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Summer Camps

April 17th, 2018 No comments

Looking for summer camps. Here are some you might be interested in:

CodeCrew has a number of programming and robotics summer camps at various times and locations for grades 1-12. See there website: https://www.code-crew.org/events/ for more information.

Programs include coding, robotics, mobile app development and more….

The library and Cloud 901 have a number of summer camps for students ages 9-18. See http://www.memphislibrary.org/summer-camps/ for more information.

Programs include Robotics (including Lego Mindstorms), STEM, Art, and Music.

Festo’s New Bionic Robotis

April 5th, 2018 No comments

From: IEEE Specturm

Festo’s New Bionic Robots Include Rolling Spider, Flying Fox
The latest in weird and potentially useful robots from German automation giant Festo
By Evan Ackerman

We love Festo because every year they invest an entirely appropriate amount of time and money into bio-inspired robots that are totally cool and very functional but have limited usefulness. More often than not, it seems like Festo is able to take some of what it learns from designing and constructing these things and create practical new revenue-generating products. Which is good for them, and means they’ll keep making cool stuff. Over the last few years, we’ve met ants, butterflies, flying jellyfish and penguins, kangaroos, seagulls, and much more.

Festo has just announced its two newest bionic learning network robots—one is a very convincing flying fox, and the other is a walking, tumbling robot inspired by a Saharan spider.

Festo calls their BionicFlyingFox an “ultra-lightweight flying object with intelligent kinematics.” It’s 87 centimeters long with a 228-cm wingspan, but it weighs only 580 grams. Flying foxes are the largest bats in the world, and as such, their wings consist of membranes of skin rather than feathers. Mimicking that required some creativity on Festo’s part:

The model’s flying membrane is wafer-thin and ultralight whilst also robust. It consists of two airtight films and a knitted elastane fabric, which are welded together at approximately 45,000 points. Due to its elasticity, it stays almost uncreased, even when the wings are retracted. The fabric’s honeycomb structure prevents small cracks in the flying membrane from getting bigger. This means that the BionicFlyingFox can continue flying even if the fabric sustains minor damage.

The wing is separated into primary and secondary control surfaces which are mechanically coupled together—on the upstroke, the primary folds in toward the secondary and extends back out again on the downstroke. Small motors in the body can adjust each wing separately, while a larger brushless dc motor does the flapping.

The robot is autonomous, sort of, in that it flies by itself but relies on a ground station for camera-based localization, and all of the computing is off-board. Festo uses machine learning to optimize the BionicFlyingFox’s flight behavior, such that every time it performs a maneuver, it gets just a little bit better. I’m not sure it’ll ever get good enough to stick an upside-down landing, though.

This crazy thing is BionicWheelBot. The design is a little more creatively bio-inspired than the flying fox; it’s based on the flic-flac spider, which lives in the Sahara and can move very quickly with a unique combination of cartwheel flips when it feels threatened:


The guy in that video who both discovered the spider and invented the original robot (Ingo Rechenberg, a bionics professor at TU Berlin) was also involved in the design of Festo’s version. As with the flying fox, the behavior of this robot is based very closely on the real thing:

Like its biological model, the BionicWheelBot has eight legs, which help it to both walk and roll. They are controlled by a total of 15 small motors, which fit in the knee joints and body. There are also 14 automatic-locking worm gear units that ensure that the spider only has to use energy when moving its legs—not, however, to keep its body upright when standing still.

In rolling mode, the BionicWheelBot does a somersault with its whole body, just like the real flic-flac spider. Thanks to the integrated inertial sensor, it always knows what position it is in and when it has to push off again. It, too, is therefore much faster when rolling than walking and can even overcome inclines of up to five per cent uphill.

Festo also made some more practical (if a bit less flashy) robotics announcements. The first is the BionicWorkplace, which integrates robots and a host of control devices and displays to help human users operate the system more effectively:

In the BionicWorkplace, the bionic robot arm works together with numerous assistance systems and peripheral devices, which are networked and communicate with each other. At the same time, artificial intelligence and machine learning methods turn the BionicWorkplace into a learning and anticipative system that continuously optimises itself.

