"Making Human-Robot Interaction Enjoyable"

Sounds easy, I wish it was!

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.

Read More

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 | 4 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:

Read More

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
Read More

Scholarships available for Master of Human Interface Technology

Posted by on Apr 23, 2015 in Research | 0 comments

We are delighted to announce that application for Master of Human Interface Technology and its scholarships are open for July intake in 2015.

The Master of Human Interface Technology (MHIT) programme aims to teach students Human Interface Technology skills and how they can be applied in a research or industry setting. The programme directly engages with industry through projects and scholarship, allowing students to work on real world problems while receiving industry funding. In this way the MHIT degree provides an ideal background for work as an interface designer, or for further study in the field.

The MHIT degree can be completed full-time over 12 to 18 months and this includes three months of taught course work with 9 to 15 months of applied research work.
For this year’s July intake there are six scholarships available:

  • Biomass Mobile Application NZD$12,000 – funded by CRCSI Australia
  • Gesture Interaction in AR/VR systems NZD$24,000 – funded by MBIE, New Zealand
  • Improving the User Experience of the Spike Application NZD$ 10,000 – funded by IkeGS
  • Developing a Reconstruction Application for the Electric Utility Industry NZD$ 10,000 – funded by IkeGPS
  • Volume Estimation from Object Piles NZD$ 10,000- funded by IkeGPS
  • MHIT Scholarship For Speech Database GUI Design – NZD$ 17,000

You can find more details regarding the MHIT programme and scholarships at HITLab NZ official website http://hitlabnz.org/index.php/jobs

If you have any inquiries, please contact us on info@hitlabnz.org

Read More

The 2014 LEGO Minifigure Catalog is now available

Posted by on Apr 19, 2015 in Design, Featured | 0 comments

The 2014 LEGO Minifigure Catalog is now available

It is my pleasure to announce that the 2014 LEGO Minifigure Catalog is now available. It contains more than 650 Minifigures with detailed photographs and meta data. The book is a whopping 192 pages. I have limited the distribution options to Amazon and hence was able to reduce the price to only $32 USD. This is the biggest year book so far and I dare to say my best one so far.

The book is available for purchase at CreateSpace and at Amazon.com and as an eBook from Lulu. The App will be updated in due time.
Read More

Review Dexter DLight for LEGO Mindstorms

Posted by on Apr 12, 2015 in Documentation, LEGO, Technology | 0 comments

Dexter Industries offers the DLight for LEGO Mindstorms. It allows you to control four full color LEDs through a sensor port of your EV3 or NXT. The first thing to do is to set the toggle switches on each LED to a unique address, so that you can control each LED individually. In the NXT-G environment you can still decide to control all of them at the same time if desired. The biggest nuisance is that only the first LED can use its red component. The other three cannot show any red light. Dexter acknowledges this bug in its forum and offers refunds. It is ridiculous that Dexter does not warn its customers on its product page, in particular since they do not intend to fix this problem.

Read More

LEGO Volvo 42030 Loader with SBrick

Posted by on Apr 12, 2015 in Design, LEGO | 0 comments

Today I finally had the chance to unpack and test my SBrick. I build this Bluetooth LEGO Power Functions brick into my Volvo 42030 Loader. A profile for this LEGO model was already available in SBricks social profile database. I could just download the profile and configure it. Configuration entails defining what motor is attached to what port. You can also invert the direction of each motor if necessary. Once the profile is downloaded an configured, it works like a charm. The best part is the proportional control. You can steer a little bit right. With the IR control from LEGO it is all or nothing control.

Read More