3D Printed Musical Instruments and Humanoid Robots: The Occupy Mars Band

Kids Talk Radio speaks with Laurent Bernadac about using 3D printed violins in the Occupy Mars Band.

Innovation at the 2018 NAMM Show





3Dvarius made an impression at last year’s NAMM Show with the introduction of its 3D-printed electric violin. Now the innovative instrument maker is back at the 2018 show with three brand new models.

The Line is inspired by the original 3Dvarius design. Unlike the original plastic violin, the Line has been simplified for a perfect adaptation to its new material: wood.

Its body is composed of these two woods (beech and sipo) organised in parallel lines, and oriented in the exact direction of the sound-waves running through the instrument when played. It uses the firm’s “S Pickup” to deliver a clear sound.

The pre-order price starts at €999.

The Equinox is made of a mixture of 3D-printed resin, wood and aluminium. Like the 3Dvarius, its central wood body is created in one single piece. This ensures a perfect accuracy of the audio spectrum and allows for smooth, optimal sound-wave flow throughout the instrument.

It is equipped with a “X Piezoelectric Pickup” to deliver a powerful sound and prevent feedback.

The pre-oder price starts at €2,249.

Last but not least, the company has introduced a 5-string version of its popular original 4-string 3Dvarius violin.

Created in partnership with a number of violinists in order to select the best lengths, heights and spaces for its neck, pickup and strings, the 5-string model is designed to give players to chance to expand their playing range and explore new styles of music and tone.

The 5-string model is available now with a price tag of €7,499.

Robots and Autism Research

Robots Publications and Autism

This page provides details of publications on robots and people on the autism spectrum. For more publications on this topic please see entries on robots in our publications database.

If you know of any other publications we should include please email info@researchautism.net with the details. Thank you.

Please note that Research Autism is unable to supply publications unless we are listed as the publisher. However, if you are a UK resident you may be able to obtain them from your local public library, your college library, The National Autistic Society’s Library(Open in new window) or direct from the publisher.

Related Publications

Exploring Robots That Help Students on the Autism Spectrum

5 Promising Robots for Kids with Autism

Robots are helping autistic children in ways humans can’t. Here are five social robots helping autistic children become more independent by improving their motor and social skills.

By Steve Crowe  May 3, 2016

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 68 American children has an autism spectrum disorder. Autism varies case by case, but a couple common traits is that children are uncomfortable with eye contact and they struggle with reading people’s emotions. Both of these make it difficult for to them to interact with others.

However, recent research has found that autistic children are more comfortable interacting with robots than humans, in part because robots are more predictable and can be controlled. Experts also say teaching social skills to children with autism requires frequent repetition. Last time I checked, robots are great at repetition.

“Children with autism have trouble understanding and engaging other people’s emotions, and with socially assistive robots, the child may be more readily engaged without being overwhelmed,” said Laurie Dickstein-Fischer, an assistant professor at Massachusetts’ Salem State University’s School of Education.

And since toys are often more approachable than people for children with autism, we’re starting to see an influx of social robots that can be great tools to help autism therapy. Just today, for example, Leka the social robot launched on Indiegogo. Leka has been co-developed with parents, therapists and caregivers to make therapy more accessible to children with autism, Down’s syndrome, or multiple disabilities. Leka’s goal is to help these children become more independent and improve their motor and social skills.

So, this got us thinking about what other robots are helping autistic children in ways humans can’t. Sure, there are older robots out there not on our list, such as KASPAR and Bandit, but we rounded up robots looking to have a much bigger impact on autism therapy going forward.

Click here for 5 Promising Robots for Kids with Autism.

Autism Spectrum Disorder Research

Teachers, administrators,scientists and engineers at the Barboza Space Space in Long Beach, California are exploring how the Nao humanoid robot can play a role is assisting students, parents and teachers.   We invite you to see what others are doing in this field.