The second is an educational “bionics training kit” designed for kids age 14 to 18, to be available in the United States and Germany:

Getting young people interested in technology is one of the main aims of our Bionic Learning Network. The Bionics4Education project brings the world of bionics together with the education sector. The interactive education concept allows a variety of topics relating to bionics to be experienced in the classroom. It consists of a digital learning environment and a practical training kit, which the pupils can use to make bionic prototypes in a creative manner.

The Bionics Kit, which in 2018 will be the first-ever bionics training kit to come onto the market in Germany and the USA, is aimed at pupils between 14 and 18 years old. The Bionics Kit gives young people the opportunity to solve problems using bionic methods in a creative and uncomplicated way – by building a bionic fish, a chameleon gripper or an elephant’s trunk with adaptive gripper with Fin Ray Effect®, for example.

As the basic equipment, the case contains all the components necessary to get started. This includes conventional small servo motors, electronics components and plastic elements such as Fin Ray® structures. The pupils’ task is to then sensibly combine these inventively with materials chosen by themselves. Cable ties, sandbags, cardboard, foam rubber and many other things are suitable for this, enabling the pupils to design their own reusable models.

Categories: Robot News Tags:

Teachers Try Science

April 2nd, 2018 No comments

Here is a neat page with lesson plans to teach Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). It is done by IBM and it is call TEACHERSTRYSCIENCE.ORG

Move over soccer moms: Robotics moms take over

April 2nd, 2018 No comments

By ANNIKA HAMMERSCHLAG The Naples Daily News Mar 11, 2018
LINK

IMMOKALEE, Fla. (AP) — Christy Kobes jumps to her sock-and-sandal feet, sending a vibration rippling down the metal bleachers.

“Let’s go! Let’s go! Think destructive thoughts!” she yells to her son’s team.

Her cellphone, attached to a lanyard around her neck, swings back and forth as her enthusiasm builds.

It’s day four of the tournament in Louisville, Kentucky, and Kobes’ voice is strained, though her forceful cheering rises above the other moms that fill the expansive exposition center.

Then, an abrupt pause: She sits down, bows her head, and says a prayer.

Seconds later, she’s back on her feet, bellowing orders to the team.

Kobes is no soccer mom. What she does, she said, is far more demanding.

“The soccer moms, they buy the shoes and sit on their phones while someone else manages their kids’ practice,” she said. “But as a robo mom, I have to do everything.”

Robo mom. As in robotics.

The after-school activity has been credited with drawing children to science and technology fields; mothers tell of little ones staying up into the early morning hours programming and building robots.

Robotics companies have cashed in on the trend, selling assembly kits and organizing regional competitions. Students build their robots to fit the object of the game, which changes each year.

VEX Robotics, one of the country’s leading robotics kit suppliers, hosted the largest-ever robotics world championship competition last April, inviting 1,400 middle and high school and university-level teams from 30 countries to the weeklong event.

Immokalee High School’s two robotics teams, Megazord and Dragonzord, were among the competitors.

As she has done every year since 2015, Kobes drove her son’s team 6½ hours from Spartanburg, South Carolina, to attend the event — a short excursion compared to the journeys taken by the Kazakh, Ethiopian and Thai teams.

That year, the game consisted of two allied teams competing against two others to see how many objects each could throw over to the other side of a 12-by-12 foot rink. The teams with the fewest objects on their sides of the arena after two minutes won.

Slabs of metal scurried around the rink, gathering bundles of foam stars and cubes and flinging them over the divide. A designated team driver operated the bot with a video game controller as their teammates watched the action with furrowed brows.

In a special round, the robots performed the tasks autonomously — that is, if their programming didn’t fail.

Even during manually controlled rounds, the bots often malfunctioned, collided or flipped over, and teams would rush back to their booths between matches to make repairs.

“This is more intense than football,” said robo mom Evelyn Amoros, who co-coaches her son’s robotics team with Kobes. “My heart rate is constantly pumped up.”

As the team circled their robot to fix a mechanical failure, Kobes and Amoros hovered over their shoulders with tools at the ready: batteries, rubber bands, screws and, of course, snacks.

