Bryan Bergeron

Bryan Articles

Solar Astronomy: Visualization Technologies
May 2022
Learn robotics-relevant technologies used in amateur astronomy.

Rescue Robots – A Biomimetic Approach
April 2022
Start with biomimetics to design a rescue robot.

An Asteroid Prospecting Primer for Roboticists
January 2022
Leverage your geologic knowledge here on earth to do autonomous prospecting in space in the future.

A Drone Platform for STEM Education
January 2022
Step up to a more exciting STEM experience

Robot Life Extension: A Matter of Life and Death
June 2020
In this disposable world, why should you care about saving your robot?

Alternative Computing Models: Part 3 — Electronic Analog Computing
May 2020
Build your own analog computer to take on your math problems.

Alternative Computing Models: Part 2 — Sliding Rules
April 2020
Explore the math skills you can develop by working with the traditional linear slide rule and related sliding rule computing devices.

The Economics of Robotic Experimentation
April 2020
What can you do to maintain an adequate parts bin on a budget?

Alternative Computing Models: Part 1 — The Abacus
March 2020
Consider the mental math skills that you can develop by learning and operating the Japanese abacus.

Online STEM Education a Potential Boon for Affordable At-Home Simulators
February 2020
With physical classrooms closing, simulators are one way to keep education going at home.

An Analog Artifact Worthy of Your Robotics Toolkit
January 2020
Here’s why you need a Simpson 260 VOM.

COVID-19: Opportunities for D3 Robotics
June 2019
There’s a role for robotics in virtually every dull, dirty, and dangerous aspect of handling outbreaks.

The Failure of Schematic Diagrams
April 2019
Did you ever noticed that, when it comes to sensors, schematic diagrams can be essentially worthless?

It’s a Great Time to Fly
March 2019
All roboticists should own a drone.

A Renaissance of the Kit Building Era?
February 2019
Rethinking kit design for robotics.

Mass Customization: Why Aren’t We There Yet?
January 2019
Discussion of the roadblocks preventing mass customization.

Where has all the science gone?
November 2018
Science fairs aren’t what they used to be.

UFOs, Government Secrets, and the Unknown Laws of Physics
September 2018
Regardless of whether you believe in UFOs and regardless of whether they exist, I think it’s a useful exercise to envision a future and then work backwards to where we are today.

A Robotics Infrastructure for the Experimenter: Hardware Accessories
July 2018
What you need hardware-wise when you’re setting up a robotics lab.

A Robotics Infrastructure for the Experimenter: Hardware Essentials
May 2018
Say you’re setting up a robotics lab centered on four-wheel drive robots from a commercial source. Focusing on the hardware, here’s a list of the essential components you would need.

By Land, Sea, or Air (or Underground)?
March 2018
What’s the best way for robots to make deliveries? The main question is what form of transportation will serve us best in the short term? By land, sea, or air (or underground) — or a combination of all of the above?

Microcontrollers — They’ve Finally Made it to Cracker Jacks
February 2018
With the prices of microcontrollers going down these days, it’s no longer necessary to repurpose them.

Robot Lies
January 2018
Humans don’t tell the truth all the time. So, why should robots?

Now, Open Wide ...
December 2017
Could your STEM robotics course lead you to a career in digital dentistry?

Downsizing: Robots and the Tools to Make Them
November 2017
Is it time to say goodbye to tools you haven’t touched in years?

Automate Best Practices
October 2017
Ironing out the wrinkles in your approach to problem solving.

October 2012
The pioneers in robotics faced and overcame numerous challenges. For example, if they wanted to develop, say, a new navigation algorithm, they had to first build a hardware platform. They couldn’t simply go online and decide between dozens of off-the-shelf flying, swimming, crawling, and walking robotics platforms.

September 2017
Call it AI or linear programming, or inverse kinematics — much of the computational work in robotics is essentially some form of optimization.

Extending Your Life as an Embedded Intelligence
August 2017
Is living forever really an option?

