Jeff Eckert

Jeff's Articles

Stimulating Robot Tidbits (12.2016)
Column: Robytes
December 2016
Stimulating tidbits on the latest happenings in robotics for consumers, universities, professionals, and everything else in between.

Stimulating Robot Tidbits (09.2016)
Column: Robytes
September 2016
Stimulating tidbits on the latest happenings in robotics for consumers, universities, professionals, and everything else in between.

Stimulating Robot Tidbits (07.2016)
Column: Robytes
July 2016
Anti-submarine warfare (ASW) USVs; a bot that flies, perches, and climbs; buying Boston Dynamics; an extra arm for drummers; and a back massage bot.

Stimulating Robot Tidbits (05.2016)
Column: Robytes
May 2016
Autonomous underground shipping; cargo parafoil that steers itself; being transported by a drone; a roach-inspired squashbot; and an upgrade to poll-dancing bots, Lexy and Tess.

Stimulating Robot Tidbits (03.2016)
Column: Robytes
March 2016
Topics covered this time include: Goblins to Gremlins UASs; robotic 3D printing on air; a robotic weed whomper; robotic garbage collectors; and a phone-robot all in one.

Stimulating Robot Tidbits (01.2016)
Column: Robytes
January 2016
• Bot Feet Aid Copter Versatility • Hedgehogs in Space • Attack of the Killer COTSBots • Forever Frying • Zombies to Bots

Stimulating Robot Tidbits (11.2015)
Column: Robytes
November 2015
• Sucking Up Flies • LOCUST Swarm Coming • Origami Bot Folds Itself • Stay at the Weird • USA vs. the Rising Sun?

Stimulating Robot Tidbits (09.2015)
Column: Robytes
September 2015
• Drones Receive Section 333 Exemption • Automatic Solar Duster • Want $150,000? • Robo Roach Sets Speed Record • Give a Bird the Bird(bot)

Stimulating Robot Tidbits (07.2015)
Column: Robytes
July 2015
Germbot Senses Humidity • Brickbot: Fast but Pricey • Thumbs Up! • Slip-On Robotic Feet

Stimulating Robot Tidbits (05.2015)
Column: Robytes
May 2015
Drag-Racing Octobot • Robotic Valet Saves Time, Space • And Your Little Dog, Too • You Say Tomato, I say “WTF?”

Stimulating Robot Tidbits (01.2015)
Column: Robytes
January 2015
• It Really is Brain Surgery • No Tartar Sauce Needed • Get Your Groove On • Bot Gets Personal

Stimulating Robot Tidbits (11.2014)
Column: Robytes
November 2014
• How Does $50 Grab You? • You Get the Thrust • Not Just a Stick • 322 Micron Swimbot • Dancing into Your Nightmares

Stimulating Robot Tidbits (09.2014)
Column: Robytes
September 2014
• Much Ado About Ants • Hands Off the Merchandise • He’s Just a Buddy • Flung Among the Dung • Goldie Goes Mobile

Stimulating Robot Tidbits (07.2014)
Column: Robytes
July 2014
• Cargo ’copter Works via Tablet • NASA to Employ Surgery ’bot • Not Setting Speed Records • Nice to Feel Needed

Stimulating Robot Tidbits (05.2014)
Column: Robytes
May 2014
• No Captain, No Crew • Doc, Print Me a Liver • Inspired by Termites • An Egg for Couch Potatoes • Improved Robotic Ball

Stimulating Robot Tidbits (03.2014)
Column: Robytes
March 2014
• Stickybot has Space Potential • Mechanical Cooter Seeks Shipwrecks • Universal Gripper Goes Commercial • Roomba to Beer Buddy

Stimulating Robot Tidbits (1.2014)
Column: Robytes
January 2014
• Flying Bugbot Out of the Woods • In Your Face — and Beyond! • Forget Mint: Here Comes Mab • Budgee in Your Budget? • Bookbots in the Sky

Stimulating Robot Tidbits 12.2013
Column: Robytes
December 2013
• So Long, Casey Jones • Bye Bye, Berry Pickers • Cheers! • Art for Art’s Sake

Stimulating Robot Tidbits 11.2013
Column: Robytes
November 2013
• VTOL Anything • Lots of Pickin’, No Grinnin’ • ETF Indexes Automation Industry • Razing a Stink

Stimulating Robot Tidbits (10.2013)
Column: Robytes
October 2013
• Robot Flies and Walks • Hexapod Lite Debuts • Vampire Bot Developed • Beer for me, Vodka for the Fish

Stimulating Robot Tidbits
Column: Robytes
September 2013
• Just Think • This is Research? • Kibo Bot Destined for ISS • Bot is Diggin’ It.

