Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?

NASA's Cool Robot of the Week 91

S.Bartfarst writes "NASA's Cool Robot of the Week (which apparently is about a month long) has produced a huge spike of activity on our web page from .gov and .mil domains. Most interesting are a long series of hits from uspto.gov. Maybe looking for "prior art?" I wonder how much of this Dean Kamen already has tied up?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

NASA's Cool Robot of the Week

Comments Filter:
  • Slashdotted (Score:5, Funny)

    by doofsmack ( 537722 ) on Sunday June 15, 2003 @04:11PM (#6206086)
    You slashdotted NASA!
  • Might just be (Score:2, Interesting)

    by .milfox ( 75510 )
    .. other .mil geeks browsing at work. :P I know if I'm on a duty day (when I can't go home) I tend to surf during downtime. :P
  • The file telerobotics_page:coolrobots.html you requested was not found. Back to

    Way to go.
    Get them back on track at NASA

  • Regarding the patent office and whether Kamen already owns the patents needed, it seems moot for now. The guy, carefully, I think, says nothing at all about marketing or manufacturing his robot in numbers. In fact, unless I missed it, he doesnâ(TM)t even speculate on practical uses for his deviceâ"it appears to merely a hobby of sorts.

    IANAL, but I donâ(TM)t think one has anything to worry about if one isnâ(TM)t trying to encroach on another guyâ(TM)s market. On the other hand, w
  • yo (Score:5, Informative)

    by leekwen ( 677248 ) on Sunday June 15, 2003 @04:23PM (#6206161)
    this guy did it 2nd [freelug.org]

    yay for legway.
  • Balancing Pool Cues (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Baldrson ( 78598 ) on Sunday June 15, 2003 @04:33PM (#6206215) Homepage Journal
    I wonder how much of this Dean Kamen already has tied up?

    Not much since control systems have been balancing pool cue's [geocities.com] since the early days of rocketry.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    nBot, David Anderson's two-wheel balancing robot goes the Segway one better by getting rid of the pesky human!

    Well that didn't take very long to find :). Maybe I should one-up nBot by getting rid of the balancing mechanism and adding 2 more wheels :-).
  • Lego Mindstorms (Score:4, Interesting)

    by heli0 ( 659560 ) on Sunday June 15, 2003 @04:39PM (#6206259)
    I attempted to build a two-wheel self balancing robot similar to this one [smu.edu] using the lego mindstorms kit. I had a large metal ball that would roll in a cylinder and hit sensors at either end allowing the robot to adjust when it was tilting. Unfortunately the motors could never respond quick enough to prevent the machine from falling over.

    I have given several of these kits as gifts, great gift for teenagers and unemployed tech workers.

    • I always considered erector sets to be better for robotics experiments than legos, but I don't see erector set stuff much anymore. Did they go bankrupt? If so, why hasn't a Chinese toy firm resurrected the concept?

      Maybe its the name :-P
    • by wfberg ( 24378 ) on Sunday June 15, 2003 @05:11PM (#6206414)
      The thing that bugs me about the mindstorms kit, and LEGO(TM)(R) in general is the non-orthogonality of the bricks/components. If you want to put two bricks together at an angle, you need specially shaped bricks. In fact, the lego people make a butt load of cash just inventing new kinds of bricks to include in kits -- lose 'em, and you have to buy a new kit, or another kit that includes it.

      I much preferred Construx building sets as a kid. It was much easier to put together moving parts, build voluminous structures, and to some degree work with angles. Anyone remember Construx? I suppose k'nex now fulfills this role, though it seems less sturdy. Of course, Meccano is the granddady of all, so some-one will point out that it's superior. It's just that I've never owned any ;-)

      BTW, ever notices how the electrical engines in the Mindstorms set are non-lego-standard shapes and sizes? What's that about? Would an extra millimeter of plastic to make it align hurt that much??

      I'm sure there are better products to construct robots, meccano offshoots or succesors combined with sensors, actuators, a PC interface and perhaps even a microcontroller-cum-batterypack like the mindstorms set. Does the slashdot crowd have any suggestions?

      Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, mindstorms is fscking expensive and hard to get, esp. in Europe.
      • hell yeah man! construx ownzored teh legoes. no doubt.i used to make little spaceships and buildings and such...man i miss them.... :'(
      • For a while I was big on K'nex (k'nex pump shotgun anyone?) but I found that for all the things that k'nex did that legos didn't, I would notice something that k'nex didn't do (typically something that could be solved by 'a piece just a bit [bigger|smaller|shorter|etc]')

        To address one of your comments, knex are extremely sturdy if the frames of whatever you're building are latticed and reinforced properly, but this uses a LOT of pieces.
    • Funny that, I was thinking of doing the same thing, but haven't gotten round to it yet.

