Tag Archive | "robot"

It’s A Cricket. No, It’s A Robot!

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It’s A Cricket. No, It’s A Robot!


At the University of Bath in the United Kingdom, there is a robot who can jump like a cricket. It was designed by a PhD student named Rhodri Armour, who is using it as a part of his thesis project.

The robot, who has been dubbed Jollbot, has two distinct forms of movement. It can both jump over obstacles and roll over smoother terrain. Why this is unique, well, the creator of the robot explained: “Others in the past have made robots that jump and robots that roll; but we’ve made the first robot that can do both.”

This grasshopper like movement is only one type of jumping that are found in nature. Each one has its own benefits and drawbacks but this form of jumping is a good choice for robots because of its storage capacity. “In nature there are two main types of jumping: hopping, like a kangaroo, which uses its fine control and direct muscle action to propel it along; and ‘pause and leap’, such as in a grasshopper, which stores muscle energy in spring-like elements and rapidly releases it to make the jump.”

Now that we know how it jumps, how does it roll?

The ‘Jollbot’ is shaped like a spherical cage which can roll in any direction, giving it the movement of wheels without the problem of overturning or getting stuck in potholes. This also means that the robot is also flexible and small, weighing less than a kilogram, meaning it’s not damaged when landing after jumping and is therefore less expensive than conventional robots.

How is the jump powered, without weighty batteries?

“Before jumping, the robot squashes its spherical shape. When it is ready, it releases the stored energy all at once to jump to heights of up to half a metre.”

But that is not to say that Armour has not given thought to alternate sources of power for the robot. “Future prototypes could include a stretchy skin covered in solar cells on the outside of the robot, so it could power itself, and robotic control sensors to enable it to sense its environment.”

The robot could in the future be used to map places like caves, or even to explore distant worlds.

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Robot Wheelchairs May Soon Be Wheeling Down a Hallway Near You

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Robot Wheelchairs May Soon Be Wheeling Down a Hallway Near You


MIT WheelchairMIT based researchers are developing an intelligent robot wheelchair that can learn the locations a user wants to go to and automatically take the user there with a simple verbal command. For example you could say “Bathroom” or “Family Room” and the wheelchair would bring you there without needing to be pushed by a either a second person or the wheelchairs user.

Currently, the prototype relies on a WiFi system to make its maps and then navigate, which requires a retrofit for the facility is question. The system would match places with names by being given a 1 time guided tour of the facility in which the user states the name of each room as they enter it. This allows for the customization of the system to user as it sets to their voice and name for the room.

Outdoors, the system would use a combination of GPS and laser range finders to help the chair to navigate from place to place. As the research progresses a collision-avoidance system may be added to the chair in order to avoid accidents.

The project is a collaboration between MIT’s AgeLab, The Robotics, Vision, and Sensor Networks (RVSN) group and the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). It is being funded by both the Nokia and the Microsoft corporations.

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Mechanical Flying Insect To Explore Mars

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Mechanical Flying Insect To Explore Mars


ExoFly, a flying insect-sized aerobot, is destined to charter the surfaces of Mars. Based on the DelFly, a dragonfly-like micro air vehicle (MAV) developed at the Delft University of Technology and Wageningen University, the ExoFly is modified and equipped with a camera to explore Mars, possibly Venus or the moon Titan.

The design is lightweight with the current prototype weighing a mere 17 grams, a length of 400mm, and a wingspan of 350mm. Equipped with a lithium polymer cell battery, it has a flight time of 12 minutes. ExoFly Aerobot for Planetary ExporationThere may also be plans through cooperative efforts between the universities and Ursa Minor Space & Navigation to increase the weight to 20 grams in order to add a solar energy panel and lengthen its traveling distance to 15 km.

Programmed in C++, it will most likely be able to gather data and images to simulate a 3D environment for detailed analysis and studying.

The size of the ExoFly would allow it to become part of the infrastructure of a larger planetary exploration mission. The aerobot would be able to reach areas that cannot be regularly accessed, such as rock crevices, for further geological study. Its insect like form and flight method is much like a dragonfly, allowing it to hover and navigate in all directions. The flapped wing flight allows it to be well suited enough to perfectly traverse the low density and highly vicious Martian atmosphere.

No mention of NASA interest in this aerobot yet, although Gordon Freeman was seen blasting a couple of these to bits in City 17.

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