Intro to Shape Memory Alloy Actuation Using Flexinol

From Jie Qi's projects page:

Shape memory alloys (SMAs) are metals that change shape when heated up. They are wonderful actuators in that they are light, silent and can be "turned on" by simply running current through. The shape that they change to can also be set, though this process is a bit more tricky. Flexinol is a particular brand of nitinol, which is an SMA made of nickel and titanium, and is pre-set to contract about 10% of its original length when heated.

In my projects, I generally used the 0.006" to 0.01" diameter, High-Temp wires.

Since Flexinol draws a lot of current (about 300mA for the diameters I used), you need a strong power supply like a wall supply or a good lithium-ion battery. I've used from 3.7V up to 6V (any more and my Flexinol wires would start overheating). To turn the Flexinol on, I would simply short the ends of the wire to the power. For digital control, I used a standard MOSFET circuit which is a digital switch that can be turned on and off using a microcontroller... (cont'd)

BugJuggler: Project to build 70ft tall robot that juggles cars

Project Overview:

BugJuggler will use a diesel engine to generate hydraulic pressure. An operator located in the robot’s head will be able to control its motions using a haptic feedback interface connected to high-speed servo valves. Hydraulic accumulators - essentially storage batteries for hydraulic fluid - will allow for the rapid movement required for the robot to juggle cars or other large, heavy objects. 

The first stage of the BugJuggler project will be construction of a working 8ft tall single arm proof-of-principle juggler able to toss and catch a 250lb mass... (cont'd)

A Robot Valet Will Park Your Car at This German Airport

Last week, Düsseldorf airport (DUS) introduced robot valets to take the hassle out of parking for travelers. Travelers can leave their cars at the arrival level of the ParkingPLUS structure. As they leave, they confirm on a touch-screen that no one is in the car.

The robot valet, nicknamed "Ray," takes it from there. The robot measures the vehicle, picks it up with a forklift-like system, and takes it to the back area, where it will position it in one of the 249 parking spots reserved for automated valets.

The machine is capable of carrying standard cars weighing up to 3.31 tons. The robot valet is even connected to the airport's flight data system, and by checking customer trip data with the database, Ray knows when the customer will return for the vehicle. A traveler can note any itinerary changes in a parking app, which is available for iOS and Android.

Dissembling a 1980s Kuka Robot

Relaxing summertime viewing of a 80s era Kuka robot being taken apart and dissected (20 parts total).

Intel's 3-D Printed Robot "Jimmy"

From Wired:

Intel describes Jimmy as a research robot, but a less sophisticated version of the adorable droid will go on sale later this year for $1,600. The caveat is that you will have to 3D print your Jimmy. The 3D printing blueprints will be available without charge, but to construct the robot you will also need to purchase a kit from Intel that will contain all the parts of Jimmy that aren't printable, including motors and an Intel Edison processor.. (cont'd)

TravelByDrone

From travelbydrone.com:

We want to give you the chance to discover the world from the perspective of drones. The video footage of the area you are most interested in is as accessible as never before.

On this site, everyone can share YouTube videos and add the corresponding location. It will appear on the map with a pin where the video footage has been recorded. After submitting a request to share a video, a dedicated team will review the material before validating the request. As soon as the request has been validated, the shared video will be visible on the map... (Travel By Drone search page)

Blocky: A Graphic Programming Environment for ROS

From the robotics laboratory of Ben Gurion University:

The main goal of this project it to allow users with only basic background in programming to develop software for controlling robots using ROS, this by developing a graphical interface that is user-friendly and convenient for programing to ROS. Researchers or other users often encounter a problem when come to develop a robot, they lack extensive background in programming and most of the times comes from a slightly different backgrounds (such as mechanical engineering or electrical engineering) which requires them long-term learning or rely on other professionals. The graphical interface shown in this project suggests that a researcher or a user to control a robot in a simple and more intuitive way without having to spend weeks learning the principles of ROS and without having to learn to program at all.

This project product is a web-content, generic, open source, extensible and user-friendly program that helps in the development of a ROS based robot, while providing tools for correct developing... (cont'd)

iCEstick $25 FPGA Evaluation Kit

Features

  • USB thumb drive form factor
  • iCE40HX-1k on board
  • 2 x 6 position Digilent Pmod™ connector for other peripheral connections
  • FTDI 2232H USB device allows iCE device programming and UART interface to a PC
  • Vishay TFDU4101 IrDA transceiver
  • Five user LEDs
  • Discera 12 Mhz MEMS oscillator
  • Micron 32 Mbit N25Q32 SPI flash
  • USB connector provides the power supply
  • 16 LVCMOS/LVTTL (3.3 V) digital I/O connections on 0.1” through-hole connections

Available from Lattice for $24.99

Paraplegic in robotic suit kicks off World Cup

From BBC:

A paraplegic man has made the first kick of the World Cup using a mind-controlled robotic exoskeleton... (cont'd)

Grantland has great story about the project here.

