The Oomlout team Makers of open source
robot and microcontroller kits ( oomlout.com)
The coolest thing in robotics right now is ... fun! It sounds hokey, but for the first time, the
mechanics, electronics, and programming tools
required to make really amazing robots are available to just about anyone. No longer are robots
forced to live out their days mindlessly assembling
cars on factory floors or slavishly performing
demos in university labs. Robots are moving onto
our walls, our floors and countertops, and our bal-conies. They’re making pretty pictures, entertaining
us at parties, even twittering the “mood” of the
tomato plants on our porch.
Are they doing these things because they’re necessary? No. They’re being put to these ends mainly
in the interest of fun and exploration. We believe
that from this atmosphere of frivolity, the serious
robotic future we’ve long been promised will finally
Fig. H: Mini humanoid robots are coming into their
own and always garner lots of attention at robot
events. Fig. I: Robots, such as the Keepon, developed
by cognitive scientist Hideki Kozima, are increasingly being used in therapeutic settings. Fig. J: Meet
Christopher, Oomlout’s Arduino-controlled crocheted
alien/robot/business executive. Oomlout isn’t sure
what he is, except a lot of fun at parties. Fig. K: From
the Biomimetic Millisystems Lab at UC Berkeley come
rapid-prototyped, print-and-fold robots.
Dave Hrynkiw BEAM robotics guru and
owner of Solarbotics.com
Mobility. No more limp-motored rollerbots, although they have their place in particularly
elegant solar-powered robots. We now have devices
that balance (Segway), walk (Robo-One), and climb
heavy terrain like a mule (BigDog). Two of these
are consumer-available now, but wait for the Air
Muscle geeks ( makezine.com/go/muscle) to housebreak a version of BigDog. I remember $80 pager
motors. Let the economies of scale keep working
their magic, and we’ll have Energon-powered bio-actuators in no time.
Oh, and also, two words: folded robots ( makezine.com/go/folding).
Gareth Branwyn is a senior editor at MAKE.