Poppy: 3D Printed and Raspberry Pi Compatible Bipedal Robot

March 31, 2014 by Dragos George Calin | 0 comments

A new species built from metal, plastic and silicon that uses the best material of 21th century for control – the bits – is prepared to populate our world. This new species are intelligent machineries with or without an anthropomorphic design with abilities to repeat almost any task that a human can do.

Poppy, the subject of this article, is a human-like robot engineered with an open body, open software, and has a good proportion of human being. The open-source platform is a good option for researchers, students or hobbyists to start their own project on a biologically inspired kit.

The project starts as a challenge and finished as a more accessible and easy-to-use prototyping platform. The project is not 100% finished, since the researchers together with a community of fans works to bring new functionalities and a lower price for a wide audience.

With its bipedal locomotion system, the Poppy is a very good tool for research projects such as understanding the biped locomotion, and for social interaction between robots and humans.

The Poppy was born in the Inria Flowers Lab (Bordeaux-France), and the idea is to provide a hackable and the low priced humanoid platform for a wide range of fields including here scientist, students, artists, hackers, or hobbyists. A modular system, 3D printed components, and off-the-shelf components are a good start to build a humanoid robot for large audiences.

Poppy's First Steps

Poppy’s First Steps

The Puppy is opened for both hardware and software sides, and to cut the price of the final robot several parts are printed using a simple 3D printer. An anthropomorphic body has to be flexible and reproduce a human body. Poppy can reach this design with bent legs and multi-articulated trunk, plus a soft body with good proportion of human being, robustness, agility and stability during the walking.

A less weight means less power and light motors, which can be translated as a good optimization for a robot engineered to be used for a wide range of tasks.

An accident may break a part of the robot, and with a standard body a random incident may raise the final price of your project. Using off-the-shelf components such as electronics and motors together with a 3D printed body is the best solution to cut the cost and replace the components with problems or add other custom parts. Continue Reading →

Amigo: Mobile Robot Designed for Intelligent Operations

February 27, 2014 by Dragos George Calin | 0 comments

Eindhoven University of Technology has unveiled AMIGO, its new humanoid robot designed for domestic applications and expected to compete in the upcoming RoboCup@Home league. The AMIGO robot catches my attention due to its open-source software system based on ROS and Ubuntu, and by its ability to be part of the RoboEarth network and database, which is a very attractive mind-blowing combination for hobbyists and scientists.

The Autonomous Mate for IntelliGent Operations(AMIGO) has been proven over time its abilities among other advanced projects such as Bobbie Robotics or R3-COP, and the next challenge is to equip the robot with superior features able to learn different things from other robots. This is the case when the robot is able to access the RoboEarth network and database to download autonomously instructions related to a certain task and change information with other robots such as recognition of an apple.

What is very impressive is that the machines will be able to do autonomous tasks like navigation or object recognition just downloading from the RoboEarth project the proper information and store these on a memory card.

This learning method is very fast compared with the method of programming every conceivable situation, and we have to pay close attention of this Cloud Robotics infrastructure and future robotic projects designed to become part of the network.

Amigo Robot At Work

Amigo Robot At Work

Its anthropomorphic design is limited to the upper side of the body where two of the Philips Experimental Robotic Arms (PERA) are used for interaction with objects or humans. On the lower side is the storage zone with batteries, electronics, and four omnidirectional wheels. Continue Reading →

Valkyrie – A robot On Mars

December 11, 2013 by Dragos George Calin | 0 comments

I want it, at home not on Mars! Since it is a woman and not a man even we talk about robots, the Valkyrie has a great potential in house chores. But even so, it’s not the case and probably will never be.

The supernatural Valkyrie robot is the preparation of NASA for Mars missions where the humans don’t have colleagues only other humans, they have as colleagues advanced humanoid robots.

