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Heathkit Partnership
Thursday, 13 December 2007

Leading educational systems company, and the Grandfather of the Hero Robot, to standardize on White Box Robotics PC-BOT technology

White Box Robotics Inc., the leader in PC based general service robots, and Heathkit Company Inc., the leader in Educational Systems, today announced a multi-year strategic agreement under which Heathkit will deploy the White Box Robotics PC-BOT to its clients. As part of the agreement, Heathkit will produce, manufacture and distribute an educational version of the robot to be known as the HE-RObot.

Check out the product page over at Heathkit's site.

You can also check out the White Box Robotics news snippet.

There will be a lot more to follow...

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PC Plus Robots Supplement
Monday, 10 December 2007
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PC Plus magazine have a special robotics supplement due with their January issue featuring a giant picture of the 914 on the front cover!.

This edition is due out on December 18th and available from all good newsagents. It is currently unclear if the supplement will be included with the international version of PC Plus, so best check before you buy if you are outside the UK.

The supplement was produced in conjunction with MS Robotics Studio, you can read more about it on Paul Foster's website Wotudo.net












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RoboRealm Tutorials
Monday, 26 November 2007
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I wanted to point out that RoboRealm have a few new interesting modules and a couple of tutorials that show you how to do some potentially useful things based on vision alone.

The trail follower tutorial looks incredibly useful - you could put markers around your house and potentially have your 914 travel from one to the next to follow a set route. If you used this in conjunction with something like C6Jones720's line follower/border idea, it could be a low cost and flexible way to solve some navigation issues.

Also the digital reader tutorial uses image matching to perform character recognition from a digital readout on what appears to be a domestic heating timer. I guess you could read the display on anything that you can't directly interface with to provide interaction between your 914 and the other household appliances.

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914 Line Follower
Saturday, 24 November 2007
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C6Jones720 has been busy investigating the unused digital ports on his 914's I/O board. He has sent in the following report which details adding on some extra IR sensors to detect a line on the ground.

You can read the report here: Fun With Robot I/O (PDF 157Kb)

Chris also sent me the circuit diagram he used.

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BOCES Career Tech Center
Friday, 09 November 2007
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I wanted to point out a couple of extra documents on the White Box Robotics corporate website Educational page. These are:

BOCES Career Tech Center in Ellicottville (PDF - 75Kb)

University of Waterloo (PDF - 96Kb)

The University of Waterloo was also previously featured on 914pcbots.com some time ago.

I've added the BOCES logo to the list of 914 Educational Users on the right hand side of the page. If any other educational establishments would like to be featured then let me know what you're doing with your 914.

 

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Boss - The Big PC Bot
Tuesday, 06 November 2007
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I thought I'd point out the website for the Tartan Racing team from Carnegie Mellon University which won the DARPA Urban Challenge at the weekend with their vehicle called Boss.

There's an interesting page on the technology used, including this quick spec document (PDF - 2.96Mb). Boss is a Chevy Tahoe carrying lots of nice gear including eight SICK LMS291 laser scanners - similar to the the SICK PLS I have on my 914, as well as ten Intel Core2Duo blades each running at 2.16Ghz, which really makes Boss a large scale PC Bot. I expect that most of the other contestants use similar technology, but it's good to see that off-the-shelf, practically commodity hardware, has been used.

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DARPA Urban Challenge
Thursday, 01 November 2007
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Robots.net are reporting that this weekend is the DARPA Urban Challenge which takes place on Saturday November 3rd.

Ulike the previous DARPA Grand Challenge competitions that took place in the desert, this Saturday's event will see autonomous vehicles driving around normal roads with junctions and other cars. I believe that this is taking place on an airport base rather than an actual public city to avoid risk to the public.

Apparently the event will be streamed live from The Urban Challenge website, but for now you can check out pictures of the teams and their vehicles.

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Wot u do
Tuesday, 30 October 2007
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You may remember various articles about Paul Foster and his 914 named A1-DW.

Paul now has a new website called Wot u do, which features all sort of technology news in blog format.

I specifically wanted to point out an article about how Microsoft Robotics Studio is being used, which features a video of a two wheel balancing robot at the Microsoft head quarters in Redmond. Paul makes the point that Robotics Studio makes robot development easy, which is something to look forward to for the 914.

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Gostai and URBI
Thursday, 25 October 2007
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Today brings an exciting press release from White Box Robotics about software development tools for the 914 PC Bot.

Together, White Box Robotics and Gostai, the creators of URBI - the Universal Real-Time Behaviour Interface, have announced integration of their products to provide additional development capability in the marketplace for both companies.

URBI is essentially a robotic software development environment, check out the FAQs which describe the differences between URBI and MS Robotics Studio as well as Player. Also as part of the URBI suite, Gostai are also developing an application which will allow the control of the 914 PC Bot with a 3G cell phone.

You can read the full press release here: Gostai SAS to support PC-BOT Oct 25 2007 Final.pdf (92Kb)

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RoboRealm Path Planning
Tuesday, 23 October 2007
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RoboRealm have released several new modules recently including a vision driven Path Planning module.

This module uses an overhead camera to look at the robot from above, as well as several other markers on the ground. You can plot a path between the markers and have the robot follow them.

There is also a new Virtual Camera Driver module that allows you to pipe the video output of RoboRealm into other applications that support video capture. This could be used to record the processed output of RoboRealm, or maybe to send the video for further processing.

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Heathrow Airport PRTs
Sunday, 21 October 2007
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I previously told you about Cybercars - autonomous taxis that are currently being trailed in the UK and Europe.

It has now been announced that Heathrow Airport in the UK will actually be implementing a very similar solution to the Cybercar called the ULTra PRT.

These Personal Rapid Transports will take travellers from car parks to the main terminal. Each PRT will seat four people, travel at 25mph and you will only have to wait twelve seconds for one to come along!.

THere's more over at Wired and the Telegraph.

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