So – you’ve built a robot arm. Now you’ve got to figure out how to control the thing. This was the situation I found myself in a few months ago, during my Masters project, and it’s a problem common to any robotic application: you want to put the end (specifically, the “end effector”) of your robot arm in a certain place, and to do that you have to figure out a valid pose for the arm which achieves that. This problem is called inverse kinematics (IK), and it’s one of the key problems in robotics.
Ask a child to design a robot, and they’ll produce a drawing that looks a little like you or I—the parts may be gray and boxy, but it will have two arms, two legs, and a head (probably with an antenna coming out of the top). Starting from the beginning of robotics, the human form has seemed like an excellent starting point. One of the best places to draw inspiration for robotic design, however, is the kingdom of insects, arachnids, snails, and slugs.
Robotics is becoming more accessible for many people, but the complexities of legged robots mean they remain beyond the reach of most consumers. The complex mechanics, electronics and code algorithms make these robots much more difficult to simply get working. Four legged robots are especially difficult, they might seem very stable but simply lifting a leg up can cause the robot to fall.
QuadBot is an open-source, 3D printed robot that aims to change this.
The Car Hacker’s HandbookA Guide for the Penetration Tester is a book about how to interface with cars to read from onboard systems, spoof devices, and control the vehicle on your own. I enjoyed this book, it is easily the best book I found on learning how to use a CAN bus.
Gabby has five goals to achieve this school year. The first goal sounds like any other young middle schooler: get straight As in her classes. Goal number two: get accepted into her school’s robotics team, followed closely by number three: to own her first VEX IQ Robotics kit. That’s when you may realize, Gabby is an extraordinary middle schooler!
Some people swear all tethers are bad. Some recommend attaching a tether to robots in order to provide power (to save the mass and volume of the batteries), for reliable fast communications, transfer of pressure or fluid, to track a robot’s position, or as a safety harness (in case the robot needs to be dragged out). However, before designing a tether there are several things you need to consider.
In this episode, Ron Vanderkley interviews Jürgen “Juxi” Leitner, a researcher at the ARC Centre of Excellence in Robots Vision in the Queensland University of Technology in Australia. Leitner speaks about a system being developed for the Google Lunar XPrize, called LunaRoo.