24 SERVO 11.2013
Dash Robotics’ bio-inspired bots have been one of those
research platforms that lives in a laboratory and rarely gets to
come out and play. Until now, that is.
Dash has been turned from a research platform into a robot
that you can buy. Even more remarkable is it's actually affordable.
A beta version that includes a steerable robot (that you assemble
yourself in an hour with a little bit of glue), along with a full
electronics package is a mere $65. You can get it in blue, orange,
yellow, or black.
The robot is controlled with Bluetooth via a mobile device,
and a variety of onboard sensors will enable a range of apps from
obstacle avoidance to "photovore" behaviors.
Dash creators are hoping to enable folks to make clever
things with their bots:
“We are developing a custom electronics package that is
Arduino-compatible, uses Bluetooth 4 communication, has a dual
motor driver, several LEDs, and connects with Micro USB. The
battery can be charged through the Micro USB connector and lasts
about 40 minutes. The electronics are plug-and-play, so you can run
Dash without any programming knowledge. But we’ve also made
him hackable, so you can take advantage of the sensors we’ve
included, or even add your own.”
Out of the box, builders will have access to:
• Visible light sensor
• LEDs (red, green, yellow)
• IR emitters and sensors
• I/O pins for expandability
• Bluetooth low energy communications
• Micro USB connector
The Beta Dash (which is probably the one you want) isn't
called Beta just for fun. By participating in this crowd-funding
campaign, you'll be helping to figure out what the next
generation of Dash will be like. It's probably safe to say that the
next generation will be a lot bigger than this first one, which is
limited to just a thousand robots.
Expect the Beta Dash kits to ship in early 2014. Of course,
they may have already sold out.
SCOUT EARNING ITS BADGE
Scout — a four meter long autonomous boat built by a group of young DIYers — is attempting to cross the Atlantic
Ocean. It is traveling from Rhode Island, where it launched on August 24th to Spain, where (if all goes well) it will arrive in a
few months’ time. Scout has now gone about 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) of its
planned 3,700 mile ( 5,900 kilometer) journey. Should it complete this voyage
successfully, its passage will arguably belong in the history books.Although the
construction of Scout’s hull is somewhat high tech — carbon fiber sandwiching
Divinycell foam — the rest of the boat is comparatively simple. Solar panels
mounted on the top of the hull charge a lithium-iron-phosphate battery which, in
turn, powers an ordinary trolling motor attached to the bottom of the hull.