Kickstarter Robot Week: Swarmbuddies Are Cute Little Swarm Robots That Anyone Can Build

Welcome to Kickstarter Robot Week! Kickstarter Robot Week is a week in which we cover numerous robots that have recently been launched on Kickstarter. To start the week off, we're covering Swarmbuddies. Follow our feed to stay up-to-date.

Like the name suggests, Swarmbuddies are mini-sized swarm bots. What you didn't expect though is that these robots are actually kits designed to be built by beginner-level robot tinkerers. Swarmbuddies went live today on Kickstarter and they're a product of the Massachusetts-based NarwhalEdu. On a side note, NarwhalEdu held a successful Kickstarter campaign last year to fund their drawing robot. Now back to the Swarmbuddies. Swarmbuddies are essentially little programmable robots that can swarm, light up, and dance to music.

Who's it for?

The Swarmbuddies kit is designed to built by a beginner in robotics. Each kit contains a Bluetooth low-energy chip, two DC gear-motors, a lithium polymer battery, a recharging circuit, the robot's 3D-printed body, IR LEDs, and custom acrylic wheels. After a minimum 10-minute build session, a single Swarmbuddy is ready to dance to some music!

What are the controls?

So how does one actually control a Swarmbuddy? Well, there's more than one way. For all of you smartphone-savvy users out there, you can use the custom iOS/Android app. If you'd rather use your computer, you can use Ubuntu 14.04 with "bluez 5.2 and python." A Windows 8 version is currently being developed.

What you'll learn with Swarmbuddies

Each kit you buy grants you access to the Swarmbuddies course. As stated on the Kickstarter campaign, this is one of the possible courses (they're subject to change based on what the backers want). In the course, you'll learn how about vision tracking, synchronizing the robot with music, and other programming skills.
  • Week 1: Learn about processing and microphone input visualization
  • Week 2: Learn about Fast Fourier Transforms and beat detection
  • Week 3: Learn about computer vision and Swistrack
  • Week 4: Learn about choreographing your own robot dance
  • Weeks 5 to 8: Create your own awesome demo with Swarmbuddies!

If case you were wondering, here's a list of the rewards you can receive with each pledge.

To bring this post to a closing, Swarmbuddies provide a great way to learn computer vision programming, basic electronics, and introductory robotics. To back Swarmbuddies, visit the Kickstarter campaign or NarwhalEdu's site.

Source: Kickstarter

Continue reading

Watch Steve Wozniak Get Chased By A Drone (While Riding A Segway)

This isn't your typical, informative robotics post, but we just had to write about this. With the comical, yet completely appropriate music, the "Woz Segway DJI Phantom" chase scene is worth a view (or two). In case you're wondering, the aerial footage was recorded using the DJI Phantom quadcopter.

Kudos to anyone who could spot the unintentional cameo of Airbnb's new 'bent paper clip' logo.

Continue reading

MIT's Wearable Robot Gives Users An Extra Two Fingers

Photo: Melanie Gonick, MIT

It may not seem like much, but two robot fingers strapped to your hand can really come in handy (no pun intended). Researchers at MIT have created a new human augmentation device that straps onto the wearer's hand and provides two extra robotic fingers. Sounds a bit like human/robot symbiosis...

Bendable sensors and servos Photo: Melanie Gonick, MIT

The robot is equipped with servos and multiple joints per finger. Flex sensors are embedded with the wearer's glove and send measurements to a control algorithm. With each bend or movement of the human's fingers, an advanced control algorithm controls the two robotic fingers. The algorithm, which was developed using data from multiple hand movement patterns, allows the robotic fingers to react and sync with the human's. With this type of augmentation, wearers are able use one hand to perform tasks that previously required two hands. Peeling a banana, using a screwdriver, or opening a letter are just a few of the tasks made easier with MIT's '7 Finger Robot.'

Source: MIT

Continue reading

The JIBO Robot Wants To Be A Part Of Your Family

JIBO robot, Image Source: Indiegogo

If you're looking for another member to join your family, then say hello to JIBO. JIBO, which is now raising money on Indiegogo, is the world's first family-friendly robot. JIBO also happens to be developed by MIT's social robot developer, Cynthia Breazeal.

See also - Drone Slams Into Power Line, GoPro Survives With Footage

Resembling a desktop lamp and with sounds like Wall-E, the foot-tall JIBO wants to be your household, family robot. Equipped with an onboard screen, multiple cameras, motors, and voice/face recognition technology, JIBO can interact with humans via sound, visuals, and movement. JIBO can also dance, make video calls similar to Skype, and even order you Chinese takeout (I'm being serious with the last one). Since its Indiegogo campaign launch, JIBO has raised over $700,000 (it's initial funding goal was just $100,000). You can view its campaign video below.

JIBO is available in two models. The one for consumers costs $499 while the developer model costs $599. When compared to other robots, JIBO is actually on the more affordable side. With crowdfunding on Indiegogo, Breazeal told The Huffington Post that getting feedback from the community and robot-enthusiasts is important. Overall, JIBO is designed to be a companion, a friend, and even a family member. JIBO is more than just hardware and software.

