A new 3D-printed robot called Poppy is helping a team of French researchers study bipedal walking and human-robot interaction. They were able to design, fabricate, and assemble a relatively large robot for around €8,000 (US$11,000) including servo motors and electronics. That's about a third the cost of commercial robots in the same size category like the RQ-TITAN, and is still cheaper than smaller humanoids like the Aldebaran Robotics NAO. And best of all, they plan to make their design open source.
One of the ways they managed to keep the cost down is by using lightweight materials, which means the robot requires less powerful (and cheaper) servo motors. Standing 84 cm (33 in) tall, Poppy weighs in at just 3.5 kg (7.7 lb). The Sony QRIO, by comparison, was 26 cm (10 in) shorter yet it weighed twice as much. Still, most of the cost lies in the robot's 25 servo motors: it utilizes 21 high-end Robotis Dynamixel MX-28s, two MX-64s, and two AX-12s. It's powered by a Raspberry Pi, and is equipped with 16 force-sensing resistors, two HD cameras, a stereo microphone, and an inertial measurement unit. Poppy's "face" is an LCD screen which can be used to show emotions (or to debug).
Click headline to read more, view pix and watch video--
There's growing and well-founded concern about the gender gap in science, technology, engineering and math fields, particularly when it comes to women of color. Here are some ideas on what to do about it.
For young students, a C# coding workshop for kids ComputerworldUK "Programming is not being taught in schools," said Lynn Langit, a former Microsoft developer who co-wrote the C# curriculum with Llewellyn Falco.
UC Santa Barbara researchers have demonstrated a seamless design of an atomically-thin circuit with transistors and interconnects etched onto a seemingly impossible single layer of graphene.
The demonstration offers possibilities for ultra energy-efficient, flexible, and transparent electronics. Bulk materials commonly used to make CMOS transitors and interconnects pose fundamental challenges in continuous shrinking of their feature-sizes and suffer from increasing "contact resistance" between them, both of which lead to degrading performance and rising energy consumption.
"In addition to its atomically thin and pristine surfaces, graphene has a tunable band gap, which can be adjusted by lithographic sketching of patterns - narrow graphene ribbons can be made semiconducting while wider ribbons are metallic. Hence, contiguous graphene ribbons can be envisioned from the same starting material to design both active and passive devices in a seamless fashion and lower interface/contact resistances," explained Kaustav Banerjee, professor of electrical and computer engineering and director of the Nanoelectronics Research Lab at UCSB. Banerjee's research team also includes UCSB researchers Jiahao Kang, Deblina Sarkar and Yasin Khatami.
"Accurate evaluation of electrical transport through the various graphene nanoribbon based devices and interconnects and across their interfaces was key to our successful circuit design and optimization," explained Jiahao Kang, a PhD student in Banerjee's group and a co-author of the study. Banerjee's group pioneered a methodology using the Non-Equilibrium Green's Function (NEGF) technique to evaluate the performance of such complex circuit schemes involving many heterojunctions. This methodology was used in designing an "all-graphene" logic circuit reported in this study.
"The Maker movement continues to gain momentum. At this year's White House Science Fair, President Obama invited Super-Awesome Sylvia from Auburn, California to exhibit her water color robot as a representative of the Maker community. At the same event, the Corporation for National Service announced its commitment to place Americorps VISTAs in Maker movement organizations across the country. Maker Ed is placing those Maker VISTAs in makerspaces to help build their capacity for engaging low-income students as makers. In this spirit, we are starting to see more and more makerspaces springing up in schools across the country. If you are a teacher experimenting with making projects in your classroom, here are some successful fundraising strategies we've seen educators use to fund a makerspace for their school community."