We celebrated the launch of Make: Volume 39 — Robotics, with five days of robot-related articles, pictures, videos, reviews and projects we called Robot Week. It’s been a blast!
In case you missed anything, here’s a quick review.
Robots at Work and Play
There are so many great robotics stories, makers, products and events out there, we barely knew where to begin! Here are the ones we picked up for Robot Week.
Robotic fabrication techniques inspired by traditional applications of ceramics and weaving at the second Rob|Arch 2014 conference, focused on robotic fabrication in architecture, art, and design.
You’d expect this company to have been inspired by Iron Man. This team of mechanical engineers is on a mission to bring human scale robotics to the masses. “Human scale” because that’s what will physically help people.
The goal of Rise Robotics is to innovate new product to bring costs down, capabilities up and to start making an important difference. Their first product is a low cost electrical linear actuator called Cyclone Muscle.
“Let’s build something creepy, Dad…”, my teenage daughters said. We had no idea this creepy crawly creature would utilize our machining skills to the fullest.
We love the artist Theo Jansen and his strandbeests, so we decided to use a Jansen-inspired linkage design. Theo powers his mammoth PVC kinetic sculptures with the power of beach winds in the Netherlands, but we went with a more steampunk feel.
Ever since I assembled my first biped in 2005, I have dreamed of building a full size humanoid robot. It is not that easy. Even small bipeds suffer problems of stability, processing control, power consumption, and mechanical slop.
Two years ago I heard about the DARPA Robotics Challenge. I recruited some other enthusiasts to help get ready for the challenge by December 2013.
John Baichtal got a chance to play around with Actobotics, a robust aluminum and steel building system designed for robots and other DIY projects. It’s a relatively new system. Sparkfun picked up the product line only last December, while there are zero Make: Projects or instructables mentioning it. It was less than a year ago that Beatty Robotics built Actobot, a robot showing off the system’s capabilities.
Robotician for Aldebaran by day and dancer by night, Audrick Fausta mixes his two passions. As a child he took lessons in funk, salsa, and break dancing. He eventually bought some robotics kits and began to combine robotics and dance into entertaining videos.
Urban Putt is a new restaurant/bar located in San Francisco’s Mission District that houses a new and unique 14-hole miniature, or putt-putt, golf course.
San Francisco artist Joe Szuecs created the Make: sponsored robotic display for the 13th hole at Urban Putt.
We had some contributions from makers with some real bone fides.
Mark is quite well known in the robotics community. He’s the inventor of BEAM robotics, an approach that uses minimal components and emulates biology to make simple robots that exhibit complex behaviors.
Mark shared one of his recent designs, which is currently wandering around his home under test. His goal for home robots is to make them durable, efficient, and smart enough to live in your house without damaging your stuff.
Dr Lim is a computer scientist and researcher specializing in A.I., robotics and emotion. She shares 10 tips for making your robot more humanlike.
The tips are taken from techniques that animators have used for decades to bring the illusion of life and emotion to animals, objects and even machines. With some simple programming, your robot – no matter its form – can boost its humanness quotient.
David Calkins is a widely respected robot builder and expert. He has taught robotics and computer engineering at San Francisco State University and various grade schools, is the president of the Robotics Society of America, Founder of the international RoboGames (world’s largest robot competition).
David has quite a few impressive titles to his name, but here he asks a simple question, “Do you want to Build a Robot?”
As a MythBuster, model maker, and combat roboticist, Grant Imahara has hacked everything from R2-D2 to the Energizer Bunny.
Over the years Grant has blown up home theater equipment, helped create feature films, and used science to debunk urban legends. And while special effects, explosions, and car crashes are exciting, the thing Grant has enjoyed most is making robots. All kinds of robots. From mundane to downright dangerous.
What would Maker Faire be without robots? Well, it’d still be pretty darn cool, of course. But it’s better with robots. This year’s Bay Area event included plenty of cool robotic stuff.
If you were at Maker Faire Bay Area this year, you may have been greeted by Roy the Robot. Brian Roe, creator of Roy, is a mechanical designer who has done work in animatronics. The initial Kickstarter is for a kit for Roy’s arm. Brian hopes to offer kits for Roy’s eyes and other parts in the future. However, if you were lucky enough to catch Roy at the fair, you got to see his whole upper torso, and even experience his sense of humor.
It is arguable that K-9 is, aside from that blue police box, one of the most enduring an iconic items from the Dr. Who series even though it hasn’t graced the screen as often as the rest. John Hawley, the creator of this K-9, documented his build as he went from a box of parts to a finished K-9.
John’s K-9 drew plenty of attention at Maker Faire. People commented that they recognized the mechanical canine even if they weren’t regular fans of Dr. Who.
Martin Wojtczyk applied all the advanced robotics algorithms learned from his experience in research labs and applied them to cheap off the shelf hardware.
With this he launched Cubotix, a startup company developing affordable service robots for everyone. Rover is their first platform. It is a LEGO EV3 based self driving car that uses a 3D depth sensor and an on-board laptop for mapping and navigation.
You might say that Michael Overstreet believes in evolution. His mission is to start with a working humanoid robot design, and reduce the cost of systems and components to make it more affordable. The DARwin-OP robot is available from Robotis for about $12,000. Michael hopes to get similar functionality to the DARwin-OP for under $1,000.
Alonso Martinez’s goal was to make a cute robot with lots of personality. Alonso’s experience in the Character Department at Pixar Animation Studios inspired him to use animation techniques to design Gertie’s personality.
Inside Gertie is a delta robot. When you say jump, Gertie the robot says, “To which X, Y, and Z coordinates?”
Dan Royer makes many things, right now he’s most excited about robot arms. What is so exciting about robot arms? Haven’t they been around forever? I think I had one made by Nintendo at some point.
Dan went on to explain that the robotic arms he is creating are relatively cheap and incredibly versatile. You can put a pen on it and make a plotter, add a blade and make a vinyl cutter, put an extruder on it and make a printer, toss a camera on it and it becomes a motion platform. The possibilities are endless.
Lem Fugitt publishes Robots Dreams and is a regular contributor to publications like ROBOT Magazine. Since Lem was there for Maker Faire, the Make: editors invited him to share his favorite robotic sights from the event. Check out the 3D printed robotic hands and prosthetics, robotic sculptures, humanoid bots, and other wonders.
Hopefully, Robot Week has inspired you in some way. Why not stretch your creative limbs and try a project for yourself?
Rick Winscot has been making robots from a young age. Over time he has developed a set of rules for his robots. This project exemplifies Rick’s Rules of Robotics:
1) Each robot must be awesome.
2) Robots shouldn’t be expensive.
3) Robots should inspire!
We hope you are inspired to try this project, or design your own robotic creation.
BEAM is field of robotics pioneered by Mark Tilden. BEAM robots often use deceptively simple designs with a minimalist aesthetic can often result in complex analog behavior.
You can try your own hand at building a very simple BEAM robot pet with this Solar Trimet Project.
After watching example videos showing a GBC (Great Ball Contraption), the folks at Makeblock really wanted to build one themselves. Finally, they decided to build a robot which could count the number of the balls.
This project could be refitted to other robots which could count the number of screws or other tiny parts.
When Evil Ninja Monster Ballerinas attack – ModULO can save the day! Build this 3D printed action figure for yourself. This project’s simple construction can be broken down into basic geometric shapes. Modify and choose colors that match your robot super hero’s personality.