      I was thinking to hang the RCX block (heaviest piece) from the top and let it swing freely to brush past three touch sensors. This would be a crude way to determine direction as well as ternary magnitude of the tilt.
  • what the hell are these [nasa.gov] black spots? black holes? those things are f'n MASSIVE. wow. back to your regularly scheduled slashdot...
    • If you read the text under the picture, you'll see the following text:

      Dark ellipses have been cut away where bright local stars dominate the sky.

      There are enormously bright objects there that interfere, so they get cut out.
  • has produced a huge spike of activity on our web page from .gov and .mil domains

    my guess is you're about to get a *lot* more from a .org in $REFERER
  • "NASA's Cool Robot of the Week (which apparently is about a month long) [...]".

    I guess since we're taking about a robot and NASA is involved thats a light-month?
    • These robots are totally lame. Why can't they make any cool ones like R2-D2, and C3PO?
    • No, this would be a new, only-used-by-NASA distance measurement unit, because one of the few things harder
      (apparently) than converting between two units of measure would be converting between three. That's not enough of a challenge for them, though, so they decided to give the third unit a name already used for measuring something else (time). I think we can expect the next probe sent to Mars to end up somewhere near Venus...sometime....
  • But the links on the site are being slashdotted!


  • I didn't see any explanation on his page about how his software works. Did anyone else find info on his software to run nBot?
  • why return if you loop forever? int balance() { while(1) { /* loop forever */ angle = read_analog(TILT_SENSOR); angle_velocity = angle - last_angle; last_angle = angle; wheel = read_wheel_encoder(); velocity = wheel - last_wheel; last_wheel = wheel; torque = (angle * K1) + (angle_velocity * K2) + (wheel * K3) + (wheel_velocity * K4); pwm(torque); msleep(40); /* sleep 40 milliseconds */ } }
    • cause inside the loop statement you can have an

      if(some error occures) { return 1;}

      It is actually a common thing to do.

      Even if this sin't in the code right now, the person designing the software might want to be able to have the functionality later, so they would want everyone else that uses this function to be ready for it when that feature is added.
  • Ive seen a TV clip of a wheel chair
    performing the same trick.

    The demo showed a large adult sitting
    in the chair which was balancing on
    two wheels. The guy was thrown a weight
    that made the chair wobble but it easily
    recovered. This was all on a hard smooth
    studio floor but still pretty impressive.

    They didnt say if this was anywhere near
    • by Salk ( 17203 )
      Here is a link:

      http://www.dynopower.freeserve.co.uk/homepages/n ew chair.htm
    • The wheelchair would be the iBot, which is also being made by Kamen. Thing's tied up with the FDA, which has been evaluating it for some time. Wheelchairs are medical devices, so they need to be tested as such, and that tends to take quite a bit of time. Still, I have to admit that the thing is worth it, if only to be able to look somebody in the eyes when you balance on two wheels. You can see a video at http://www.msnbc.com/news/285231.asp?cp1=1
    • The Segway is based off of a wheel chair that Dean Kamen developed that can go up on 2 wheels, climb up stairs, yadda yadda yadda. http://www.dekaresearch.com/ibot.html
  • NASA's Cool Robot of the Week (which apparently is about a month long)

    Yeah, those NASA guys are always getting confused with all those different planets having days that are like a year long and whatnot.

  • 'Cool Robot That's Still Working Next Week'

    Might end up being a short list, though. :-)
  • by jpnews ( 647965 ) on Sunday June 15, 2003 @05:44PM (#6206583)
    I've been following the advances in robotics with great interest. They've come a long way, to be sure. But still, there are no consumer level droids available. I have a lot of things around the house that could be done better and faster (and certainly easier) by a robot. But I can't get one.

    Will someone please get to work on a small battery with incredible storage capacity and quick charging? Or make a fuel cell powered 'bot that can walk over to the gas tank and refuel himself. Whatever it takes, just make a droid that has a price similar to a car, and I'll buy it.

    It should be able to perform normal household duties. I'm talking about cleaning, cooking, answering the phone and watching over the place while I'm gone. I don't think that's too much to ask, but maybe I'm wrong.
    • Will someone please get to work on a small battery with incredible storage capacity and quick charging? Or make a fuel cell....

      Yes. Follow the stories about mass production of carbon nanotubes [newscientist.com]. In particular, the holy grail is making them conductive. As soon as you get a bag of reliably conductive nanotubes, you can store hydrogen at energy densities far exceeding that of fossil fuels -- which is difficult with even liquid hydrogen storage tanks, for a number of technical reasons (you need a double-wa

  • Here's a BitTorrent link to a tarball of the nBot movies:

    http://www.mskf.org/nbot-movies.torrent [mskf.org]

    I'm running it on my own tracker, so my apologies in advance if it blows up or doesn't work.
  • Corgratulations. I didn't think it could be done, but we made a story out of referrer logs.

"I have not the slightest confidence in 'spiritual manifestations.'" -- Robert G. Ingersoll