Monthly Archives: December 2006

Robot Hardware, Bones and flesh for Your Creations.

Robots are essentially a mix of mechanical parts or hardware and a module that controls the movements often by using a microcontroller. The software program in the microcontroller directs and controls the robot movements.

Here are some of them types of robot hardware:

1) Motor – The motor is the part that translates the programs into action. A robot can make use of many motors to properly coordinate its movement. They are of course, controlled by the robot’s “brain”. Motors have to be properly coordinated in order to ensure the smoothness of motion and the accuracy of the movement. This is often a difficult task to do with precision, as robot has to have the right amount of force applied by the motor.
2) Sensors – If the motors translate programming into motion, sensors translate various stimuli in the environment into codes that the programming of the robot can understand. This type of hardware allows the robot to interact with its environment. Here are some types of sensors:

a) Light sensors – These sensors are often used to detect motion and objects in a robot’s path. This allows the robot to react to various objects that it can scan from a distance. It can also allow the robot to react to various changes in light. Light sensors also used on some robots to control them via infra-red.

b) Sound sensors – This allows robots to track down anything that makes a sound. This hardware also allows robots to follow sound commands. The sound sensors also sometimes take the place of light sensors through the use of sonar detection. Sound sensors are often used in home-type robot pets which interact with people who are using various commands.
c) Touch/pressure sensor – these sensors allows the robot to “feel”. This helps in moderating the amount of force that a robot applies. This can be especially useful if a robot is used to pick up and move fragile objects. Through the use of pressure sensors, a robot can perform the job with the right amount of caution. Touch sensors are also used in various “pet” robots to promote interaction with the owner. Most household robots today can react to petting and holding by the owner.

3) The control module – For simple robots, the control module is done with a transistor based control unit. This control unit, will take one or more inputs, for example from a sound sensor, and translate this stimulus into actions, for example stop when a sound is detected. Although this can be very easy to put together a transistor based control module, their behaviour can not be changed easily. For more complex situations a microcontroller is used as the robot’s heart and brain. Microcontrollers are also referred as the Central processing unit, or CPU. This piece of hardware takes care of possessing the various stimuli gathered by the sensors about its surroundings and turns those stimuli into reactions based on its programming. This is probably the most essential part of the robot since the programming determines the nature of the robot, and that can be changed by replacing the control program in the robot memory.

Intermediate Robot Building

Robosapien: The Future Today

Robosapien is the first commercially affordable entertainment humanoid robot. It represents a big step in the development of robotics for home and entertainment use. Before the Robosapien, humanoid entertainment robots were produced by companies merely as prototypes and used in the promotion of their technology and business. This is because of the fact that most entertainment robots before the Robosapien were too expensive for the general public.

The Robosapien, however, introduced the world to the possibility that robots can be affordable enough for home use. Because of this, the Robosapien has received countless awards from various consumer bodies.

The Robosapien uses infra-red technology, much like a television remote control, to enable a person to direct its actions. It has pre-programmed functions which you can activate at the touch of a button. If you are thinking that controlling Robosapien is limited by its pre-programming, you would be quite wrong in your assumption.

The Robosapien is actually quite easy to hack and even its parts can be easily modified. This “errors” in manufacturing are actually quite deliberate since the makers of the Robosapien actually designed it to be programmable by different people. This means that it can do practically anything that you imagine.

To date, some people have already modified their Robosapiens to receive and display text messages like a mobile phone. Others have succeeded in installing media players on their Robosapiens and now have robots that can download and play music and videos. Others have modified their Robosapiens in the style of battlebots and installed flamethrowers.

Modification of the Robosapien is not limited to the outside appearance. The fact that the robosapien is easily hacked and programmed means that it can actually be “taught” different moves. So far, some owners have taught their Robosapiens to do some martial arts demonstrations as well as various household tasks.

In fact, there are also people who program their Robosapiens and endow them with various athletic abilities. They then engage in competition to find out who has the best Robosapien among them.

Humanity has long had different visions of what robots of the future would look like and what they would be capable of. The Robosapien is probably the first robot that actually comes near to the different images perpetuated by movies and science fiction novels. This means that if you get the Robosapien, you will have one mean-looking robot.

Another feature of the Robosapien is that you can program it to “react” to specific stimuli. This means that it can actually “think” for itself without the aid of the remote control. This is probably where it got the name “Robosapien”. The term actually means “Thinking Robot”.
Some people may think that the Robosapien is just a toy. However, for many others it represents human ingenuity at its finest. It represents how people can achieve every dream that they have. It represents the arrival of the future today.

The Robosapien may have a lot of various characteristics that make people want to buy it. But it may be that control is the one thing that really attracts people to buy products like the Robosapien. Let’s face it: controlling something makes people feel powerful. It also helps them reach the dreams that they want to achieve. So if you want to learn martial arts but can’t really make it work for you, get a Robosapien!

WowWee Robosapien Version 2 Humanoid Robot

Roboreptile: The Evolution of the Robotic Dinosaur

The Roboreptile is an evolution of WowWee’s famous Roboraptor and Robosapien. It can be called an evolution because although it does share some of the basic technology of the Roboraptor, the Roboreptile is easily a very unique creation. The Roboreptile has some features that simply showcase WowWee’s dedication to continue making robots that are ideal for the home.

