8+ Pieces To Make your Robot More Efficient

Your robot probably doesn’t meet your expectations concerning performance and optimization. Even if you build robots with limited budgets, sometimes you have to strive to reach a new level of efficiency and optimization.

So, you should probably start from this article to find out the king of brains for autonomous vehicles, improved Raspberry Pi motor controllers, the best infrared Time-of-Flight sensor, a development board for autonomous robots and smart video cameras and accessory.

1. ERLE BRAIN

ERLE BRAIN 2

ERLE BRAIN 2

Why Erle Brain? Because it’s a Linux-based embedded computer that integrates sensors and supports ROS (Robot Operating System). So you can build autonomous vehicles capable of cruising city streets or lands without the aid of human control.

You have to choose from a wide range of options that includes an integrated camera, WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS and more. Read more →

Servocity Announces The Prowler Robot Kit

Servocity announces the new Prowler robot kit with off-road tires and ABS construction frame.

The platform is large enough to host electronics and other components for an autonomous or a remote controlled robot.

Each wheel is driven by a 12V DC motor with a rated load of 4.5 kgf-cm (62.5 oz-in).

The 4WD robot platform is priced at about $219.99.

The Prowler Robot Kit

The Prowler Robot Kit

Included parts

  • (4) 313 RPM Planetary Gearmotor
  • (4) Black Revolver Wheels
  • (4) Leopard Off-Road Robot Tires
  • (4) 12mm Hex Wheel Adaptor D
  • (4) Aluminum Motor Mount E
  • (2) 90 Degree Quad Hub Mount
  • (25) .4375”L x 6-32 Socket Head Screws
  • (2) ABS Plates

Read more →

Building Robots: Professionals vs Amateurs

The amateur buys wheels, motors, controllers, a platform kit, etc. without having an idea of the final robot and how it should look. The professional avoids buying anything until they have a detailed plan of how it looks and what should do the robot.

The amateur engages questions on robotics communities without searching for solutions. The professional gets back to work.

The amateur disregards optimization. The professional focuses on eliminating unnecessary things.

The amateur tries to build everything at once. The professional focuses on one task at a time.

The amateur build robots occasionally. The professional works almost every day.

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Yes, I know. We all start as amateurs, and even after some time, the best of us give into the temptations of the amateur.

Build a Self-Driving Robot Car with a Raspberry Pi 3 model B, Camera, GPS and the Sense-HAT Board

We already know the Raspberry Pi is one of the primaries development boards for robotics, but the DIYer from custom-build-robots.com took it another step and built a self-driving robot car.

The DIYer took a 4WD robot kit, stuffed some electronics, mounted the Raspberry Pi, a Raspberry Pi camera, the Sense-HAT board and a GPS module, then write Python code for the robot. The result is an autonomous robot car able to drive from one-way point to the next one.

Head over to custom-build-robots.com website for the full description of the project.

Raspberry Pi self-driving robot-car

What Programming Language Do You Use with Arduino for Robotics Projects: the Arduino language, C or C++?

This should be an interesting question for anyone who’s using the Arduino board and try to optimize the software side for current and future projects. I found it on Reddit in one and another form, and I’ll present the most important ideas here in a concise and easy to understand way.

From C code to Arduino board with avr-gcc (image source)

From C code to Arduino board with avr-gcc (image source)

Arduino language advantages

  • The Arduino libraries make things easier to operate the functions of the Arduino boards
  • The Arduino language adds extra features designed for Arduino boards
  • Arduino IDE and Arduino programming language have the goal to simplify programming for beginners

C/C++ advantages

  • One of the greatest advantage using C/C++ is that you can have a toolkit of libraries to interface with hardware, networking, front-end GUIs, etc.
  • With C or C++ you can directly access the registers on the microcontroller and write code that is not in the Arduino code
  • Since the Arduino libraries are written in C/C++, you can interface with them directly
  • C/C++ let you manage limited resources better

Please let me know in the comment section your opinion regarding the programming language you use with Arduino.

640 and Escape: Raspberry Pi Zero Motor Controllers for 6 Independent Motors

640 and Escape are two motor controllers compatible with Raspberry Pi Zero. Both controllers are crowdfunded on Kickstarter and crossed the goal of £4,000 after a few days of the campaign.

Raspberry Pi Zero is one of the development boards that makes anyone think of robotics, automation, art,… at anything controlled by a cheap and small Linux single-board computer. So, why we need 640 and Escape?

