PLUG & PLAY: Expand Your Sensing Capabilities with a Vernier Shield

Sparkfun's Vernier Interface Shield makes it easy to connect multiple sensors made by Vernier Software and Technology. Photo courtesy of Sparkfun.

Imagine moving beyond the basic light, ultrasonic, infrared and touch sensors to really explore your environment. Now you can easily connect all of the sensors made by Vernier Software & Technology to your Arduino project, with the Vernier Interface Shield from SparkFun. Vernier has been making sensors for decades, and currently produces a very wide range, including gas pressure, temperature, ... Read More »

LERN: A Nimbler Mind-Controlled Robotic Hand

This is an image showing one of four new hand movements from the 10D control of the robotic arm. Photo courtesy of Journal of Neural Engineering/IOP Publishing.

The quadriplegic woman who can control a robotic arm by thinking about the action, can now perform far more complicated movements. According to the researchers at the University of Pittsburgh involved in the study, the woman has gone from giving high fives, to giving the thumbs up sign. This represents a significant improvement: from seven dimensions to ten in two ... Read More »

PLUG & PLAY: Meet RiQ, A New Bot For STEM Education

RiQ the robot features a variety of sensors and an easy to use, drag-and-drop programming environment. Photo courtesy of PCS Edventures Lab.

STEM enthusiasts, rejoice! There’s a new bot designed for kids nine and up! The wheeled robot, called RiQ, uses durable fischertechnik components made of nylon and steel. With ultrasonic, infrared, light, and touch sensors, this new bot can perform of range of tricks. For example, kids can program RiQ to follow lines, avoid obstacles, or seek out the sunniest spot in the ... Read More »

LERN: Fusing Robotic Sound and Sight to Enhance Communication

Researchers at Inria used a NAO robot to test a novel system for detecting and localizing talking humans. Photo courtesy of Aldebaran.

Ideally, humans shouldn’t have to wear microphones to have a decent conversation with a robot. But background noise coming from the environment and the bot itself, can make it difficult for a bot to pick up a clear audio signal. Turning toward the person speaking tends to make the audio clearer, but first the bot has to be able to ... Read More »

PLUG & PLAY: New Self-Balancing, Reconfigurable Pi Bot Recognizes Faces

This PiKit robot balances itself upright and can be programmed to avoid obstacles, recognize faces, and follow lines. Photo courtesy of Anima Technika.

A new series of robotics components are available via Indiegogo. Made by the Slovakian robotics company Anima Robotics, the centerpiece of the kit is a small, black box with four buttons called the PiController. The PiController comes in two flavors: Raspberry ($289) and Banana ($299). Each black box also includes 3 – axis accelerometers and gyroscopes, 3 – axis magnetometer, PWM expansion chip, buzzer, speaker, and LCD ... Read More »

PLUG & PLAY: SuperDroid Releases Robotic Snowblower

This remote control, 4WD snow blower is made to order in six to eight weeks. Photo courtesy of SuperDroid Robots.

Using a snowblower certainly beats shoveling, but you still have to push the darn thing along. A new snowblower from SuperDroid Robotics offers an easier solution: a 4WD, remote-controlled machines that can conquer any driveway. While the snowblower won’t create a wall of snow bricks, it’s still impressive. The remote can be used to drive the bot, as well as turn ... Read More »

LERN: U.S. Navy Finishes Testing Robotic Spy Fish

The GhostSwimmer robot is designed to stealthily gather surveillance data. Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Edward Guttierrez III.

An unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) disguised as a fish could help the U.S. Navy keep our waters safe. Known as GhostSwimmer, the bot can operate autonomously or, when being stealthy isn’t a priority, it can be controlled by a laptop on a 500-foot tether. “GhostSwimmer will allow the Navy to have success during more types of missions while keeping divers ... Read More »

LERN: Soft Robot from Harvard Inches Through Tubes

The way the fiber is woven around each segment of expandable, red tube impacts its function. Photo courtesy of Harvard University.

Roboticists often try to built machines capable of moving through very tight spaces that humans can’t access. A new video from Harvard University’s Biodesign Lab shows a machine with a lot of promise in this area: a soft bot that can inch its way through tubes. The robot is made primarily made of elastomeric tubes. Fibers are carefully woven around the ... Read More »

LERN: Library of 3D Parts for Search and Rescue Robots in Development

The RAPTER aerial hexarotor is built using interchangeable, #D printed components. Photo courtesy of Robotics Research LLC.

The US Department of Homeland Security and Robotic Research LLC of Maryland, are building a library of compatible 3D parts that can be used for search and rescue robots. The objective is to have a system in place so that parts can be quickly made to suit any disaster scenario. So when a bot needs to replace a gripper arm with ... Read More »

PLUG & PLAY: Set Up Shop with the Hack Pack Workshop

With the Hack Pack Workshop Supply Kit you can quickly set up shop! Photo courtesy of Sparkfun.

Sparkfun’s new Hack Pack Workshop Supply Kit is ideal for those setting up a new communal shop. With enough gear for five workstations, the kit comes with all the basics for your shared hacker space or electronics classroom. The kit includes five variable temperature soldering irons plus stands, solder, tinner, cleaner, wicks, and brass sponges. Digital multimeters, wires, strippers, flush cutters, needle nose ... Read More »

LERN: Smart Prosthetic Skin is Robust and Sensor Laden

Researchers have developed a skin smart enough to sense its environment and robust enough to tackle everyday tasks. Photo courtesy of Jaemin Kim et al.

A new skin for prosthetic hands can sense a lot about its environment. Sensors embedded through the material can detect temperature, pressure, moisture, and strain. The stretchable skin, which is made of gold and silicon, also includes stretchable multi-electrode arrays for nerve stimulation and electroresistive heaters to help the hand feel more realistic to other. The researchers say the skin is durable and ... Read More »

PLUG & PLAY: iRobot Releases Programmable Robot for STEM Education

The Create 2 from iRobot is designed to give kids an inexpensive platform to learn about programming and hardware. Photo courtesy of iRobot.

iRobot has found a great use for old Roombas: STEM education. The company announced today that it is selling remanufactured Roomba 600s, as programmable, expandable robots for students and developers. Called the Create 2, the robots come with all of the lights, sensors, and behaviors that come on the Roomba 600. So, straight out of the box, the bot will ... Read More »

PLUG & PLAY: Bring Holiday Cards to Life with Chibitronics Circuit Stickers

LED stickers and copper tape are used to create crafts that light up and make sounds. Photo courtesy of Chibitronics.

With circuit stickers from Chibitronics, crafts and cards can easily be turned in to working circuits. Chibitonics offers a variety of stickers, including light, sound, and trigger sensors. Effects stickers can also be added to make the LEDs twinkle, fade, blink, or mimic a heartbeat. Micro-controller touch sensors, which can be programmed via Arduino, are also available. By connecting the ... Read More »