Harvard Creates a $10 Educational Robot

With an eye toward cost savings, AERobot was designed with a PCB that doubles as a chassis, a single-sided PCB, and inexpensive, vibrational motors. Photo courtesy of Michael Rubenstein.

Researchers from Harvard University have created a new, low-cost robot designed to teach children about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). The Affordable Education Robot costs just $10.70 to make but offers enough functionality to keep things interesting. The AERobot comes with an RGB LED, infrared transmitters, phototransistors, and inexpensive vibration motors that allow the robot to move forward, backward and turn in place. ... Read More »

LERN: A Lego Robot with a Worm Brain

The robot above might look straightforward, but the software controlling its actions is driven by 302 apps that represent the neurons of a nematode. Photo courtesy of Timothy Busbice.

Software representing the entire mental map of a Caenorhabditis Elegans (C. Elegans) nematode is being run on a Lego Mindstorms EV3 robot. Timothy Busbice, one of the co-founders of the Open Worm project, created the system in order to study a biological brain in silica. He’s been creating connectomes, using programs to represent neurons, for the last 20 years. Other researchers ... Read More »

PLUG & PLAY: Patin: The Open Source, Customizable Home Robot

Patin's lighting and planing units hook into a rolling, artificially-intelligent base (right). Photo courtesy of Flower Robotics.

Flower Robotics of Japan is developing an artificially intelligent robot called Patin, which features swappable components. With the lighting component, for example, the robot can analyze conditions near humans and move to the ideal location to create optimal lighting. A concept video of Patin also shows the “planting service unit” which appears to monitor conditions in an enclosed planter and water the plant. The robot is also ... Read More »

LERN: Send a Robot to the Moon, Leave a Legacy

The Lunar Mission One Lander, illustrated above, will drill up to 100 meters into the moon to study its composition. Photo courtesy of Lunar Mission One.

A private initiative called Lunar Mission One is crowdsourcing money to send a robot to the moon, drill beneath the surface, analyze samples, and leave behind a record of human history. Higher-level donors will also be able to leave personal memories in the moon, and vote on decisions about the project. “Lunar Mission One will make a huge contribution to our understanding of ... Read More »

PLUG & PLAY: Upgrade Your Appliances with littleBits Smart Home Kit

With the littleBits Smart Home Kit, you can upgrade your appliances and devise your own inventions for around the house. Photo courtesy of littleBits Electronics.

LittleBits Electronics released a new kit Tuesday, intended to make it easy for anyone to make old, dumb appliances smart. The Smart Home kit includes 14 components, called Bits, which can be magnetically snapped together for easy inventing. Want to get a text message when your husband leaves the freezer door open so long that the ice cream is going to melt? You can use littleBits ... Read More »

LERN: Octobot Swims in the Ocean without Scaring Fish

Inspired by Octopus vulgaris, this robot can move through the water at more than 7 inches per second. Photo courtesy of FORTH.

Researchers at the Foundation for Research and Technology in Heraklion, Greece created a robot modeled after an octopus to study the near-wake vortex patterns created by octopus limbs. Earlier this year, they put the robot in the Mediterranean Ocean and found the mechanical device left the fish unphased. The scientists now hope to attach a camera to the head of the ... Read More »

LERN: Teaching Robots How to Fall Safely

setting by creating a reduced-gravity environment using a tilted surface similar to an air hockey table outfitted with a leaf blower. Photo courtesy of Georgia Institute of Technology.

Unlike humans and robots, cats are known for their ability to always land on their feet. Now researchers at Georgia Tech’s School of Interactive Computing are studying the way cats reorient themselves during a fall, in an effort to make robots more robust. According to the paper outlining the research, what makes a cat’s ability so extraordinary is that it can rapidly ... Read More »

PLUG & PLAY: Little Robot Friends: A Cute Way to Learn About STEAM

Let your creativity flow with these tiny STEAM machines. Photo courtesy of Aesthetec Studio.

Made by a small Canadian company called Aesthetec Studio, Little Robot Friends combine a cute aesthetic with the basics of electronics and programming. The tiny critters light up and chatter in a truly adorable way. The bots feature an Atmel ATMega328p microprocessor, MEMS microphone, two full color LEDs, a speaker, touch sensor, and an IR LED/Phototransistor combo. That might not sound like much, but the ... Read More »

LERN: Bridging the Gap Between Simulation and Real-World Performance

Researchers at the University of Oslo test the performance of their 3D printed robots against simulation data. Video courtesy of the University of Oslo.

Researchers at the University of Oslo are working with a diverse group of 3D printed robots to improve their ability to traverse different kinds of terrain. “We tell the simulation program what we would like the robot to do, how fast it should walk, its size and energy consumption. For instance, we may want the robot to be able to turn around and ... Read More »

2014 Holiday Gift Guide

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It’s That Time Again, Avoid The Socks & Underwear This Year! Yes… it’s that time of year again. Time to look at your holiday lists and see who’s been good or bad. There is nothing better this holiday season than to give the gift of robotics. A robot would surly bring a smile to anyone’s face on your list. Whether your list includes a beginner or ... Read More »

PLUG & PLAY: Build Your Own Simple, 3D Printed Walker

Created in less than 48 hours, this 3D Printed Arduino robot offers a touch of everything a builder needs to learn. Photo courtesy of Instructables.

If you’re looking for a straightforward Arduino project that involves a bit of 3D printing, some simple construction, with just a dab of soldering, Randy Sarafan has the perfect project for you! With Sarafan’s easy-to-follow Instructable, you’ll have a basic robot up and walking in no time. The robot has four legs and adjusts its center of gravity with each step. Gears allow the bot ... Read More »

LERN: Robot Lands on Comet: A Sci-Fi Dream Come True

Philae was supposed to secure itself to the comet using harpoons. Photo courtesy of the ESA.

After spending 10 years traveling through space, the robot Philae safely landed on Comet 67P. That act alone is historic: this is a first time humans have ever soft landed anything on a comet. It’s was tricky encounter, partly because Philae cannot be steered. It was all down to releasing Philae from the orbiter, Rosetta, at the right time. Philae’s malfunctioning ... Read More »

LERN: Robots Discover Warm Storms Deep in the Ocean

Researchers prep the glider robot before its launch in January 2012. Photo courtesy of Alan Jamieson/Caltech.

The dynamic systems causing sheets of ice in West Antarctica to melt are less mysterious, thanks to a team of glider robots. Using data collected by the bots, the team was able to deduce that swirling ocean eddies help transport warm waters to the Antarctic coast. Knowing how the warm water travels will help researchers be able to better determine how fast the ice is ... Read More »