Click the links to read more about Jibo and Cynthia Breazeal

Via: The Huffington Post, Indiegogo

Continue reading

Quadcopter Drone Slams Into Power Line, GoPro Survives With Footage (Video)

Drones have become increasingly popular among hobbyists and RC fanatics, but these aerial vehicles still require some practice and skill. If one doesn't have the necessary skill to pilot a drone, things can go pretty bad. Take the following incident for example. Before his drone wen't plummeting to the ground, YouTube user Rcbamm was recording some GoPro footage over the Ocoee River. While making a final ascent over a mountain, however, his drone struck a nearby power line. The drone was found but was obviously destroyed. Check out the recorded footage above.

Have any drone footage worth watching? Send us a link here.

Continue reading

To Help With Physical Therapy, Children Can Teach Robots How To Play Angry Birds

The amount of robots able to play video games is on the rise. In addition to Clash of Clans and Threes, some robots are now able to play Angry Birds. However, there's another use for robots playing video games than just obtaining high scores. To help children with regaining muscle movement and rehabilitation, researchers at Georgia Tech have taught the DARwIn-OP humanoid robot how to play Angry Birds.

See also - PopPet Is An Introductory Robot With An $80 Pricetag

During the game, children are able to teach the robot by moving their finger across the tablet. After the child's turn, the robot plays by mimicking the child's movements. If the angry bird doesn't slam into the tower of pigs, the robot responds with a disappointed look. If, however, the tower gets knocked down by the bird, the robot lights up and celebrates by dancing.

So how does this robot work and how could it benefit recovering children? The robot starts off by tracking and recording the child's movements. It notices where the fingers start and stop and also checks for the game's win or lose results. During its turn, the robot plays back the recorded movements and then displays a response depending if the game was a win or loss. Having a robot for rehabilitation also has its advantages. For example, the robot never gets bored or tired and it can act as a companion for the child. With these features in mind, the robot can make recovery less bland, more enjoyable, and faster.

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for even more updates!

Via TechCrunch, GT

Continue reading

PopPet, The $80 DIY Robot, Goes Live On Kickstarter

If you're looking for an nice weekend project or an introductory robot build, look no further than the $80 PopPet. PopPet is a small Arduino robot that's easy to build and it's just gone live on Kickstarter.

See also - AirDog Is An Auto-Flying Drone That Can Carry A GoPro

Made with custom laser-cut wood and an Arduino at heart, PopPet is designed to be an introductory level robotics project for kids and beginners alike. PopPet's core includes a programmable driver (or an Arduino), an ultrasonic sensor, a battery pack, two motors, and an on/off switch. Being open-source makes up a big part of the PopPet robot. For example, PopPet's designs will be released and makers will be able to customize PopPet's face plate, 3D print their own parts, and even add different electronics. See photo below.

So what exactly can you do with PopPet? Since the robot is equipped with a front-facing sensor, you'll be able to program PopPet to avoid obstacles, guard you belongings, and clean up table tops. Check out the animated GIFs below to see for yourself.

Guard belongings

Cleaning up your work station

Obstacle avoidance

To sum this robot up, PopPet is a great introduction to robotics and is a great way for getting kids engaged in STEM education. Click here to visit the PopPet's Kickstarter campaign page.

Via Geek

Continue reading

AirDog Is An Auto-Flying, GoPro-Equipped Drone

Say hey to AirDog! AirDog's a new foldable drone that's unlike any other. Well, except this drone. Designed by Helico Aerospace Industries out of Palo Alto, AirDog is one of the world's first auto-follow drones that's capable of recording action videos through the GoPro camera.

See also - SimpleBotics Beginners Buyer Guide For Drones

Through a wearable bracelet dubbed the 'AirLeash,' AirDog is able to follow the wearer autonomously without any input from a human pilot. While in flight, AirDog can record stable, high-quality video using it's GoPro and gimbal. Even rain, freezing temps, waves, or dangerous environments won't stop AirDog. See video below.

Although AirDog is capable of autonomous flight, the drone can also be controlled manually. In addition, AirDog has its own Android/iOS app. The app lets users control the drone and it can be used to create customized flight behaviors (hight, speed, and angle). If you don't care for using the app, the AirLeash is still your main option.

As stated on AirDog's Kickstarter campaign page, the drone has the following features.
  • Foldable arms
  • Impact-resistant body
  • Fold-down props
  • Weather resistant
  • Lightweight
  • Collision-sensitive motor shutdown
  • Prop guard (will be released later as an accessory)
  • Easy repair
  • AirDog defies the limits of your expectations:
  • You can stuff it in your backpack and go.
  • You can expect it to perform in subzero temperatures
  • You can force it to follow you through wind, waves, rain, sleet, and snow. 

The Palo Alto-based start up, Helico Aerospace Industries, plans to ship AirDog out to backers this November. If you're interested in backing the AirDog drone, please visit their Kickstarter campaign or website.

Have anything to add to the story? Comment your thoughts below.

Source: AirDog

Continue reading