smashing robotics

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Mitsubishi MEISTeR Industrial Humanoid Telecontrol Robot

Safety measures within a nuclear accident requires special equipment to handle radioactive materials and MEISTeR could be used as a tool to work with radioactive materials in radioactive areas. The two arms of the robot are flexible and could be controlled to work on maintenance of pipes or other objects that may be taken by the robot grippers, or for inspection when radiation is at a high level.

The two arms of MHI-MEISTeR could be used for various tasks for its ability to be equipped with various tools as needed. For example the robot could be controlled to remove obstacles in case of nuclear accident or could be used to collect sample of materials in areas where human presence is not safe.

Each arm could lift a weight up to 15kg (33 pounds), weight does not include the tool used. Only one arm has seven degrees of freedom apiece and could be used as a cutting saws, jack hammers, and drills. Is flexible and could be used almost as a human hand. Walls absorb radiation and is an essential point to measure the radiation. To use the same robot for wall sample the company design a special tool which can digging into wall up to 70 mm (approximately 2.5 inches).

Since the terrain is not always flat the robot is equipped with four tank caterpillars which is moved and can be controlled independently. The speed is around 2 km/h (1.24 mph) and can climb stairs with a maximum level of 22 cm (8.5 inches).

Specifications include a tall of 130 cm with 70 wide and and a length of 125 cm. The weight is 440 kg (970 pounds) and is not too easy to be transported. It could be operated for 2 working hours.

The idea for this robot is not new and is the result of collaboration between MHI (Mitsubishi Heavy Industries) and Japan Atomic Energy Research Institute who wants to improve working conditions in nuclear power plants. MEISTeR is based on an old robot developed by MHI since 1999 after an accident in a nuclear power plant. The first robot developed was called Rabot and like MEISTeR has two arms. Second robot was called MARS-D and from this it was borrowed the mobile base. Using the experience so far, MHI develop this new intelligent humanoid robot with new and improved maneuverability and also with systems to prevent the robot parts contamination.

For the first time the robot will be used at TEPCO plant and will be always under observation to develop new and improved technologies.

MHI-MEISTeR Cutting Pipe

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Six Tilt Sensors To Build Robots

A tilt sensor is used in robotics to measure tilt angle with ground plane reference. This type of sensors are used in industry, service robots, and others fields like smartphones, games, or aircrafts.
Even a robot uses legs or wheels for movement the inclination should be measured for many times every second for the robot to maintain its constant position.
A tilt sensor uses one, two, or three axes to measure the inclination, and depending on sensors uses, the accuracy may vary from sensor to sensor.
The accuracy is also influenced by many factors including the temperature, gravity, vibration, shock, acceleration/deceleration, and many others type of noise.

1. DFRobot Tilt Sensor

DFRobot Tilt Sensor

Built by DFRobot, this digital sensor is one of the most popular sensor used to measure the tilt of the robot. With a digital interface the sensor is specially designed to be integrated with Arduino platform.
The only disadvantage of this sensor is that it works with mercury. Mercury is a hazardous substance and must be treated as such. Working with the sensor can be dangerous in certain situations.
Digital output of the sensor is directly proportional with the number of mercury switches.
The price for a single sensor is approximately 3.2 EUR ($4.50). Continue Reading →

Audition For Java Learning Robot Programming Books

Robots are intelligent machines with computers instead brains and programming lines instead knowledge. Java is one of the most popular programming language and could be used to program robots regardless of the operating system used. From a simple telepresence robot to an advanced humanoid robot, Java is used to make a robot intelligent, to recognize objects, speak, listen, walk, jump, and the list goes on.

Java is object-oriented programming language allowing users to model the real-world in objects or concepts. Also is a powerful tool used to create artificial intelligence which is the latest trend in robotics. Using artificial intelligence a robot begins to have brain and is capable to understand the environment.

Starting with Java introduction in robotics books and finished with advanced books for Java programming, all these books are written to share from basic to advanced knowledge about how a robot should/could be programmed.