Response by Ray Kurzweil to the announcement of chatbot passing the Turing test

From Ray Kurzweil's blog:

In my 2004 book The Singularity Is Near, I anticipated that there would be premature announcements of this kind:

The Singularity Is Near, page 295 | Turing was carefully imprecise in setting the rules for his test, and significant literature has been devoted to the subtleties of establishing the exact procedures for determining how to assess when the Turing test has been passed. In 2002 I negotiated the rules for a Turing test wager with Mitch Kapor on the Long Now website... (cont'd)

Tessel: A Microcontroller That Runs JavaScript

From tessel.io:

Tessel is a microcontroller that runs JavaScript. It's Node-compatible and ships with Wifi built in. Use it to easily make physical devices that connect to the web.

  • Programmable via JavaScript
  • 14 different hardware modules for added capabilities
  • Compatible with 10,000's of Node.js packages on NPM
  • Deploy over USB or remotely by WiFi

 

  • 180mhz ARM Cortex-M3 LPC1830
  • 32mb SDRAM
  • 32mb Flash
  • TI CC3000 WiFi radio
  • 20-pin GPIO bank for general prototyping
  • Micro USB or battery power

Starting at $99 (controller and one module)

Open-source 3D Printed Life-size Robot

From InMoov's homepage:

Gael Langevin is a French modelmaker and sculptor. He works for the biggest brands since more than 25 years. InMoov is his personal project, it was initiated in January 2012 InMoov is the first Open Source 3D printed life-size robot. Replicable on any home 3D printer with a 12x12x12cm area, it is conceived as a development platform for Universities, Laboratories, Hobbyist, but first of all for Makers. It’s concept, based on sharing and community, gives him the honor to be reproduced for countless projects through out the world... (cont'd)

Algorithm that harnesses data from a new sensor could make autonomous robots more nimble.

MIT paper from Andrea Censi and Davide Scaramuzza:

The agility of a robotic system is ultimately limited by the speed of its processing pipeline. The use of a Dynamic Vision Sensors (DVS), a sensor producing asynchronous events as luminance changes are perceived by its pixels, makes it possible to have a sensing pipeline of a theoretical latency of a few microseconds. However, several challenges must be overcome: a DVS does not provide the grayscale value but only changes in the luminance; and because the output is composed by a sequence of events, traditional frame-based visual odometry methods are not applicable. This paper presents the first visual odometry system based on a DVS plus a normal CMOS camera to provide the absolute brightness values. The two sources of data are automatically spatiotemporally calibrated from logs taken during normal operation. We design a visual odometry method that uses the DVS events to estimate the relative displacement since the previous CMOS frame by processing each event individually. Experiments show that the rotation can be estimated with surprising accuracy, while the translation can be estimated only very noisily, because it produces few events due to very small apparent motion... (full paper)

Leap Motion V2 Tracking

From Leap Motion's developer blog:

V2 retains the speed and positional accuracy found in V1, but the software also now tracks the actual joints and bones inside each of the user’s fingers. This leads to some immediate benefits over V1:

  • Finger and hand labels – every finger, hand, and joint now has anatomical labels like ‘pinky’, ‘left hand’, and ‘proximal phalanges’
  • Occlusion robustness – fingers are tracked even when they’re not seen by the controller, as might happen if you turned your hands completely vertically or intertwined the fingers of your left and right hands
  • Massively improved resistance to ambient infrared light – sunlight, powerful halogens, etc.
  • Much more granular data for developers about the user’s hands and fingers – 27 dimensions per hand, in addition to special parameters like grab/pinch APIs

VoCore: A Coin-sized Linux Computer With Wifi

VoCore Indiegogo Campaign:

VoCore is a coin-sized Linux computer with wifi. It is also able to work as a full functional router. It runs OpenWrt on top of Linux. It contains 32MB SDRAM, 8MB SPI Flash and using RT5350(360MHz MIPS) as its heart. It provides many interfaces such as 10/100M Ethernet, USB, UART, I2C, I2S, PCM, JTAG and over 20 GPIOs but its size is less than one square inch... ($20 USD for single unit)

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