Then and Now


Articles from this Column

Robots of the Future

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December 2016, Page 60 [Digital Edition ]
Automotons (especially drones) will make significant differences in our future lives as they are utilized in more and more different facets of society.

The Ideal Home Robot

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November 2016, Page 60 [Digital Edition ]
So, what exactly is a home robot? Take a look at some of the key aspects of a viable automaton for a home environment.

Are Autonomous Cars and Robots Dangerous?

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October 2016, Page 60 [Digital Edition ]
Due to recent in-the-news events involving autonomous cars and robots, people may be wondering how safe these technologies really are.

How Capable are Robot Hands for Everyday Tasks?

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September 2016, Page 60 [Digital Edition ]
Human hands are really amazing creations if you think about it, and creating robotic versions is more complicated than you might think.

Locating and Selecting Parts for Our Robots

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August 2016, Page 60 [Digital Edition ]
It is the many parts, components, and systems under the hood (so to speak) that make any robot what it truly is.

Robot Control via Speaking to the Cloud

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July 2016, Page 59 [Digital Edition ]
Using the Cloud for voice control in robots.

Personal Robots of Yesteryear and Today

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June 2016, Page 60 [Digital Edition ]
How far have robots come since the 80's? I mean how far, really?

The Popularity of Personal Robotics

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May 2016, Page 60 [Digital Edition ]
What is it that makes folks love or hate robots?

When Technology Fails

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April 2016, Page 60 [Digital Edition ]
When technology fails, it can have devastating results.

Robots — What Good are They?

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March 2016, Page 60 [Digital Edition ]
Take a look at how the robot industry has changed in the past 45 to 60 years to develop truly useful robots that are good for something.

A Robot’s Appearance

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February 2016, Page 60 [Digital Edition ]
Beauty is definitely in the eye of the beholder when it comes to personal taste. However, true robot aficionados will see the inner beauty in any good robot project.

Healthcare Robotics

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January 2016, Page 62 [Digital Edition ]
Healthcare robotics has grown tremendously in recent years, and what is of particular interest is the progress being made with robotic assistants that will allow our seniors to live independently for longer.

Robotics Lead the Way to Self-Driving Cars

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December 2015, Page 60 [Digital Edition ]
Will we have totally autonomous cars by 2035? If Google, Uber, Apple, Robot Taxi, and others have their say in the matter — then yes!

Why are Robots so Hard to Develop?

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November 2015, Page 74 [Digital Edition ]
Between limitations in technology and a misperceived concept by the public at large about what robots should be able to do is the core frustration of almost every robot builder.

AI and Robots Take Over Mankind!

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October 2015, Page 76 [Digital Edition ]
Maybe artificial intelligence isn’t the best idea after all ...

What We’ve Learned from the DARPA Robotics Challenge

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September 2015, Page 74 [Digital Edition ]
In reality, the DRC was a huge success, despite some set-backs and falls.

Police and Security Robots

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August 2015, Page 76 [Digital Edition ]
With the unrest in today’s society and the dangerous kinds of scenarios that are playing out, using robots to protect human life is becoming more and more prevalent. However, you need the right type of robot for the particular job.

The Robot Hut

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July 2015, Page 76 [Digital Edition ]
When it comes to robot collec tions, this unique museum is absolutely out of this world.

Prototyping and Building a Robot

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June 2015, Page 76 [Digital Edition ]
Read about how robot experimenters can develop and/or refine their robot’s mechanical design by utilizing existing robot platforms and products to build upon.

Robot Grippers, Claws, Hands, and Arms

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May 2015, Page 76 [Digital Edition ]
Get a leg up on adding “appendages” to your next robot, and what is currently being used.

What’s New in Robotics

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April 2015, Page 76 [Digital Edition ]
Catch up on some of the latest advances in robotic products.

The Challenge of Agricultural Robots

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February 2015, Page 76 [Digital Edition ]
Take a look at the growth of robot usage in the agriculture industry.

Should There be a Robot in Every Home?

