As industrial robots go, Chris Shepherd’s Quad Delta Robot System is decidedly awesome. It’s not so much that it produces something particularly amazing--it doesn’t. All it does is sort colored blocks as they trundle by on a conveyor belt. No, the cool thing about this particular factory ‘bot is that it is made entirely of Legos.
Ever since we taught them how to play, the machines have been trying to beat us at chess -- and succeeding. But where it took a closet-sized computer running a complicated computer program to beat Garry Kasparov and claim chess dominance for the machines, child's toys are now aligning to make you wish you hadn't ever moved your queen's bishop. "Monster Chess" was built from 100,000 Lego pieces and plays an autonomous game of chess on a 156-square-foot board, with each massive robotic piece gliding around the board autonomously.
Here at PopSci we're always looking for the best and baddest in robotics news. But this week -- National Robotics Week -- we're ratcheting up our coverage, highlighting some of the most thought-provoking, future-driven concepts in robo-tech each day.
There are two things that are universally true about Tetris: that Russian-style theme music is impossible to get out of your head, and everybody loves Tetris. Which is why we had to take a moment to highlight the Tetris-Bot, a simple PC gaming robot patched together from a digital evaluation module (EVM), a web cam and a Lego Mindstorms robot kit.
Warships are limited in their ability to patrol vast areas of ocean against pirates, but a modular, self-assembling floating platform delivered by cargo ships could provide a cheaper naval base for military forces. The futuristic twist on a heritage technology comes from none other than the Pentagon's DARPA, The Register reports.
Say the word "toy" to a techie, and his mind will think one thing: robots. But all infrared-loving, artificially-intelligent smart-toy-ogling tech-savvy aside, new toys can instill as much "ooh! shiny!" as even the hottest cellphone. And we're not just talking about robots: This week, the International Toy Fair hit NYC, and PopSci.com found 20 funky new toys with a few tricks up their sleeves.
Whoever thinks science isn't fun must have never heard of Legos. The colorful construction toy has been used before as a cellular teaching tool. But these days, even researchers working in the nanoscale world get to play around a little.
If you've ever thought it'd be cool to make your own robot but didn't because your options were Legos (ho-hum) or fabricating one from scratch (who's got the time?), listen up: RadioShack's new Vex Robotics Design System (vexrobotics.com) is the ultimate compromise. The $300 kit contains more than 500 parts, including steel plates, motors, radio receivers and a six-channel remote. What to build? That's up to you.