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The trailers for the new Star Wars movie (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) introduced a new Droid called BB-8. This curious little guy features a spherical body and a controlled instrumented head. More recently, the BB-8 droid was showcased in a Star Wars celebration event and to many peoples' surprise it is real and not a CGI effect!

We have a Sphero robot from Orbotix here at the office, and there was an immediate connection between BB-8 and the Sphero. All that remains is to add the head!

Many have already put together their version of the BB-8, but I wanted to have a physical model that I can play with in a virtual environment and explore some design options.


 

Preparation:

To build a model of BB-8 like robotic system in MapleSim (Maplesoft's physical modeling software environment), I first needed a couple things in place before going forward:

  1. A few simple CAD shapes (half-sphere, wheels)

  2. A component to represent the contact between two spheres (both outside contact and inside contact)

I used Maple’s plottools package to build the CAD files I needed. First a half-spherical shape:

Then a wheel:

 

The next step was to create the contact component in MapleSim. I used a Modelica custom component to bring together vector calculations of normal and tangential forces with a variety of options for convenience into one component:

 

 

Build the model:

We start with a spherical shape contacting the ground:

 

Then we add two wheels inside it, and a hanging mass to keep the reference axis vertical when the wheels turn:

 

Learning from published diagrams showing the internal mechanism of a Sphero, another set of free wheels improves the overall stability when motion commands are given to the two active wheels:

 

Now this model can be used to move around the surface by giving speed commands to the individual motors that drive to the two bottom wheels. What is needed next is the head and the mechanism to move it around.

Since the head can move almost freely, independent of body rotation, it has to be controlled via magnetic contacts and a controlled arm.

First, we add the control arm:

 

Now we need to build the head.

The head has an identical triangle to the one at the end of the control arm. At each vertex there is a ball bearing that would slide on the surface of the main spherical body without friction. The magnetic force between the corresponding vertices of the two triangles is modeled via the available point-to-point force element in MapleSim.

 

 

Once assembled, the MapleSim model diagram looks like this:

 

...and our BB-8 droid looks like this:

 

 

Seeing the BB-8 in action:

Now that we have constructed our droid in MapleSim, we can animate and see it in action!

 

Hi,

I was trying to find the solution for two theta variables in a couple of simultaneous equations (infact this is an iverse kinematics problem for a two link system pendulum).
The following are the initial inputs/equations to be manipulated:


Then I use the folowing command to rearrange for the theta values which I am after:

which gives me the result:

This is all fine until I give in values for l1, l2, x and y:


results:

I have a RootOf in there with a _Z term poping up here and there. I know that this configuration of the two link mechanism in fact dows have a solution and that these numbers are reasonable. Thus I have three questions:

Why does this happen?
What does the "signum" mean here?
how do I go about getting the nummerical values?

Many thanks,
- pjf

Happy New Year! Now that 2014 is behind us, I thought it would be interesting to look back on the year and recap our most popular webinars. I’ve gathered together a list of the top 10 academic webinars from 2014 below. All these webinars are available on-demand, and you can watch the recording by clicking on the webinar titles below.

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See What’s New in Maple 18 for Educators

In this webinar, an expert from Maplesoft will explore new features in Maple 18, including improved tools for developing quizzes, enhanced tools for visualizations, updated user interface, and more.

Introduction to Teaching Calculus with Maple: A Complete Kit

During this webinar you will learn how to boost student engagement with highly interactive lectures, reinforce concepts with built-in “what-if” explorations, consolidate learning with carefully-constructed homework questions, and more.

Maplesoft Solutions for Math Education

In this webinar, you will learn how Maple, The Möbius Project, and Maplesoft’s testing and assessment solutions are redefining mathematics education.

Teaching Concepts with Maple

This webinar will demonstrate the Teaching Concepts with Maple section of our website, including why it exists and how to use it to help students learn concepts more quickly and with greater insight and understanding.

Revised Calculus Study Guide - A Clickable-Calculus Manual

This webinar will provide an overview of the Revised Calculus Study Guide, the most complete guide to how Maple can be used in teaching and learning calculus without first having to learn any commands.

Clickable Engineering Math: Interactive Engineering Problem Solving

In this webinar, general engineering problem-solving methods are presented using clickable techniques in the application areas of mechanics, circuits, control, and more.

Hollywood Math 2

In this second installment of the Hollywood Math webinar series, we will present some more examples of mathematics being used in Hollywood films and popular hit TV series.

Robotics Design in Maple and MapleSim

In this webinar, learn how to quickly create multi-link robots by simply defining DH parameters in MapleSim. After a model is created, learn to extract the kinematic and dynamic equations symbolically in Maple.

Introduction to Maple T.A. 10

This webinar will demonstrate the key features of Maple T.A. from both the instructor and student viewpoint, including new features in Maple T.A. 10.

The Möbius Project: Bringing STEM Courses Online

View this presentation to better understand the challenges that exist today when moving a STEM course online and to find out how the Maplesoft Teaching Solutions Group can help you realize your online course vision.

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Are there any topics you’d like to see us present in 2015? Make sure to leave us a comment with your ideas!

Kim

Hi,

I trying to simulate a force sensor on robot arm, but every time I try something, I get nothing from my sensor, can you help me?

 

Here it's my "design":

 

Also, if I add a rigid body I get this error:

Thanks!

 

 

On Monday, August 6 at 1:31 a.m. EDT, NASA will attempt the landing of a new planetary rover, named Curiosity, on the surface of Mars.  The Mars Science Laboratory project is managed by the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, a world-renowned center for robotic space exploration and advanced science and engineering.  JPL recently began a widespread adoption of Maplesoft technology, and Maplesoft’s products are expected to help JPL save...

Dr. Gilbert Lai is a mentor for the FIRST Robotics team SWAT 771. He is helping an all girls team from grades 7-12 design a basketball-shooting robot for this year’s annual FIRST Robotics Competition. Dr. Lai is using MapleSim and Maple to help the team understand the principles involved and design their robot. This blog post is part of a series that chronicles the progress of the team.  Posts in the series include:

  • Part 1 - 

I am building a robot arm,now I want to replace the rigid arm with the flexible arm. How can I control the arm's form?

This week I decided to do some research and find out the details of how to make model animations with MapleSim, by adding in CAD drawing files of the component parts. To see what I mean, take a look at this quick animated movie that shows a robot arm with five degrees of freedom:

On a recent trip to McGill University in Montreal, I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Paul Oh of Drexel University in Philadelphia and the Director of the US National Science Foundation’s (NSF) robotics programs. During a fascinating presentation on the US robotics research landscape, Dr. Oh made a few comments that really made me think … and reflect.

Robotics has always been a “sweet spot” for Maplesoft technology. Between the necessary complex...

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