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January 2015, Page 76 [Digital Edition ]
When it comes down to it, what exactly is a realistic vision for how robots will interact with us in our homes?

The Design Process for Amateur Robot Builders

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December 2014, Page 76 [Digital Edition ]
o, how does someone really get started in robotics?

Tetrix, Activity Bot, and VEX

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November 2014, Page 74 [Digital Edition ]
Educational robotics kits are a perfect way to encourage kids to get interested in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

New Technology for Today’s Home-Built Robots

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October 2014, Page 76 [Digital Edition ]
As technology moves forward, accessibility to new and improved products has made it that much easier for robot builders to create the automaton of their dreams.

Robot Evolution

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September 2014, Page 76 [Digital Edition ]
Take a look at some of the exciting changes and progress made in the field of commercial robots.

A New Look at Underwater Robots

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August 2014, Page 75 [Digital Edition ]
The sea is a harsh mistress, and there are a lot of factors that have to be considered when designing robots for work under the waves.

Robot Control Via Speech Recognition

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July 2014, Page 75 [Digital Edition ]
Speech understanding and recognition are not as simple for robots as you might think. However, there are some interesting products available that may help your bot figure out what the heck you want.

Robots Assist in Clean-Up of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant

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June 2014, Page 76 [Digital Edition ]
Details on what really happened that day and why this particular site is so difficult to work at, making it perfect for robots to intervene.

Amateur Robotics Competitions and Exhibitions

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May 2014, Page 74 [Digital Edition ]
These different group efforts make a big difference in the robotics community — especially for kids.

Drones

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April 2014, Page 76 [Digital Edition ]
Bad press, misunderstood information, and abuses of power continue to bring controversy to this otherwise useful technology.

Humanity’s Perception of Robots

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March 2014, Page 74 [Digital Edition ]
Whether they’re from the Uncanny Valley or just simple, hard-working automatons, people’s feelings about robots are changing.

Conferences Showcase New Robots

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February 2014, Page 76 [Digital Edition ]
Check out what was and what more recently has been the highlights from robot expos and conferences.

Robot Wars: Roomba vs. Neato

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January 2014, Page 74 [Digital Edition ]
See how these robot vacuums stack up against each other.

Bases and Structure for Mobile Robots

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December 2013, Page 74 [Digital Edition ]
Tips, techniques, and types to consider when selecting the foundation for your bot.

Human Augmentation

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November 2013, Page 76 [Digital Edition ]
The concept of exoskeletons is not new. Read about where we’ve been and where we’re going with devices that enhance human performance.

The LEGO MINDSTORMS Evolution — RCX to EV3

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October 2013, Page 74 [Digital Edition ]
Take a historical look at how LEGO got started and where they are today.

Parallax, Inc.

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September 2013, Page 74 [Digital Edition ]
Learn about the beginnings of this ground-breaking company and some of the products they’re famous for.

ServoCity

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August 2013, Page 75 [Digital Edition ]
There once was a time when robot builders had only a few sources for project parts. That is no longer the case.

Robots to Serve Man

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July 2013, Page 76 [Digital Edition ]
Robots can serve humankind in many positive ways.

Robots and the Law

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June 2013, Page 78 [Digital Edition ]
What will the legal implications be if robots violate human rights?

Get That Robot Built the Easy Way

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April 2013, Page 74 [Digital Edition ]
Parts to build great robots are all around us. Just use your imagination the next time you’re shopping at the local hobby, hardware, marine, RV, or toy store.

Controlling Robots in the Air and on the Ground

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March 2013, Page 74 [Digital Edition ]
Multi-rotor flyers are proving to be the next level of robotics.

Robot Telepresence and Personal Assistants

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February 2013, Page 74 [Digital Edition ]
I would like to begin our discussion of robots working around people with a look at some of the latest telepresence robots.

Robots Evolve into Today’s Bipedal Humanoids

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January 2013, Page 74 [Digital Edition ]
Just as man's ancestors began to walk on two legs, robot experimenters decided over a decade ago that a bipedal humanoid robot was the holy grail of robotics. Science fiction movies always showed robots as two-legged walking creations.

