TinkerBots: An alternative to Lego Mindstorms or An Additional System to This

April 15, 2014 by Dragos George Calin | 0 comments

TinkerBots kit is better than anything was designed until now for a new generation of kids that will be prepared to become superior engineers, a preparation that start by playing with robotic toys. I could go further and say that the Kinematics blocks is a toy for both kids and adults, it could be an alternative to Lego Mindstorms or an additional system to this if you already use any of the Mindstorms series.

The modular system allows the users to be creative and build a wide range of robotic toys, and at the same time encourage anyone to learn about electronics and programming. Based on the plug and play method of building, the Berlin started company focused on simplicity to design the kit and the result is a modular system with no wiring and programmable only is the user want.

The kinematic blocks can be connected without cables and built interactive robots with ability to mimic the movement of a snake, a dog, a car, etc.

The red cube is the Power Brain

The red cube is the Power Brain

The kit is engineered with an intuitive construction system and in the blocks were integrated sensors, actuators, and many more components for communication or for autonomous control. With so many mixed fields such as mechanics, electronics and programming, the Kinematic Blocks are a powerful tool for entertainment and as a teaching tool.
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Tapster: Open-source Robot To Test Mobile Applications on a Smartphone

April 14, 2014 by Dragos George Calin | 0 comments

Two things are certain in this world: death and taxes. The third thing that could enter in this short list is the technology who managed to get us addicted at every step and in almost all we do. Even we use a smartphone, a TV, a car, a robot, or a laptop, we are deeply involved in the world of bits able to duplicate our existence in a digital form.

All of these devices have to be tested manually or automatically from both sides: software and hardware. The robots are smart enough to be used in the automated testing phase, and the most newest robot able to test automation mobile applications on a mobile device is called Tapster.

Tapster is quite interesting in many ways that I’ll describe in this article as well as how you can use this wonderful open-source system able to replace the human finger on a mobile display and test mobile applications on a smartphone.



Without this robot, for automated tests you need multiple tools plus a lot of different talents and a substantial cost. Automated tests for software are based on different automated programs. With Tapster what we know is changed because the robot is not a software program, it’s hardware and can replicate the movement of a human finger on a touchscreen display. Continue Reading →

Jasper: Open-Source Platform for Voice-Control Application on Raspberry Pi

April 10, 2014 by Dragos George Calin | 0 comments

Raspberry Pi as a stand-alone single board computer cannot do wonders, but adding accessories and a set of libraries, the fruit named device can be transformed into a magical tool able for a wide range of applications especially in robotics. In robotics can be used a variety of methods for interaction with robots starting with simple sensors such as a light sensor, and up to vision software able to detect and track objects, or using speech recognition applications.

Jasper is a library designed to work on Raspberry Pi as long as is added a set of accessories such as a microphone and a speaker. With modules able to work with applications such as Gmail, applications for time, weather, or to deal with websites for news, the Jasper becomes a powerful tool able to be available in the list with tools that you need to know if you work with Raspberry Pi.

main.py is the program that orchestrates all of Jasper

main.py is the program that orchestrates all of Jasper

With a comprehensive documentation and a growing community, the Jasper allows developers to develop application fast and easy for robots able to talk and understand what humans say. Continue Reading →

MIT SEG – An Affordable Robot Designed to Inspire Students and Hobbyists

April 9, 2014 by Dragos George Calin | 0 comments

In a world full of technology where a smartphone can cost few tens of dollars and a good laptop is very closer to a few hundred dollars, a robot is still a very expensive gadget regardless of the field of use. Any student, hobbyists or researcher dreaming to the day when a robot can be bought at an affordable price and is able to do a wide range of tasks.

To cut the manufacturing cost of a robot, the trend is to build the robot with cheap components, or in the case of DIY projects we can build at home the desire robot using a 3D printer and a single board computer such as Arduino or Raspberry Pi. Nevertheless, the challenge of cutting prices in robotics is not a completed process since so many expensive products on the market are on the ‘cure’ of cutting prices.

The latest project that can result in an ultra-affordable robot for education or for hobbyists is the MIT printable robot called MIT SEG. With a total cost under $50, the MIT origami-inspired Segway robot is perhaps the cheapest robot for education engineered as an open-source platform able to be built using simple tools and affordable components.

MIT Printable Robot

MIT Printable Robot

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FarmBot: An Open-Source Farming Machine

April 8, 2014 by Dragos George Calin | 0 comments

Not everything is free and open-source is good in robotics, but some of these projects are more helpful than you can think and can lead to a new industry where anyone can contribute with new ideas and new functionalities for complete systems able to work autonomously. A new project makes me think that the food production with robots is on the right path with an open and accessible technology able to grow food for everyone using autonomous systems.

FarmBot Genesis is an open-source project in development phase ready to explore the world of autonomous and accurate farming machines able to grow plants using sensors, electric motors and many programming lines instead using a homemade agricultural tool such as a hoe. Its systems are closer to a 3D printer, but instead using plastic extruders, the machine uses tools such as seed injectors, watering nozzles, plows, and a wide range of sensors.

FarmBot - The Open-Source Farming Machine

FarmBot – The Open-Source Farming Machine

The agricultural robot is still in development phase following to be released in the mid-2014.

How to enter the physical agriculture in the digital world easier than a drag and drop web-based interface engineered to design garden layouts from any device. All the operations in the field are auto-scheduled in order to ensure a constant maintenance of plants.

Grow a community that produces free and open-source hardware plans, software, data, and documentation enabling everyone to build and operate a farming machine.

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