Apérobot, the DiY robolution around a drink
Published 6 July 2015 by Nicolas Barrial
Every month, the Caliban association organises a rendezvous around DIY robotics in a Parisian bar. Makery attended the 44th edition and met Waldo, a robot designed at the Electrolab, sumo robots and a spider with an Arduino inside.
Created in 2008 by the robotics engineer Fabien Raimbault, the Caliban association brings together people who are passionate about robotics, who exchange views on their projects and regularly exhibit in the geek France shows: Geekopolis, Japan Expo or still the Innorobo in Lyon. No wonder we also came across them at the Dernier bar avant la fin du Monde (last bar before the end of the world), Parisian refuge of role players, that Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory would not disown.
But it is a serious issue, Apérobot (mix of drinks and robot), monthly rendezvous, is looking ahead for its 45th edition and was even unfaithful to the Dernier Bar, by holding its rendezvous at the famous école 42. Proof of its success, companies come to present to the community of robot lovers technical solutions or projects being developed.
Waldo, the robot that came from the lab
Being commercialised soon, Waldo from Immersive Robotics met the Apérobot community. Still in the development stage at the Electrolab hackerspace in Nanterre, Waldo empathised with those amateurs passionate about robotics. With its slight Wall-E look, the robot offered its subjective opinion, once equipped with an Oculus Rift, we find ourselves immersed in an off-set vision. When turning you head, magic operates, the robot follows our movements. With a little bit of latency however, but “it also works with a tablet” promises Laurent Boileau, founder of Immersive Robotics.
Waldo should be available in September at around 1,500 euro for the “avatar” version. The discussions were proceeding well with the Apérobot community until a question burst forth: “Can Waldo not walk up stairs?” To which Laurent Boileau, as a good salesman, retorts: “That would considerably increase its cost, at the price we will offer it, you could have one on each floor.” QED.
Waldo will be on sale with a manipulator arm as an option, Jarvis, in reference to Iron man’s assistant, certain pieces of which could, as it happens, come from the Electrolab foundry. According to Tom Brelet, the creator of Waldo, the payload of 0.5 kg is uncommon for a robot in this price range. In addition to the pincer, the Aérobot community was able to discover a system developed in 2010 at the University of Chicago: ground coffee in a balloon, the air of which you suck up! A very effective option to grab small or angular objects: keys, pins, etc.
ESIEE and its Sumo robots
Apprentice engineers from the ESIEESPACE association are also regulars of the Apérobot. Irfann and Natacha, present that evening, are among the organisers of Sumobot, a robotic contest open to all, which uses the rules of sumotori art. But unlike their Japanese cousins, the robots are featherweights to build.
For those who do not possess the equipment or the required qualifications, the students offer tutorials and kits that they develop with Arduinos and 3D printing at their school. You just need to add a motor, sensors and a specific combat design. No need however to turn it into a Mecha, you just need to push the contender out of a 77cm diameter circle. The last edition of Sumobot took place at the ESIEE School last April and Sumobot 2016 already offers kits and registrations.
Thierry Biaujout, the representative of the Caliban association that evening, did not hesitate to show his creation to the participants. Pure DiY product, this hefty spider had some effect. Equipped with several sensors that really give its head an arachnid look, its six legs sent it on an adventure between hosts’ legs. The crowd was curious to see what it had in its head so Thierry took off the cover he had printed and an Arduino took centre stage in the middle of the beast.