The AIRarm is a robot arm developed by iRobot with funding from DARPA. It is inexpensive as compared with an arm of similar size and lightweight as well. It weighs around 1/10th of the weight of the PackBot 3’s arm. The best part is that it can be easily deflated and kept. A pump is located onboard that allows it to inflated and deflated. Despite its light weight, AIRarm is still pretty stiff once inf, and can lift up to five pounds, or possibly more depending on how much its inflated. By varying the level of inflation, it’s also possible to vary the level of compliance of the arm: this makes the arm a little bit flexible when you need it to be, which in turn makes it safer and more durable. The same construct is used to develop a six legged robot as well.
The debate published in ieee spectrum between Colin Angle (iRobot) and Robert Bauer (Willow Garage) is interesting. Willow garage has benefited the community greatly and it’s pretty easy to get a robot to grasp a cup using the ROS platform (given you can purchase the robot). This approach of crowdsourcing does speed up the development but it’s not easy to build a hardware business out of this model. Do write your thought in the article. It will be interesting to see where this goes.
A much awaited update for the iRobot Scooba 390. This will be more useful in a tropical country like Singapore where we don’t really use carpets.I have used the Scooba 385. It was good for general cleaning. The issue was with the changing of water for the unit. But sure was satisfying to see how dirty the water was.