Stimulating Robot Tidbits
Column: Robytes
August 2013
• Robo Suit in Final Trials • Insect Vision for Bots and More • Aerobatic MAV Takes Flight • Bot Flips the Bird • Sniff This!

Stimulating Robot Tidbits
Column: Robytes
July 2013
• Touchy-Feely for Less • Prototype Power Line Inspector • The Future of Clothes Shopping? • Chewing Up the Mint?

Stimulating Robot Tidbits
Column: Robytes
June 2013
• Definitely a Cool Robot • Printable Bots on the Way • Bot Surgery Lawsuits on the Rise • A Mint for Your Tablet/Smartphone • Robot Roadmap Available

Stimulating Robot Tidbits
Column: Robytes
May 2013
• Cold Sub, to Go • Bots Built for Showbiz • One for Your Cat

Stimulating Robot Tidbits
Column: Robytes
April 2013
• Diggin’ It at NASA • Literally for the Birds • A UAV to Track Taliban • And a UAV to Track You • Creepy Times Two.

Stimulating Robot Tidbits
Column: Robytes
March 2013
• Beast of Burden Aces Field Tests • High Speed Book Scanner • Hovering Snoop Offers Endurance, Security • Fiddler on the Beach

Stimulating Robot Tidbits
Column: Robytes
February 2013
• UAV for Everyone • Flies and a Roll • Monopoly for Bots and Meatbags • The Future of Burgers? • Flipper Headed for Retirement

Stimulating Robot Tidbits
Column: Robytes
January 2013
Don't Forget the Moon, Bot Programming for Bio Labs, It's the Berries, Robotic Circus ... Maybe, UAS Provides Sophistication, and Stealth

Stimulating Robot Tidbits
Column: Robytes
December 2012
New Era in Manufacturing?, Keep Your Mind (and Hands) Out of the Gutter, Not Being There, Firefighting Bot Hot Ticket, and No More Reaching for Salt and Pepper.

Stimulating Robot Tidbits
Column: Robytes
November 2012
Bionic Eye, Solar Efficiency on Track, Snake Bites with Laser, Bots to Adorn Your Fingers, and Bot Knows Squat!

Stimulating Robot Tidbits
Column: Robytes
October 2012
Turning Minutes Into Hours, Here’s Looking at You, Humanoid Swimbot Introduced, Robotic Architectural Printer, & Art Imitates Imitation Life.

Stimulating Robot Tidbits
Column: Robytes
September 2012
UUV Built for Consumer Market, AirBurr v.8 Revealed, Yes, It is Brain Surgery, Robo Insects: Fact or Fiction?, and Art Imitates Death.

Stimulating Robot Tidbits
Column: Robytes
August 2012
Navy Orders Minebots, Drone ‘Copter Sets Record, Robotically Enhanced Exercise, Fowlbot Automates Deboning, and Breakthrough in Robutties.

Stimulating Robot Tidbits
Column: Robytes
July 2012
UAV Bad News For Pirates, Jellyfish Runs On Hydrogen, Automating Sushi, and Old Robots Just Rot Away.

Robytes
Column: Robytes
June 2012
Stimulating Robot Tidbits

Robytes
Column: Robytes
May 2012
Stimulating Robot Tidbits.

Robytes
Column: Robytes
April 2012
Stimulating Robot Tidbits.

Robytes
Column: Robytes
March 2012
Stimulating Robot Tidbits

Robytes
Column: Robytes
February 2012
Stimulating Robot Tidbits

Robytes
Column: Robytes
January 2012
Stimulating Robot Tidbits

Robytes
Column: Robytes
December 2011
Stimulating Robot Tidbits

Robytes
Column: Robytes
November 2011
Stimulating Robot Tidbits

Robytes
Column: Robytes
October 2011
Stimulating Robot Tidbits

Robytes
Column: Robytes
September 2011
Stimulating Robot Tidbits

Robytes
Column: Robytes
August 2011
Stimulating Robot Tidbits

Robytes
Column: Robytes
July 2011
Stimulating Robot Tidbits

Robytes
Column: Robytes
June 2011
Stimulating Robot Tidbits

Robytes
Column: Robytes
May 2011
Stimulating Robot Tidbits

Robytes
Column: Robytes
April 2011
Stimulating Robot Tidbits

Robytes
Column: Robytes
March 2011
Stimulating Robot Tidbits.

Robytes
Column: Robytes
December 2007
Stimulating Robot tidbits.

