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Mechatronics Zone
Freescale's Wireless Robot Teaches Sensor Programming
5/8/2012

Freescale Semiconductor's 2-legged robot (FSLBOT) and controller board lets engineers, students, and even hobbyists experiment with the robot's four servos and many sensors.   (Source: Freescale)
Freescale Semiconductor's 2-legged robot (FSLBOT) and controller board lets engineers, students, and even hobbyists experiment with the robot's four servos and many sensors.
(Source: Freescale)

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Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Opening up robot development
Ann R. Thryft   5/14/2012 1:10:00 PM
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Jack, that's a really interesting concept--parts specified and installed so they can be swapped out to update the robot or try out different technologies. Jon, was there any hint of this possibility from Freescale?

Jon Titus
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Re: Opening up robot development
Jon Titus   5/14/2012 12:11:29 AM
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Hi, Jack.  You probably want to keep the TWR-MECH board for all experiments because it provides eight servo outputs and can accept two add-on sensor boards.  I have the LFDA7455 3-axis accelerometer board and the LFDA3110 magnetometer board inserter on my robot, so it can provide accurate magnetic headings.  The TWR-MECH board has an edge connector that ensures compatibility with other Freescale Tower boards, so you can "stack" on other boards you want to experiment with or test.  The TWR-MECH board has touch-sensor inputs and plenty of digital I/O pins, too.  I'll have more to report later this week.

Jon Titus
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Re: Answers and Comments
Jon Titus   5/14/2012 12:06:41 AM
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Good comment about the Parallax BoeBot.  I just saw the new board for Arduino shields.  That gives students and teachers much flexibility in what and how they teach.

mrdon
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Re: Answers and Comments
mrdon   5/13/2012 3:36:17 PM
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My wife had daVinci robotic surgery this past January  and was walking about within a day. Using teleoperating machine control techniques and haptics, doctors are able to perform surgeries that are less invasive because of these highly accurate robotic machines. In addition to Parallax offering BoeBot kits that are great for STEM projects, they also provide a BoeBot shield that can be attached to an Arduino as well.

Jack Rupert, PE
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Re: Opening up robot development
Jack Rupert, PE   5/13/2012 3:17:51 PM
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You're right mrdon.  This would be especially useful if you could swap out the parts as they become obsolete or to learn different current technologies.

mrdon
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Re: Opening up robot development
mrdon   5/12/2012 9:48:05 AM
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Ann, one of the many challenges facing engineers is staying current with new and emerging technologies. The Freescale TWR Robotics development platform is a cost effective training tool for learning evolving technologies.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Opening up robot development
Ann R. Thryft   5/11/2012 2:42:00 PM
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mrdon, that's also what impressed me: that with this robot, engineers can improve programming skills for new technologies as well as explore robotics.

mrdon
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Re: Opening up robot development
mrdon   5/10/2012 1:58:20 AM
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I agee Ann. With all of the embedded products currently available and new ones on the drawing board, a familiarity with programming is important for technology literacy in our society. A robot like this one is a good way to experiment and explore key technologies such as sensors and microcontrollers used in an abundant products like smart phones, dishwashers, washers and dryers, to name a few. The $199 price makes it a good buy to explore robotics and Mechatronics technologies as well!

Alex Dopplinger
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Re: Robot Setup
Alex Dopplinger   5/9/2012 6:53:40 PM
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Thanks very much Jon for featuring the Freescale FSLBOT in your column.  I'm really looking forward to hearing about your experience with this kit.  For anyone interested, there's more information on the product page www.freescale.com/mechbot . And of course, we'd love to introduce you to FSLBOT (or the team behind the bot) at the Freescale Technology Forum in San Antonio, June 18-24.

Jon Titus
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Answers and Comments
Jon Titus   5/9/2012 11:05:20 AM
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Thanks for the new references, Ann.  Good sites.  A friend had surgery with a da Vinci robot and said it was an interesting experience to have a machine working inside him.  Of course he was anethesized!

I'm sure Freescale will have the robots at the Technology Forum.  They might even have some robots available so people can try simple programs and learn more about how the Tower Mechatronics board works. I did see many Tower-related hands-on sessions on the Freescale Techonolgy Forum Web site: http://www.freescale.com/webapp/sps/site/overview.jsp?code=FTF_2012_AMERICA_TECH_SES_OV.

Because the robot uses BASIC, I agree with Nancy that it would offer a good way to introduce kids to STEM topics and have them do things with a real-world device that includes motor controls and sensors. It wouldn't take much to increase the size of the metal mounting plate so people could add an ultrasonic distance sensor, limit switches, IR detector, and so on.  I'll also add a pitch for Parallax, a company that sells many robot kits and plenty of add-ons. The company also has many good reference books and manuals with experiments. Look at the BoeBot, for example. www.parallax.com.

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