TL;DR - Google Medical Robots, Facebook Drones, And Amazon's Robot Contest

Image source: Amazon

We were in Oklahoma City this weekend at a FIRST FRC Regional. We weren't able to post any content to the blog, but here's what we missed during our trip.

According to TechCrunch, Google is partnering up with Johnson & Johnson to create a robot-assisted surgery platform. Check out the article here.

Amazon has announced that they'll be hosting a competition to see who can make the best warehouse robot. Fulfilling orders isn't easy for robot's. 

Facebook announced at its F8 conference that the company is working on a high-altitude drone capable of beaming down Internet to users around the world.

Here's What Apple's Drone May Look Like

Image source: Eric Huismann

Apple's first foray into drones could end up looking like this fan-made concept. Designed by Eric Huismann, the Apple Drone concept explores the potential design of a real-life Apple-made drone.

The Apple Drone concept features a sleek, high-quality quadcopter. Its design includes the typical shiny white and black seen in many Apple products. In the center of the drone's chassis, an Apple logo is present to mark the Apple brand.

Image source: Eric Huismann 

The slightly curved chassis seen in the Apple Drone provides an aesthetic look and feel. However, the curved design also allows the Apple Drone's cameras to capture even more footage.

Four 4K cameras are built into the Apple Drone. With the new iSight cameras, the Apple Drone can record 4K video at 60fps. In addition, the Apple Drone's cameras work together in unison and can capture a complete panoramic view of any given landscape.

Image source: Eric Huismann 

Being the Apple Drone, controls are relatively easy. Simply connect the Apple Drone to your iOS or OS X device and you're ready to take the the skies. Through the drone's lighting-fast streaming capabilities, pilots can stream videos and photos straight to their devices. iOS devices, such as the iPhone, can also be mounted to the traditional joystick controller.



Source: Eric Huismann , Quadrocopter

Rethink Robotics Reveals Sawyer, FAA Allows Amazon To Test Drones, And Ringo Raises $85,000

Image source: Rethink Robotics

Due to our trip to the FRC Central Illinois Regional, we haven't been posting any news the past few days. Unfortunately for us, a lot of news-worthy events happened during our trip. Rethink Robotics revealed their new factory robot, the FAA gave Amazon permission to test delivery drones, and Ringo finished up funding with $85,000.

We've got another FIRST Robotics event coming up this week in OKC, but we'll try to have some posts ready.


Japanese Company Revives PLEN Humanoid Robot, Launches 3D-Printed PLEN2 On Kickstarter

Image source: PLEN Project Company

Remember PLEN? He was a little humanoid robot kit made a Japanese company back in 2007. PLEN could sweep your table top, roller skate, and even perform flips. With all this functionality, you'd think this little robot would have flown off the shelves. Well, back in 2007, PLEN didn't. Supply was limited to about 50 models and each PLEN had a $3,000 price tag.

PLEN Project Company, the Japan-based company behind PLEN, has launched a Kickstarter campaign for the second, upgraded iteration called PLEN2. The campaign is looking to raise $40,000 and has already raised $13,000 in just ten days. You can visit the campaign here.


PLEN2 is smaller than the previous model, but it features upgraded parts and a wallet-friendlier price tag. The PLEN2 kit includes custom microcontrollers, servo motors, and accessories that allow users to build their own PLEN right out the box. PLEN2 is also 3D-printed and Arduino compatible so this allows more novice users to add on or hack their PLEN. In addition to PC control, PLEN2's upgraded internal parts will allow users to use smartphones, gestures, facial expressions, and their brain waves for robot control.

Other nifty features include PLEN2's ability to drive its custom car (it's more of a chair), skateboard, and dance. Of course, with PLEN2's Arduino compatibility, we can look forward to seeing advancements made by the PLEN community.


Early bird backers can nab the PLEN2 for $699. Yes, the price tag is still high, but it's a heck of a lot cheaper than the initial $3,000 price tag we saw in the first PLEN. Early bird deals aside, the standard edition PLEN2 kit will retail for $899. Developer editions with ROS support will cost $1,099.

If successfully funded, PLEN Project Company expects to ship PLEN2 robots out to backers in November.



Source: Kickstarter

KUKA Robotic Arm Challenges Timo Boll To A Musical Rematch

Image source: KUKA, YouTube

Last year, KUKA's fastest robotic arm challenged Timo Boll, one of the best table tennis players, in a game of table tennis. Luckily for the human race, Boll won.

KUKA's recently uploaded rematch video features a completely new challenge that requires even more precision and skill. In the video, KUKA's KR Agilus robotic arm and Boll compete in a match of musical glasses. Boll is able to maintain fluid translation of movement and music, but the KUKA KR Agilus proves him wrong. However, Boll's victory in the second half is somewhat of a stretch. Take a look.


The robotic hand attached to the KUKA KR Agilus is extremely dexterous (and it's not CGI), but it's the precision and speed of the robotic arm itself that should be marveled at. Hats off to KUKA for making industrial robotic arm promos entertaining and worth watching.



