December has been a cool month, and I'm not only speaking of the weather.



TechTic&Co is an association created to promote science and robotics in Lorraine (the region I live in) and in the northeast of France. The reach is quite wide: the general public, but also students, professionals, researchers, ... everybody who could take part in the "robolution" (robotics revolution) Bruno Bonnell, CEO of Robopolis, talks about.

Their first big public event is a one week long exhibition (FR) covering various aspects of robotics, and it will take place in Oct. 2013 in Metz, FR.

Have a look at their website (FR):

Preparing such a big event requires a lot of work and a lot of collaboration with public services, other associations, industrials, high schools, etc. So after a few month of the staff tirelessly contacting potential partners, the date of Dec. 8th had been chosen to gather all these people in one place to make sure everybody is on the same page.

For this occasion, I have been asked to be the guest of honor, and to bring Xachi for a little demo. I don't have pictures/videos, but imagine me, awkward as ever, trying to explain my crazy passion to a crowd of 120 influent people (politicians, entrepreneurs, press)... Fun times ;)

Xachi learns to write

A week after the inaugural meeting of TechTic&Co, Xachi was once again up to make the show. This time, it was for a ceremony to celebrate the anniversary of the University the school I graduated from (ESIAL) depends of.

The name of said university is "Université Henri Poincaré" (aka UHP), after the great French mathematician born in the same town the university resides in. So the plan was to have an interlude near the end of the ceremony, where a student-made robot would write on a giant piece of paper "Merci l'UHP" ("Thanks to UHP"). I'm not a student any longer, but my robot was functional, cool and available, so in the end I got to do it.

To write stuff, I made an add-on to mount a pen on the robot. It's a little slide that can move up and down the support structure beneath Xachi's body. The pen is clamped on the slide with rubber bands, and pressure of the pen on the paper is maintained thanks to two other rubber bands driving the slide downward.

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The slide with the pen on it

Working on the cursive L

As time was scarce, I had to do some quick and dirty coding to get things done in less than 24h... So the letters were divided into a few segments and curves each, and I tried to make them look like letters by tweaking the motion parameters (speed vector, turn rate and duration). In the end, since programming "Merci" would have taken too much time, I only taught the robot to write "l'UHP", and "Merci" was written beforehand on the piece of paper, by hand.

Have a look at the last test before leaving for the event venue:

Xachi writes stuff...

Xachi is proud of his calligraphy.

This is completely scripted, but making an automatic path generator taking a set of lines as input seems like a fun project for later...

I should get the videos of the event at some point in the future, stay tuned.