Then and Now
Articles from this Column
ByFebruary 2017, Page 60 [Digital Edition ]
Don’t overthink things so much when building your first robot. Keep it simple and fun, and just do it!
ByJanuary 2017, Page 60 [Digital Edition ]
A discussion on why the evolution of robotics occurred the way it did, and who drove the latest growth activity in robotics with newly-formed companies.
ByDecember 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.
ByNovember 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.
ByOctober 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.
BySeptember 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.
ByAugust 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.
ByJuly 2016, Page 59 [Digital Edition ]
Using the Cloud for voice control in robots.
ByJune 2016, Page 60 [Digital Edition ]
How far have robots come since the 80's? I mean how far, really?
ByMay 2016, Page 60 [Digital Edition ]
What is it that makes folks love or hate robots?
ByApril 2016, Page 60 [Digital Edition ]
When technology fails, it can have devastating results.
ByMarch 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.
ByFebruary 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.
ByJanuary 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.
ByDecember 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!
ByNovember 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.
ByOctober 2015, Page 76 [Digital Edition ]
Maybe artificial intelligence isn’t the best idea after all ...
BySeptember 2015, Page 74 [Digital Edition ]
In reality, the DRC was a huge success, despite some set-backs and falls.
ByAugust 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.
ByJuly 2015, Page 76 [Digital Edition ]
When it comes to robot collec tions, this unique museum is absolutely out of this world.
ByJune 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.
ByMay 2015, Page 76 [Digital Edition ]
Get a leg up on adding “appendages” to your next robot, and what is currently being used.
ByApril 2015, Page 76 [Digital Edition ]
Catch up on some of the latest advances in robotic products.
ByFebruary 2015, Page 76 [Digital Edition ]
Take a look at the growth of robot usage in the agriculture industry.
ByJanuary 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?
ByDecember 2014, Page 76 [Digital Edition ]
o, how does someone really get started in robotics?
ByNovember 2014, Page 74 [Digital Edition ]
Educational robotics kits are a perfect way to encourage kids to get interested in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
ByOctober 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.
BySeptember 2014, Page 76 [Digital Edition ]
Take a look at some of the exciting changes and progress made in the field of commercial robots.
ByAugust 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.
ByJuly 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.
ByJune 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.
ByMay 2014, Page 74 [Digital Edition ]
These different group efforts make a big difference in the robotics community — especially for kids.
ByApril 2014, Page 76 [Digital Edition ]
Bad press, misunderstood information, and abuses of power continue to bring controversy to this otherwise useful technology.
ByMarch 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.
ByFebruary 2014, Page 76 [Digital Edition ]
Check out what was and what more recently has been the highlights from robot expos and conferences.
ByJanuary 2014, Page 74 [Digital Edition ]
See how these robot vacuums stack up against each other.
ByDecember 2013, Page 74 [Digital Edition ]
Tips, techniques, and types to consider when selecting the foundation for your bot.
ByNovember 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.
ByOctober 2013, Page 74 [Digital Edition ]
Take a historical look at how LEGO got started and where they are today.
BySeptember 2013, Page 74 [Digital Edition ]
Learn about the beginnings of this ground-breaking company and some of the products they’re famous for.
ByAugust 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.
ByJuly 2013, Page 76 [Digital Edition ]
Robots can serve humankind in many positive ways.
ByJune 2013, Page 78 [Digital Edition ]
What will the legal implications be if robots violate human rights?
ByApril 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.
ByMarch 2013, Page 74 [Digital Edition ]
Multi-rotor flyers are proving to be the next level of robotics.
ByFebruary 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.
ByJanuary 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.
ByDecember 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.
ByNovember 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.
ByOctober 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.
BySeptember 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.
ByAugust 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.
ByJuly 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. June 2012, Page 74 [Digital Edition ]
Sensors for Mobile Robots — Part 2: Location and Object Recognition
ByMay 2012, Page 74 [Digital Edition ]
Sensors for Mobile Robots.
ByApril 2012, Page 74 [Digital Edition ]
Robot-Assisted Prostate Surgery.
ByMarch 2012, Page 76 [Digital Edition ]
What Can Your Robot Do?
ByFebruary 2012, Page 70 [Digital Edition ]
Isotope — Part 3
ByFebruary 2012, Page 74 [Digital Edition ]
Eddie: RDS4 Meets Kinect Meets Parallax
ByJanuary 2012, Page 78 [Digital Edition ]
TurtleBot: ROS Meets Kinect Meets Create
ByDecember 2011, Page 76 [Digital Edition ]
A Robot in Every Home?
ByNovember 2011, Page 76 [Digital Edition ]
Man vs. Machine
ByOctober 2011, Page 76 [Digital Edition ]
How Robotics Has Changed Over the Years
BySeptember 2011, Page 76 [Digital Edition ]
Mechanics for Robot Hands and Arms
ByAugust 2011, Page 75 [Digital Edition ]
Unique Robots Helping Mankind
ByJuly 2011, Page 75 [Digital Edition ]
Robots: Form or Function?
ByJune 2011, Page 76 [Digital Edition ]
New Approaches to Robotics Education
ByMay 2011, Page 76 [Digital Edition ]
The Next Step in Robotics
ByApril 2011, Page 76 [Digital Edition ]
What Does It Take to Build a Robot?
ByMarch 2011, Page 76 [Digital Edition ]
ByFebruary 2011, Page 76 [Digital Edition ]
Amazing Robots Arise From Junk.
ByJanuary 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.
ByDecember 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.
ByNovember 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.
ByOctober 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.
BySeptember 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.
ByAugust 2010, Page 77 [Digital Edition ]
Robots have come a long way since the first industrial robots of the early ’60s.
ByJuly 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.
ByJune 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.
ByMay 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?
ByApril 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.
ByMarch 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.
ByFebruary 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.
ByJanuary 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.
ByDecember 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.
ByNovember 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.
ByOctober 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.
BySeptember 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.
ByAugust 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?
ByJuly 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.
ByJune 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.
ByMay 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...
ByApril 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 ...
ByMarch 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...
ByFebruary 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...
ByJanuary 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...
ByDecember 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...
ByNovember 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...
ByOctober 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...
BySeptember 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...
ByAugust 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.
ByJuly 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...
ByJune 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...
ByMay 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...
ByApril 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
ByMarch 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 ...
ByFebruary 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 ...
ByJanuary 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 ...