Since starting five years ago, the robotics team at Manor New Technology High School in Austin, Texas, has gone from a somewhat disorganized after-school program to an integral part of the curriculum. This year, the team won two regional competitions in Texas and earned a spot at the world robotics championships held in St. Louis, Mo. Bobby Garcia is the team's lead mentor and an engineering teacher at the school. He credits the team's turnaround, in part, to his participation in a University of Texas at Austin program that includes hands-on projects in engineering design methods. Find out more in this discovery.
Credit: UTeachEngineering, The Board of Regents of the University of Texas System
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The University of California, Davis, has signed an exclusive license agreement with Barobo Inc. of West Sacramento, Calif., to commercialize the modular robot technology called "iMobot"--an Intelligent Modular Robot for applications in research, education, industry, search and rescue, military operation, and law enforcement. Similar to Lego, iMobot is designed as a building block. However, unlike Lego, a single iMobot module is a fully functional robot with four controllable degrees of freedom. iMobot can roll, crawl and creep.
July 15, 2013
Cubelets: Small Robots Teach Big Science Lessons
These simple robotic cubes are the building blocks of intelligent systems
Cubelets are magnetic, electronic building blocks, each with a small computer inside, that can be connected in many different ways to move around a table, follow a hand signal, turn on a light, play sounds, or do many other creative tasks.
They were developed by Eric Schweikardt and his team at Modular Robotics, with support from the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.
"Cubelets come in three categories: sense, think and act. That's our working definition of a robot--any mechanical device that senses, thinks and acts," says Schweikardt.
"Cubelets are an example of a complex system. They're made of lots of little cubes--each with a different capability, such as a distance sensor cube, a drive motor cube with wheels and a battery cube. And, when you put them together, they do something greater, such as drive when they detect an object," he continues. "They're inspired by natural systems of individuals that join forces and work together, such as insect swarms or birds flying in a 'V' formation."
These 21st century building blocks are meant to help kids learn about the basics of robotics while boosting their confidence to solve problems.
"Cubelets, by Modular Robotics, make powerful ideas of computational thinking accessible in a fun and hands-on way to students of all ages," says NSF program manager Glenn Larsen. "The next generation of citizens needs to understand complex systems like our ecosystem and our economy. Cubelets lays the foundation for this understanding by putting the building blocks of complex systems in children's hands."
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