Some robotics enthusiasts may notice that the Roboreptile has fewer sensors that its predecessors. Although this presents limited possibility of interaction with the environment, the sensors are sufficient for an owner to have fun with the Roboreptile.

1) Nose Mounted IR Sensors – These sensors detect movement and objects in the Roboreptile’s path. This means that these sensors are used by the Roboreptile to navigate its way around the house. These sensors also receive the signal from the remote control of the Roboreptile.

These sensors are also used in the feeding mode when the remote control is used to feed the Roboreptile. Moving around the remote control during feeding mode will cause it to follow the source of the signal. This, of course, can prove to be effective recreation for the owner of the Roboreptile.

2) Sound sensors – The Roboreptile is able to detect various sounds in its environment. When it is in free roam or hunting mode, it often seeks out sounds in order to confront them. One thing you should know about the Roboreptile is this: it is very aggressive. You can rarely put it in a mood which can be described as “pleasant”. So if the Roboreptile is hunting, you better not make a sound.

3) Touch sensor – There is only one touch sensor located at the back of the Roboreptile. If an owner gets near enough to the Roboreptile, he or she can activate this sensor in order to produce different reactions from the robot. You should be warned, however, that touching the sensor will only produce a positive reaction when the Roboreptile is hooded. At other times, the Roboreptile could get more hostile.

The Roboreptile also has different modes. This is essential in the interaction of robot and owner because of the fact that owners can get easily bored if the robot is too predictable. The default mode is the free roaming mode. In this mode, the Roboreptile roams around the house often looking for food. When it is hungry and in the free roaming mode, it can become very aggressive and will try to track down anything that moves or makes a sound.

There is also the programmable mode which allows you to input your own program into the Roboreptile. This allows you to customize the behavior of your Roboreptile. The programmable mode of the Roboreptile is actually quite easy to use since WowWee actually encourages users to experiment with various programs of the Roboreptile.

The guard mode lets the Roboreptile surprise anything that moves or makes sounds. During guard mode, the Roboreptile will stay silent and will continually scan the immediate area. Once it detects any sound or any activity, it will perform various actions in order to surprise someone.

The Roboreptile is a great product. It is a combination of sophisticated technology and fun interactivity. Although it mostly spends its time roaming around angry at the world, the Roboreptile is truly a robot that you will enjoy.

Exclusive Roboreptile from Discovery - Free Shipping

Get Ready for Something Seriously Playable

Everyone in the world knows what Lego is. In fact, some cultures actually make use of the word “Lego” as a substitute for “educational toy”. Lego allows children of all ages to explore their imagination by letting them create various objects and scenarios. This fuels a person’s creativity as well as his or her ability to analyze various parts and learn how they can fit into a pattern. Lego Mindstorms takes this mix of science and art into a whole new level.

Technology has rapidly evolved during the past few years. In fact, new technologies are rendered obsolete almost all the time. This evolution of technology, of course, has brought about a change in the mindset of people. Their preferences are affected by the technology that’s currently available. Building blocks no longer suffice for children. Nowadays, manufacturers need to incorporate technology into their toys.

This is because of the fact that children today are able to grasp the technology that they interact with daily. Just as children were fascinated by G.I. Joe toys during the Vietnam War, so are they fascinated by robots and computers during today. The Lego Mindstorms line tries to channel this fascination and make use of it to entertain and teach children about the basics of robotics.

Lego Mindstorms allow people to build their own robots–lego style. This means that the product is simple enough to be grasped easily by children and complex enough to capture the attention of adult hobbyists. Lego Mindstorms can and will let you express your imagination to the fullest.

How do Lego Mindstorms work?

Every robot kit has some basic parts that make it work. Here are the highlights of the Lego Mindstorms kit:

1) Intelligent brick – Every robot or computer needs a processor. The Lego Mindstorms system makes use of an “intelligent brick” to coordinate its movements. This brick connects the motors and various sensors and allows you to program your robot to perform various actions or react to various stimuli. The intelligent brick is the heart and the brain of the Lego Mindstorms system.

2) Light sensors – In a sense, this allows your Lego Mindstorms system to react to “see”. It allows a robot to react to changes in light intensity. You can program your robot to react to lights in various ways. You can even program it to read barcodes.

3) Touch sensors – This allows your robot to react to various surfaces or at least to the pressure of contact with a surface. This means that you can program a walking robot to navigate around a maze. Touch sensors can also allow your robot to perform different actions when it comes into contact with an object. You can program it to grip various objects with the right amount of force.

4) Motors – This part of the Lego Mindstorms system transforms the program into action. The motor makes the robot move. Without it, a program would remain a program. The motor makes the various parts of a robot respond to the program the way that you want it to.

5) IR tower – Programming the Lego Mindstorms system is actually pretty easy since you use a computer to do it. This means that you will be able to write and rewrite programs without having to try them out to see if they work first. After you have written the program, you can transmit the program to the intelligent chip via an infra red transmitter.

LEGO Mindstorms NXT