Telepresence Robot Double allows Virtual Museum Visits anywhere

California-based Double Robotics has published a self balancing Telepresence Robot Double balances an iPad on top in order to enable people to virtually visit museums anywhere worldwide. By connecting to this Double telepresence robot you can perform a museum tour by actually driving and looking around with your telepresence avatar robot. This could also be a great device for virtual meetings or telepresence tours/visits in companies and between project teams. The robot is able to move around and to elevate the iPad at the normal height of your eyes in order to get a good overview. By using the camera, microphone and speaker a remote conversation with other real or telepresence avatars is possible. The robot contains a battery that lasts for a tour of around 8 hours, which is quite enough to nearly visit any museum, except maybe The Louvre or the Vatican Museam in which you barely scrap the surface with an 8 hour visit ūüėČ

Quadrocopter Swarm Performance Across the Night Sky at the Ars Electronica Klangwolke

Rehearsal voestalpine Klangwolke - The Cloud in the Web
At this years Ars Electronica technology art festival (Klangwolke), the audience enjoyed the performance of a Quadcopter Swarm, consisting of 50! Quadcopters (AscTec Hummingbirds) synchronized together to fly and form shapes like one single organism, which in fact is a world record. The quadcopters were equipped with led lights in different colors to perform ambient light effects during the motion. The so called ‘Cloud in the Web’ performance was programmed by the Ars Electronica Futurelab and Ascending Technologies GmbH. The firmware of the standard AscTec Hummingbird Quadcopters was modified slightly to enable this synchronized art performance.

Honda announced new Miimo robotic lawn-mower


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If these little helpers would not cost as much as a laptop, i definitely would have already one cruising around in front of my house. As one of a series of companies, Honda has recently announced a new robotic lawn-mower model, called Miimo. It is able to cut 2-3mm of grass in several runs during a week of operation. Miimo navigates through a combination of timers, controls and sensors and of course around your buried no-go wire line. Miimo is powered by a high performance lithium-ion battery. It is self-charging, constantly monitoring its battery level and returning to its docking station when it needs to recharge. Here you can find the original Honda press release.

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Magnetic Lego whiteboard eraser robot

¬†Despite the fact that it is a really simple and cheap design, i really love this creation of a magnetic whiteboard eraser bot that’s built with Lego parts and a simple Atmel microcontroller, which acts as brain controller. Le Zhang and Michael Lathrop, both senior students at Cornell had this nice idea how to efficiently clean your professors whiteboard ūüôā The entire robot consits of a magnet that holds the robot ontop of the whiteboard, an accelerometer sensor for controlling the direction of movement and some microswitches to sense the edge of the board.
I wish i had such a robot for cleaning the windows for my house or for removing the dust of solar panels to get more energy out of them. If you know such robots please comment below this post and give us your information!

Gumstix – Tiny System-on-a-chip for embedded air drones

Image: Overo AirSTORM COM
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Gumstix pioneered the concept of an extremely small computer-on-module already in 2003 with a full implementation of Linux‚ĄĘ. Today, they offer a multitude of different systems-on-a-chip in a really small size. Their systems come in the size of a stripe of gum, which is perfect for controlling an air-vehicle, such as a quadcopter or a air drone, like this plane. Gumstix new product line offers systems called IronSTORM, FireSTORM, AirSTORM, EarthSTORM and SandSTORM, that specify the different specific application areas for which these systems are designed for. The Gumstix systems come at a price between 199$ and 299$. The different systems offer 1Ghz ARM¬ģ Cortex‚ĄĘ-A8 Core CPU with around 512MB RAM and WLAN as well as Bluetooth connectivity. A multitude of hirose boards offer plenty of sensoric extensions, that are perfect for building robots and drones.

MIT develops a cheap and highly agile autonomous plane for indoor navigation

MIT researchers recently published a video of their highly agile autonomous plane drone that is able to navigate through indoor locations. Their video shows a good overview how the autonomous plane is able to automatically build a navigation map out of a laser range finder scanner and to find its way through indoor locations.

Traditionally, these environments have been dominated by quadcopters or similar air drones. The minimalistic design of this plane allows low cost survaillance tasks within indoor locations, such as parking garages, as it is shown within the video below.

US Army’s Recreation of giant Blimp Aircrafts

Northrop Grumman just started the first flight of a giant surveillance airship, that was built for the U.S. Army. Northrop Grumman’s¬†Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle¬†is a helium-filled blimp staffed with all kind of spy sensors and a steady link to its control center. It’s around the size of a ¬†football-field and offers long flight times but low costs. It could also be used for transport purposes. Its first flight will take place in Lakehurst, before ¬†the 300-foot-long airship will fly south to Florida to integrate a gondola containing the blimp‚Äôs cameras and radios.

This is one of the latest tries to recreate the blimp technology for military purposes.

Of course the largest ever built blimp was the¬†Zeppelin¬†LZ 129 ‚ÄěHindenburg‚Äú, that¬†had a¬†duralumin¬†structure, incorporating 15¬†Ferris wheel-like¬†bulkheads¬†along its length and offered a overall length of¬†245 m (803 ft). It traveled with around 50-70 passengers along with 50 crew members at a max speed of¬†135 km/h (85 mph). The Hindenburg had to be filled with¬†200,000 m3¬†(7,062,000 ft3) Hydrogen or Helium.

One of the most fascinating facts for me is that it was possible to directly board the blimp at the top of the Empire State Building in the middle of Manhatten. Beat that with a modern aircraft!!

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Segway Unicycle Lego Bot

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Laurens Valk, the author of several Lego Mindstorm Engineering books (The Unofficial Lego Mindstorm NXT 2.0 Inventor’s Guide and The LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT 2.0 Discovery Book), recently published an update for his Segway Lego Mindstorm bot. The new design is running with one wheel only: an Unicycle. It uses the standard drivers from his previous design with some minor modifications. Beside his Mechanical Engineering studies, Laurens published a number of robotic books as well as some really amazing Lego designs.

Swiss-made modular designer ebike

Remember the article on Leonardo DiCaprio and Blake Lively driving through New York on ebikes? What the article did not mention is, that the two are cruising on Swiss-made Stromer ebikes. Stromer developed their initial concept for ebikes in 2007 and offer since modular ebikes for urban mobility. Already in 2009, around 500 Stromer ebikes were driving all over Switzerland. Stromer offers an entire product line of modular ebikes, that ranges from basic urban bikes to powerful off road mountain bikes. Their user friendly web shop offers many different options and variants, so users can choose a completely individual state-of-the-art ebike. Stromer ebikes come with a powerful integrated accumulator, that is hidden within the Stromer designer frame. Customers can choose between a basic urban version with 250W motor that allows to drive 15.5mph (25 km/h) up to a powerful 500W motor with 28 mph (45 km/h). The basic bike is equipped with Shimano Deore gear and brakes that are able to recharge the accumulator.
Stromer offer state-of-the art designer ebikes that are a real alternative to the Faradey-Porteur pledge at Kickstarter and come much at the same price of around 3000‚ā¨.

Speed record for wind powered Cart

Blackbird wind cart. Photo: Steve Morris

CNN reported on the new speed record for a wind powered car that is able to go much faster than the wind itself! The design of this specific wind powered car allows to go directly upwind (at about 2X wind speed) and directly downwind (at about 3X wind speed), which is quite amazing. And this record is already official, as NALSA (North American Land Sailing Association) has ratified the upwind record at 2.1X wind speed.