640 and Escape

640 and Escape

You need one or more motor controllers to control two, four, six, seven, eight, etc., DC motors, stepper motors or servo motors. You can see everywhere motor controllers able to control two or four DC motors, one or more stepper motors, or several servo motors. The idea is simple: if you want to control more DC motors, you need multiple boards stacked on top of the Raspberry Pi Zero.

Optimization is the keyword for 640 and Escape. With the same board able to control 6 DC motors are increasing the possibilities and options to build a wide range of mobile robots.

The engineers that design the boards have also developed Python and C++ libraries. These are available on GitHub repositories together with a few tutorials and examples.
Read more →

Google’s Laws of Robotics

Google plays hard to get a big piece of cake from the whole robotics industry with SCHAFT, Redwood Robotics, Meka Robotics, Holomni, Bot & Dolly and Boston Dynamics. With such impressive portfolio of robotics companies, Google has the influence and power to create trends and design technologies for the robotics world. Even better, they have created its laws of robotics.

So, for the moment forget the Isaac Asimov’s laws of robotics and take a moment to read the Google’s laws of robotics. Fastcodesign present them in a concise and easy to understand way.

  1. Robots should not make things worse;
  2. Robots shouldn’t cheat;
  3. Robots should look to humans as mentors;
  4. Robots should only play where it’s safe;
  5. Robots should know they’re stupid;

What Part of The Mindstorms Would You Change/Upgrade If LEGO Build a New Kit?

The LEGO Mindstorms kit ($350 on Amazon) is built to inspire and make you smile from ear to ear for a long time. But we grow up and need to use more and advanced technologies. For example, a development board like Raspberry Pi has been released with a built-in WiFi module. With this new version, it entered in the Internet of Things world as it is, a WiFi compatible single board computer. No accessories and other stuff.

LEGO Arctic Racer Concept

LEGO Arctic Racer Concept (source)

So, if tomorrow LEGO will build a new Mindstorms kit, I want to:

  • be connected to the Internet in minutes without using a USB WiFi dongle that is supported by the firmware. I want to control my robot from the Internet;
  • easily connect my robot to an IoT platform for real-time status of the sensors;
  • prototype outdoor robots (big wheels, large DC motors, etc.);

If a LEGO engineer asks you today what part of the LEGO Mindstorms would you change/upgrade if the company build a new kit, what would be your answer? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section.

DFRrobot Announces Four New Turbo Metal Gear Worm Motors: 6V 40RPM, 6V 160RPM, 12V 40RPM and 12V 160RPM

DFRrobot announces four new turbo metal gear worm motors with 40RPM and 160RPM.

The first two metal gear worm motors have a rated voltage of 6V. The 40RPM version can produce a stall torque of 10 kg/cm while the 160RPM version produces a stall torque of 2.8kg/cm.

The other two metal gear worm motors have a rated voltage of 12V. The 40RPM version produces a stall torque of 8kg. cm while the 160RPM version produces a stall torque of 2.2kg.cm.

All the metal gear worm motors are priced at about $18.90.

New Turbo Metal Gear Worm Motor

New Turbo Metal Gear Worm Motor

Read more →

A robot that could effectively replace casino croupiers in the future

This is a guest post.

She has a perfect figure, a calm demeanor, and a friendly face. Meet “Min,” the first-ever robot whose purpose is to mimic the job of a master casino croupier in Las Vegas and Macau.

The life-like, lady croupier is a prototype that was created by Hong Kong tech and gaming machine manufacturer Paradise Entertainment. Min, along with other casino croupier robots, were first introduced at a gaming show in Macau late last year. This 2016, they will be introduced in the U.S. where wages of employees in casinos are significantly higher than in South East Asia.

image credit: Bloomberg

image credit: Bloomberg

Currently, Min’s function is limited to dealing cards. However, planned enhancements could have Min recognizing customers’ facial features and speaking to them in several languages. This an effort to further humanize the croupier robots. Such responses wouldn’t necessarily have to come from the same robot, either as they will be interconnected via wireless transmissions.

If successful, even online, live casino dealers that offer a realistic casino experience in the comfort of a player’s home would be affected and it would certainly shake up the industry. If we are to follow the trends of Gala Bingo, a UK-based entertainment company that specializes in bingo and slot games, which has been in the news recently because it has begun shut down most of its land-based operations such as its popular bingo halls to focus on its online offerings, the need to introduce cutting-edge technology to casinos has never been more important. And the introduction of robot croupiers was going to happen sooner or later, so that these land-based casinos could wrestle back some of the market share they have lost to their digital counterparts, otherwise more casinos and bingo halls would be forced to close across the globe. Read more →