Linear Actuators, Servos, and Motion Devices

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December 2012, Page 74 [Digital Edition ]
In last month's column, I reviewed the typical rotary servos that we are so familiar with — those used as actuators for model airplane control surfaces or as drive motors for smaller tabletop robots. I also reviewed a few very large servos such as the Invenscience Torxis monster servos and a few tiny servos that weigh only a few grams each. This month, I would like to review a type of servo or actuator that not many of us ever implement into our robotic creations: linear servos and actuators.

Servos

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November 2012, Page 74 [Digital Edition ]
I wrote about servos in this column back in the beginning of 2008 when the Robotis Dynamixel rotary actuators had been available for a while for the robot experimenter.

The Many Ways to Control a Robot

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October 2012, Page 74 [Digital Edition ]
As designers and builders of our robotic creations, we still want some sort of control over our machines, even if the basic control is through autonomous sensor interaction with the outside world.

Sensors for Mobile Robots — Part 4

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September 2012, Page 74 [Digital Edition ]
I want to cover some of the more unique sensors in this final part, such as visual image and voice recognition sensors.

Isaac Asimov — Inspiring Today’s Robots

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August 2012, Page 76 [Digital Edition ]
This prolific writer has had more influence on the field and science of robotics than perhaps any other person on Earth.

Sensors For Mobile Robots — Part 3

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July 2012, Page 74 [Digital Edition ]
As robot experimenters, most of us want to keep abreast of the latest advances in any science and engineering aspect of our creations.

Then and Now

June 2012, Page 74 [Digital Edition ]
Sensors for Mobile Robots — Part 2: Location and Object Recognition

Then and Now

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May 2012, Page 74 [Digital Edition ]
Sensors for Mobile Robots.

Then and Now

By

April 2012, Page 74 [Digital Edition ]
Robot-Assisted Prostate Surgery.

Then and Now

By

March 2012, Page 76 [Digital Edition ]
What Can Your Robot Do?

The NXT Big Thing

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February 2012, Page 70 [Digital Edition ]
Isotope — Part 3

Then and Now

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February 2012, Page 74 [Digital Edition ]
Eddie: RDS4 Meets Kinect Meets Parallax

Then and Now

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January 2012, Page 78 [Digital Edition ]
TurtleBot: ROS Meets Kinect Meets Create

Then and Now

By

December 2011, Page 76 [Digital Edition ]
A Robot in Every Home?

Then and Now

By

November 2011, Page 76 [Digital Edition ]
Man vs. Machine

Then and Now

By

October 2011, Page 76 [Digital Edition ]
How Robotics Has Changed Over the Years

Then and Now

By

September 2011, Page 76 [Digital Edition ]
Mechanics for Robot Hands and Arms

Then and Now

By

August 2011, Page 75 [Digital Edition ]
Unique Robots Helping Mankind

Then and Now

By

July 2011, Page 75 [Digital Edition ]
Robots: Form or Function?

Then and Now

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June 2011, Page 76 [Digital Edition ]
New Approaches to Robotics Education

Then and Now

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May 2011, Page 76 [Digital Edition ]
The Next Step in Robotics

Then and Now

By

April 2011, Page 76 [Digital Edition ]
What Does It Take to Build a Robot?

Then and Now

By

March 2011, Page 76 [Digital Edition ]
Telepresence

Then and Now

By

February 2011, Page 76 [Digital Edition ]
Amazing Robots Arise From Junk.

Robot Hands

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January 2011, Page 76 [Digital Edition ]
Over the years, I’ve discussed all sorts of robot manipulators and arms, but most of these have been related to industrial applications.

Robots: From Industrial to Some Amazing Capabilities

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December 2010, Page 76 [Digital Edition ]
Besides some independently-built creative robots in university labs that exhibited ‘animalistic’ properties, most early robot products were of the industrial variety.

