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Metals shop and auto mechanics in high school; B.A. in Biology, eventually leading to an interest in General Systems and computing; interest in robotics sparked by the realization that autonomous machines could enable a vast improvement in land management.
by   -   April 17, 2015
Dry California riverbed. Source: Wikimedia Commons
Dry California riverbed. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Groundwater levels in California’s Central Valley are down to historic lows and reservoirs have been depleted following four consecutive years of severe drought in the state. California is set to introduce water rationing in the coming weeks, and though the new rationing rules will focus on urban areas and not farms for the time being, they serve as a warning bell to farmers who will inevitably need to adapt to the effects of climate change on food production. Long term solutions are needed to help make agriculture drought resistant. How could robotics help?

by   -   January 27, 2015

Farm_SilosOn January 13 the EU announced its list of robotics projects funded under Horizon 2020, the EU funding program for research and innovation. Agriculture is one of four “priority domains” for robotics funding under H2020, and of these newly funded (or refunded) projects, two – Flourish and SWEEPER – are explicitly related to agriculture.

by   -   December 23, 2013

Materials used to produce IRO competition events being prepared for removal from convention center

Materials used to produce International Robot Olympiad competition events.

The 2013 (15th annual) International Robot Olympiad competition has come to a close. Next year it will take place in Beijing, China, and is tentatively scheduled for October. Between 400 and 500 young people from 10 countries (including Canada and Mexico, as well as the U.S.) participated in this year’s event, and there would have been approximately 60 more had the bulk of the Indonesian team not been prevented from obtaining visas.

by   -   December 18, 2013

Let me admit up front that I’m not the best person to be covering a robotics competition. In fact this is only the second one I’ve attended; the first, Sparkfun’s AVC, is a tough act to follow and set my expectations pretty high. On the other hand, the theme of this year’s International Robot Olympiad is Robots in Agriculture, which is right in line with my own interests, so maybe it’s a wash in this instance.

by   -   October 25, 2013

The mechanical arm

No, this is not about shapeshifting robots, come to save or destroy Earth. It is about transforming the contexts within which robotic technologies are applied, and about practicing robotics with the intention of bringing about transformational results. In some cases this means finding better ways of accomplishing the same ends as before. In other cases it means pursuing ends that were previously unachievable. It hinges on the recognition that robotics is a revolutionary development, on the order of fire or writing, with the potential to transform everything it touches.

by   -   August 15, 2013

There’s not much more about Sphero 2.0 on the Orbotix website other than this two-minute video, but Evan Ackerman of Automaton has a little more information. The following is from his article:

Today, Orbotix is introducing the Sphero 2.0, packed with new hardware that makes it faster, smarter, faster, brighter, and faster than ever. And did we mention it’s faster? Because it’s definitely faster.

by   -   August 12, 2013

SparkFun National Tour

Following their east and west coast tours late last year, SparkFun has embarked on the ambitious goal of taking their experiential learning nationwide, with 50 stops in 50 states.

From the SparkFun National Tour page:

During our tour, we will teach workshops to students of all ages as well as teachers, librarians, after-school coordinators, and other educators, showing how electronics can be a vital part of education. Whether you’ve never played around with DIY electronics or you are a seasoned pro, we will give you the tools, knowledge, and skills you need to explore the wonderful world of how electronics fits with STEAM.

A video introducing the SparkFun National Tour (Feb. 11th), and two updates (July 9th & August 11th), appear below or after the break.

by   -   August 11, 2013

On June 30th of this year, Ryerson University in Toronto held an event titled UAVs: Pros vs Cons Symposium. Some of the presentations have since been incorporated into a YouTube playlist by Nikola Danaylov.

by   -   August 9, 2013

The ready-made platform (kit) options just keep getting better. Here SparkFun shows off its new Redbot kit, which includes everything you need to put together a basic mobile robot.

The RedBot Kit is a robotic development platform capable of teaching two motor robotics and sensor integration! This kit comes with our new RedBot Mainboard, the Magician Chassis, a handful of sensors, and everything required for assembly.

by   -   August 7, 2013

We take you now to sunny, southern California, where a small group of enthusiasts has constructed a very realistic, Arduino-based replica of Pixar’s WALL-E, entirely from custom-fabricated parts.

The beloved Wall-E robot was just computer generated graphics in the Pixar movie, but fans have spent years trying to bring him to life. We visit Mike McMaster’s workshop to see his incredible life-size Wall-E, a remote controlled robot that lives among an R2-D2 droid and other pets on Mike’s orange farm.

by   -   July 15, 2013

Over the last few years, there has been increasing talk about the potential of agriculture as a market for robotics. Speaking about future markets for unmanned aerial systems in a recent presentation at Maker Faire, DIY Drones founder and CEO of 3D Robotics Chris Anderson characterized agriculture as the “biggest economic potential with the lowest regulatory barriers,” and talked about the important role they can play in supplying much needed data to farmers, stating that “agriculture is a big data problem without the big data.”

by   -   June 9, 2013

AVC 2013 Logo

Most robotics hobbyists will be familiar with the name SparkFun, associating it with an electronics and robotics parts and kits supply house, located in Boulder, Colorado, and perhaps also with the instructional videos they publish on their YouTube channel.

The SparkFun Autonomous Vehicle Competition (AVC) for 2013 took place Saturday, June 8th, on a strip of land separating Boulder Reservoir from a private lake to the south. The event site was fenced in, encompassing what I’d guess to be about ten acres, with an adjacent area of water of similar dimensions marked off by buoys for the aerial course. There was also a fence around the ground course, to separate the vehicles from the crowd.

by   -   June 3, 2013


According to the preface of the Proceedings of the 7th Field Robot Event 2009:

It was in September 2002 when the story started: in a train back home from Budapest, where Wageningen Agrotechnology students won the vision award of the EurAgEng-Conference. That price-winning vision was about robots in agriculture. Why shouldn’t this vision become more real and why shouldn’t more students participate in such exciting activities – e.g. in a contest for small robots competing in a real field? The idea was born and preparations started immediately to invite students from all over Europe for the 1st Field Robot Event in June 2003.