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.

The movie is directed by Ridley Scott and is based on the homonymous novel written by Andy Weir. Despite the fact that it might be somewhat predictable, the movie manages to genuinely transpose oneself into the not-so-distant future where the world anxiously awaits any bit of information about the events on the Red Planet. In my opinion there is a bit of everything in the film – there is science and there is also fiction, there are several thrilling action scenes, there is humor, and maybe a tad too much drama.

News from Outer Space

Full coverage of euRathlon 2015 robotics competition

Interesting analysis on the shift of the human evolution paradigm

Google’s self-driving car test driven

World’s first 3D printed building will be built in Dubai

Very nice robotics videos selection

Maximo 5 DOF robotic arm


Maximo is a 5 DOF robotic arm controlled with Arduino that can replicate movements of real life industrial robots. Primarily designed as an educational platform this robot kit could also come in handy to makers or hobbyists. The project seeks support on Kickstarter, for a pledge of about US $200 you can get an early bird basic kit. Optional end effectors are available, such as two types of grippers, pen or palletizer module and various accessories.

Robo Wunderkind


Taglined as the LEGO of the future Robo Wunderkind aims at teaching kids how to build and program their own robots. The system consists of functional blocks such as a system module, sensors, motors, battery and so on, as well as mechanical and building blocks. The system module contains an ARM Cortex A8 based MCU, 4GB storage, battery, WiFi radio, microphone and speaker. Communication between modules takes place via I2C. Programming can be done in the friendly Scratch environment and all blocks are compatible with LEGO. You can get a basic Robo Wunderkind kit for a minimum pledge of US $149.
via SimpleBotics

Qualcomm introduced the DragonBoard 410c

Qualcomm DragonBoard 410C

Qualcomm DragonBoard 410C
Click to enlarge

The DragonBoard 410c, introduced at World Maker Faire in New York last week, is build around a Snapdragon 400 series CPU and has a pretty impressive spec sheet. The board is based on the 96Boards open specification, which will soon include Arduino, therefore maximizing compatibility. The board is powered by a 64-bit 1.2 GHz quad-core ARM Cortex A53 CPU and supports Android 5.1, Linux Kernel 3.10, Ubuntu and will also support Windows 10.
via Makezine