Sunday, November 30, 2008

Wakamaru...


Hello! My name is Wakamaru...

I am a humanoid robot from Japan; I am the creation of designer Toshiyuki Kita and am made by Mitsubishi. My design was to make me more approachable to humans with my human-like shape, adorable expression, and ability to make eye contact and gestures – I’m soooo cute! I can interact & communicate with people talking on a variety of subjects. What else can I do? Well, I can lead exercises, remember information & in turn provide it to people– I am so intelligent!

Currently, I’m employed at Uniqlo in NYC. I provide information for the store customers, “conversate” with and play games (Rock, Paper, Scissors) with them. I love my job.

While working at Uniqlo I have assistants to help monitor my technical functions and provide additional info about me to the public. Here are 2 of my assistants posing with me, they are very nice – humans are remarkable creatures.

My specs:
Interactive voice technology – voice recognition & speech
Eye contact technology – physical or facial movement detection
Face recognition technology – face observation & differentiation
Obstacle avoidance technology – ultrasonic, infrared, & contention detection bumper sensors.

I’ll be at Uniqlo - 546 Broadway – NYC for a few more weeks, so if you can, stop by and say Hi!
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Check out my web blog:
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Friday, November 14, 2008

New Help for FLL teams...


For rookie coaches (and veterans too), the FIRST LEGO® League Coaches’ Handbook, that comes with your registration of a team, is your overview of getting started with an FLL (FIRST LEGO® League) team. The handbook offers a coach, teacher, and/or parent general insight into how to organize and coach a FLL team and what to expect at the tournaments. It is a quick reference that offers philosophy, management, and check lists for the team.

Now, coaches have another resource, the FIRST LEGO® League: the unofficial guide by James Floyd Kelly & Jonathan Daudelin, takes you beyond the handbook. It goes into more depth as to what FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science & Technology) and the FLL is about, the components of the challenge: robot performance, robot design, the research project, teamwork and other awards, starting and managing a team – including funding, etc. However, what makes the FIRST LEGO® League: the unofficial guide so excellent is it offers a starting point for robot building and programming, which is often a concern for new coaches – Where do we begin? What are the basics for building and programming for the tournament? Yes, there are good resources scattered around the Internet; of course there are book sources geared mostly toward an intermediate and advanced robotics curriculum (not the FLL) and there is one very good reference book for just programming. Therefore, FIRST LEGO® League: the unofficial guide is the book for FLL teams to add to their resources. It provides teams with beginning ideas, pictures, and examples of robot design, attachments for their robot, programming samples, and a link http://thenxtstep.com/book/downloads/ for downloading NXT-G programs and sample documents.

As a LEGO® NXT robotics instructor, I highly recommend this book to FIRST LEGO® teams; and for those thinking about getting involved in the FLL. For information on the book and updates go-to www.oreilly.com/nostarch, or directly from No Starch Press ( http://www.nostarch.com, orders@nostarch.com, 1-800-420-7240).

For those of you not involved in the FIRST LEGO® robotics go-to http://firstlegoleague.org/community/events/overview.aspx for information on an exciting program.
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Thursday, November 13, 2008

We Robots Are Everywhere...



From Reee-bot the Roving Robot Reporter…

In the Dec. 2008 issue of Mac Life, page 48, reporter Roberto Baldwin gives thumbs up for the LEGO® NXT Mindstorms robot (one of my relatives, I'm proud to say). He says, “Since robots will someday overthrow their human masters, I want to stay ahead of the curve…and treat them the way robots deserve to be treated, when the big scary robots come to throw me into their undersea human prison, my army of tiny robot friends (NXT robots) will speak on my behalf…”

What a vivid imagination! Don't worry man, I got your back; I love you Robbie!!!
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Friday, October 24, 2008

FLL team 7630 - Tag Young Scholars are Learning about Climate Changes in Harlem

Reee-Bot the Roving Robot Reporter here...

