Meccanoid G15 KS: Build and Program Your Own Humanoid Companion

The Meccanoid G15 KS robotic kit can be regarded as the Erector set of our times and is quite possibly the toy most of us have always wanted. In true Meccano style the set allows for building a life-size 1.2 meter (4 foot) tall humanoid robot which can walk, talk and even sense its environment. Meccanoid aims to attract children 5 to 14 years old into building and programming their own personal robot, although I believe that many makers and enthusiasts will adopt this platform quite easily since it is open-source, well connected and seems to be pretty versatile.

Meccanoid G15 KS Robotic Kit

Meccanoid G15 KS Robotic Kit | Photo: Meccano

The Meccanoid robotics building platform was introduced by Canadian toy company Spin Master last week at CES in Las Vegas, where it has won the “Last Gadget Standing” people’s choice award and was also favored by several prestigious publications. Spin Master has bought the iconic 115-year-old Meccano brand back in 2013.

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CES 2015 Mega Round-Up: Camera Drones, Self-Driving Cars, Personal Robots, 3D Printed Clothing and More

The 2015 International Consumer Electronics Show held in Las Vegas, Nevada this week, was the stage of interesting new concepts, technologies and products, some of which will be made available to the consumer market later this year, some will take longer to implement and some will not even make it at all. CES 2015 was rich in robotics innovations and IoT connected products are becoming more and more widespread as big companies are embracing the concept. This year’s exhibition was rich in aerial camera drones, 3D printing innovations, and car manufacturers were more present than ever.

International CES 2015

In this article, by no means exhaustive, I tried to gather the most interesting products and concepts featured in the news or otherwise. So, enough talk let’s take a look at this year’s happening.

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Intel Curie: A Tiny Module for Tomorrow’s Wearables

This week at CES 2015 Intel announced a new development board targeted primarily for wearable applications – the Intel Curie. This could be the smallest development board to date, with a diameter just shy of 20 millimeter or about 0.7 inch. The tiny module will be built around Intel’s 32-bit Quark SE SoC architecture and will feature several types of sensors, Bluetooth LE connectivity and some type of power management interface. Final configuration is not yet known as the module is still in prototyping phase, and approvals are to be obtained but Intel is confident that shipping will start in the second semester of 2015.

Intel Curie at CES 2015

Intel Curie at CES 2015 | Photo: Intel

Intel is very serious about becoming a serious player in the wearable technology segment and the Internet of Things. Last year lots of efforts were made to this direction with the well-known “Make It Wearable” challenge, as well as various strategic partnerships with several fashion and accessories companies. This year Intel has also announced collaborating with Oakley in creating a high tech eyewear product that will be made available by the end of the year.

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RIOT OS – An Open-Source Operating System for the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things is a rapidly evolving concept, and is already pretty mainstream in engineering and maker environments. Thanks to open-source communities more and more software tools and resources are available, making the development of IoT applications more and more streamlined. Making no exception RIOT OS is a fully fledged open-source operating system designed primarily for powering embedded devices, offering features and capabilities that will get your project up and running in no time.

RIOT OS for the Internet of Things

RIOT is based on a microkernel architecture, which means it is optimized for very low resource demands, and it supports real-time and multi-thread processing. It is compatible with 16/32-bit MCU architectures and there is also a native port available for running it as a process under Linux or MacOS, thus enabling usage of standard development tools such as the GNU Compiler Collection, GNU Debugger, Valgrind or Wireshark.
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Google Unveils Complete Self-Driving Car Prototype

Just in time for the holidays Google makes a present to all of us by unveiling a complete, fully functional build of their self-driving car prototype. The first prototype presented in May this year was merely a design concept with very few working elements implemented. It had no steering wheel nor accelerator pedal, and not even functional headlights. In their Google+ post the project team further states that the prototype went through numerous iterations, at each stage partial prototypes were built to test various subsystems and functions which needed to be integrated.

Google Self-Driving Car Finished Prototype

Google Self-Driving Car Finished Prototype | Photo: Google

At first glance this new prototype is indeed more refined, the first notable difference being the roof mounted LIDAR sensor which looks to be much better integrated. The prototype now has working headlights and turn signals, as well as larger rear-view mirror housings, maybe to better accommodate sensors or to make room for larger glass, a clear sign that this new prototype will be road-legal.

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X PlusOne Camera Drone Can Sprint From 0 to 100 in Midair

A new aerial drone project, with a slighlty different approach, seeks for your support on Kickstarter. The X PlusOne is a hybrid aerial drone, combining advantages rotary and fixed-wing aircraft designs, such as vertical take of and landing (VTOL), stable fixed point hovering, as well as the ability to reach high cruising speeds up to 100 km/h or 60 mph when flipped 90 degrees to the side. The hybrid design idea is not new – Google revealed their Project Wing earlier this year, VertiKUL delivery drone is another example, and there is also the Quadshot aircraft model launched back in 2011 – however this design has yet to gain momentum in the consumer market.

X PlusOne Hybrid Drone

X PlusOne Hybrid Drone | Photo: xCraft.io

Fixed-wing aircraft models can be more difficult to fly compared to multicopters, however the X PlusOne drone is aimed at changing this, focusing primarily on user friendly operation and an attractive yet simple airframe design. The drone is built around the MultiWii flight controller board which has an integrated IMU and custom software algorithms which keep the aircraft steady in most conditions, thus piloting it should become very easy.

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Parrot Bebop Drone Now Available in Stores

Parrot’s new Bebop camera drone has finally hit two stores in US this week, Apple and BestBuy, at a price tag just shy of US $500. The Bebop represents a step up from the company’s well known AR.Drone 2.0, being faster, lighter and more refined than it. The 14 Megapixel camera promises to deliver better image quality, while high spec hardware and clever software aim to provide better control and features for anyone using it.

Parrot Bebop Drone

Bebop Drone | Photo: Parrot

Battery life has also been increased, and the airframe has been engineered for better shock tolerance, even for indoor flight. The FreeFlight app has also been upgraded and is available for iOS and Android devices, allowing for simultaneous control of up to 3 Bebop drones. Future plans also include releasing an SDK for the open source community.
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