uses Smartphones

This schematic shows how Android phones will work in tandem with the Modern Robotics modules. (Photo credit: Modern Robotics.)

Modern Robotics of Miami, Florida recently unveiled its new Android-powered robot platform. The system is designed for the First Tech Challenge, but can be purchased by anyone interested in building a bot that can be operated via cell phone. Stephen Barker, CEO and co-founder of Modern Robotics, says leveraging the power of cell phones makes the new systems far more ... Read More »

LERN: Robot Controlled Using Thoughts

Researchers have created a robot that can be steered using thoughts, as the culmination of a project called project called TOBI: Tools for Brain-Computer Interaction. (Photo credit: Alain Herzog / EPFL)

Researchers in Europe created a robot that can be controlled by a user’s thoughts. The team, led by José del R. Millán of Defitech Foundation Chair in Brain-Machine Interface (CNBI) hope the machine will one day help paralyzed people interact with folks near and far. Tests have so far involved nine disabled people and ten people without disabilities in Italy, Germany and ... Read More »

LERN: Energy Efficient Solar-Powered Sensors

The magnified detail of the chip shows the main control circuitry, including the startup electronics; the controller that determines whether to charge the battery, power a device, or both; and the array of switches that control current flow to an external inductor coil. (Photo credit: MIT)

Establishing a network of environmental sensors all over a forest is one thing. Keep the circuits properly powered is another. Imagine traipsing around the forest to replace 600 batteries every week! Makers need systems with ultra-low power sensors that can efficiently harvest energy from the environment. Researchers at MIT recently presented their work on such a system at the Symposia on VLSI Technology and ... Read More »

LERN: Micro Tentacles For Robot Fingers

The rubbery microtentacle shown here isstrong and small enough to trap and ant, but soft enough not to injure it. (Photo credit: Jaeyoun Kim/Iowa State University.)

Researchers are working on tiny tentacles that could allow robots to handle very small, delicate items. “Most robots use two fingers and to pick things up they have to squeeze,” said Jaeyoun Kim, an Iowa State University associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, in a statement. “But these tentacles wrap around very gently.” The tentacles are actually more like ... Read More »

ServoCity’s New Warden Mobile Robot Base

It's easy to add components to the Warden using its three Actobotics Aluminum channels. (Photo credit: ServoCity.)

ServoCity’s new robot base, The Warden, is a toughie! With 4.3 inch rubber tires running on ball-bearing, planetary gear motors, this bot base is designed for rough terrain. The base also includes a large storage area with two access panels, for easy access to any batteries or electronics you slip inside. A 9 inch Actobotics aluminum channel is mounted to ... Read More »