Junk Robots

Junk Robots

Exploring robot-building and robotic technology

Boxie, the Cutest Cardboard Video-Journalist Ever

Meet Boxie, MIT Media Lab researcher Alexander Reben’s little, cardboard, documentary-video-shooting robot. Reben created this bot to roam about the mall or the street, and find people to help tell a story.

Boxie boasts caterpillar-treads, ultrasonic sensors, body heat sensors (PIR?), as well as camera(s) and microphone for its documentary video collection.

Boxie also includes a couple key features to make her attractive and inviting to potential human story-tellers. One, Boxie’s body shell is cardboard to look more inviting. According to Reben, the first attempt with white plastic was creepy, like a skull. Two, the diminutive bot also has a cute, human voice. That is indeed a one-two punch, although she did encounter a bit of violence. She was dumped in the trash by one subject, and shaken by others, according to her force sensor data.

Check out the video, and tell us what you think in the comments.

jonathan September 22, 2013 Leave A Comment Permalink

Mr. Mansur: Another Nice Burhan Junkbot

This video popped up in Google, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that it is another Burhan Saifulla creation.

I’ll let the video tell the story, since I haven’t contacted Burhan to ask about him. I have to admit that Burhan’s use of old food and drink containers appeals to me, since the kitchen recycling bin is my biggest source for junkbot materials. Tied for second would be our pile of failed old audio/video devices, and medicine cabinet recycling.

How about you? What are your favorite sources for ideas, for materials? What have you dreamed of using for robot projects?

Loki: a Complex Bot

Dave Shinsel created Loki a few years ago, and uploaded this interesting video of himself interacting with it. Using an Intel-based laptop and PIC microcontrollers –until he replaced them with Arduinos- and USB connections, Shinsel demonstrates how enthusiasts and pioneers can integrate commonly available hardware and software (including open-source) to create a magnificent robot.

Dave shares a lot of information on his site, with pretty detailed specifications. His generous contribution is a treasure for experimenters, who can learn and expand upon Dave’s ideas. For some details on Loki, check out the Loki Electronics page. From there, you can explore more information about Loki and the other robots that Dave has built.

How inspiring is that? Share your thought in the comments, including any cool ideas you’d like to share.

jonathan September 19, 2013 Leave A Comment Permalink

BEAM and Simple (and Fun, Hello!) Robot Ideas from Make:Television Archives [video]

John Parks, of Make:Television, did a great introduction and mini-tutorial for creating your own mini-robots. In it, he demonstrates how simply you can create your own little junkbots using BEAM technology. BEAM, for those new to this arm of robotics theory and craft, emphasizes use of technoscrap (i.e. “junk”), discrete electronics parts –instead of a complex, centralized processor- and low-power with renewable energy. So, many BEAM technologists use solar cells removed from dead calculators and the like.

To re-create the same projects, Make offers a “workshop manual

if you will, as a PDF. In it, you’ll find details on how to make the Beetlebot and Solaroller, that John created.

If you are a science teacher, or homeschool, this and many of the other such guides from Make are terrific resources to help make science real and fun for students.

What are your favorite BEAM projects? Have you tried any simple projects like this at home or in your classroom? Share your experiences and ideas in the comments!

Junkbot Photos by Burhan Saifullah

Check out these great photos of junkbots by roboticist and artist Burhan Saifullah. These are excellent examples of robot sculptures, BEAM robots, and simple locomotors.

Have your own online robot images to share, comment below with the link, and share them with us here at Junk Robots!

jonathan September 19, 2013 Leave A Comment Permalink

Are Robots Hurting Jobs?

Interesting piece from “60 Minutes” on CBS, covering a common question that has kept many economists and workforce strategists debating and wondering for decades.

Are robots slowing job growth worldwide, or even just in developed countries?

Do they increase any jobs, or advance performance in ways that open opportunities for workers freed to concentrate on more creative tasks?

Do robots help industrial workers by relieving them of the most dangerous work?

What do you think? Comment below with your thoughts.

jonathan September 11, 2013 Leave A Comment Permalink