01. Learning to Program with Robots

Learning to Program with Robots

Written by Byron Weber Becker the ‘Learning to Program with Robots‘ is one of the most used book by students to be introduced in object-oriented programming. This book explain the object-oriented concepts using robotic simulation and a lot of examples. Is a great tool to understand how programming could be used in robotics and how could be applied. Continue Reading →

Complete Robotic Exoskeleton Suits List For Limb Movements

Everything starts from necessity, the necessity to use exoskeleton suits for helping infirm people to move again and to provide extra power for soldiers. These are only two fields where these powered armor could be used, two from a large range of applications where it can find functionality.

Since 2010 when was released three exoskeleton suits by three different companies, a problem isn’t solved and this is power supply for suit. Suit components move at the same pace with human limbs and this couldn’t be done without electricity which is stored in batteries attached to suit. A high weight of the suit would lead to a lack of effective action resulting in low efficiency. Engineers have reduced the weight by using lightweight components but in the same time solid materials to support the extra weight. Adding an extra battery to increase the working time will result in an increased weight of the suit, which is not the best solution.
At this moments most of these exoframes has an working time ranging from a few minutes to several hours.

Idea behind these exoskeletons can be found in time in 1890 when Nicholas Yagin create the first suit storing energy in gas bags. This robotic device was used by the Russian engineer to walk, jump, and run in a form closed to actual suits. The modern version of today exoskeletons was designed and build in 1960s by General Electric and the United States military. The suit was powered by hydraulics systems and electricity with a maximum loading weight of 110 kg(250 pounds). Named Hardiman, the exoskeleton has a weight rate of 1 to 11. In translation, an user which lift 11 Kg feels the weight of 1 Kg.

Since then when the exoframe was designed to be used in military applications, the technologies went through many improvements and the latest projects have a futuristic design and works by reading body movement.

An exoskeleton can be used in many fields including construction, rescue teams, infirm people, assist and protect soldiers, etc.
In this article I made a list with exoskeleton suits which can be purchased or are in development stage. The price for suits that can be bought is high and is not prepared to attract too many customers.

01. HULC

HULC (Photo source boingboing.net)

The Human Universal Load Carrier (HULC) exoskeleton suit is built by Berkeley Bionics in collaboration with Lockheed Martin and is designed to be used in military missions. The last version of the suit comes with an extended working time until 72+ hours. Used by soldiers on rough terrain, this exoframe was designed to be used for climbing and also to carry backpacks with equipment.
Maximum weight supported by suit is 90 Kg (200 pounds) and the user can run at 11 Km/h for a long period or could run at a speed of 16Km/h for short period.
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How BMW Autonomous Car Works

It all started with four wheels and a driver, and it ends with four wheels attached to an intelligent robot that knows how to drive itself. Next decade prepares us for the use of intelligent vehicles that drive themselves and in the next 10 to 15 years the roads would be much safer than before. For beginning these four-wheeled robots require a driver following that the next step to develop cognitive and navigation technologies to understand the environment. Both the infrastructure and society will be changed to take up new trends which required less effort from human side in a world with cars and without car drivers.

This trend of making intelligent cars is put into practice by BMW with a 5 Series car prototype and a ConnectedDrive technology integrated which offers the driver safety and comfort. The prototype is tested since 2011 when the project was revealed for the first time. Since then BMW releases new updates for this system which becomes more or less an intelligent robot. The final stage is to build a 100% self driving car where no driver required, only passengers and a comfortable car which satisfy our desires in terms of transport.

BMW Self-Driving Car

BMW ConnectedDrive includes new technologies for a car which are under development like radar, LIDAR, or ultra sound sensors and video cameras to detect all surrounding objects. The car understands the environment in two steps using ultrasound waves to detect objects for short distances and radio technology for large areas. Continue Reading →

Educational Platforms For Learning How To Program Robots And Up To Build Robots

An educational platform, in our case, is based on a prototype which can be used to learn how to build and how can be programmed a robot inside/outside the school or university courses. Is a new way to have positive results in robotic fields and share information between teachers and students and also between students through specialized online platforms. On the market are available open-source platforms which can be used by young students to engineers with experience in robotics.

