Category Archives: drones & bots

Teach your Kids to code: Build your own OttoDIY robot

Coding is the lingua franca for all citizen in a modern technological society. By adapting any programming language your kids can learn very important skills, such as abstraction of a problem, defining and structuring a solution and to use a sequence of simple steps to fulfill complex tasks. Beside all the educational benefits of learning to use a programming language it is a lot of fun to see and experience your own programs while performing their autonomous tasks.

Another important skill within the actual technological society is to understand and control robotic hardware or electronics in general.

Nothing is more exiting for your kids as if something moves, makes a sound or blinks a lot of lights. Believe me when I say that kids are native robot and automation enthusiasts!

That said, I was really exited as I read about a vivid community of electronics and programming experts that shared the same idea of building the open educational robotics platform OttoDIY. OttoDIY offers all necessary resources, such as electronics, servos, sensors along with 3D printing models of the robot’s body parts to quickly jump into the world of electronics and robotic motion.

The OttoDIY community does share all information that is necessary to quickly print your own Otto robot and assemble the electronics.

Fortunately, the company I work for (kudos to Dynatrace) strongly supports innovation and coding for kids. Therefore, I had the chance to print our own Otto robot within the Dynatrace lab and I was astonished how easy it is to reproduce the body parts offered on thingiverse. See some impressions of the printing process below:

OttoDIY print UltimakerOttoDIY print Ultimaker

Otto’s brain arrived some weeks later and we immediately started to assemble the complete OttoDIY robot. With the assembly instructions given by Camilo Parra Palacio it was pretty easy to set the complete bot up and get it running within an hour.

One important hint here is to first check if the shipped servos do exactly fit into the dedicated sockets within your 3D print. Otherwise, you have to disassemble the complete bot again and rasp some more space.

After we assembled the complete OttoDIY bot, we downloaded the mBlock coding environment that was specifically built for kids and children. mBlock is a combination of Scratch and Arduino that allows kids to play around with physical computing and program first hardware and bots by simply using a structured visual block programming language, as it is shown below:

After some practice we finally were able to teach our Otto robot some quite cool dance moves, see below:

 

Meet Ozobot my kids best robot friend

On my last trip to San Francisco this year I visited the California Academy of Sciences where i was immediately fascinated by a tiny robot called Ozobot. Ozobot looks amazingly cute and is able to perform a lot of magic that ultimately teaches your kids how to program by using a visual programming language thats similar to MIT Scratch. Ozobot moves along a black line and reacts on color codes that tell the bot to either turn, move faster or slower or to change the color of its led. Even if your kids are not programming so far its fun to paint mazes where the little friend moves around. Ozobot’s primary sensor is the color scanner that allows the bot to follow the black line and to read color codes in order to control its movements. Another amazing feature I found our recently is the possibility to program the little robots movements by using a visual block language called Ozobot Bit Blockly. Simply program your own Ozobot program online and transfer the program visually onto your bot without any cable involved. Its super cool to see how the bot receives its new program by just sending color codes to its scanner. Ozobot is clearly one of the most innovative teaching robots available right now, because its super simple to use and it looks so cute.

Ozobot kids learning to program

Ozobot Bit blockly

Submit your Arduino Projects to the Maker Fair in ROME


Maker Faire Rome - The European Edition
Save the date for the European Maker Faire that takes place from 3 to 6 October in ROME, Italy!

Massimo Banzi, one of the inventors of Arduino, is promoting and hosting this cool Make Event in October. It will be the perfect event for meeting the community of DIY activists and Makers all over Europe. The deadline for submitting your own Make projects and creations has been postopened until end of June. Submit your own Arduino projects here.
Maker Faire showcases the amazing work of all kinds and ages of makers—anyone who is embracing the do-it-yourself (or do-it-together) spirit and wants to share their accomplishments with an appreciative audience.
Topics for the Maker Call are: 3D Printing, Robot, Education, Design, Fashion, Arduino, Crafts, Science, Digital Fabrication, Green, Transportation, Interaction and Young Makers (under 16);

I-Wei Huang Talks about his Amazing Collection of Steampower Robot Designs

In this video I-Wei Huang shows a guy from the Wired magazin his amazing collection of robot designs. I-Wei Hung’s has a special interest in steampowered robot designs, as you can see in some of his robot designs. I-Wei Hung designs adorable cool robots, watch this video to get a glimpse on his robotic genius! Also refer to the original Wired Interview here.