A Matter of Trust
July 2017
Would you trust a robotic surgeon to operate on you or a loved one? Or, an autonomous driverless car? Would you trust a domestic robot around your newborn or your grandparents?

Wanted: Robotics Experimentalists — No Experience Necessary (or Desired)
June 2017
Despite all the talk, there hasn’t been much in the way of deliverables for robots taking over one job or another.

Smart Fabrics
May 2017
There has been great progress in creating smart fabrics worthy of super heroes, as well as ordinary folks.

The Problem With Too Much Experience
December 2014
It's good to question the beliefs and experience of others and, at times, experiment with things first-hand. If you want to be an innovator, you've got to be a risk taker.

Finger Spinners — The Killer App for 3D Printers?
April 2017
With a 3D printer, you can make a finger spinner yourself a lot faster than ordering one online.

What’s Your Robot Type?
March 2017
Just like with selecting your preferred dog breed, we each have our own robot preferences.

Underwater Remote Operated Vehicles: The Next Big Thing in Robotics?
February 2017
UROVs — the little brothers to the massive commercial underwater vehicles used to inspect hulls, ship wrecks, and pipe lines — are where quadcopters were five years ago.

The Robotics Cottage Industry is Alive and Well
January 2017
I love visiting the Kickstarter site for inspiration and a glimpse of the worldwide robotics cottage industry. At last count, there were over 1,400 Kickstarter robotics projects listed — mainly from the US, EU, Australia, and Canada.

3D Printing: Too Good?
December 2016
3D printed prototypes are outliving their usefulness and overflowing our landfills.

Facebook and Microsoft Messenger Bots: It’s Déjà vu All Over Again
November 2016
2016 is the year of the chat bot — a forecast supported in part by the launch of messenger bots for Facebook and Microsoft platforms, among others.

Pokémon GO — The Killer App for Augmented Reality?
Column: Mind / Iron
October 2016
The Pokémon GO mobile game may be a bright light that burns quickly, but it has brought augmented reality (AR) into the mainstream consciousness.

The Serious Side of Robotics
Column: Mind / Iron
September 2016
Two unrelated events that occurred this summer involving robotic/autonomous systems point out the serious side of robotics.

Getting from A to B
Column: Mind / Iron
August 2016
Getting from A to B in drones/robotics

Not Your Grandmother’s Singer
Column: Mind / Iron
August 2015
The current poster child of the DIY community is the 3D printer. However, from both a technological and market share perspective, the modern inexpensive sewing machine is the creative DIY tool of the masses.

Workshop Air Quality Sensors
Column: Mind / Iron
September 2015
Volatile organic compounds (or VOCs) expelled into the air can be dangerous to your health.

Robotic Engineers vs. Experimentalists
Column: Mind / Iron
November 2015
The innovators who are responsible for propelling robotics to the next level fall into one of two camps: robotic engineers or robotic experimentalists.

BioGears — It’s Alive!
Column: Mind / Iron
December 2015
Getting to this stage of evolution involves a lot more than internal sensors of joint position.

The Cost of Custom
Column: Mind / Iron
January 2016
One of the benefits of open source microcontrollers and other hardware is that with a modest investment in a software package such as EagleCAD, it’s a simple matter to create custom boards to fit the size and weight requirements of your robot.

February 2016
If you own a smartphone or an Apple Watch, you’ve likely experienced the pain of constantly connecting your gear to a charger and configuring (i.e., crippling) your device to extend battery life.

Automatic Braking Systems: A Gentle Introduction to Autonomous Vehicles
Column: Mind / Iron
July 2016
Automatic braking systems are just the beginning in autonomous driving

Flying Cameras
Column: Mind / Iron
June 2016
The Lily Camera is the equivalent of a selfie-stick crossed with a drone and high resolution video camera.

