LERN: Making Legs that Can See

The small, computer controlled actuator adjusts the ankle using cables that work much like the break cables on a bike. (Photo credit: Michigan Technological University.)

Researchers at Michigan Technological University are working on a vision system for prosthetic legs. The system uses an inexpensive camera to get a better sense of the terrain, and an actuator that adjusts the ankle accordingly. “The camera can identify the profile of the ground, while the computer knows where the next footstep will be, based on how the user is moving ... Read More »

PLUG & PLAY: Touch Board Inventors Kit

Paint a piano on a piece of paper and then play it, using the Bare Conductive Touch Board Inventors Kit. (Photo credit: Bare Conductive.)

Bare Conductive’s Touch Board Inventors Kit is ideal for both beginners and those who already have some experience with sensors and Arduinos. The touch board itself is very versatile, intended as a platform for a wide range of projects. Use it to turn just about anything conductive (including Bare Conductive’s paint) into a sensor, via the board’s 12 electrodes. Make a drum kit you never ... Read More »

PLUG & PLAY: Make Cellular-Connected Electronics Easily with the Spark Electron

The Spark Electron up close. (Photo credit: Spark.io.)

There’s a brand new product on Kickstarter, designed to make it easy for anyone to create cellular-connected devices. A 2D/3D development kit, the Spark Electron is poised to bring machine-to-machine (M2M) communications to the masses. At the moment, it’s difficult to develop M2M electronics at home because the market is set up big companies who already work with telcos and can navigate the industry. “If you ... Read More »

LERN: A New Kind of Bionic Hand Restores Function for Three Men

After a brachial plexus injury, this man opted to have the hand he could no longer operate removed and replaced in a new kind of bionic reconstruction. (Photo credit: The Lancet.)

Three Austrian men have undergone a new technique called bionic reconstruction, enabling them to use a robotic prosthetic hand controlled by their mind. The technique involves selective nerve and muscle transfers, as well as amputating the affected limb. The limb was then replacing with a prosthesis containing sensors that respond to electrical impulses in the patient’s muscles. The new technique was developed by professor ... Read More »

LERN: A Robotic Nurse with a Bearish Grin

Force feedback sensors on the ROBEAR robot encourage soft handling of patients. (Photo credit: RIKEN.)

Researchers at the RIKEN-SRK Collaboration Center for Human-Interactive Robot Research in Nagoya, Japan have developed a robotic nurse that looks like an adorable bear. The robot, called ROBEAR, can help nursing staff with the heavy work: lifting patients from beds and wheelchairs, and providing physical support to patients who need help to stand. “We really hope that this robot will lead to advances ... Read More »

PLUG & PLAY: Engineering Slide Chart Card and App

Great Innovations' Engineering Slide Chart features all the numbers engineers, mechanics and CAD designers need to know. (Photo credit: Great Innovations.)

Sick of sorting out measurements for screws, or the numbering system for alloy sheets? Great Innovations’ chart keeps the important numbers handy. The chart has a ton of info, including the tap, drill, and stress area for screws, c’bore sizes, bolt grades, prefixes, fractional drill sizes, pipe threads, beam deflections, and Allen key sizes for imperial screws. Mechanical designers, machinists, ... Read More »

PLUG & PLAY: SuperDroid’s Wi-Fi Enclosed Inspection Robot

Venture into tight spaces and record video using this robot from SuperDroid. (Photo credit: SuperDroid Robotics.)

SuperDroid Robotics has a new low-profile, high-end robot on the market: an inspection bot with a video camera, that can be remotely controlled via an included tablet. At just 12 inches high, the tracked robot is designed to fit into spaces that are less than ideal for humans. The aluminum base is custom welded, with IG42 right angle motors. I ... Read More »

LERN: Soft Robotics Competitions Offer $10,000 in Prizes

Soft Robotics Toolkit Logo

There’s still time to sign up your team for the 2015 Soft Robotics Competitions! For the design competition, entrants are charged with creating a novel device using at least one of the tools available on Harvard’s Soft Robotics Toolkit Website. The entire robot doesn’t have to be soft — it can incorporate more traditional, rigid elements. But at least one ... Read More »

PLUG & PLAY: Robots Take Aim with Trossen’s Foam Dart Gun Kit

Protect your valuables by adding some foam weaponry to your robot. (Photo credit: Trossen Robotics.)

Ready, aim, fire! Add some fun firepower to your robot with a Foam Dart Gun Kit from Trossen Robotics. The kit is designed to be used with a pan-tilt system and any Arduino-compatible microcontroller. Each kit includes a dart gun, two foam darts, laser cut plate set, mounting plate, and all the hardware required for assembly. Add sensors and create ... Read More »

LERN: MIT’s Robotic Flower Garden Designed to Grow a Love of STEM

MIT's robotic garden moves and lights up in four different colors. (Photo credit: Jason Dorfman/CSAIL)

A team from MIT recently showed off a robotic flower garden with adjustable lights and moveable petals at the school’s Hour of Code event. The idea behind the garden is to get kids — particularly girls — interested in building and programming their own electronics. The garden consists of 16 tiles that are controlled via Arduinos. Each tile houses multiple flowers ... Read More »

PLUG & PLAY: Get started with the Intel Edison using a kit from Sparkfun!

The SparkFun Starter Pack for Intel® Edison. Photo courtesy of Sparkfun.

If you’ve been thinking about starting your first project with an Intel Edison, you’ll definitely want to check out Sparkfun’s kit. It has all the basics: an Edison, GPIO block, base block, battery block, a 6-foot microB cable, and all the schematics and documentation you’ll need. Not sure what a block is? It’s really just Intel’s terminology for a shield. As ... Read More »

LERN: DARPA Holds Contest for High School Students with Clear Vision of our Robotically Enhanced Future

DARPA wants to know how high schoolers think robots will influence the future. (Photo credit: DARPA)

Are in you grades 9 – 12 and have some deep thoughts to share about the future of robotics and its societal implications? Create a two- to three-minute video with your thoughts, and you could win a chance to see the DARPA Robotics Challenge in Pomona, CA this June. “Videos should consider how both current and anticipated advances in robotics technology may ... Read More »

LERN: Naval Humanoid Fights Fires on Decommissioned Vessel

SAFFiR, the firefighting humanoid, is able to navigate complex spaces, even in thick smoke. (Photo credit: Virginia Tech)

Researchers from Virginia Tech revealed more details about their ongoing project with the US Navy: the Shipboard Autonomous Firefighting Robot (SAFFiR). Speaking at the Naval Future Force Science & Technology EXPO, the researchers discussed the results of recent tests of SAFFiR as it walked on uneven floors, located overheating equipment, and put out small fires onboard the decommissioned USS Shadwell. ... Read More »