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Next Year, Let the Robot Do Your Thanksgiving Shopping
Next year, your Thanksgiving grocery shopping may be fulfilled by robots—locally. Takeoff Technologies is piloting a technology that sends robots into a warehouse to fill grocery orders of up to 60 items in five minutes. This operation may finally ...


This Shenzhen Robotics Firm Is Selling Industrial Robot Arms To The Masses
Shenzhen transformed from a quaint fishing village to an industrial powerhouse making the majority of the world's top hardware in a mere two decades, and it got there with an intense work ethic and the help of robotics, mostly in the form of robotic ...


Dream Casting: Magnus, Robot Fighter
I was in a retro mood this week, so I decided to take on one of the classic sci-fi comics of the Silver Age, Russ Manning's Magnus, Robot Fighter. It's set in the year 4000, a future that's utopian on the surface but dark underneath. Mankind has become ...

The New Yorker

Learning to Love Robots
The New Yorker
In 2008, I fell in love with a robot. The object of my affection was a darling red Roomba vacuum cleaner. The size and shape of a chunky Frisbee, it bustled to and fro across my apartment of its own volition, enabling me to eat my cake and drop it on ...


Affetto is the wild boy head robot of your nightmares
Affetto is a robot that can smile at you while it pierces your soul with its endless, dead state. Created by researchers at Osaka University, this crazy baby-head robot can mimic human emotions by scrunching up its nose, smiling, and even closing its ...


Featured article

Often times when a mechanical switch or button is used for input to a robot, the contacts usually don't close as cleanly as you might think. When the contacts internal to the switch are closed quickly to complete the circuit, there is almost always a "bouncing" effect where the metallic parts briefly separate as they flex and rebound off one another. Although this effect occurs extremely quickly (~1/100th of a second), it is slow enough that a Microcontroller or other logic device can detect the switch opening and closing and will treat them as multiple button presses or switch closes.
If you didn't take the debouncing effect into account, and say your robot was counting how many times a switch was pressed, it might count one physical switch press as three or four actual presses. To avoid this, we use a technique called debouncing.
Debouncing can be done in both hardware and software. Generally, hardware is not ideal because the debouncing circuits usually incorporate a circuit that charges a capacitor, which can add a long delay time to your switch press. Additionally, different types of switches may have different debouncing requirements, which can be adjusted much easier in software then in hardware. The upshot of this technique however is that you won't have to build a debouncing routine into your program.
A software debouncing routine can work in various ways, but the easiest is to usually start a timer when the button press is first detected. If after a set time (when the timer runs out), the button is still detected as pressed, then you can be confident that the switch is pressed and the debouncing phase is over. For most all mechanical switches properly, the microcontroller should have some sort of debouncing routine, but for other logic signals that are created digitally from another computer chip or IC, debouncing isn't needed.

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Did you know..

  • ... That An Ultrasonic Sensor allows the robot the ability to understand & visualize the world around it. Ultrasonic...
  • ... That A Joint is a flexible part of a robot that is designed to move, rotate, or translate in some way. Joints can be control...
  • ... That The Watchdog Timer is a timer that is integrated into software or hardware that will trigger a system reset or...
  • ... That An Autonomous robot refers to one in which it is able to make complex decisions without human input. The level of ...
  • ... That A Rotary Encoder is used to provide angular position feedback. They come in "digital" or analog form, and the ...

Featured robot

PLEO is an Autonomous robotic life form, modeled on a young Camarasaurus dinosaur.

PLEO is designed to mimic life, which means PLEO thinks and acts independently, just like a real animal. In general, a Life Form looks, moves, and behaves in ways that trigger a "belief of life". Sepcifically, PLEO has organic body language, exhibits emotions, is aware of his/her surroundings and has recognizable behaviors. PLEO' sophisticated sensory system has devices that enable him to hear, to see, to sense touch, and to detect objects. It is the newest member of your family!

• Every PLEO LifeForm includes: Companion Guide, Training Leaf, Authenticity ID Card, One Li-Polymer Rechargeable Battery, Charging cradle, and Universal voltage power Adapter.
• Not intended for children under the age of 12.
• Product Dimensions: 15 x 4 x 8 inches - Weight: 8.8 pounds.
• Pleo's Li-Polymer battery provides longer play time than 2009 Pleo. Recharging a depleted battery takes 4 hours.
• US/Non-U.S. Version includes: 100-240VAC 50/60Hz universal adapter