Category Archives: Product News and Reviews

The Technomagic of Sphero

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Now here is a different remote control robot.  A simple sphere that can be controlled by bluetooth.  Video with link to article.

Now if these had any sort of external sensing [seems to have just internal gyroscope and accelerometer], how about a flock [fleet?] of them to be used as remote sensors for other bots?  eyes and fingers.  At $129 each though, that would get pricey fast.

The Technomagic of Sphero

Hex Bugs Nano Micro Robot Remote Control Toys Toy Fair 2010 Preview

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A YouTube video showing [advertising] a whole family of micro sized robots.  A few similar to some of these have been seen at the Saturday morning gatherings.  Others from the family are new [to me].

Hex Bugs Nano Micro Robot Remote Control Toys Toy Fair 2010 Preview

Various methods of locomotion.


Phil

GPS Receivers Now Small Enough to Attach to [almost] Anything

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I found a news article about a GPS receiver that is smaller than a penny, and weighs only 0.3 grams.  Even with support electronics for data logging, remote downloading, scheduling, and battery, it still only comes to 10 grams.  This may not be quite small enough to attach to insects, but they are designed to be used to track the foraging habits of bats.

I could not see any pricing on the manufacturer ? website, but that is small enough that weight and power requirements should no longer be a limitation for adding position sensing to almost any robotics project.

GPS Receivers Now Small Enough to Attach to Literally Anything

Definitely something to check into for our rocketry members. A 10 gram payload weight should be doable.  If added to an existing sensors / recording package, it could add as little as 0.3 grams.


Phil

ten-pound robot for hostile [military] environments

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Here is an article [with video] that I found about a small robot for ‘rough’ terrain.  The article says the basic unit can be either tracked or wheeled, but the video shows only the tracked version.  From context this appears to be strictly remote controlled, with no onboard navigation or sensor interpretation.  Something like this would make a good base [just add smarts :)] for the cross-country / Darpa style challenge idea that has been bounced around at WCRS events on a regular basis.

Versatile robot rascals weigh in for battle

The press release linked from the article has a ‘little’ more detail.  There is also a facebook page with more pictures, still only the tracked version though


Phil

Ultrafine Location Fixes

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Here is a link to an article from Technology Review about GPS style positioning technology that use small [it says the size of a hardback book] land based units.  Accuracy down to a few centimeters.  This version uses the same frequency [band] as wi-fi, but apparently with higher power. A single unit could cover several kilometers.  This is real technology already being used.

Ultrafine Location Fixes

One of the company co-founders is quoted as saying

Tracking goods and machines with high accuracy can enable greater use of robotics and automation.

Assuming a “location hotspot” is available, or can be setup at reasonable cost, this looks like an opportunity for robotics location awareness. Depending on thoses costs, down to the consumer level. The existing home robots that need to have hardware “electronic walls” installed could potentially use position sensing and a virtual wall instead.

How about

  • a sumobot that knows its position relative to the ‘ring’ well enough that it does not need to completely rely on optical sensing of the white edges?
  • a line follower that memorizes the path based on absolute position information? The high speed line followers could ‘plan’ acceleration, deceleration, and turns based on their position
  • a Darpa style challenge where the ‘contestant’ is given only the geo-location of the goal


Phil