by Jeff Eckert
More Little Ones
The Hexbug Crab microbot.
Photo courtesy of Innovation First.
One of the latest additions to
the world of artificial arthropods is
the Hexbug Crab from Innovation
First, Inc. ( www.innovationfirst.com).
The company specializes in providing
control systems for educational robot
competitions worldwide. The minirobots
are geared toward kids, but Crabbie is
proving to be a fine companion to
the stress ball on your desktop.
Like others in the Hexbug family,
it roams around on its own and
responds to its environment. Feelers
on its legs help it avoid obstacles, and
it runs away from loud clapping or
banging sounds. It also can carry light
sensors that allow it to seek out darkness, just like real crabs. Best of all, if
you want to get into bot sales on an
entry level, you can buy them wholesale and mark them up for fund-raising
events or less charitable purposes.
The list price is $9.99 each, but you
can buy a case ( 30) of them for as little
as $150 including shipping and pocket
the difference. When they arrive, you
can surprise the wife with them and
say, “Look, honey, I have the crabs!”
Solar Powered Lawn Bot
Yeah, it’s kind of like a Roomba
for your yard. Sweden’s Husqvarna
Group ( www.husqvarna.com),
The Automower. Photo courtesy of Husqvarna.
which claims to be the world’s largest
manufacturer of lawn mowers, has
introduced the Automower Solar
Hybrid robotic lawn mower. By
“hybrid”, they don’t mean gasoline/
electricity; it is all electric, but the
nickel metal hydride batteries can be
charged by docking with its base or
via a bank of solar cells that ride on
its back. As such, it is quiet and
produces no exhaust emissions.
According to Husky’s CEO Bengt
Andersson, it also eliminates the need for
fertilizers, although how it accomplishes
that remains something of a mystery.
The mower is said to be capable of
handling inclines of up to 35 degrees.
It can operate at night if you prefer,
and safety sensors protect children and
miscellaneous animals that might poke
a body part into the blades. Automower
will set you back about $2,000.
Early in July, Black-I Robotics
announced that it had secured an
$800,000 contract from the US
government’s Technical Support
Working Group to develop, test,
and evaluate a low-cost, robust,
midsize UGV for defense and
homeland security applications.
Looking eerily like Bum Bot (see
May 2008 Robytes), the unit
shown is a crossover vehicle built
using commercial off-the-shelf (COTS)
technologies to minimize costs
and facilitate adaptation to field
applications. The addition of radios,
armaments, sensors, trailers, etc.,
allows the core unit — based on a
standardized drive train and software
— to remotely perform various
functions such as reconnaissance,
explosive hazard evaluation, and so
on. Specific missions could include
such military and non-military operations as SWAT, HAZMAT, security, fire
fighting, search and rescue, battlefield
casualty extraction, and target acquisitions. The UGV is designed to carry a
300 lb (136 kg) payload and operate
at speeds up to 15 mph ( 24 kph).
Surveyor Robot Introduced
UGV Draws Government
The Black-I unmanned ground vehicle.
The complete Surveyor SRV-1Q robot.
Photo courtesy of Inertia Labs.
On a more modest scale is the
new Surveyor SRV-1Q, produced by a
8 SERVO 09.2008