Robytes
Column: Robytes
February 2011
Stimulating Robot Tidbits

Robytes
Column: Robytes
January 2011
Stimulating Robot Tidbits

Robytes
Column: Robytes
December 2010
Stimulating Robot Tidbits

Robytes
Column: Robytes
November 2010
Stimulating Robot Tidbits

Robytes
Column: Robytes
October 2010
Stimulating Robot Tidbits

Robytes
Column: Robytes
September 2010
Stimulating Robot Tidbits

Robytes
Column: Robytes
August 2010
Stimulating Robot Tidbits

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July 2010
Stimulating Robot Tidbits

Robytes
Column: Robytes
June 2010
Stimulating Robot Tidbits

Robytes
Column: Robytes
May 2010
Stimulating Robot Tidbits

Robytes
Column: Robytes
April 2010
Stimulating Robot Tidbits

Robytes
Column: Robytes
March 2010
Stimulating Robot Tidbits

Robytes
Column: Robytes
February 2010
Stimulating Robot Tibits.

Robytes
Column: Robytes
January 2010
Stimulating Robot Tidbits.

Robytes | November 2009
Column: Robytes
November 2009
Stimulating Robot Tidbits.

Robytes | October 2009
Column: Robytes
October 2009
Stimulating Robot Tidbits

Robytes | September 2009
Column: Robytes
September 2009
Stimulating Robot Tidbits.

Robytes | August 2009
Column: Robytes
August 2009
Pneumatic Robotic Hand, The Crane of the Future, Ferreting Out Contraband, and More!

Robytes | July 2009
Column: Robytes
July 2009
When Penguins Fly, Aquabots Ensure Clean Water, Robot Bartender, and More!

Robytes | June 2009
Column: Robytes
June 2009
Wings Over Mars, Bot With An Appetite, UAV Employs Fuel Cells, String Climbing Bot, and More!

Robytes | January 2008 | Goodbye E-Harmony, Hello Bot-Harmony
Column: Robytes
January 2008
You may have noticed (or tried not to notice) that some robots are becoming a lot more lifelike and even alluring. One example is Dion, a Chinese babe who is said to mimic all sorts of human features, including facial expressions, skin temperature and elasticity, breath, and heartbeat. According to the manufacturer, she can even be built to resemble the specific person of your choice. Another deliberately seductive mechanism is Actroid DER2, developed at the University of Osaka and ...

Robytes | February 2008 | UAV Imitates Sea Birds
Column: Robytes
February 2008
So one day Guy Meadows, director of the Marine Hydrodynamics Labs at the University of Michigan (http://www.umich.edu), was floating around and saw a flying fish pop out of the water and soar over the waves. He was so impressed and inspired that he said, “Wow. I’ll bet I can build one of those,” hence the name of the UAV that he and some engineering researchers designed and built. Somehow the concept evolved away from fish and focused on sea birds, but the name stuck. In any event, Meadows and his ...

Robytes | March 2008 | Climbing the Walls
Column: Robytes
March 2008
In the common tradition of borrowing robotic concepts from nature is Waalbot, which needs no magnets or vacuum devices to attach itself to vertical planes. Like a common gecko, this Carnegie Mellon (http://www.cmu.edu) invention uses tiny fibers on its feet to adhere to just about any surface. The little guy isn’t much bigger than a quarter, but he sports two sets of three-footed wheels, each with its own motor. The spring-loaded tail keeps the critter pushing against the wall’s surface ...

Robytes | April 2008 | Monkey to Bot Interface Successful
Column: Robytes
April 2008
Back in January, history was made when researchers at Duke University (http://www.duke.edu) via the “Network Brain Machine Interface,” connected a monkey brain’s motor and sensory cortex to a humanoid robot located at the Japan Science and Technology agency. As certain neurons fired at different phases and varying frequencies, the signals were interpreted and converted to control the robot’s legs. Thus, as the monkey walked on a treadmill, the bot imitated its movements. The monkey was provided ...

Robytes | May 2008 | Chatty Cathy Reincarnated
Column: Robytes
May 2008
The concept of a mechanical talking adolescent isn’t exactly new, with the terminally cute Chatty Cathy dating back to 1960. But while Cathy — at her peak —could only speak 18 phrases, the iCub, designed by the RobotCub Consortium (http://www.robotcub.org), may soon be generating complex conversations on its own. An international group, led by the University of Plymouth (http://www.plymouth.ac.uk), began its Integration and Transfer of Action and Language Knowledge in Robots (ITALK) program on March 1 ...

Robytes | June 2008
Column: Robytes
June 2008
Prof. Noel Sharkey is not exactly a silent, plodding evil genius, toiling away somewhere in an obscure lab. In fact, the rather colorful guy appears regularly on TV (about 300 appearances so far) and radio, and in a range of publications. But he is also — among other things — a Professor of AI and Robotics at the University of Sheffield (http://www.sheffield.ac.uk) and has an impressive string of academic abbreviations after his name. It is therefore worth noting that, in a keynote address to the ...

