Friday, January 18, 2008

Mac robotics

This is (I think) the last robotics posting of the season. The big news for us this week was the great cover story in the Almaden Resident on TCC, my daughter’s successful robotics team. Update Jan. 24: Although the Almaden Resident story is no longer on their website, the Almaden Times has posted its own story.

As someone who thus spent the last six months with Lego Mindstorms, my interest was perked up with a Mindstorms mention at Macworld Expo. (Twenty years ago, I used to write for MacTutor which later became MacTech magazine.) At the MacTech booth, they were showing the April 2007 issue with an article on using the Mindstorms NXT software for Mac cross-development. I’ll file it away in case TCC makes more use of Macs next season.

Also at Macworld Expo, the most unusual hardware demo was The Krawler, a robot that uses Wi-Fi for remote control (and returning a live Wi-Fi feed), and is programmable from the Mac (only) via Objective-C. The robot was originally developed for inspecting home crawl spaces, but now is being sold as a general-purpose robotics platform.

The Krawler is from Pacific Parallel Research, a startup in Cardiff — a cute coastal town between Del Mar and Carlsbad in San Diego County.

I can see how high school kids wanting to learn robotics (or a low-volume VAR) would jump on this as an easy-entry starting point to solving a particular problem. I can’t help with VARs, but offered to introduce CEO Craig Davidson to our local high school robotics team.

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