2000 Year Old Computer Replicated Using LEGOs (Video)

Although many people automatically think of LEGO's as children's toys, they are actually a great tool for prototyping designs and even replicating mechanisms that would be difficult, and quite expensive, using other methods.

For example, when Jin Sato fell in love with Sony's AIBO robot dog but couldn't afford to buy one, he recreated the robot using LEGO Mindstorms, and dubbed his robo-canine creation “MIBO”.

Now a journalist (Adam Rutherford) and a designer (Andrew Carol) came up with the idea using LEGOs to recreate the world's oldest known computer, the Antikythera mechanism that is believed to date back to 150 BC, over 2000 years ago.

And, while we're at it, here's Jin Sato's MIBO robot dog celebrating it's 6th  birthday:

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Walky: Humanoid Robot Control via iPad (Video)

The Sugiura Brothers posted the latest video showing the implementation of Walky, a method for operating bipedal robots using simple, intuitive gestures on the iPad.

Much like word processors and layout programs use a WYSIWYG user interface, Walky implements a WYDIWYG (What You Do Is What You Get) approach. It's so straight forward that even novice users that have never operated a robot before can feel comfortable with the interface in just a few minutes of practice.

Here's what they had to say about the project:

We propose an operating method for bipedal robots by using two-fingered gestures on a multi-touch surface. We focus on finger gestures that people represent the human with moving fingers, such as walking, running, kicking and turning. These bipedal gestures are natural and intuitive enough for the end-users to control the humanoid robots. The system captures those finger gestures on a multi-touch display as the direct operation method. The capturing method is easy and simple, but robust enough for the entertainment applications. We show an example application with our proposed method, and demonstration at the international exhibition. We conclude with the results of observation and future implementation of our method.

Robotic Life Project -http://sugiur.com/roboticlife/
Graduate School of Media Design, Keio University -http://www.kmd.keio.ac.jp/en/
JST ERATO IGARASHI Design UI Project -http://www.designinterface.jp/en/

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3D Printing Company Offers Sweet-Heart Deal to Robot Builders

A while back we wrote about practical 3D printing technology reaching the level where it's starting to be adopted by some of the top level Japanese humanoid robot creators. Several leading builders here have been evaluating the technology, providing their feedback and experience, and it won't be long before their robot champions put it to the test under severe battle conditions in the ROBO-ONE ring.

The 3D printing company leading the charge, i.materialise, isn't just any hardware company, they see robotics as a significant potential market, one that is a key part of their strategic plan going forward. According to Joris on the i.materialise blog:

"...an area that is very important to us here at i.materialise: using 3D printing to customize robots. We think that in the coming years two technologies that are ripe for democratization are robots and 3D printing. To combine both of them into one service is irresistible to us."

At the same time, there have to be robot builders elsewhere in the world that could benefit from the same technology. And, we're sure that the robot folks in Europe, the US, and other tech centers around the world don't want to end up behind the curve.

So, they came up with a real sweet-heart deal. Get this, again from Joris at i.materialise:

“So we are looking for you. Are you a robotics enthusiast with good 3D modeling or CAD skills? Do you own or are you building a consumer friendly robot such as the Roomba, WowWee Robotics, a hexapod, Kondo, etc.? Would you like to customize the look and feel of your robot or add functionality to it using 3D printing? Please email joris (at) i.materialise.com and if you’re one of the suitable candidates we will help you, including giving you the 3D prints for free.”

What are you waiting for? How often do you think a great offer, including free 3D printed parts, like this comes along? Just go for it!

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Sneak peek at exciting new robot projects in the works at Trossen

Although we're fascinated by robotic technology in the rapid advances being made, we have started to take for granted some of the amazing tools and technology that have already become integrated into our daily lives. Things that would have been astounding to people just a couple of decades ago, are now commonplace to the point that we use them almost without noticing how wonderful they are.


A good example is the Internet and some of the social networking applications like Facebook. Even though I live just outside of Tokyo, and Andrew at Trossen Robotics is on the other side of the world near Chicago, we can, and do, chat regularly online using Facebook almost as if we were next-door neighbors.

Here's some snippets from our latest chat that included an update on several exciting projects and new products that are in the works at Trossen:


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Robot Pioneers Documentary (Video)

All of us have seen the smashing, crashing combat robots, the kung fu fighting humanoids, the unique and sometimes crazy artbots, but what few people stop to realize is that behind everyone of of those robot creations is a dedicated, often passionate, robot builder.

Trossen Robotics, a big supporter of the robot community worldwide, definitely appreciates and values all the builders that make the sport what it is today, and what it can become tomorrow.

To share some of the background, insight, and perspective of those passionate robot builders, at least those that were lucky enough to make it to RoboGames 2010, Trossen commissioned an excellent documentary video short. We highly recommend it. If you have never had the opportunity to attend RoboGames, then the Robot Pioneers video will probably inspire you to get involved in robotics at some level, perhaps even to join us at RoboGames 2011. Even if you've participated in previous robot competitions, there's still a lot to be learned from these great robot pioneers.


Related links:

Trossen Robotics

Trossen Robotics Blog –  Robot Pioneers Documentary post

RoboGames Website

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