Robot Cars

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November 2010, Page 75 [Digital Edition ]
The idea of robot cars has been around for many decades and, in fact, “automatic mobility” vehicles were envisioned from the very first automobile, though total autonomy as we know it today was not possible at the time. There have been many unique robotic developments that have been employed in various personal transportation devices. Science fiction movies and TV productions have long used robot cars in their sets, and most depictions are a bit off in their technology.

From Garco to the New Bots in Town

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October 2010, Page 10 [Digital Edition ]
I still receive comments about many of the old robots that I wrote about years ago and I am always asked to write about some cool robot from the past that a reader has heard about. Garco, from 1953, has been one of the most requested robots people have wanted some information about, as well as the REEM series of robots that I briefly mentioned in the May ‘10 issue of SERVO.

Robot Manipulators

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September 2010, Page 77 [Digital Edition ]
One of the most famous robot manipulators in use today is the RMS or Remote Manipulator System used on the Space Shuttle.

Robot Applications

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August 2010, Page 77 [Digital Edition ]
Robots have come a long way since the first industrial robots of the early ’60s.

What is a Robot?

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July 2010, Page 77 [Digital Edition ]
Today’s new influx of personal and service robots are not being developed because they are ‘cool’ but because people have really come to rely on them for daily tasks.

The Age of Robotics

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June 2010, Page 77 [Digital Edition ]
A lot of people speak of the age of robotics. They’ve been doing that for decades. Sometimes these words are just hype by a book publisher to promote a book, whereas others are truly convinced that the period in which they live is the beginning of the age of robotics. They see robots everywhere in their lives — on TV, in the movies, cleaning their carpets, exploring space, and building cars world-wide.

What Does A Robot Look Like?

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May 2010, Page 78 [Digital Edition ]
What does a robot look like? What should a robot look like? Does a robot have to look a particular way to be considered a robot?

Robot Mobility

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April 2010, Page 76 [Digital Edition ]
The single feature that distinguishes a robot from a computer or any other sort of electro-mechanical device is its ability to move — whether the movement is an appendage or a movable base. Most of us want our creations to move about our house, yard or in some location. To accomplish this, we have to select and build a method of mobility. For now, and I’ll concentrate on land vehicles only.

A Closer Look at Personal Service Robots

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March 2010, Page 76 [Digital Edition ]
This recession has hit all industries very hard and the robotics industry as a whole has felt the brunt of it, especially the service robot segment.

A Brief Look at Service Robots

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February 2010, Page 79 [Digital Edition ]
Let’s look at the service category, which can include sub-categories of personal and consumer robots (toys, vacuum cleaner robots, etc.), military and defense robots, security robots, academic and research robots, healthcare and hospital robots, and a vast array of remotely-operated vehicles.

The Future of Robotics Competitions

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January 2010, Page 77 [Digital Edition ]
There have been interesting threads on the Seattle Robotics Society’s (SRS), the Portland Area Robotics Society’s (PARTS), and the Dallas Personal Robotics Group’s (DPRG) websites lately concerning the state of experimental and home-brew robotics, and the many types of competitions available to amateur robot builders.

Segway Inspires Balancing Robot Research

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December 2009, Page 76 [Digital Edition ]
I normally jump right in, discussing the history and development of a particular type of robot and how that robot or the robot’s use has changed over the years. I’m going to digress away from my usual format and start with a technology and an individual who has changed robotics and the learning of robot science in a way that I personally feel no other individual has done before.

Robot Exoskeletons

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November 2009, Page 76 [Digital Edition ]
Sometimes called walking machines, wearable robots, or robot suits, these devices serve to augment physical capabilities to either assist or protect a person from certain conditions.

Robot Animal Strive to Match Humanoids in Realism

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October 2009, Page 76 [Digital Edition ]
It didn’t take inventive designers and experimenters long to determine that creating realistic robot human beings was close to impossible.

Underwater Remotely Operated Vehicles

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September 2009, Page 77 [Digital Edition ]
The name ‘Remotely Operated Vehicles’ can really apply to any vehicle that is controlled from a distance, which can include law enforcement robots, military robots, aerial vehicles, combat robots, and even remotely-controlled boats and planes.