“I would’ve forgotten to eat today if they weren’t here,” said Amoros’ son Greg, 17.

As she nervously chomped on a piece of gum, Amoros gave the team last-minute instructions: focus, win, and don’t forget your protective goggles.

Between cheering and shouting commands, Amoros, 52, a single mother and Spanish teacher, detailed the countless hours she has dedicated to supporting her son’s five-person team. She and other robo moms said their children’s schools were too focused on their traditional sports teams to provide resources to their robotics programs, leaving it up to parents to step in as coaches.

Kobes, 47, a gynecologist, and Amoros taught themselves engineering. Eagerly swiping through photos on her phone, Kobes showed off the classroom trailer she and Amoros helped transform to house a robotics field.

The team had painted an Albert Einstein quote on the wall: It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.

“I’m in charge of organizing the team, recruiting members, doing administrative work, making budgets and arranging transport,” Kobes said. “I attend every practice, sometimes seven days a week, from four until sometimes 10 at night. And all through spring break and Easter.”

She and Amoros regularly cook dinner for the team and drive them to competitions on the weekends.

“We’re their mothers,” Kobes said. “We never leave.”

And the commitment has been worth it, they said. Kobes’ son Grant, 17, went from being a shy introvert to spending his evenings on a headset chatting with robotics enthusiasts around the world. He even is a frequent guest commentator on a robotics talk show, and his grades have soared.

As for Amoros, robotics competitions brought her son back to life, she said.

Greg used to be captain of the swim team and a star football player. Sports were his identity, Amoros said.

When he got a concussion playing football, a tumor formed on his brain, triggering chronic seizures. The doctors said he couldn’t play sports anymore. He sank into a deep depression and was homebound for six months. He didn’t want to return to school.

But when Grant introduced him to the world of robotics, Greg discovered a new passion. Robotics, he found, offered the same camaraderie and excitement as contact sports.

Tearing up, Amoros said she couldn’t be more grateful.

“What it’s done for my son is beyond anything I could ever imagine,” she said. “They’ve learned how to care not just about the robot, but each other.”

Amoros remembers the early days when he’d ask her for help with mechanical problems. But now he figures it out on his own.

It’s like letting go of her baby as he takes his first steps, she said.

“He may fall, but he can pick himself up,” she said. “And as a mom, that makes me very happy, and I’ll keep on cheering all his successes and keep wiping the tears when there’s failure.”

Yesnia Diaz, a robo mom who flew in with her 15-year-old son’s team from Puerto Rico, said she too owed a great deal to robotics. Due to a disability that stunted his growth, her son Sebastian Caballero was never able to play competitive sports. He felt like he was missing out.

When Diaz learned about competitive robotics, she made sure he could participate.

She organized bake sales and contacted local TV stations to raise money. Her son’s school was so small that they didn’t have room for a field, so Diaz and her husband, Efrhayn Caballero, built one in their backyard out of wood and zip ties.

Despite all the work, she never forgets her most important role: No. 1 fan.

Decked out in headbands topped with feathered pom poms, Mardi Gras necklaces with bells attached and a Puerto Rican flag draped over their shoulders, Diaz and her daughter cheered on the team through dozens of matches. Diaz wore a fanny pack, but sometimes she wears a tutu instead, she said.

After a win, they paraded around the Louisville convention center waving flags and singing songs.

For the last three years, the team has won the spirit award at regional competitions.

“We want them to know that we’re going to be there for them when things go well and when things don’t go as planned,” Diaz said.

As a parent, she said, she feels accomplished that she has been able to give him this opportunity. Despite being a little person, she said, he has grown so much: Robotics has taught him to appreciate other people’s strengths and how to leverage his own.

Other robo moms said that in addition to encouraging their children to pursue careers in science and technology, robotics has taught them time management skills and how to solve problems under pressure; they have learned how to be leaders but also how to work as a team.

After Greg and Grant won their match — one of about six they played that day — Amoros and Kobes gathered the team with their alliance for a group photo. The teens struggled to hold their smiles as Kobes took an extra few moments to find the right button on her phone.

As they returned to their booth, Kobes and Amoros reflected on their roles as mothers.

