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

TL;DR - This Is What Happened When A Robot Fish Swam With Real Fish

Image source: Polytechnic Institute of New York University

Researchers at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University carried out an experiment aimed at analyzing the behavior of animals. In the research experiment, researchers designed a robotic fish that could swim among real fish and match swimming behavior.

As seen in nature, the leaders in a school of fish swim at the front allowing for the following fish to have an easier time swimming. In this experiment, the researchers tested different swimming speeds with the robot fish. Surprisingly, by increasing the swimming speed and allowing fish to follow behind, the robotic fish was accepted and gained "leadership status" over the real fish. But this type of uncanny, awkward robot-to-animal acceptance isn't new, we've seen it before.

Robot Deals: $10 Off Hubsan Micro Drone And 30% Off Sphero Ultimate Accessory Pack

This week's deals include sales on the popular Hubsan micro drone and Sphero's Ultimate Accessory Pack.

Original Price: $69
Sale Price: $49
Purchase: Gosphero

The Sphero robotic ball may be a one-of-a-kind robot on it's own, but the accessory pack adds a whole new level of Sphero fun. The following accessories are included in the $50 bundle.

Sphero Chariot - choose from black, blue or yellow
Nubby Cover - choose from orange, blue or yellow
Turbo Cover - choose from carbon, teal or red
Sphero Terrain Park

Original Price: $53.99
Sale Price: $44.50
Purchase: Amazon

The Hubsan X4 is an affordable, yet reliable micro drone. Its plastic design is both lightweight and strong. A typical flight will last about 8 minutes on a 30-minute charge. In our flight tests, we were able to get this drone up to 100 feet without any wind. Our full Hubsan review can be found here.

Origibot Transforms Your Android Tablet Into A Telepresence Robot

There's a growing number of robots that utilize smartphones and tablets into their core design and functionality. Origibot, which just launched on Indiegogo, plans to transform your Android tablet into a one-armed telepresence robot.

Origibot is a robotic telepresence platform powered by Android tablets. While connected to its cloud-powered web interface and app, Origibot can stream live video and audio to any computer or smartphone (iOS, Windows, Mac included). In addition to streaming live video and audio, Origibot features a durable aluminum arm and servo-driven gripper. Users can fetch them selves a drink, open doors, feed their pets, or retrieve the TV remote with Origibot.

Features set aside, Origibot does cost quite a few bucks. The basic version will cost $500 while the extra gripper attachment version will cost $900. Early bird offers will be between $329 and $600.

The campaign plans to raise $18,000 in flexible funding.

Robot Deals: Parrot Rolling Spider, Dash And Dot, And Ollie Tires

Original Price: $99
Sale Price: $94
Purchase: Amazon

The Parrot Rolling Spider drone is unlike any other micro drone on the market. It's a fast, stable, and sturdy quadcopter that connects to your smart device. Amazon has these selling for $94.

Original Price: $364
Sale Price: $299
Purchase: Amazon

Wonder Workshop has made learning the basics of computer programming fun and interactive. Their two robots, Dash and Dot, enable kids to program through simple, fun apps. The complete kit has been slashed down from $364 to $299.

Original Price: $119
Sale Price: $79
Purchase: Sphero Store

Ollie is the brainchild of the consumer robot company, Sphero. It's a fast tubular robot that can perform a handful of tricks. Interchangeable tires allow users to customize their Ollie based on their preferences. 

RoboCORE Combines Hardware And Software To Make Robot Building Easy

The Polish-based startup, Husarion, launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $50,000 for RoboCORE. RoboCORE is the intersection of hardware and software, and it's an all-in-one package for building your own robot without extensive programming knowledge.

For many robot hobbyists, bringing together the right hardware and software can be a daunting task. But that's exactly where RoboCORE comes into play.

The heart-shaped, open-source RoboCORE combines hardware and software into one solid package. Compared to other similar products on the market, RoboCORE has some pretty sweet and unique features. With its Internet connectivity features, users can stream audio, video, and upload code to their RoboCORE. Numerous ports support servos, sensors, and even SD cards. In addition, RoboCORE is compatible with sensors and motors from the LEGO Mindstorms kit.

RoboCORE's programming environment is both app-based and web-based. An Android app allows users to program via their smartphone while the web-based programming application can be used to program RoboCORE over the Internet. 
"If you have ever programmed the Arduino, you can easily handle the RoboCORE too. RoboCORE libraries are based on real-time operating system, so in an easy and transparent way you can create multi-threaded, real-time algorithms defining your robot's behaviour, with a strict control over the execution time of each operation." 
Future plans for the programming interface include Arduino and Scratch so even kids can create robots.

Inside the RoboCORE is a magnitude of components and peripherals. These components include the Cortex-M4 core microcontroller, Intel's Edison mini computer (WiFi and Bluetooth functionality), DC motor ports and encoders, sensor ports, and slots for SD cards. The Intel Edison provides RoboCORE with WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0 capabilities. Encoders give feedback and allow for precise motor shaft control. Sensor ports are included and support the use of external sensors such as those found in the LEGO Mindstorms kit.

RoboCORE will be available in two models. The $69, 82x82 mm version will offer basic functionality for beginners while more advanced users can use the $99, 115x115 version. Below is a list comparing the two models. Each model

All of these features can be used to create a wide range of robots. From affordable telepresence robots to cloud-controlled robot lawnmowers, RoboCORE knows no boundaries. Husarion plans to ship RoboCORE out to backers in July of 2015. 

Source: Husarion

Google's New Robotic Dog Takes A Beating But Keeps On Walking

Google's robot subsidiary, Boston Dynamics, recently uploaded a video of their latest robot called Spot. A bit smaller than the 24 lb BigDog, Spot is a 160 lb quadruped robot built with extreme balance and trekking abilities.

Spot, thanks to its relatively small size, can operate indoors and outdoors. In the video, kicks to Spot's chassis are ineffective as Spot is equipped with similar mechanical workings seen in BigDog. The hydraulically-actuated legs also allow Spot to climb upwards and downwards at steep angles. Rough terrain seems to be cake walk too.

Being the smaller of the two, Spot isn't designed to haul large, 340 lb payloads like BigDog. But greater speeds and agility do make up for Spot's lack of strength. Perhaps Boston Dynamics is designing the next generation of machine gun-wielding robots?

Source: YouTube

Robot Vacuum Attacks Owner, Almost Rips Her Hair Out

Image source: Kyunghyang Shinmun

It's time, the imminent robot uprising has begun.

A South Korean women was reportedly sleeping on the floor while her Roomba-like robot was rolling around the house cleaning. Unexpectedly, the robot managed to suck up and entangle the women's hair as she slept. In a desperate move, she dialed 119 (Korea's 911) for help. Emergency services arrived and they were able to free the women from her frenzied robot.

Let's take this unlucky incident as a lesson and not sleep on the floor when robots are on the loose.

Source: Kyunghyang Shinmun