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The Master Arm Controller that you see in the picture is the device used to control the large manipulators. Essentially, the large arm (called the slave arm) mimics the position of the master arm. All an operator on the surface has to do is move the master arm around and the slave arm will follow along 10,000 feet underwater. Switches on the end of the master arm allow the operator to open/close the jaw, rotate the wrist, and "freeze" the slave arm.

Recovering another ROV.

Recovering another ROV.

Remember the BLEEX Project? Schilling Robotics has signed on to construct part of the next iteration of the BLEEX exoskeleton. Photo courtesy of UC Berkeley.

television show on robot wars. Thor traveled to London to meet The Master once more. The TV people had built a stage and were obviously going for over production with this show.

Though the match was thrilling, Thor lost again. This time, The Master's front saw cut through Thor's Kevlar shell and on through a hydraulic line. Today, Thor is retired, relaxing comfortably in a storage rack at Schilling Robotics in California. SV


Schilling's latest manipulator arm - the Titan 3 - has become famous. The arms are in use as part of the Odyssey Marine Exploration.

Schilling Robotics provides Titan 3 manipulator arms with integrated positioning sensors and software to Odyssey Marine Exploration and its Remotely Operated (undersea) Vehicle (ROV), which has been working on the noted HMS Sussex Project.

The Sussex is a British war vessel that was lost at sea around 1694 off the Straits of Gibraltar during an intense storm. The Sussex is believed to have been carrying a large hold of money at the time. Believing they have located the very ship, the UK and the Odyssey team are excavating it.

The Titan 3 arms will enable Odyssey archaeologists to much more easily and quickly track and record the exact position of HMS Sussex artifacts as they are being collected.

The Titan 3 arms have seven different functions that allow for precise, fine work such as is necessary in undersea archaeological work. No previous manipulator arm has been capable of the Titan 3's new three-dimensional positioning feedback of the X, Y, and Z axis reporting.

The Sussex project is 3,000 feet below the surface. The work is highly intricate and the Titan 3 arms may just make it possible to successfully recover more artifacts safely - and do it more quickly, as well.

• Rugged plastic articulated tracks -

• Precision-cut pre-drilled expanded PVC plastic base

• Second deck included

• Measures 5.5" x 8" x 4" — over 65 sq/in mounting space

• All construction parts

• Illustrated assembly instructions

• Rugged plastic articulated tracks -

• Precision-cut pre-drilled expanded PVC plastic base

• Second deck included

• Measures 5.5" x 8" x 4" — over 65 sq/in mounting space

• All construction parts

• Illustrated assembly instructions

Robots for the Rest of Us


The Future of Electronics Awaits You!



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^Acollection of robot trivia to amuse your coworkers and annoy your pub-mates. Surely there are more fun stories out there. Got a good story on robots? Email me: [email protected] If you'd like to get even more robot news delivered to your in-box (no spam, just robo-news) drop a line: [email protected]

— David Calkins

Prophets, Beware! Robots Now Walk on Water

Robots can finally do what Jimmy Swaggart has longed to do since he started talking credit card donations — walk on water. Metin Sitti — in charge of Carnegie-Mellon's NanoRobotics Lab — has devised a way to make lightweight robots that don't float like boats, but walk on water, like stick bugs and water spiders. (It's time to dig out those notes from your freshman physics class on "surface tension.")

Each bot is only half an inch on average, but moves at about a meter a second. That's faster than your best Olympic swimmers (who are still human, as of this writing ...). Just like a water spider, it skims the surface of the water on eight legs — without sinking or resorting to buoyancy devices. The body is super light carbon fiber and the legs are wires with water-repelling plastic. The bugs move in an almost surfer-like fashion — pushing the water back enough to start ripples, but not enough to break the surface tension. The robot can also just "stand" on the water.

Right now, the bots don't have any brains, cameras, or transceivers — just simple actuators to make them move — but the upgraded features can't be far behind. So, when the robots take over, we'll see them coming from both the hills and the ocean.

Breaking Up Is So Easy to Do

A team led by Zack Butler of New Hampshire's Dartmouth College has developed new programs for robots that can break apart and join back together. Think of ants in the Amazon — they move an S-shaped column, but then walk over each other to build a bridge across a stream.

Each robot module is part of a greater whole, but they can all act independently. One module can break apart from the main group and explore a new area or individually go over an obstacle in the path of the massed robot, later to re-join the robot.

Because of the way modules attach to each other, the bot should change shape (to go snake-like by Dave Calkins under an opening or biped-like over a big object). Of course, if they're overrunning the last bastion of humanity and you shoot one, they can just break up and re-join the remaining parts. On the brighter side, they'd also be very good at exploring planets — instead of sending one rover, you could send one of these bots to cover much more ground.

I bet they'd also be great at picking up all my dirty socks.

Rosie the Robot Finally Arrives!

You've wanted it — you know you've wanted it. It's finally here! The robot maid. Fujitsu has developed a service robot that can act pretty much as a butler or concierge for all of you well-heeled bot enthusiasts. The robot is hyped as being able to greet and escort guests onto elevators, operate the elevators, move a mail cart, and act as a security guard — among other features.