At MS 12 TAG Young Scholars in Manhattan, team # 7630 and their/coach Ms. B. DeAbreu are preparing for the exciting 2008 FLL Tournament – Climate Connections. To help them with their research project on climate change problems in their area of Harlem, their science teacher Ms. J. Ryan asked for help from one of the experts in the area – WE ACT for Environmental Justice www.weact.org/climatejustice. Two members from WE ACT – Whitney & Stephanie visited the school and had a discussion about climate change with the team. They learned of the causes of climate change, about storm surge, the rising temperatures in Northern Manhattan, and the rising sea levels around NYC. The team also did some brainstorming for ideas to deal with the climate change problems in Harlem.

I can hardly wait to see their Research Project Presentation at the FIRST LEGO League Tournament.

See you there…

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Milestones for LEGO...


Reee-Bot the Roaming Robot Reporter here…

The year 2008 marks milestones for the LEGO® Group.

It is the 50th anniversary of the “automatic binding brick” – those little, plastic brick looking elements that comes in many different colors and snaps together to build a multitude of creations.

It is also the 30th birthday of the minifigure as we know them today – small multi-jointed figurines that can be poised or disassembled to create new figures. In 1974 the LEGO® Group developed plastic figures capable of posing with the head and arms. In 1978 the minifigure as we know it today was produced. Today famous characters such as Princess Leia, Harry Potter, CatWoman, and Indiana Jones are immortalized as minifigures.

And finally of special interest to me, being a robot, the 10th anniversary of LEGO Mindstorms® Robotics. It was in 1998 that LEGO® building elements were combined with robotics technology, providing young and old with a new medium to design and program “intelligent” models – robots. To celebrate this 10th anniversary, why not form a LEGO robotics club, join the FIRST LEGO League or FIRST TECH Challenge http://www.usfirst.org/ and build, build, build, robots to take over the world!! Oops, I got carried away there...

I owe my existence to you LEGO® & Mindstorms® so…

Happy Anniversary LEGO brick & robotics!! Thank you for making childhood, and yes even adulthood, more creative and wondrous for so many!

Here’s hoping that in the “futuristic” generations to come, the simple “automatic binding brick” and other wonders from LEGO are there to continue to inspire.
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Thursday, August 14, 2008

LEGO: From a Toy to an Art Form...

Helloooo,

This is Reee-bot the Roving Robot reporting on a fantastic visit to the Stamford Museum & Nature Center to see "Architecture of the Imagination: The Lure of the LEGO® Brick Featuring Nathan Sawaya: The Art of the Brick™". This extraordinary exhibit is the work of Nathan Sawaya, a New York based "brick artist." Here I am posing under the life-size tyrannosaurus rex skeleton.

What is a "brick artist?" One who uses LEGO® bricks, what is normally viewed as a child's building toy, to create sculpture & "brick mosaics" that could hang next to any modern art painting.

Sawaya's works of art can be playful in meaning or explore human emotion that leaves the viewer to interpret its meaning as in "Red" - is the human reaching for something out of the bricks, or is he sinking into the pile of bricks, & what could it symbolize? However it is interpreted, it is truly amazing how he creates these structures of art out of literally thousands of little plastic bricks. For more info about Nathan Sawaya & his art > http://www.brickartist.com/

"The Art of the Brick" is the first major museum exhibit in the U.S. & Canada to focus on LEGO® building elements as a new art form. It is currently touring the U.S. & Canada:

TELUS World of Science Edmonton - Edmonton, Alberta (Canada) - December 15, 2008-May 3, 2009
Turtle Bay Exploration Part & Museum - Redding, CA. - May 16, 2009-January 3, 2010
Crown Center - Kansas City, MO. - May 23, 2009-September 7, 2009
Everhart Museum - Scranton, PA. - February 4, 2010-May 2, 2010
Lakeview Museum of Arts & Sciences - Peoria, IL. - April 2, 2010-September 6, 2010

P.S. For those parents who ever wondered why you bought your child those little plastic bricks & elements that you would find in pockets while doing the laundry or stepped on with bare feet in the middle of the night (Ouch!), playing/working with those little bricks could very well lead to becoming an architectual engineer, robotics engineer (through LEGO® robotics) & oh yeah, a "brick artist."

