Presented Master Thesis about robot self-tooling

Today, Jose María Herrero presented his work about robot self-tooling.

Jose María Presented the Robot Self-tooling concept.

Jose María Presented the Robot Self-tooling concept.

This a new concept involving 3D printing and robotics, where a robot can build and change his fingers automatically.

This setup uses a 3D printer extruder and a fingerless gripper with two dynamixel ax12 servos. He also had to deal with VAL3 for the programming the staubli TX60, and made a program in Python to send the G-codes.

Check the video:

Good job, José María.

Teaching Robotics in the Lab

This year (course 2014-15), I started a new subject called Robotics Laboratory (Laboratorio de Robótica) which belongs to the degree called Engineering on Electronics, Robotics and Mechatronics. This is an official degree of the Universidad de Málaga, taught at the School of Industrial Engineering.

The course goal is to provide the students with practical competences in robot design and control. This subject is taught among other robotic subjects (some mandatory and some optional) so special care has to be taken when designing the specific contents of this course. This subject is optional in the last semester of the degree, so I had a small and enthusiastic group of student that allowed me to take some risks.

We started building a set of four additional medium-size mobile manipulator platform called PIERO and designed and built a small 4 DoF’s manipulator for each robots.

Teaching Robotics Laboratory

Teaching Robotics Laboratory

As can be seen in the picture, these were among the most student-engaging sessions I ever had. I also had very rewarding classes providing them with this kind of experience and knowledge that you cannot put on a powerpoint.

Probably, the biggest challenge was to embrace the model-based development as the tool for the implementation of the robot control software. In this course we are using Simulink as the main development tool which produces real-time code for the Arduino microcontroller.

Students testing the control of the PIERO platform

Students testing the control of the PIERO platform

This model-based engineering approach applied to the education may have important advantages in therms of efficiency.

They implemented discrete time model of wheel speed control, Cartesian mobile robot control and read-reckoning, mobile robot control and kinematic arm control. Also hybrid models have been developed for reactive navigation tasks

Hybrid models for reactive navigation

Hybrid models for reactive navigation

FSM for collision avoidance behavior

FSM for collision avoidance behavior

Students testing PIERO performing a reactive navigation task

Students testing PIERO performing a reactive navigation task

Finally, a higher level of control has been implemented for vision guided navigation using the PIERO’s on-board Raspberry Pi computer, also developed under Simulink.

The success of this approach was possible with the help of my colleage Antonio Muñoz and my group of students who used it for the first time.

Thank you to all, but this is just the beginning.

Building Zowi, the Open Source Robot

This was a very nice week-end project: building the BQ’s Zowi Open Source Robot.

You just need a 3D printer, 4 standard servos, an Arduino and cables.

Zowi Open Source Robot

Zowi Open Source Robot

I found the source at

After the build I found some suggestions:

What a mess!

What a mess!

Hardware: Not all the servos come with the hub size used in the design.

Software: You have to manage to find the ocillator library and correct some misspellings.


  • The BQ arduino version is very cool but is not easy to find. You can use your standard arduino uno making a bigger hole on the head shell.
  • An extra hole for the switch is important too.
  • The hardest part is to fit the head shell with all the cables. A redesign with the arduino fixed toi the chasis instead of the shell could help

Many thanks to the BQ team!


New joints for the animatronic robot

Wall-e is an old animatronic robot we build for entertainment and social robotics research.

It is also used as a valuable platform for students projects.

Its joints are driven by different kinds of RC servos, and sometimes the servo axle is used as the robot joint. This is a weak design point and we had to change this.

We needed a neck replacement and we found a “Servo Block” kit for Hitec servos which was perfect for our robot. It was 29€ over our budget (0€) but the MechatronicMan foundation helped again.

Servo Block was perfect for our robot neck

Servo Block was perfect for our robot neck


As we ran out of budget we had to design and build new shoulders.

We originally used a Lynxmotion Servo joint with poor axial bearings but it was not solid enough.

Our new design used “standard” skates ball bearings. with two parts: A 3mm width aluminium plate and a 100mm width bearing support.

The old ISEL cpm 3020 did a nice work with a 3mm single flute straight carbide bit.

20140703_135424 (1)20140703_173840 After a sandblasting the plate looks very professional! isn’t it?



And the final assembly with the quarter scale RC servo gives a solid joint for our robot.


That’s all. I just wanted to show it.

In the future I’m not using RC servos anymore unless I build a toy robot.

By the way, the joint in action were seen in last post : Animatronic at the Postgraduate Courses presentation 2015-16


Animatronic at the Postgraduate Courses presentation 2015-16

Our animatronic robot made a new appearance after some neck and shoulder surgery.

This was the first Postgraduate Course presentation of the University of Málaga.

We had to refurbish some of the Wall-e’s old joints, but he´s a good nice robot and did his job nicely.

Some work has to be done to improve the robot’s power system and battery charge. Anyone?

Many thanks again to my postgraduate students.


More videos of Wall-e in this playlist:

Master Thesis on Domotic systems for Cottages

Alberto presented his Master Thesis (December the 12th) , where a new distributed control system has been developed, based on a CAN bus, for the local and remote control of large rural houses. Can bus offers reliable and deterministic communications with low cost installation.

Distributed Control System based on CAN bus

Distributed Control System based on CAN bus

A full set of nodes based on Atmel microcontrollers has been developed. Different daughter boards provide application specific I/O for motor control, sensors, etc.

A host based on a Raspberry Pi provides remote HTTP access to the network with a dynamic User Interface.

Huge work with impressive results!

Thank you, Alberto!

Presented Master Thesis about 6 dof’s Educational Manipulator

Last December, the 10th (2014), José María presented his Master Thesis about an educational 6 Dof’s manipulator programmable under Simulink.

Educational Manipulator Programmable under Simulink

Educational Manipulator Programmable under Simulink

The arm has been designed to be used on the PIERO platform, and built usin Dynamixel servos controlled by and Arduino Mega.

Good work.


Presented Master Thesis on Navigation for Social Mobile Robots

On July, the 15th, 2014, Antonio Martín presented its Master Thesis about Navigation for Social Mobile Robots.


He developed a ROS based platform that uses a RGBD sensor for people detection. Some sonars were added for local obstacle avoidance.

ROS based mobile platform developed

ROS based mobile platform developed

The original report “Robot móvil con comportamientos sociales” can be downloaded.

Thanks, Antonio!


Presented Master Thesis about Educational Mobile Robots

On July, the 15th, 2014, J. Gil Lozano presented its Master Thesis about Educational Mobile Robots programmable under Matlab/Simulink. The original title is “Sistema didáctico para programación de robots móviles en Matlab/Simulink”.


The student participated in the development of the PIERO mobile platform for teaching robotics and mechatronics. He worked with the version 1.0 of the platform and developed lab-work using both the Arduino and the Raspberry PI computing boards.

More details are going to be published at the annual conference of the spanish society of automation.

The report (Project Report) is available, although was written in spanish.

Thanks, Juan!