Source: YouTube

Audi's "The Drones" Commercial Pokes Fun At Delivery Drones, Warns Us Of The Inevitable Drone Uprising


Audi's new commercial, The Drones, has put an eerie twist on the use of delivery drones. Based of off Alfred Hitchcock's famous film, The Birds, the commercial pokes fun at delivery drones (Amazon Prime) and warns us of the inevitable drone uprising.

An excerpt from the video's description:
Hi-tech advancements like drones are becoming frighteningly common. But Audi wants to remind us that technology doesn’t have to be scary.
And of course, the commercial has its fair share of angry drone users. Some point out that Audi's spreading bad press for drones and that the commercial "is the reason why the average joe thinks drones are dangerous, spying machines." None the less, Audi's drone-phobic commercial is pretty comical, but it's not helping future services such as Amazon Prime Air gain the hearts and minds of American citizens.



Source: YouTube, Audi

TL;DR - Watch The Hosts Of Mythbusters Race Giant Robotic Spiders


In a four-part web series on Tested, the hosts of Mythbusters, Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, designed, built, and raced two giant-sized robotic spiders.

Watch Jamie's Racing Spiders, Episode 1 

Watch Jamie's Racing Spiders, Episode 2: The Build

Watch Jamie's Racing Spiders, Episode 3: The Test

Ringo, The Small BEAM-Inspired Robot Kit, Nabs $35,000 On Kickstarter


Meet Ringo. He's a tiny BEAM-inspired robot bug that's programmable and packed with a magnitude of electrical sensors and parts. Ringo, which is based on the popular Arduino UNO controller, is fully programmable and allows anyone (even kids) to program and bring their own robot pet to life!

See also - We Review The New Hexbug Strandbeast

Ringo is the brainchild of the small electronics company Plum Geek. More on Plum Geek and their previous electronics products can be found here.


Ringo is partially based off of ancient robot technology known as BEAM. BEAM stands for biology, electronics, aesthetics, and mechanics,  and it's essentially a building method/philosophy used to create functional, nature-mimicking robots out of scrap parts. However, Ringo's design, is based off of the specific Photovore BEAM robot made by Solarbotics.

Ringo is equipped with a range of electrical components. Each component adds to Ringo's functionality and the overall number of programs it can run. Out of the box, Ringo is equipped with ten pre-loaded behaviors. Parts include a programmable Arduino UNO chip, line following sensors, one 3-axis accelerometer, one 3-axis gyroscope, six RBG LEDs, one speaker, three light sensors, and three IR transmitters. These components allow Ringo to sense light, create sound, avoid objects, dance, and swarm with other Ringos. In addition, Rinog is equipped with a rechargeable battery. Once connected to a computer via a USB cord, Ringo can be programmed and recharged. However, programming Ringo opens up even more functionality.


Users can program Ringo through Arduino's programming environment.

By utilizing two pager motors, Ringo is able to move around with "ninja-like" agility. Heat-shrink grippers attached to the motor's shafts give Ringo traction on surfaces such as hard wood floors and tile. Though I don't imagine carpet would work to well.

Plum Geek also has plans to launch a website so makers can share their Ringo code. Ringo's open source so this allows anyone to "hack" and forge their own versions of Ringo.

Kevin, the founder of Plum Geek explains the story behind Ringo.
The robot was inspired and co-designed by my 1st grade daughter Hailey and my 3rd grade son Parker, who are both already writing C code. (Check the longer "back story" below!) Ringo grew out of a project intended to build just one robot for my kids but we realized something much greater could be done in producing Ringo for the masses. We hope it will catch the curiosity of young engineers and also have a particular appeal to girls who may not otherwise become interested in coding and technology.
The $74 Ringo bare kit version is already out of stock, but you can still snag the Ringo fully-assembled kit for $89. Plum Geek plans to ship the Ringos out to backers in May. If you're interested in getting your own pet robot, visit their Kickstarter page!



Source: Kickstarter

Check Out This Guy's TIE Interceptor Quadcopter


He strikes back! After wowing Star Wars fans across the Internet with his Millennium Falcon quadcopter, Oliver-FR has returned with a quadcopter that even Darth Vader himself would approve of.

His DIY TIE Interceptor-based quadcopter does not disappoint. It's an accurate representation crafted out of foam board and souped up with flashy LEDs. The quadcopter sits in the middle and isn't as visible as one would think. But that just adds to whole effect and makes for one awesome and realistic TIE Interceptor.




The plans can be found at RC Groups and Reddit

Oliver-FR says that his next project will be a quadcopter Star Destroyer!



Source: Imgur

Japanese Wearable Robot Feeds You Tomatoes On Command


This little tomato-feeding robot is, without a doubt, the weirdest wearable device to date. To support runners in the Tokyo Marathon, Japan's big tomato company, Kagome, has put together a tomato-feeding robot that hooks on to the runner's back and feeds them juicy tomatoes on command.


The robot itself is fully-functional and does provide runners with an occasional tomato snack. It has tiny grippers and arms that can retrieve a tomato and position it in front of wearer's mouth. In regards to helping the wearer during a marathon, I don't think the added weight of a robot is an even trade for tomatoes.



Source: YouTube Via: Engadget