The Evolution Of Experimental Robots

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August 2009, Page 76 [Digital Edition ]
Awhile back, I wrote about how we’ve built robots over the years and also wrote about the historical perspective of experimental robots. But what actually drove the designs?

Law Enforcement Robots

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July 2009, Page 78 [Digital Edition ]
The two companies discussed here and their line of remotely controlled robots represent just a handful of the many companies producing state-of-the-art ‘assistants’ to serve law enforcement agencies and the military.

Automated Guided Vehicles

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June 2009, Page 76 [Digital Edition ]
Automated Guided Vehicles or AGVs never seem to make the headlines in news stories these days, as they go quietly about their business on factory and warehouse floors around the world.

Korean Robots

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May 2009, Page 76 [Digital Edition ]
Korea has ambitious plans to implement robotics in education, medicine, and in the military. Growth in robotics research and sales in Korea is predicted to increase from $1 billion (US) in 2007 to $10 billion (US) in 2010, though the international recession may cut that back a bit...

European Robots

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April 2009, Page 76 [Digital Edition ]
Rather than delve into 18th century ‘clock-work’ automatons that were famous across Europe (and ones that I’ve written about before), I’d like to center on the past few decades of more modern robotics. We have to admit that our neighbor across the Pacific — Japan — inarguably has implemented more robots into their industries than any other nation. We seem to forget that the European Union across the Atlantic has long been in the forefront of robot progress. Nations in Europe have designed ...

Large Robots

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March 2009, Page 78 [Digital Edition ]
Large robots, on the other hand, are usually easier to construct as basic tools can normally be used to cut metal, fasten fasteners, and position the parts. However, due to the larger size, large machines of any type need large motors and more beefy power supplies. These larger items cost more money and that may limit going larger. Some of my best robots were in the hundred to two hundred pound class, human-sized anthropomorphic machines. I've always enjoyed building large bots that can move...

Robots: From Nano to Tiny to Small

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February 2009, Page 76 [Digital Edition ]
I take a lot of magazines — most to keep abreast of a broad range of technical subjects — but I rely on Forbes for business and financial articles, at least until the November 12th issue. An article in the issue, “Interview With A Cyborg” by Courtney Myers caught my eye. I had heard bits and pieces about Kevin Warwick's experimentation with cybernetics and the implantation of a 100 electrode array that he had in his arm back in 2002. (Figure 1 shows Warwick with his 'bionic' hand controlled...

Government and Military Robots

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January 2009, Page 78 [Digital Edition ]
I have long been interested in military weapons. The meanest, sneakiest, most powerful, and most complex weapons seemed to always attract my attention. Adding robotics to these types of weapon systems makes it just that much more appealing to me. Military robots — ground, sea, and air versions — have made the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan safer and more efficient for our troops. The Military Channel and History Channel’s Future Weapons make it clear that new military technology...

Japanese Robotics

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December 2008, Page 77 [Digital Edition ]
I have a book on the robotics bookshelf in my office entitled Inside the Robot Kingdom by Frederik L. Schodt. With a subtitle of “Japan, Mechatronics, and the Coming Robotopia,” Joe Engelberger, the father of the industrial robot, commented about the book on the back cover: “Western industrialists will learn more about competing with Japan from this book than from all the how-to books that have proliferated since Japan, Inc., became a popular ogre.” The amazing thing is this book was...

Robot Competitions and Contests

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November 2008, Page 78 [Digital Edition ]
As long as there have been two people gathered together who have different ideas and skill sets, there have been competitions of some sort. The recent Summer Olympics was an extreme example of the world’s finest who gathered together in China to prove who the best athlete in many categories was. Old records fell as younger or more experienced athletes swam or ran faster than ever before, jumped higher or further, or performed some series of athletic motions with more finesse than the others...

Robots - From Humanoid To Human Status

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October 2008, Page 78 [Digital Edition ]
I take a lot of technical magazines, more than my postman or wife care to see. Many of them have very interesting viewpoints on technology and robotics. One is Managing Automation — a magazine concerned mostly with implementation of factory automation and robotics. MA has a monthly e-newsletter that covers many automation subjects. The August 1st issue had an interesting article entitled “More Human than Humans” by MA Editor-in-Chief, David R. Brousell...

