Top Robotic Christmas Gift Ideas for 2014

Winter holidays are approaching quickly so we need to start planning our shopping budget for the period to come. Of course, some of you might have jumped the gun already, myself included, and started placing orders to avoid inherent delays in deliveries that will usually occur from late November until the end of December. It’s better to be on the safe side, you don’t want to miss shooting that aerial footage of your friends on the ski slope, or maybe program the robot you just built in front of the fireplace, do you?

Robotic Christmas Gifts 2014

Anyway, we have prepared a fresh selection of robotic Christmas gift ideas including kits, toys and gadgets that we found interesting and well suited for your loved ones, friends or colleagues at work. This is by no means ans exhaustive list, if you know about something that would make a good robotic present please feel free to share.

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Audi Piloted Driving Concept Impresses at Hockenheimring GP Circuit

Last week Audi has made an amazing demonstration, as part of their autonomous vehicle program, for which it partnered up with Stanford University and the VW Electronics Research Lab (ERL) in California, over a decade ago.

Their RS 7 Piloted Driving concept car, nicknamed Bobby, performed a full lap of the Hockenheimring GP circuit in Germany at high speed, fully autonomously and, most importantly without any error. The car maintained a superb racing line throughout the run, precisely braking and accelerating out of corners, reaching speeds up to 225 km/h (140 mph) on the straights, and 127 km/h (almost 87 mph) on average.

Driverless Audi RS 7 on the track

Driverless Audi RS 7 on the track | Photo: Audi

The robotic 560 HP 4.0 twin-turbo V8 sports sedan managed to complete the 4.6 kilometer long track in 2 minutes and 10 seconds dead, a laptime absolutely comparable with runs previously performed on the circuit. You can watch the complete lap in the video at the end of this article.

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How to Build a Mars Rover Replica with Electric Imp and Arduino

Have you ever wanted to build replicas of rovers NASA employs for exploring foreign planets? Or maybe are you looking for a high mobility wheeled platform solution for your projects, capable of travelling over various kinds of terrain?

Well look no further, recently we stumbled upon a very interesting Instructable about how to build your very own functional Mars rover replica, which you can also remote control from any mobile device or computer browser.

Remote controllable Mars Rover Replica

Mars rover replica | Photo source

Created by the Product Design Research Studio, a group of students and researchers at the University of Dundee, UK, the six wheeled robot, inspired by the Curiosity Martian rover, can be built by using off-the-shelf components and electronics, as well as cleverly implemented household parts and materials.

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Arduino Simulators Lineup — Start Developing Without a Real Board

Launched in 2005, the Arduino open hardware and software platform has grown to be very popular among hobbyists, educators, and professionals alike, gaining momentum especially in the robotics field. Backed by a massive online community, and with most development boards and hardware accessories available at very low prices, this platform is perhaps the best place to start in working with embedded devices. But what if you want to learn programming and do not own an Arduino board, or are overwhelmed by the selection of hardware out there? This is where simulation software comes in.

Virtual Breadboard work area

Virtual Breadboard work area

These products generally create a virtual environment in which not only can you write code but you can also create electronic circuits to test the behavior of your code. In the selection of software presented below you will notice that very different sets of features are offered by each application. Some offer vast libraries of hardware to select from, while others allow you to develop in visual environments and show results in graphical form, while others plot graphs and display data sets.

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BrickPi – Control Your LEGO Mindstorms Robots with Raspberry Pi

Thanks to the myriad of embedded development boards available, nowadays it is easier than ever to build things in your own household. From extremely simple connected switches or relays for home automation purposes, to more advanced fully fledged robots, only sky is the limit, and since additive manufacturing has become mainstream and accessible, you can 3D print virtually any physical part you need for your project.

But what if you could combine the unique way of building with LEGO bricks with the power and versatility offered by the Raspberry Pi embedded board?

BrickPi in action

BrickPi in action | Photo: DexterInd

Created by American company Dexter Industries, BrickPi is a two-part system that allows you to bring these two amazing development platforms together. It allows you to connect LEGO Mindstorms motors and sensors to the Raspberry Pi, as well as mount the whole assembly to your project with LEGO Technic bricks and parts.

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JIBO, World’s First Family Robot Is Preparing to Meet You

Created by MIT’s robotics professor Dr. Cynthia Breazeal, JIBO is a highly interactive social robot designed to help and assist all members of your family in their activities, thanks to its broad range of features or skills. Unlike today’s smart assistant systems and devices JIBO has a personality, it aims to act and feel almost like it were a member of the family rather than just another device lying around the house. Dr. Breazeal, a pioneer in the social robotics field, hopes that JIBO will have a major impact on how people perceive new technologies and their benefits.

JIBO Family Robot

JIBO Family Robot | Photo: JIBO

It seems that part of the job is already done, started in July this year, with a goal of US$100,000, the crowdfunding campaign for JIBO ended this week raising almost US$2.3 million from over 5500 supporters, and went straight into the top 5 most funded campaigns on Indiegogo.

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Wyliodrin – Visual Programming Environment for Your Intel Galileo and Raspberry Pi

Wyliodrin is a web-based service that offers a visual IDE for your development boards. It is accessible directly from any browser and is compatible with Raspberry Pi, ZedBoard and recently the 2nd generation Intel Galileo platforms, with only minimal configuration requirements for your board. Wyliodrin is well suited for beginners, who can start creating their programs right away by using a language simply called Visual Programming, fairly similar to the better known Scratch. Advanced users can choose from over 10 languages to program their applications, and can also open consoles with their device’s shell directly from the web browser.


Setting up your board with Wyliodrin is pretty simple and straightforward, a board specific image and a configuration file need to be downloaded and transferred to a SD card. Insert the card into your Raspi or Galileo, power the board up and make sure the internet connection is working. Next up log into you Wyliodrin account to get the board registered and that is it, no additional steps are required, you can start working on your project.
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