The most exciting part of parenting, they agreed, is watching their children find their passions and realize their dreams.

“And whose dreams come true at 17?” Kobes said, nodding toward Greg and Grant who were busy rummaging through a drawer of spare parts. “That’s why we’re cheering so loud.”

At the 2017 competition, the boys’ team qualified for finals and placed 27th in their roughly 200-team division.

They since have graduated from high school and are working toward degrees in engineering — Greg at the University of South Carolina and Grant at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Greg is taking a break from robotics, but Grant volunteers as a referee at high school competitions and started a robotics program in the first month of his freshman year. Without funding or lab space to start, Grant used leftover parts from his high school robot and built a new one on the floor of his dorm room. He plans to take it to compete in the university division at the world championship in April.

Kobes plans to fly out to support him.

Although she is excited for the trip, Kobes said the absence of her son and his team from her daily life has left a void.

The house feels empty, she said.

But things are getting better; she has two other children after all.

One is performing in her school’s rendition of “Beauty and the Beast.” Kobes helped build the set and she plans to attend all four shows. But she fears there won’t be much left to do after the final curtain call.

Her other child is a soccer player, but being a soccer mom just isn’t the same, she said.

Last weekend was the first game of the season.

“I had the lawn chair and everything,” she said. “But it got rained out.”

Nissan Embeds Self-Parking Tech in Pillows and Slippers

February 14th, 2018 No comments

I never knew how badly I needed a self-parking slipper until now!
By Evan Ackerman
from IEEE Specturm

Nissan, like every other car manufacturer that doesn’t want to be rendered mostly obsolete within the next few decades, has been gradually developing autonomous technology for its vehicles. They’ve been going about it very sensibly, introducing discrete modules like highway assist and parking assist, and they’ve managed to get the parking bit working well enough to take it beyond cars. One such attempt at an even more challenging and important self-parking application: slipper arrangements.

At first glance, the ProPILOT Park Ryokan looks like any other traditional Japanese inn, or ryokan. Slippers are neatly lined up at the foyer, where guests remove their shoes. Tatami rooms are furnished with low tables and floor cushions for sitting. What sets this ryokan apart is that the slippers, tables and cushions are rigged with a special version of Nissan’s ProPILOT Park autonomous parking technology. When not in use, they automatically return to their designated spots at the push of a button.

Even the television remote is self parking! Brilliant!

For its primary application, Nissan’s ProPILOT Park system uses an array of four cameras and twelve sonar sensors to wedge its host vehicle into even the smallest of parking spaces—whether it’s nose-in parking, butt-in parking, or trickiest of all, parallel parking. It seems unlikely that the slippers use quite the same technology, although Nissan does suggest that the technology is at least similar, which would mean that the slippers are operating autonomously rather than relying on someone off-camera with a remote control. If you’d like to investigate further, Nissan is offering a free night for a pair of travelers at this particular ryokan, which located in Hakone, Japan—a lovely place that you should consider visiting even if self-parking slippers aren’t on the amenities list.

Our only question now is, why limit this technology to cars, slippers, and pillows? I’d like my cereal bowls to be self parking. And my socks. And how about the toothpaste? Just think about how much more convenient it would be if all of these things were self-parking, too. So let’s get going with this, Nissan. Make our lives better already.

Categories: IEEE, Robot News Tags:

Article: Robby Robot Kit Helps Learn About Robots And Robotics

February 14th, 2018 No comments

Robby Robot Kit Helps Learn About Robots And Robotics
11:51 am February 13, 2018 By Julian Horsey
from Geeky Gadgets

Anyone interested in learning more about robots or robotics may be interested in a new educational robot created by the team at Mr. Robotics, based in Lille, France. Robby the robot has been designed to “empower curiosity” and robotics with an innovative and powerful robot kit which has this week been launched by Kickstarter, to raise the required €20,000 needed to take the design into production. Watch the demonstration video below to learn more about the Robby Robot kit and its features.

The Robby Robot is available to back via Kickstarter with pledges starting from €169 for early bird backers providing a starter kit with everything you need to get up and running and begin programming your robot. If all goes well, worldwide shipping is expected to take place during August 2018.

