Yet Another Desktop Humanoid Robot 
Thursday, March 8, 2007, 02:30 AM - Robotics
Japanese company Plen has a cute little desktop humanoid robot with a USB interface that can skate. The noisy all-Flash website is a bit annoying, but the videos are cute.

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Nao: commercial humanoid robot from France 
Thursday, March 1, 2007, 06:37 PM - Robotics
French company Aldebaran Robotics is developing a humanoid robot called Nao that should hit the shelves by the summer (or perhaps by the end of the year), and should cost between 2000 and 3000 Euros. The company has around 15 employees, and has been working on the Nao for a few years. Unlike many humanoid robots on the market, the Nao has a lot of on-board compute power, and includes speech recognition and synthesis, vision with real-time face detection, and Wifi communication. The embedded computing platform runs Linux. A number of video clips are available from this page, including a 50 minute TV show in which a semi-working prototype was demonstrated.



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Urbi: event-driven language for robotics 
Thursday, March 1, 2007, 06:24 PM - Robotics
French company Gostai offers the URBI platform, a set programming language, SDK, and software tools for programming robots. The URBI language features parallel execution, event-driven programming, a remote object protocol called UObject and other niceties. The open source URBI SDK can be downloaded from Urbiforge, and is available Linux, Mac, and Windows (under minGW). URBI engines are available for Aibo, Khepera robots, and (apparently) for the upcoming Nao humanoid robot from another French company Aldebaran Robotics.



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Spyke wifi-controlled robot with camera 
Sunday, February 25, 2007, 12:00 AM - Robotics
The Spyke Robot will be available in April for 300 UK Pounds ($580). It has a camera, can play music, and can be used as a Skype phone. It is controllable via Wifi, and comes with open source software.



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Coltrane's Giant Steps played by a Robot 
Wednesday, February 14, 2007, 02:44 AM - Robotics
The Takashima R&C Laboratory at Hosei University in Japan has been developing robots that play (real) wind instruments for mnay years. They have a saxophone-playing robot and a trumpet-playing robot. Their web site has pictures and MP3s of their robots playing various pieces, including one of my favorite Jazz pieces of all times: John Coltrane's Giant Steps. Another recording has their robot playing Coltrane's Giant Steps solo faster than Coltrane.

They also have various videos of their Sax robot playing various pieces, including Giant Steps, as well as videos of other robots (trumpet, trombone, shakuhachi).

A video is also available on YouTube.

The recordings were apparently done in 1999.

I'm not sure if this entry belongs to the Robotics or to the Jazz category. I'll go with robotics.


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Flying Insects and Robots Symposium 
Saturday, February 3, 2007, 02:42 PM - Robotics
The 2007 Flying Insects and Robots Symposium will take place August 12-17, 2007 in Ascona, Switzerland. The deadline for submitting abstracts is March 31st.

Looks like fun.



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Small Form-Factor PC for Cars and Mobile Robots 
Thursday, January 25, 2007, 01:53 AM - Robotics
MiniBox.com has a small form-factor barebones PC for $400. The size is 21x26.5x6.6cm, which is a bit too big to fit in those new hackable Roombas.


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Amazing Lego Car Factory 
Wednesday, January 10, 2007, 07:19 PM - Robotics
There is an amazing video of an automated car factory built with Lego Mindstorms on YouTube. The whole setup is huge. I couldn't count how many RCX bricks are used, but it seems like a lot. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be any other web site that describes the system.


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Buy a CNC machine from Sears 
Tuesday, January 9, 2007, 12:00 AM - Robotics
Are CNC machines becoming a consumer item? Sears now sells consumer-grade 3D CNC machine called the CompuCarve computer controlled- woodworking machine under its Craftsman brand. The machine sells for $1800. It looks more appropriate for shallow carving, engraving, and cutting thin sheets (the cutting depth is limited to 25mm). It can handle pieces up to 36cm wide, 12.5 cm thick, and almost any length.

Pretty soon, we are going to see low-price consumer-grade CNC machines coming out of the .... woodwork ;-)



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Programmable Roombas 
Monday, January 8, 2007, 09:06 PM - Robotics
Irobot announced the Irobot Create Programmable Roomba. It a version of the Roomba without the vacuum cleaner parts, with a payload bay, a "real" serial port, and an optional Atmel-based programmable micro-controller module that includes external sensor interfaces. The best thing: its' dirt cheap: $130 for the basic robot, $180 with the controller module, and $1000 for a 10-pack. There is an article about it at Robot Magazine.



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Kyosho Manoi Robot Competition 
Saturday, January 6, 2007, 11:40 PM - Robotics
There is astory at Robot Magazine on the recent Kyosho Athlete Humanoid Cup. Most competitors use the Kyosho Manoi humanoid robot. The article has lots of pictures and a nice video.



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Big list of amateur telemetry/UAV web sites 
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OpenServo project 
Wednesday, December 27, 2006, 01:16 AM - Robotics
The OpenServo project proposes turn a cheap analog servo into a high-performance, programmable digital servo by replacing the circuit board with a custom board built around an Atmel AVR-8 micro-controller. The servo includes I2C control with position/force feeedback.
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ChRoMicro UAV auto-pilot project 
Wednesday, December 27, 2006, 01:06 AM - Robotics
The ChRoMicro helicopter autopilot project uses a Gumstix Connex board. The Gumstix are tiny computers running Linux that are built around a Freescale PXA255 ARM processor.

The software part of the ChRoMicro, called pxaRC, has its own web site. Other goodies include instructions and software to connect a CMOS camera to a Gumstix Connex board.

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Magnetometer-based UAV auto-pilot 
Wednesday, December 27, 2006, 12:31 AM - Robotics
Apeliotes is an autu-pilot for UAV that uses a 3-axes magnetometer. This allows the UAV to measure its attitude using the Earth's magnetic field. Unlike gyro-based attitude estimations systems, magnetometers are not subject to drift.

This was a project conducted by Matthew Chave at University of Otago in New Zealand. The board is built around a Philips LPC-2129 microcontroler (with an ARM-7 processor core). The project report is available.

The project web site is being moved to www.uavdev.com, but the new site is still in construction.

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MicroPilot 28g UAV auto-pilot 
Wednesday, December 27, 2006, 12:14 AM - Robotics
MicroPilot sells a miniature auto-pilot for UAVs that weigh only 28 grams, on a 10x4 cm board that includes a GPS, Gyros, airspeed, and barometric altimeter. The price is not light: the cheapest model, the mp1028g, is
$1700, if you buy 100 of them.
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