Category: Progress


The orbs breath life into us as we breath life into them!

This coming weekend we’ll be making a new push to bring the orbs to the next level with communication, choreography, and autonomy!

New Stickers for Techkriti!

The folks at Stickergiant are great fans of SWARM! John printed up a set of really nice 4″ reflective stickers. The students at Techkriti at IIT Kanpur India really dug them! I asked for a couple students to show off their new techno-schwag:

SWARM stickers at Techkriti

SWARM at SubZERO San Jose June 5th 2009

We’ll be rolling our orbots into the hearts of San Jose-ians (hmm, “San Franciscan” rolls off the tongue… there’s got to be a better phrase ;-) ) on June 5th. The orbs will be rolling around downtown at the prestigious SubZERO event! ZER01!


SWARM at Google IO Conference, Maker Faire, Robogames

Building the rolling, singing robotic singularity takes a lot of work, I tell ya! After they’ve taken over, things will be so much easier, I’m sure.

In the mean time, you can see SWARM at several events in the coming weeks.

We’ll be at the After Hours party at the Google IO Developer Conference this Wednesday, May 27th.

This upcoming weekend we’ll be at Maker Faire in San Mateo May 30 & 31st.

and then Robogames in San Francisco, June 12-14! 

Orbots for the future!
Lee for SWARM

SWARM is Open Source

Want to make your own robots? We invite you to stand on our shoulders!

After taking in feedback from our entire group, I am pleased to write that the SWARM Project is now completely open source.

We had previously put restrictions on commercial re-use of our project.

The exact terms of the license can be found here:


We’ve been lax about posting to the SWARM blog… SWARM gets out way more than you know!

Last week the orbs were found dancing and flirting with the laptops at the Jaunty Jackalope Ubuntu Linux Release party! (Each orb runs ARM embedded Debian, pretty nerdy, huh?)

This Thursday 4-30-09 a cadre of orbs will be migrating to the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco for a “Nightlife” event! We’ll be there along with the Robots from RoboGames! (bartending bots are so cool)

Be there or be … round.

The orbs will be rolling out to Makers Faire in San Mateo. Don’t go to see us, go to see Maker Faire with your family! It’s really a tremendous event. 

You know what, you -should- go to Maker Faire to see orbs!

And I didn’t even mention SWARM at Subzero in San Jose June 1….  or more orbage at Robogames in San Francisco June 12-14! Oh wait, I just did. :-)

Here’s a bit more about the Jaunty Jackalope release party!

Read more »

Autonomy: well that just kinda worked

Trebor writes:

tonight mike and i spent some quality time with orb 2.  it went well.   

in the attached image, the input targets are black dots, the generated smooth path is in red, and the measured orb path is in green.  more images can be found here:

no simulation here, this is the real thing. :)


SWARM on its way to Burning Man

An email from Michael posted to the SWARM mailing list earlier today


the truck will be on the road in a few minutes!  Congratulations on all your hard work; we have six working orbs, four fully outfitted for autonomy, two autonomous sequences which can be activated directly by joystick, and a good start at the mother node integration which we can build on at the playa!

You rock, swarm rocks, and open your minds to where we can go from here….

Orbs Following a Path

From Mike Prados

tonight, Niladri and I started the dispatcher program, detached the ethernet cable, and removed our stuff to a respectable distance from orb 1 on the soccer field.  It then spent a minute figuring out the initial bias on its sensors, and started rolling.  It turned left and followed the line of the mid-field circle, and corrected a bit.  It never strayed more than 2-3m from the line, we never turned the joystick on, and after four complete circles, we got tired of walking along with it and turned it off.
(image in SVN)

I’m sure we could have left it going until the batteries wore down.

We are standing at the edge of great things.  Most of them will happen eventually, but we have a special opportunity to make some of them happen in a little over a week.  How far we get between now and then is up to all of us.  Of course, the more we can nail down the platform, the more time we will have to develop the art.

There is a lot to do.  Please help to make it happen!

Followup from Niladri

It was pretty awesome to see the orb do circles. I thought it was the absinthe. On a field with no markings and with a slightly bigger circle I bet it will be hard to tell the 2-3 m deviation.  Although an orb autonomously following a circle on a field is a fine demonstration of our technical skills it’s not that interesting in terms of art.   The unique window and ~40k spectators  that BM offers will probably won’t come by soon. And these people will remember us by what we put out there on the playa and not what we do later in the shop. So ye autonomy people please please make the whole thing happen. Feel free to pass on non-autonomy work to the rest of us. As Jon remarked yesterday there has been a lot of stack popping lately and it’s wonderful. Yay we are now artists again.


A shoutout from Michael

One of the most important factors in going from the random paths we had a couple weeks ago to our current semblance of path following is changing to the U-blox LEA-5H GPS modules.  These outperform anything else we’ve seen at the sub $300 price point, but they are not available from the manufacturer with an integrated antenna.  Fortunately, the folks at PPZUAV have created an awesome PCB for the modules with an integrated antenna, which provides on board voltage regulation and comm out via RS-232, TTL serial, and usb.  They’ve been extremely helpful, and I’d recommend them happily!

Famous in teh interweb echo chamber

The lovely and talented (with a blowtorch, power screw driver, spatula, and clipboard) Simone at Suicide Bots posted about SWARM’s immenent autonomous overlord status and the “mainstream” media was quick to pick up the story.



bot junkie
We’ve archived all the stories.

LouiseBrooks theme byThemocracy