The aim of these platforms is to provide a wide variety of tools which can be updated to create intelligent and types of robots from various categories. Even there is a service or an industrial robot, these platforms could works as educational tools or complementary tools used at home or at office to test, innovate, and create one of the best robots which will be available on the market.

Using these tools is an opportunity to learn how to build robots, how to connect a sensor or an arm as example, and up to program a robot to do certain tasks or to use artificial intelligence.

All these tools are designed to be used as you like. Most of these comes with a modular structure which allowing any user to add parts. There is also limitation in using this. If you want to build a humanoid robot you have to choose the right platform which can be updated with all humanoid parts. Also program lines couldn’t be shared on other platforms since each platform has its own configuration.

Regarding programming, most of these could be used in many different programming languages, any user have to choose which one of programming language will be used.
Below can be found a list of robotic educational platforms which can be used in middle and high schools, as well for researching or in summer camps.

01. Fischer Technik

Fischer Technik Platform Example

Fischer Technik is a German base company with a long list of educational tools used in robotics. From junior user to high level user these platforms could be used as compact modules and are available in different versions. Version includes Jumbo Starter kit for junior members to an assembly line training model kit used in industry.

02. AL5D Robotic Arm Kit with RIOS

AL5D Robotic Arm Kit with RIOS

AL5D Robotic Arm is a perfect tool to start learning about how it works and how a robotic arm can be programmed. It could be used to program repeatable movements for an fast and accurate arm. The kit include an optional wrist rotate with 4 DOF and a maximum median reach of 10.25″, a functional gripper with a lift capacity of 13oz, an aluminum frame, and several different software control options.
This kit is ready to be tested by every child and also by experienced users. Continue Reading →

Top 10 Robotic Ideas Christmas Gifts For Children, Women, and Men

The value of an object is important and not its price, and because we’re very closer to Christmas gifts season and the Internet is used widely to choose a gift at the expense of traveling to the store, I choose to write an article about robotic gifts for kids, women and men which can be purchased online. There are three categories which will take into account, all of these are very different and there is no way to mix the gifts.

Robotic industry is very widespread and we have to choose between a robot used in chicken or an intelligent vacuum cleaner, a robotic toy for a children under 16 years old who fulfills his dream of becoming a James Bond, or a robotic kit used to build robots from passion.

Choosing the right robotic gift is not an easy task even for those in the field. No matter how detailed the instructions for use should be, an intelligent machinery require special attention and often manages to awaken our feelings of anger. So it should be considered difficulty level of robot and the person to whom we give the gift.

A robot could be seen as a toy even by a younger or an older person. Even if we give a t-shirt or an advanced humanoid robot which is very expensive, we have to choose the best robot for the best person. In the following I make three gift lists with robotic products divided in three categories.

Ideas Gifts For Children

Children are made to be curious and this is reflected in toys trend which are increasingly more complex. Toys have their role in developing a child’s intelligence and therefore we have to choose the toys that are age appropriate. A robot can be used for educational purposes as well for entertainment. Below you can find 10 gift ideas with prices ranging from a few dollars and up to hundreds of dollars.

01. Crochet Baby R2D2 Robot Hat

Baby R2D2 Robot Hat Front View

There are topics in robotic fields for all ages including a baby. R2D2 Robo that is an ideal gift for a child between 3-12 months old. Based on blue color like R2D2 Robot, the hat is woven from yarn which contains 30% milk protein and 70% cotton. The price is around $15 and can be purchased in a limited number.

02. Kid Galaxy

Kid Galaxy Toy

Kid Galaxy is a perfect toy for girls or boys with age between 3 and 5 years. For control there are two buttons which move the eyes and makes the robot to spin. There is also a function of sound and lights in the rhythm of sounds. The price is about $20.46 which is not very expensive to create the delight of children.

03. Keepon

Keepon Dancing Toy

Keepon is an adorable yellow interactive robot which likes to dance on the music. It has integrated sensors which react to touch, pokes, or petting. At about $63 could be a perfect musical gift for children up to 6 years old. Continue Reading →