You may remember Fujisoft as the developer of HOAP — the robot featured here a few months ago that does Tai-Chi (pre-RoboOne). That robot comes complete with a 3-D visual processing system to detect objects, just like a real person. It can move through an office (or home) while quickly perceiving people or things in its surrounding nother month, another

Robytes areas and simultaneously measuring their locations through the use of two of its eight cameras.

The system is refined sufficiently to let it walk next to people — keeping up with them without bumping into them. The arms can autonomously grab objects, move them, and even hand things to people. Like the best of butlers, it can detect where your voice is coming from and follow instructions. It even knows when it's running low on power and can charge itself.

It sounds perfect for cleaning up the non-essential parts of the house — meaning everything but the garage workshop — just as long as it doesn't steal the silverware.

Cyberdyne and Skynet, Here We Come ...

For the first time in history, a robot has built its own synthetic central nervous system and learned how to not only walk, but autonomously enter and navigate the corridors of complex buildings. Dr. Stephen Thaler of Imagination Engines, Inc. (IEI), in St. Louis, MO, has built a robot that learns on its own.

Most autonomous robots aren't truly autonomous — they have simple programs that rarely actually store information and almost never actually learn. "Immense scholarly efforts have been poured into writing 'if-then-else' computer programs," he says, but — with these new neural networks — Thaler and his assistants simply sit back, fold their arms, and watch neural networks spontaneously connect themselves into the neural circuitry required for extremely ambitious robotic brains in a matter of seconds.

The resulting neural network architecture both resembles and functions like a brain. It's a collection of individual neural networks fused into a contemplative system that can form complete models of their worlds, consider alternative scenarios, and finally choose that alternative best suited to a given problem.

"The neural circuitry developed through genetic programming is only 'reactive.' They are tantamount to reflex reactions in the brain or spinal chord, wherein a stimulus simply triggers a response. The self-forming brains of lEI's robots are entirely different. Like human brains, they think, experiment, and automatically perfect their behaviors to produce downright unexpected results — what can only be called creativity," says Thaler. (Are you getting this, Miles Dyson?)

Recently — in a dramatic experiment conducted for the DoD (Department of Defense) — IEI scientists and engineers built a complex hexapod robot that effectively began life as a kind of "cybernetic road kill" — essentially a heap of tangled legs and electronics that learned how to walk in a period of only minutes.

Continuing its learning in virtual reality, it self-originated new methodologies for navigating complex facilities and landscapes, as well as novel kinds of locomotion, wherein it assumed bipedal stances to quickly evade threats. Awakened from its virtual reality test environment, it could then carry out similar behaviors in reality.

The military is likewise considering such creative robots as sensor platforms for force protection and urban warfare scenarios. Visionary military thinkers see these robots fulfilling roles ranging from that of brilliant swarm munitions to the fully autonomous neural network-based cyber-warriors anticipated by science fiction.

Really — after California elected you-know-who — should we be surprised? SV

The SERVO Bookstore

Building Robot Drive Trains by Dennis Clark / Michael Owings This essential title in McGraw-Hill's Robot DNA Series is just what robotics hobbyists need to build an effective drive train using inexpensive, off-the-shelf parts. Leaving heavy-duty "tech speak" behind, the authors focus on the actual concepts and applications necessary to build — and understand — these critical, force-conveying systems. $24.95

Robot Mechanisms and Mechanical Devices Illustrated by Paul Sandin Both hobbyists and professionals will treasure this unique and distinctive sourcebook — the most thorough — and thoroughly explained — compendium of robot mechanisms and devices ever assembled. Written and illustrated specifically for people fascinated with mobile robots, Robot Mechanisms and Mechanical Devices Illustrated offers a one-stop source of everything needed for the mechanical design of state-of-the-art mobile 'bots. $39.95

Robotics, Mechatronics, and Artificial Intelligence by Newton C. Braga Accessible to all readers — including secondary school students and amateur technology enthusiasts — Robotics, Mechatronics, and Artificial Intelligence simplifies the process of finding basic circuits to perform simple tasks — such as how to control a DC or step motor — and provides instruction on creating moving robotic parts, such as an "eye" or an "ear." Though many companies offer kits for project construction, most experimenters want to design and build their own robots and other creatures specific to their needs and goals. With this new book, hobbyists and experimenters around the world will be able to decide what skills they want to feature in a project and then choose the right "building blocks" to create the ideal results. $31.95

Industrial Robotics by Harry Colestock With so many industries taking advantage of the tremendous advances in robotics, entities ranging from small family businesses to large corporations need assistance in the selection, design, set-up, maintenance, and economic considerations of industrial automation. Industrial Robots shows how to achieve maximum productivity with robotics, classifies robots according to their complexity and function, and explains how to avoid common automation mistakes. $39.95

Electronic Gadgets for the Evil Genius by Robert lannini The do-it-yourself hobbyist market — particularly in the area of electronics — is hotter than ever. This book gives the "evil genius" loads of projects to delve into, from an ultrasonic microphone to a body heat detector, all the way to a Star Wars Light Saber. This book makes creating these devices fun, inexpensive, and easy. $24.95

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