Mechatronics: The New Word in Robotics

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September 2008, Page 79 [Digital Edition ]
I just read an interesting article in the June 30th Design News Webcast entitled “A Mechatronic Marvel: The Barcode Scanner.” The statement was made: “There are few things in the world today that would disrupt society more than if barcode scanners stopped working. Just think of all the places where you rely on one to accomplish some task. But what is a barcode and how does a barcode scanner work? This webcast explores the role of mechatronics in the development of this nearly indispensible...

Robots - How We’ve Built Them Over The Years

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August 2008, Page 78 [Digital Edition ]
We take for granted all the motors, sensors, high power density batteries, and microcontrollers that are contained within today’s experimental robots.

Robotics - A Historical Perspective

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July 2008, Page 77 [Digital Edition ]
Over the years, I have written about advances in all types of robot designs, robot technology, and various robotic subsystems in this column. In each article, I have tried to cover advances in the science of robotics and have covered the history of a part of robotics in a specific way. I have never tried to examine the way that we humans have viewed these creations of ours as they have slowly taken over many parts of our lives. I have often wondered just what mindset developed in people’s...

Books On Experimental Robotics

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June 2008, Page 77 [Digital Edition ]
Good reference books on any particular subject are vital for anyone who really wants to know more about the topic, and robotics is no exception. The Internet can give you access to a lot of great information, but a good set of books on robotics is necessary to delve far into this exciting field. I’d like to discuss a history, of sorts, of some of the books that made the greatest impression on me for the past 30 years or so.As you can imagine, my choices for a great series of books on robotics...

Robot Muscles - Electric Motors

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May 2008, Page 94 [Digital Edition ]
What would a robot be without their version of muscles? Well, maybe it would be just a computer. Now, that’s not so bad if all you want to do is input data and information via a keyboard, CD-ROM, voice or some other means, have the computer do something with that information, and then have the computer store or output that data onto a screen, printed page, a speaker, or some other passive device. Most of us enjoy our computers quite a bit, but we expect some sort of movement from them...

Robot Shows

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April 2008, Page 93 [Digital Edition ]
The Consumer Electronics Show. The Consumer Electronics Show Typical of everything in life, as time goes on, things change. The same thing applies to shows; robot and technical shows in particular. Displays are glitzier, lights flashier, and the atmosphere of today’s events are definitely higher energy affairs. The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is no exception. Early January in Las Vegas each year is the annual CES, an electronics enthusiast’s dream that fills the huge Las Vegas ...c

Then and Now | March 2008

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March 2008, Page 79 [Digital Edition ]
I was talking with my wife, Sue, about Women’s History month and she asked if an article on Women of Robotics would be an appropriate subject for my column. She knew that I had worked with various women in my robotics work over the years. After all, in September of last year I had written about Bala Krishnamurthy in “People of Robotics.” She has been in the field of robotics for over 25 years and designed and developed programming languages for Unimate’s robots, among many other things ...

Personal Robots: From Science Fiction to Reality

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February 2008, Page 78 [Digital Edition ]
I’ve written about personal robots for years in this column. I’ve discussed some of the early machines available back in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s such as the Heath Hero series, the Androbots, and the RB5X, among others. These machines certainly differed from their industrial cousins that toiled away in modern factories. They also differ from service robots that include ROVs (remotely operated vehicles), UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) that I wrote about last month, and AUVs ...

Robots Take To The Air

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January 2008, Page 79 [Digital Edition ]
Back in December ’05, I wrote about robots that go to war. These were about robots that are on the ground, remotely operated from a distance. In my research, I have found so many acronyms that are tied to these types of robotic vehicles. ROV for ‘remotely-operated vehicle’ which is often tied to the underwater variety, though it has been used to describe any remotely-operated land, sea, or even aerial vehicle. AGV for ‘automated guided vehicle’ which often describes the automated vehicles ...