Born 15 years ago as an exoskeleton on Johnson Space Center and no further as a human-like robot, the Valkyrie grows up with technologies developed over time and has taken human form that today are ready to enter among workers on Mars.

Valkyrie in action (photo source)

Valkyrie in action (photo source)

Engineered as a plastic and metal human with supernatural powers, Valkyrie is a lady with clothing developed inside by the manufacturer to fit on the panels and to have an increased resistance at possible problems in space. Overall, the female robot gives us an idea how space robots will look like, and most important, how they will work. Continue Reading →

UBR-1: One Arm Research and Educational Platform

October 25, 2013 by Dragos George Calin | 0 comments

UBR-1 is a new generation of mobile manipulators designed with one arm that can do all sorts of tasks, and with a great potential to be used in research and educational projects. Since the one arm mobile platform can activate in areas such as research and education, in this article I explore the design, technologies and performances of the UBR-1.

The UBR-1 reminds us in many aspects to the PR2, which is one of the most advanced human-like robots started as an open-source platform by Willow Garage. Behind the UBR-1 robot is a small team of engineers grouped under the name Unbounded Robotics, which after years of research, together brought to life the low-cost mobile manipulator. Performing a wide range of task in the real world is only a requirement for programming side.

Designed in mind with the potential to be used in research, education or other areas, UBR-1 is a highly customizable platform, a human-scale one-armed robot that supports a large number of custom applications.

UBR-1: Research and Educational Platform

UBR-1: Research and Educational Platform

The affordable price paid for such a platform is the consequence of optimizations by which the robot has passed, even if the performance remained at a high level. The UBR-1 can be compared with PR2 even if the price difference is one astronomical. High mobility, flexible manipulation, and brilliant intelligence are three features that could easily be used to create new applications and projects from scratch.
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Advanced Brain, Vision, Smell, Skin, and Muscle Technologies For New Robotic Generation

August 20, 2013 by Dragos George Calin | 1 Comment

The year 1928 in robotics involved at least one significant event including here the first humanoid robot called Eric based on electrical actuators. Since then many technologies were invented and reinvented with a high impact over industrial and service robots.

In later years we can speak about artificial skin, 3D vision, artificial muscles, artificial brain and even artificial nose. All of these new technologies can be integrated in future generation of robots and this is the subject of this article.

An advanced robot like a humanoid requires a wide range of systems including here vision, processing and touching. All of these technologies are used for one reason – make a robot to react like a human.

Starting with the most important part – the brain – a human can process a high amount of information in real-time and take the best decision. Mimicking the abilities of a human brain is perhaps the most desired projects for a neuroscientist, and for a while we can talk about this.

A good vision means a good understanding of the environment and opportunity to use a robot for complex tasks. The 3D vision systems reached a high-level of processing visual information with applications in various fields.

A robot that smell. This sounds like a joke, but it could be achieved in the near future using a system designed for identifying smells.

An artificial skin makes a robot more human and sensitive to touch or to changes in its surroundings.

Different types of muscles were developed over time and based on different materials. Using polymers that react to humidity, researchers build artificial muscles that mimic the human muscle system.


Artificial brain (photo source sciencedaily.com)

Artificial brain (photo source sciencedaily.com)

An artificial brain that uses an electronic system to imitate the human brain.
Most advanced robots use powerful computers for processing while these are processing systems with high energy consumption and limited efficiency compared with a human brain. Building artificial brain is the Holy Grail for many scientists and very closer than this science fiction achievement are the researchers from the University of Zurich and ETH Zurich.

Even taking the most advanced computer it cannot work efficiently like a human brain works. Researchers demonstrate that using so-called neuromorphic chips can be imitated the processing system of a brain with real-time abilities. The final result is an artificial sensory system with cognitive abilities and with capabilities to perform particular tasks at a high degree of complexity.

A wide range of configuration can be created to cover a larger area of behavior modes.

The potential for this technology is huge especially in robotics where a large amount of information has to be processed in real-time.
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