DIY Walkers: Explorations of the TrotBot walking mechanism

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I was part of the team that developed the TrotBot linkage mechanism in LEGO, and then helped to scale it up to the size of a minivan. We gained a ton of knowledge from the scale-up and I’ve taken many of the improvements that we made at minivan scale back to LEGO, which really improved […]

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Crossing the Gap

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Crossing the Gap is a free-form robotics activity that requires a minimal amount of setup. It is an excellent choice for novices, but can also present a challenge to experienced students. The idea for this activity came from an earlier post. One of our after-school robotics classes recently completed this unit – check out the […]

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A Week in the Life #8: Moving With Linkages

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I teach an introductory course using the LEGO Mindstorms EV3 set. My students are 7th graders who are required to take the course and may not necessarily have any background in programming/building. My school is on a trimester schedule so the course runs for thirteen weeks at a time. For this particular trimester I have […]

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TrotBot Walking Machine

TrotBot

After teaching a challenge-based LEGO Engineering class for two years, I wanted to offer a really difficult challenge for a dozen of my most motivated students (grades 6-8). I settled on linkage-based walkers, like Theo Jansen’s Strandbeest. Rather than copy prototypes or plans, I had the class study various linkage mechanisms, their trade-offs, and how they can […]

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Motor vs Move – Part I: The Control Algorithm

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If you are programming a robot with NXT-G, you may be wondering what’s the difference between the Motor and Move blocks? The answer to this question has a significant impact on how your robot will move. The LEGO MINDSTORMS Education NXT software (NXT-G) includes these two blocks for motor control. While the Motor and Move […]

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Artificial intelligence: Exploring movement

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The way a creature is built greatly affects how it behaves. By observation, one can note that birds usually perch and fly, roosting high in the treetops, while fish use their fins to propel themselves into the depths of bodies of water. While the fundamental idea seems basic, the use of such a concept in […]

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