Arduino Controlled Magic Chess Board

This Arduino controlled Chess board set tangibly connects two players with each other from anywhere in the world. To combine physical interfaces to intuitively control virtual environments gives users the possibility to control all kinds of digital technology without much background knowledge. The combination of tangible artefacts with digital content is called ‘Tangible User Interfaces’. This amazing chess board game is a perfect example for such a tangible interface approach.

Lego announced next Generation Lego Mindstorms EV3

At this year CES, Lego just announced the next generation of Lego Mindstorms Educational robotic invention kits. Lego Mindstorms robotic educational kits are used by a large community of robotic hobbyists and the release of the next generation of their invention kit was a logic step. The new generation of Lego Mindstorm Kits is called Lego Mindstorms EV3 and will offer a deeper integration into the users consumer electronic, such as smartphones or digital cameras. Lego enhanced the new Lego Brick by adding more (16 MByte) Flash-Memory and (64 MByte) RAM, to offer the user more space for complex programming. In order to store sensor values or images on the Lego-Brick, Lego added a SD-Card slot. Lego also improved the 3D engineering experience by offering a new Creation software that is based upon the popular Autodesk suite, which enables the 3D engineering of Lego models and to provide a perspective view on your designs.

Urban Graffity Tagging – done by a Pole Climbing Robot

Urban Graffity Tagging Pole Climbing Robot

Watch this amazingly cool pole climbing robot, that is able to create urban graffity art  taggings on public poles. The climbing robot is drawing while climbing up and down the pole. AKIRA, the author of the video who studied computer science, art and cultural studies at International Christian University Tokyo, calls his projects ‘experiments in urban intervention’, which means to tactically hack into your urban environments to create urban art. At the moment AKIRA is working as a freelance coder, engineer and artist in Tokyo. You can find more of his fantastic work on his site Ampontang.com.

Kids Wind Toy helps to clear Minefields

Massoud Hassani, an Afghan product designer, recently published a wind toy design he had invented and tested during his childhood. This wind toy design consists of a large ball of artificial legs that is used to clear minefields. This innovative and quite cheap design can be used by the locals to disable single mines without the use of specific tools or large budgets. As Massoud Hassani explaines within the video below, his multi-leg design is driven by strong winds and looses just some artificial legs per mine which enables a single device to disable at least 3 mines within one trip.

Hipersfera builds autonomous airship for border control and survaillance tasks

Hipersfera airship for video survaillance tasks (image source: Hipersfera)

Hipersfera airship for video survaillance tasks (image source: Hipersfera)

These days, the Croatian company  Hipersfera presented an autonomous airship, that is designed to fulfill border control and survaillance tasks. It looks like a small sphere in the shape of a camera lense, as it is shown within the video below. This Helium filled sphere is able to float over a survaillance target without making much noise. While the real airship should come in a size of around 40 diameter, the prototype actually offers around 3.5 meter. This announcement comes right after the US Army declared the recreation of traditional airship technology, so it seems as if Zeppelin’s technology is still interesting.

Swarm of Robots that team up with Air-Drones and solve Problems

“Spatially Targeted Communication and Self-Assembly,” a work by Nithin Mathews, Anders Lyhne Christensen, Rehan O’Grady, and Marco Dorigo, from Universite Libre de Bruxelles and Instituto Universitario de Lisboa, was presented at IROS 2012 in Vilamoura, Portugal. The video shows their research on swarm robots that team up even with a flying AR-Drone, in order to fulfill combined tasks together. A really nice aspect is that the drones working together as a group are highlighted by using different light colors. As the ground drones are not able to scan large areas, they are directly cooperating with the flying AR-drone to get a detailed overview on the sourounding area. You can find details on this work on Spacially Targeted Communication and Self-Assembly within their recent paper.