Noodle Chef Robots: Precursor to Pathogen-Free Fast Food?
Column: Mind / Iron
May 2016
Could robot chefs be a precursor to pathogen-free fast food? Robots — unlike humans — can be routinely sterilized, bathed in bacteriostatic UV radiation, autoclaved, or doused with bactericidal chemicals.

Specifications: Believe Them or Not
Column: Mind / Iron
April 2016
I’m working on a sound localization project based on three microphones — each connected to an Arduino — and a fourth Arduino connected to a Mac running Processing.

FAA Licensing: A Sign that Drones Have Arrived
Column: Mind / Iron
March 2016
If you’re one of the million or so recipients of a drone this past holiday season, you’ve no doubt complied with the mandatory FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) registration. (Haven’t you?)

The ArduPilot 2.5 Autopilot Board and Mission Planner Software
November 2012
If you’re an Arduino fan and want to build semi-autonomous planes, copters, or land vehicles, then this review is a must-read. This powerful plug-and-play graphical software is so much fun, it’s addictive!

Parallax Elev-8 Quadcopter — Part 2: The Electronics Setup
October 2012
Take a look at the testing and setup of this flying robotics platform, including integration with an R/C transmitter and receiver, the selection and care of Li-Po batteries, plus the never-ending task of maintenance.

Parallax Elev-8 Quadcopter — Part 1: Mechanical Build
September 2012
Ready to take your robotics experiments to new heights? Then follow along with this helpful kit build that will have you up and flying in no time.

Meet the Parrot AR Drone 2.0
August 2012
Join in on a teardown of this popular quadcopter.

A Peek Inside the NEATO XV-11
February 2012
Join in on a teardown of NEATO Robotics’ home vacuum cleaner.

Mind / Iron | January 2008 | Infrastructure
January 2008
A fundamental aspect of robotics is that the application domain can range from ocean beds and table tops to the nooks and crannies of extraterrestrial dunes. It’s no coincidence that the techniques and technologies described in the article featured in this issue of SERVO can be applied to virtually any application areas. However, if you have a particular interest in space exploration, then you’ll find Fulvio Mastrogiovanni’s article, “Space Robotics,” of particular note...

The iRobot Looj
May 2008
The treaded, weatherproof, remotely controlled Looj from iRobot is intended to facilitate the dull, dirty, and often dangerous job of clearing gutters of leaves, pine cones, twigs, and other light debris. At $99, I couldn’t resist exploring the potential of the Looj as a robotics platform. Following is a tear down of the Looj and wireless controller...

Size Matters
October 2008
When Parallax announced their new 12 VDC motors with mount, wheels, and position controller, I couldn’t resist picking up a kit ($280). Finally, a ‘standard’ drive system designed for medium-sized mobile robots from the company behind the BASIC Stamp and the Boe-Bot...

Symbiotic Robots
February 2009
Symbiosis — an association of mutual benefit — is a popular strategy for survival in the biological world. Think humans and normal intestinal bacteria, the common behavior of smaller fisher cleaning larger fish, or even the seemingly fearless Egyptian plover bird that feeds on the leeches attached to the gums of a crocodile. Now, imagine how symbiosis could be useful in a large, 'host' robot — say a planetary rover. Wouldn't it be useful to have relatively small, internal robots that monitor..

Unintended Consequences
March 2009
In the world of robotics, advances in one application area often have unintentional, beneficial consequences in other areas, regardless of whether the initial application is a commercial success. Case in point — the Japanese robotic strawberry picker, touted as one of the prominent engineering failures of 2008 ([url=][/url]). The autonomous robot is considered an economic failure by some because it's too expensive, too slow, and is restricted to a specially configured...

Robots in Business School
May 2009
Robots have long been a staple in science and engineering curricula because they can serve as an experimental platform for technologies ranging from machine vision, programming, and wireless communications, to mechanical drive train design. Moreover, because developing robots typically involves expertise in multiple areas, they are the perfect focus for team building exercises. It might surprise you that this is especially true for non-engineering types with relatively little hands-on ...