How to make a robot turn… (Video)


Our human bodies come designed with around 108 degrees of freedom allowing us to move very flexibly. Unfortunately, because of cost, packaging, and complexity issues, the most common humanoid robots on the market today only have 16 to 24 degrees of freedom. That makes it more of a challenge when we want to have our robot execute some simple moves, like turning.

The humanoid's legs can't twist or turn organically. In fact it's often difficult for novice robot builders to get their robot to turn at all. What's the secret?


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iPad Bipedal Walking Robot (Video)

We're happy to report that Terasaki-san, the creator of “Weird-7”, “Weird-72”, and the iPhone Walking Robot, hasn't been resting on his laurels. Now, using the same design approach as his iPhone bipedal robot but with stronger servos, he's created an iPad Walking Robot:

Here's an earlier video showing his creations and documenting the construction of the iPhone Walking Robot:

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"Taking Back Our World" The Make/Hackerspace/Creativity Movement


This Thursday evening (June 3rd), at the Tokyo PC Users Group, we'll be talking about small groups of creative people are joining together to redefine and revitalize everything from personal computing, arts, crafts, gardening, and even manufacturing. The talk will feature photos and videos of Hack Pittsburgh, Makerbot Industries, NYCResistor, Dorkbot NYC, the Spring 2010 NYU ITP Exhibition, and Tokyo Hackerspace.

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Craft Night Fun at NYCResistor (Video)

A “typical” Craft Night at the NYCResistor hackerspace in Brooklyn can include delights like lasercutting wood, learning the best technique for straightening plywood, twitchy robot babies, conductive fabric sourcing discussions (follow the tinfoil hat people), electronic voodoo dolls, a magic box, and some magic elixer. What a blast!

Of course the most important factor is being able to hang out with a group of incredibly talented and creative people, and exchange ideas.

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"Top Secret" Makerbot Projects Unveiled (Video)

After our tour of the Makerbot Industries BotCave, we headed upstairs, all four flights of them, to see what was hopping at NYCResistor, the prototypical hackerspace. And, as it turned out, our timing was perfect. The NYCResistor crew was right in the midst of putting a couple of Makerbot 3D printers through their paces testing two new “Top Secret” developments.

The 'conveyor belt' project consists of a mylar strip running over the heated build platform and will enable users to print multiple parts without having to be present to remove printed parts as they are completed. The conveyor ran into some slight problems that particular evening, but that's parr for the course. The test crew immediately started brainstorming ways to fine tune and improve the design.

The second development shown in the video, fluorescent ABS, was surprisingly cool, and we're sure it will be a huge it with users as soon as Makerbot releases it for sale.

Other new projects we saw, but didn't capture on video, included next generation electronics and firmware, and also some new software functionality like temperature profiling.

When will all this cool stuff be available?

Sorry, that's the one thing that we were explicitly told is totally confidential, so we can't say. We could tell you, but then they would have to shoot us.

We are confident, however, that Makerbot is working extremely hard to release reliable, innovative, state-of-the-art options and enhancements like these as soon as possible.

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Inside The Makerbot BotCave with Bre Pettis – Part 1 (Video)

Here’s the first part of our visit to Makerbot Industries hosted by Bre Pettis including introductions and a walk around the facility:

In next post in this series, Bre talks about how he first got hooked on ‘making’ as a 6 year old, and what cool things Makerbot users have come up with. Later we go upstairs to see the NYCResistor folks putting prototype Makerbots through hell and creating some fascinating, and very surprising 3D parts.

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Serious Challenge To Humanoid Robot Builders (Video)

It’s difficult enough for most of us that experiment with bipedal robots to get our creations to stand and walk reasonably well. The easiest solution is just to increase the robots footprints. Make the sole of the foot larger, up to a point, and the balancing challenge becomes simplier.

That’s the major reason why many of the lower cost, entry level humanoid robot kits have feet that are out of proportion with their bodies. It’s also the reason that the ROBO-ONE organizing committee consistently changed the competition’s body proportion guidelines, making the allowable soles smaller, over the years to make the challenge more difficult.

But, what if we went to the other extreme and shrank the soles to just points? Could a robot walk on tippy-toe just like a ballet dancer? What would it take to accomplish that feat? Is it even possible? There are numerous two wheeled balancing robot designs including everything from low end kits like the Vstone Beauto Balancer series all the way up to pricy Segways:

While they aren’t trival to design and construct, the solutions are well known and can be implemented even by Lego hobbyists. Bipedal point balancing is a totally different story, and an opportunity to break new ground, as some ROBO-ONE on PC challengers are finding out:

The 4th ROBO-ONE on PC event focused on integrating simulation with operation in the real world, and the balancing challenge proved to be extremely insightful.

Anyone out there up to the challenge? Let’s see what you can do!

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