The Vulture Seldom Comes Home to Roost
Column: Robytes
July 2008
On a more celestial level, DARPA is also funding a competition to develop an unmanned aerial vehicle that will shatter endurance records. The bird will draw 5 kW of power, carry a 1,000 lb (450 kg) payload, stay aloft for at least five years, and remain in its assigned airspace 99 percent of the time while fighting winds encountered at operating altitudes, reportedly ranging from 60,000 to 90,000 ft (18,000 to 27,000 m). The goal is to provide long-term intelligence, surveillance...

New Hopperbot Sets Record
Column: Robytes
August 2008
Mechanical jumpers are nothing new, but one that was unveiled at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation appears to have, um, leaped ahead of its competitors in terms of jump distance. The tiny, 7 g mechanical grasshopper can jump 1.4 m, which is said to be 10 times farther — relative to its size — than any other existing jumping robot. The little bug was developed at the Laboratory of Intelligent Systems at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL, http://www.epfl.ch)...

More Little Ones
Column: Robytes
September 2008
One of the latest additions to the world of artificial arthropods is the Hexbug Crab from Innovation First, Inc. (http://www.innovationfirst.com). The company specializes in providing control systems for educational robot competitions worldwide. The minirobots are geared toward kids, but Crabbie is proving to be a fine companion to the stress ball on your desktop...

Fecundity Begets Rotundity
Column: Robytes
October 2008
If you tip over the average robot, all it can do is thrash around helplessly until someone picks it up. But being round and without external appendages, the Groundbot™ from Rotundus (http://www.rotundus.se) is always upright. It also can move through mud, snow, and sand without getting stuck, and, being hermetically sealed, is pretty much impervious to environmental threats. It’s also tough enough to survive drops of up to 10 ft (3 m)...

Bot Gets Bio Brain
Column: Robytes
November 2008
Placing a functioning human brain into a robot is still well within the realm of science fiction, but some folks at the University of Reading (http://www.reading.ac.uk) have created a biological brain of sorts and hooked it up as a robot controller. It has been known for some time that cultured neurons are somewhat like ants that have been scattered away from the anthill in that they can no longer function as a single unit. However, when interconnected in a culture dish, such neurons form simple...

Stereo Vision System Introduced
Column: Robytes
December 2008
If your bot or other homebuilt device needs 3D vision, check out the Surveyor SVT™ : a dual-camera, dual-processor Wi-Fi system geared for robotics, embedded image processing, and Web-based remote monitoring. Surveyor (http://www.surveyor.com) points to features including on-board programmability, Wi-Fi connectivity, easy sensor and actuator interface, open source architecture, and a list price of $550 as key attributes...

Heavy-Duty Hauler
Column: Robytes
January 2009
In many nooks and crannies of the bot industry, miniaturization is the name of the game. Not so at Caterpillar, Inc. (http://www.cat.com), which is working with Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Institute (http://www.ri.cmu.edu) to develop autonomous versions of haul trucks used in mining operations. Among them is the 793D haul truck, which can handle payloads of 240+ tons. Aimed at increased productivity and zero-injury safety levels, the behemoths will be fitted with an array of gadgets to keep...

Stimulating Robot Tidbits
Column: Robytes
February 2009
These tasty treats are big (up to seven inches [18 cm] long), fast (able to travel 1 cm/sec through wet sand), and highly desired for food (clammers are generally limited to 15 per day and must keep the first ones caught, regardless of size or condition). But as of lately, Pacific razor clams are of particular interest to Anette "Peko" Hosoi, an associate professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at MIT (http://www.mit.edu), for different reasons....

Automated Blade Inspection
Column: Robytes
March 2009
Back when oil was selling for $4 per gallon and US banks still appeared to have money, T. Boone Pickens' announced a $10 billion wind farm project that would have added 2,700 wind turbines to the grid and 4,000 MW of generation capacity. The old skinflint has since changed his mind, but as of the end of 2007, the USA already had nearly 17,000 MW of installed wind capacity, ranking it no. 2 in the world. Nr. eine was Germany, with better than 22,000 MW, so it is perhaps not surprising that the...

Robot Theme Park on Track
Column: Robytes
April 2009
A few weeks ago, the South Korean government authorized construction of the “world’s first robot theme park,” emphasizing the country’s view of the robotics industry as a prime area for economic growth. The Ministry of Knowledge Economy has set aside a 767,286 m2 (about 8.3 million ft2) development area in the Incheon Free Economic Zone for the park, which is budgeted at 784.5 billion won ($562.3 million)...

Stimulating Robot Tidbits
Column: Robytes
May 2009
If you’ve always coveted a robot’s ability to lift heavy weights and work tirelessly, Lockheed Martin (http://www.lockheedmartin.com) has a treat for you. At the recent Association of the United States’ Army Winter Symposium, the company introduced the Human Universal Load Carrier (HULC) exoskeleton, designed to provide enhanced strength and survivability to soldiers involved in ground operations...