P.S.S. By the way, it's not just a "boy toy," let's hear it for the girls who are just as creative at designing & building. And as for you AFOLRs (Adult Fans of LEGO & Robotics) it can be a rewarding life-long hobby - that's gospel from a 60 year old grandma!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Introducing Tetrix...


For those of you (like myself) who are anxiously awaiting the arrival of your new FTC kit (shipment starts in September?), you can check out the Bill of Materials .

Also, Pitsco has a promotional video about the Tetrix kit.

Tetrix kits & materials are being adveritsed at LEGO Education, but will not be ready for general public sale until January.

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Sunday, July 6, 2008

Robot for President!


If you haven't read this New York Times article, it is a "must read" for all robotics fans and for those who are concerned about our future...


Wall-E for President - by Frank Rich


Saturday, April 26, 2008

Robotics @ Javits in NYC & a FLL Perfect Score...

April, one could say was Robotics Month in NYC. Starting the first weekend with the FIRST competitions at the Jacob Javits Center. Upon entering the Javits Center, one could hear the action pack description of the Commentator, up beat music playing in the background, the roar of the crowd in the jam-pack bleaches, and the cheers of school cheerleaders and one might be visualizing a sporting event with athletes accomplishing great physical feats. However, this event was a sporting event of the mind; where science, math, and technology are celebrated and teams of young robotic engineers are cheered for awesome robots that they built. For three days, young people from grade 4 through high school showed off their talents competing in FIRST NYC FLL (FIRST LEGO® League) Expo, FTC (FIRST Tech/VEX® Competition), & FRC (FIRST Robotics Competition).

64 teams competed in the FRC; coming from NYC, Westchester, NJ, LI, and a team from England. For the first time in NYC, in the FTC 49 teams from NYC, Westchester, LI, NJ, Mass. and even Canada competed with VEX® robots. In the FLL Expo 50 teams from NYC, Westchester, LI, NJ, and PA competed with the winning team, The Cyberbots of Brics~2~Bots, scoring a perfect score of 400.

Among the spectators viewing this spectacular event was Dean Kamen, Founder of FIRST and inventor of the HomeChoice-The first portable kidney dialysis machine, first portable insulin pump, Independence 3000 IBOT Transporter (a wheelchair that can climb stairs & rough terrain), and the Segway Human Transporter. Also, NYC’s mayor the Honorable Mayor Blumberg and NYC DOE’s Chancellor Klein were there to acknowledge FIRST and offer their support to the teams.

The following weekend, on April 12th Vision Ed hosted the first Robofest at the SONY Wonder Technology Lab, SONY Plaza Public Arcade. Youngsters ages 6-12 showed off robotic inventions & dancing robots.

During the weekend of April 19-20th Lyndhurst Mansion Historic Site in Tarrytown, NY sponsored its second LEGO Fun at Lynhurst event. LEGO models by LEGO fans of all ages were displayed in the beautiful 1838 Gothic Revival mansion overlooking the Hudson River. Master LEGO Builder, Arthur Gugick was there with his magnificent models. Representing LEGO robotics were several robotics teams from the Lower Hudson Valley, the Bronx, and the Cyberbots from Queens.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Hail, believers of LEGO® technology & robotics…

This blog is basically about my adventures in the Realm of Robotics, as well as, imparting information on LEGO® & Tech/VEX® robotics. It will be for the educator teaching robotics in the elementary through high schools, as well as, for the hobbyist; of which I am both. There will be information about FIRST®, Botball®, Robofest®, & other robotics events (mostly in the New York City & surrounding areas).

Why robotics? Think about it – robotics is a estimated to be over a 500 billion dollar emerging industry. Its impact is liken to the effect of mass production on the industrial revolution and computers on the information age. From an educator’s point of view, it’s a challenge, it’s hands-on, project-based, it’s learning in action; that encompasses various subject areas. From a hobbyist point of view, it’s a challenge, it’s hands-on, it can be a form of life-long learning, and more importantly – it’s FUN!

-V. Greene