The robot kit is fully programmable and allows you to add your own modules and sensors as well as choose your own architecture providing an open source scalable system complete with plug and play sensors. The robot kit is ideal for educational applications as well as keen hobbyists and makers.

Whether you are a beginner or advanced maker looking to create your first robot the open source library of components will simplify the process and also offers a wide variety of functionality, which can be tweaked to suit custom applications if required. For more information jump over to the official Robby Robot Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign page by following the link below.

Source: Kickstarter

Categories: Robot News Tags:

Updated Links

January 31st, 2018 No comments

I didn’t realize how out of date some of my links were on the right hand side….just updated them!

Categories: Memphis Robotics, Robot News Tags:

Neat way to learn Robotics

September 29th, 2017 No comments

From: https://www.roboterra.com/

Origin™ Robotics Kit & CastleRock

Looking for a fun and easy way to introduce STEM in your classroom? Our Origin Robotics Kit enables anyone to build real robots and program them. The kit includes metal parts, servos, LEDs and sensors, so kids can create robots that react to the environment around them.

Origin Robotics Kit includes access to our CastleRock programming software. Using CastleRock, kids will learn to code while they construct robots that spin, wave arms and flash LEDs. Students use C++ coding language to control their robots, providing a solid foundation to easily explore other languages and skills. Going beyond programming, CastleRock provides a set of tiered challenges that guides students through a planned, conversational curriculum. No previous technology experience is required!

Automatica

September 19th, 2017 No comments

to see more click here

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Robotic program helps students build STEM skills

September 11th, 2017 No comments

From: KPLC
Tuesday, September 5th 2017, 6:20 pm CDT
By Jolina Okazaki, Multimedia Journalis

KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

MIDLAND, TX (KWES) –
A STEM robotics program at Lee High School is allowing students to put their engineering skills to good use.

“It takes brainpower, you can’t just come up with it out of nowhere,” said Cristian Valeriano.

It brings science, math and technology to the next level.

“The nice thing about it is you step back and help them if they need help,” said Alan Pitkin, Career and Technical Education Teacher of STEM Robotics. “You want them to use their brain to think and problem solve. Say, ‘Hey Google something, see how something works, see how the real world is using it and implement it in your robot.”

Building a robot isn’t as easy as it looks. It takes brainstorming, teamwork, problem-solving, executing and trial-and-error.

“Building takes a lot of precision,” said Christian Martinez. “It’s really key to this. One small mishap can ruin the whole thing. Building takes a lot of hours. After school, we come, on weekends and in the summer.”

“When we first got started, it was grasping an idea,” said Valeriano. “First, it’s where to start. We make the wheels and build off from there. We need to pick up a ball, we need something to pick up a ball. It’s piece by piece.”

Every year, students in the program learn and prepare for a robotics competition towards the end of the year called First Robotics. It’s one of the biggest competitions where teams build robots and compete against each other and win scholarships. But it doesn’t come cheap and only a small portion of school funds are used with help from the MISD Education Foundation.

“When you have to go to regionals, like Georgia, it’s $12,000 to $15,000,” said Pitkin. “Houston is $5,000. It also depends on how many kids you take. Some of these kids haven’t been out of Midland. I give them the experience and see what the world is doing. Midland isn’t that far out and Midland can compete with anybody.”

The program has become successful thanks to the Midland Independent School District Education Foundation and its sponsors from SM Energy, the J Robert Jones Charitable Trust Foundation and Pioneer.

“They see a value in giving your money to the school for robotics,” said Pitkin. “It’s all being put to good use.”

But these funds are what get the gears turning for these students to become successful and inspire the next generation of engineers.

“It’s beneficial to learn now then get put out in the world and not know what to do,” said Valeriano.

“I want to go to A&M, which has a good engineering program as far as architecture,” said Martinez. “I feel like this will help me get there and achieve it.”

To help and sponsor the program, you can contact Jami Owen with the MISD Education Foundation here.

There will be a Phillip Phillips concert that will benefit the MISD Education Foundation this Saturday, Sept. 9, 8:00 p.m. at the Midland County Horseshoe Amphitheater.

Categories: Robot News, Teaching Technology Tags: