"Making Human-Robot Interaction Enjoyable"

Sounds easy, I wish it was!

LEGO bans large weapons from their Ideas Process

Posted by on Jun 22, 2016 in LEGO, Research | 0 comments

I am not sure if our study had any influence on this, but the LEGO company just updated their LEGO Ideas Policy and they now explicitly exclude submissions of large or human-scale weapons or weapon replicas of any kind, including swords, knives, guns, sci-fi or fantasy blasters, etc. This is certainly a step in the right direction.

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Yellow Buggy – A tiny and robust RC LEGO car

Posted by on Jun 21, 2016 in Featured, LEGO | 0 comments

Yellow Buggy – A tiny and robust RC LEGO car

This is a very small, robust, reliable and easy to maintain buggy. It is ideal for letting your kids play with all day. The design goal was to make a robust car as small and simple as possible. This means most of all no suspension system since that would require the use of CV joints. They are known to break and while they work nicely in LEGO super cars that you carefully push around the floor, it does not work with kids trying to race and crash their RC cars. CV joints will break. Of course it is possible to create a LEGO RC car with suspension and even four wheel drive/steering, but then you end up with LEGO’s own RC Crawler. The goal was to keep it small, simple and robust.

One of the problems I encountered when letting kids play with the RC cars all day is that the axles in the differential tend to slip and move out. I hence build a differential assembly in which the axles are completely locked in and cannot move. The worst thing that could still happen is that a wheel comes off which is easy to fix.

The car uses only one L-Motor and is pretty fast for that. The turning radius is very tight and the car is just fun to drive. The differential makes it perfect to drive around tight corners. The heavy battery pack is right on top of the back axle, giving it the best friction. Well, it does not accelerate like an F1, but it might still make a small difference.

The Building Instructions do not contain the L-Motor and the servo motor since they are both not yet part of Digital Designer. The Yellow Buggy is also available as a 3D file (LXF) for LEGO Digital Designer. Head over to Rebrickable for the Yellow Buggy MOC and its part list.

I also ran Bluerender to make a nice 3D spin of the car.


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Tutorial on connecting LEGO Mindstorms EV3 to WiFi

Posted by on Jun 3, 2016 in Documentation, LEGO | 0 comments

This video shows how to connect your LEGO Mindstorms EV3 to your WiFi network so that you can program it away from your computer. I use the Netgear N150 Wireless Adapter (WNA1100), which is the only officially supported WiFi dongle for the EV3. The N150 is difficult to get these days, since Netgear has moved on producing newer sticks. So buy them now before they disappear completely. On the plus side, they are also very cheap right now on eBay and other market places. I got my for only 19 NZD from TradeMe.

It would be great if LEGO would support more dongles, in particular smaller ones. Furthermore, it would be great if it would be possible to use WPS. Entering your WiFi password on the EV3 is tedious. It would even be better if the EV3 would remember the WiFi password. You need to enter it every time you switch the EV3 on.


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Generating Bibliographies On Your Home Page

Posted by on Jun 1, 2016 in Research | 0 comments

The ACM is running the Author-Izer project to enable authors to generate and post links on either their home page or institutional repository for visitors to download the definitive version of their articles from the ACM Digital Library at no charge. So here are my ACM publications free to download. It is a pity that they do not provide an automatic updating services. You need to add the links to your new work manually. You can also use Endnote’s Bibliography tool to export your bibliography in an html format that you can then paste into your web page. Again, an automatic synchronization is missing. You can also use the excellent Academic Blogger’s Toolkit to upload your bibliography to your web site and then generate the list from there.

There are several services that allow you to manage your references online, such as Zotero, Mendeley, Endnote Web, CiteYouLike. You can use these to host your bibliography off site. You can also use their local clients to work on your references, such as to CiteWhileYouWrite in your Word or LaTeX documents. These clients sync with their online accounts.

But what you really want is to integrate a bibliography of your own work on your own website. Some of the services offer plugins for WordPress (Zotpress, Mendeley) which allow you to embed their data on your own home page. Here is an example of using Zotpress to display my 2015 publications:

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Double Helix Archimedes Screw LEGO GBC Module

Posted by on May 22, 2016 in LEGO | 0 comments

This LEGO Great Ball Contraption (GBC) module uses a true Double Helix Archimedes Screw to transport the balls. It uses slides (6 x 12 x 8 studs, 11267) for its screw. It works very reliably and does not jam. There are some more photos in my Flickr album.


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Double Helix Tower LEGO GBC Module

Posted by on May 22, 2016 in LEGO | 0 comments

This LEGO Great Ball Contraption (GBC) module uses Nicolas’ (Nico71) ball pump to push the balls up through the tower. The balls then roll down a rotating double helix that is made from LEGO slides (6 x 12 x 8 studs, 11267). It works very reliably and does not jam. There are some more photos over at Flickr.



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Radio NZ Interview on LEGO violence

Posted by on May 21, 2016 in Press, Research | 0 comments

Wallace Chapman interviewed me about our study “Have LEGO products become more violent?” on Radio New Zealand. Wallace certainly did his research since he also discovered my LEGO Unikitty. You can listen to the broadcast right here:

In the meantime, Huw Millington over at Brickset reported on his website about the study, which sparked a vivid discussion. One of the main discussion points seem again the question whether the increased violence in toys also make children more violent. We explicitly excluded this question from out study, but it seems that this is one of the main question that is on everybody’s mind. I also noticed that many blame the increase of violence in LEGO to licensed themes, such as Star Wars.

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