Last Minute Robotic Christmas Gift Ideas for 2015

In case you’re a little behind schedule with holiday shopping or maybe have time management issues like me, hopefully some of these last minute gift ideas might come in handy. I tried to cover some of the most interesting robotic products launched this year, most of the suggestions below are readily available at major retailers in the US and Europe. Of course prices are given only for reference so you can better identify the category of a certain product. In addition you can also check out last year’s compendium for more inspiration.

Happy Holidays!

So, this is my selection for this year, maybe you’ll also like some the products below.

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Virtual Robotics Toolkit – an Advanced LEGO Mindstorms Simulator

Virtual Robotics Toolkit

The possibility of simulating processes or products and their behavior in the environment throughout the entire life cycle has a clear and positive impact in all stages of development and maintenance of an equipment or system. Nevertheless there are also pitfalls which can be easily avoided, head to our software simulation article to learn more.

In this article we will explore some of the features of Virtual Robotics Toolkit, a feature-rich simulation environment for LEGO Mindstorms robots which allows testing any robotic creation similar to an actual model without actually owning one – simply import any LDraw 3D model, load an EV3-G script, run the simulation and start observing what your robot does.

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Weekend Stories: The Martian, News from Outer Space and Educational Robot Kits

The Martian

Good story, pretty good scenario, interesting cast and amazingly well weighted visual effects – everything clings together in the most entertaining movie I’ve seen in a long while. The Martian has Matt Damon in the leading role of astronaut Mark Watney who is left stranded on Mars and is presumed dead by his crew which evacuates the planet during an extremely violent dust storm.

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DJI Inspire 1 vs. Yuneec Typhoon Q500 4K – An Overview

DJI Inspire 1 vs Yuneec Typhoon Q500 4K

This is a guest contribution by

With the large number of drones for sale today, it is difficult to make a decision sometimes. A lot of first time drone buyers are torn between the features provided by an upper end drone, like the DJI inspire 1, and the more cost friendly types, like the Yuneec Typhoon Q500 4K. Rather than leaving you to do all of the research and guess work, we’ve let these two popular heavyweights battle it out, and here are the results.

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RoboDK: An Offline Programming and 3D Simulation Software for Industrial Robots

In robotics and automation benefits of software simulation are apparent from early stages in the development life cycle of almost any product or system, and this is particularly true for industrial environments where equipment downtime periods are a key factor in the overall efficiency of a process. Today we take a look at RoboDK, a highly versatile development platform for industrial robot offline programming and simulation which supports over 200 industrial robots from leading manufacturers such as ABB, KUKA, Yaskawa, Adept and many more.

Industrial Robot Machining Simulation

Industrial Robot Machining Simulation | Photo: RoboDK

A bit of background, RoboDK is the commercial version of the perhaps better known RoKiSim robotic simulator developed at École de Technologie Supérieure (ETS) in Montreal, Canada by Ph.D. graduate Albert Nubiola. The software became pretty popular over its 3 years of existence so its creator founded RoboDK with the goal to create a more refined product for roboticists worldwide.

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Weekend Stories: Autonomous Drifting, Robot Builds Robots, and more Car Concepts

Immortus Solar Powered 3D Printed Sports Car Concept

RC Car Autonomous Drifting

The first story of today is perhaps the most interesting thing I’ve seen lately. Researchers at MIT’s AeroAstro laboratory have presented an implementation of their new learning algorithm for optimizing control policies based on reinforcement learning effectively obtaining a robotic Ken Block. The starting point for the reinforcement learning algorithm is represented by a set of determined optimal control policies for drifting a remote control car. A set of simulation runs is performed after which the control model optimized by the algorithm is transferred to the physical car. In the demonstration below steady drifting is achieved quite rapidly and we can see how efficiently the algorithm compensates for external factors. Of course the end of the video is just as interesting.

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Microsoft Announces Windows 10 IoT Core Public Release

Earlier this week Microsoft announced the public release of their Windows IoT Core embedded OS, currently supporting the Raspberry Pi 2 and Intel’s MinnowBoard Max development boards. When the project surfaced earlier this year Microsoft’s shift towards the Internet of Things became unequivocal. The new OS is fully integrated with the existing Windows development framework that is familiar and well established.

Windows 10 IoT Family

Windows 10 IoT Family | Photo: Microsoft

The Windows 10 IoT Core is scarcely featured compared not only to mainstream Linux distributions for embedded devices but to the rest of the Windows family as well. Let’s see what this all means.

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