"Making Human-Robot Interaction Enjoyable"

Sounds easy, I wish it was!

Galaxy Explorer 6000

Posted by on Jul 17, 2015 in Featured, LEGO | 0 comments

Galaxy Explorer 6000

The LEGO Galaxy Explorer is amongst one of the most popular sets of all times. In 1980 LEGO published the Idea Book 6000 that contained an alternative build for the Galaxy Explorer. The building instructions were sketchy at best. I built the Galaxy Explorer 6000 model for the Moonbase 42 at the Christchurch Brick Show 2015 and I also created an LDD file for it. The building instructions are available here. It has been great fun to re-create this spaceship from my childhood. I hope you enjoy it.

 

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LEGO GBC – Color Sorting and Train Module

Posted by on Jun 28, 2015 in LEGO | 0 comments

This LEGO great ball contraption consists of a module that sorts the balls by its color and a train module that returns the balls to the start. Both modules use Mindstorms EV3s to control the motors. The train EV3 controls and original LEGO RC Train motor using a DIY cable.

 

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Organizing Your Photo Collection in iPhoto, Photos and Google Photos

Posted by on Jun 13, 2015 in Design | 0 comments

Apple created many innovative software solutions and continued to improve them by adding more and more useful feature. With Aperture they even innovated a whole new class of applications that Adobe had to catch up to.

Recently, however, Apple is moving the opposite way. They keep on dumbing down their own software and hardware. No, we are not going to talk about iWork for iCloud or the new MacBook.

Today I am going to talk about the new Photo software for Mac OS X. It lacks many features from Aperture and even fallen behind iPhoto in some regards.

Events in iPhoto iPhoto ’08 introduced several useful features, such as events. When you import photos it would automatically try to group them into events. Before you manually had to do this by using albums. And this is exactly what I used to do. I would create albums and organized them in folders first by location and then by date. The arrival of the Events function relieved me of creating and maintaining this structure.

The new Photos app does not longer support Events. We are back at having to group our photos manually. Moreover, all the Events in iPhoto are being transformed into plain Albums in Photos.

From a theoretical point of view there is little difference between Albums and Events. You can use Albums to resemble Events. But in iPhoto an image could only be in one Event. Events therefore provided a basic structure for users to manage their ever increasing photo collections. The value of such structures cannot be underestimated. A photo collection with no structure is completely useless since it is impossible to find anything in it. The structures of Events, Places and Faces enabled users to enjoy their collection.

Google just recently introduced their new cloud based Photos services and they seem to understand the importance for an organizational structure. Google automatically groups photos such as “Beach” or “Cars”. Google actually tries to understand what is shown in your photos. It thereby enables us to browse through our collections in a new way. Not to mention that Google is offering unlimited storage space.

Apple, please become smart again!

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Prime News and New Zealand Herald report on our LEGO Robot

Posted by on Jun 7, 2015 in LEGO, Press, Research | 0 comments

Today Prime News, a national New Zealand TV show, reported on our LEGO Fireman Robot. The New Zealand Herald also covered the story in more depth.

 

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Radio New Zealand reports on robot project with Osaka University

Posted by on Jun 2, 2015 in Press | 0 comments

Shogo Nishiguchi from Osaka University worked on the further development of our TRE (The Robot Engine). Radio New Zealand interviewed me today about this project. Listen and enjoy. They also posted an article on their website.

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Building Instructions for a cable that connects LEGO Power Functions (PF) with Mindstorms NXT/EV3

Posted by on Jun 1, 2015 in Documentation, LEGO, Project | 2 comments

Harry Davis and me built a cable to connect a LEGO Power Functions (PF) motor to a Mindstorms EV3. The goal is to enable the EV3 to control PF motors. In particular I wanted to control a RC train motor through an EV3.

LEGO produced a cable (8528) to connect old motors (RCX) to the NXT, but it is no longer in production. You can still get them through Bricklink, but it will cost you dearly. You still need a PF extension cable to convert the old motor plug (RCX) to the current PF plug.

convert cable

Firgelli produced a cable that allowed you to connect an modern PF to NXT directly, but it is also no longer in production.

firgelli nxt pf cable

There are two more solutions but both are more complex and costly. First, you can use the PF Mate from Mindsensors (currenlty $35). It sends IR signals to the IR PF receiver and thereby allows you to control motors even at a distance. The second option is the GlideWheel PF (currently $38) that directly connects a PF motor to the EV3. It also features a rotation sensor so that you can control the PF just like you would control a Mindstorms encoded motor. Both of these solutions offer a great functionality but they are also expensive, in particular since the components necessary for a custom made cable only costs a few cents.

At Amazon you can get a book Make: Lego and Arduino Projects: Projects for extending MINDSTORMS NXT with open-source electronics that will show you how to do such projects, but for now it is time to pull up our sleeves and do it ourselves. TechnicRobot already showed that it can be done but detailed instructions were not yet available. We also built a casing for our cable so that it can be easily integrated into your model. Here is the final result:

EV3 PF Cable - 17

And here is a video that shows our solution at work:

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The Robot Engine Used For A LEGO Arduino Robot

Posted by on May 27, 2015 in Featured, Project, Research | 0 comments

The Robot Engine Used For A LEGO Arduino Robot

We build a new LEGO robot based on the popular LEGO flash lights. We use custom made 3D printed parts to put small servo motors into its head, chest, arms and legs. The robot has six degrees of freedom. In addition we embedded a camera, microphone and speakers into the robot. The robot is controlled through an Arduino micro-controller. We used The Robot Engine to create animations for the robot and to design interactions with users. The paper will be presented at the Ro-Man2015 conference in Kobe.

Here are some useful resources for you if you intend to build a similar robot:

The credit for this robot go to:

  • Shogo Nishiguchi
  • Guillaume Vandenbor
  • Marius Soucy
  • Kevin Fleuret
  • Eduardo B. Sandoval
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