Nov 142016
 

Osram Scanning LIDARLIDAR (LIght Detecting And Ranging) sensors play a critical role in almost all autonomous and semiautonomous vehicles. Using lasers and relatively simple time of flight calculations, LIDAR can very accurately measure distances and generate detailed 3D maps of environments, but traditionally the best performing systems have been large and very expensive. German lighting manufacturer Osram Opto Semiconductors unveiled their new 4 channel LIDAR package last week, and its price and size is set to shake up the market.

Continue reading »

Jul 122015
 

Vex Starter Kit Components in the BoxThis post is a throwback to March, 2006 when I purchased the original Vex Robotics Design System v0.5. I had originally posted these pictures and their respective comments on Flickr.

I had forgotten all about them when I happened to stumble upon them today. Although I think I was more surprised to find that Flickr was still a thing. Either way, I think they belong here. I’m still using this kit so maybe soon I’ll post some of the things I have done with it.

Continue reading »

Jun 252015
 
littleBits BitSnaps Package - Front

BitSnaps Package – Front

The RadioShack here in town, *my* RadioShack, is finally closing its doors forever after more than ten weeks of clearance sales the likes of which I won’t likely ever see again. I scored a lot of cool gadgets at ridiculously low prices, but my favorite continues to be the littleBits modular electronics system. As I’ve previously written about, my introduction to littleBits was via the cloudBit Starter Kit and the Arduino Coding Kit. Since then I have been grabbing a handful of the individually packaged elements on my weekly trip to the Shack. Now that my harvest has come to its inevitable end, I’m posting my take. A few of these were included in the kits I had bought as well, but I know I don’t have to remind a fellow tinkerer that too many of anything is never enough. Now for the pictures …

Continue reading »

Jan 052006
 

Lego Mindstorns NXT Robot

The International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) has been in full swing in Las Vegas for the last few days, and while there’s been a lot of cool gadget news and product announcements, there hasn’t been much worth mentioning here until today. To the surprise of many people, myself included, Lego announced this morning that the next version of their Mindstorms robotics kit, NXT, would be available for purchase in August of 2006. While many had written the platform off after the 2.0 version released in 2001, Lego has actually been undertaking a super-secret development campaign in conjunction with a select handful of Mindstorm enthusiasts for more than a year and a half. The fruits of this endeavor, NXT, will not be an upgrade to 2.0, but rather is a complete overhaul of the entire kit from the building blocks to the microprocessor.

Continue reading »

Dec 102005
 

ROBOTIS Bioloid modular robot kit

I’m finally getting through posting about the robots at IREX last week, but the one that is left on my list, the ROBOTIS Bioloid robot kit, may be of the most interest to amateur roboticists. There are several robot kits available these days, and they run the gamut from relatively simple and cheap to expensive and complicated. On the more affordable end of the spectrum are Lego Mindstorms and Radio Shack’s VEX system. More expensive (and complex) products include Kondo’s KHR-1. Korean manufacturer ROBOTIS offers systems similar to the KHR-1 in that they can be purchased in a kit form that includes a microcontroller, servos, sensors, frames, and wheels. Unlike the KHR-1 each kit can be assembled into a variety of different forms including a humanoid, dog, spider, or whatever you can imagine. If you need additional components to create your custom bot, ROBOTIS sells all of the parts individually as well. The Bioloid kit sells for $1500 USD.

Oct 202005
 

Computerworld.com is reporting on some of the predictions coming out of this week’s Gartner IT Expo. Specifically, experts are predicting that robots and “sensor-rich” devices may soon play a major role in IT. Jackie Fenn, a Gartner analyst, believes that IT products will get smarter in the coming years. Integrating arrays of sensors to monitor properties and operating conditions, they will be able to communicate back through the network their status, usage, and even if they have been damaged. Gartner suggests this will allow businesses to actually charge their customers based on how they use a particular piece of equipment. His example is that of an auto insurance company that has access to actual driver performance data via onboard vehicle sensors.

Continue reading »

Oct 192005
 

BacteriaNature.com has published an article about the work of Ravi Saraf, a chemist from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln and his student Vikas Berry in integrating living bacteria into an electrical circuit that is part of a humidity-detecting device. While there have been other instances of circuits built to react to microorganisms, this “cellborg,” as it has been dubbed, is the first time they have actually been built into the circuits themselves. This work has excited many biotechnologists as they see this as the first step towards developing biological computers.

Continue reading »