.  Image result for Nao Robot


Shape the Path


Be Part of the Journey


Dr. Joshua Deihl – Notre Dame


Robots Play a Part


Story of Robots and autism


Interactive Robots Help Children with autism

2018 Student Mars Engineering Contest

Join the Mars Society Red Eagle Student Engineering Contest
January 30th Letter of Intent Deadline

The Barboza Space has a fellowship program for students that might want to participate in this Mars Engineering lander design contest.   Contact: Bob Barboza at. Suprschool@aol.com

The Mars Society announced last September the Red Eagle Student Engineering Contest to design a lander capable of delivering a ten metric ton payload safely to the surface of Mars. The competition is open to student teams from around the world. Participants are free to choose any technology to accomplish the mission and need to submit design reports of no more than 50 pages by March 31, 2018.

These contest reports will be evaluated by judges and serve as the basis for a down-select to ten finalists who will be invited to present their work in person at the next International Mars Society Convention in September 2018. The first place winning team will receive a trophy and a $10,000 cash prize. Second through fifth place winners will receive trophies and prizes of $5,000, 3,000, $2000, and $1,000 respectively.

For full contest details and regulations, please click here.

All teams wishing to compete in the Red Eagle contest should submit a letter of intent by email to the Mars Society no later than January 30, 2018. Earlier submission is advantageous, however, as it will insure that you are kept informed of any changes and supplied with the answers to any questions posed by other teams. The letter should include the team name, university or universities participating, and email and postal addresses for at least two team contacts.th-3.jpegth-4.jpegth-2.jpeg

Spending the Day with Pepper the Robot

Should I take Pepper the Humanoid Robot with me to Mars?

Bob & Pepper Jan 13.pngIMG_1532.jpg

PIMG_1530 2.jpgeIMG_1513.jpgIMG_1514.jpgIMG_1517.jpgpperPepper.jpgIMG_1533 2.jpg
The robot Pepper standing in a retail environment

Manufacturer Aldebaran Robotics (now SoftBank Robotics)
Country France
Year of creation 2014 prototype
Type Humanoid
Purpose Technology demonstrator
Website www.aldebaran.com/en/a-robots/who-is-pepper

Pepper is a humanoid robot by French robotics company Aldebaran Robotics, which is owned by SoftBank, designed with the ability to read emotions. It was introduced in a conference on 5 June 2014, and was showcased in Softbank mobile phone stores in Japan beginning the next day.[1][2] It was scheduled to be available in February 2015 at a base price of JPY 198,000 ($1,931) at Softbank Mobile stores.[3] Pepper’s emotion comes from the ability to analyze expressions and voice tones. In Japan there is also a monthly fee of $360 that has to be paid over 3 years.

Pepper was launched in the UK in 2016 and there are currently two versions available.


Pepper in AkihabaraJapan, 2014.

The robot’s head has four microphones, two HD cameras (in the mouth and forehead), and a 3-D depth sensor (behind the eyes). There is a gyroscope in the torso and touch sensors in the head and hands. The mobile base has two sonars, six lasers, three bumper sensors, and a gyroscope.[4]

It is able to run the existing content in the app store designed for Aldebaran’s other robot, Nao.[5]


Pepper is not a functional robot for domestic use. Instead, Pepper is intended “to make people happy”, enhance people’s lives, facilitate relationships, have fun with people and connect people with the outside world.[6] Pepper’s creators hope that independent developers will create new content and uses for Pepper.[7]

Pepper is currently being used as a receptionist at several offices in the UK and is able to identify visitors with the use of facial recognition, send alerts for meeting organisers and arrange for drinks to be made. Pepper is said to be able to chat to prospective clients.

The robot has also been employed at banks and medical facilities in Japan, using applications created by Seikatsu Kakumei.[8][9][10]


Pepper is available as a research robot for schools, colleges and universities to teach programming and conduct research into human-robot interactions. In the United Kingdom, it is available through Rapid Electronics Limited for this purpose.

An Android SDK will be available in 2017.


Pepper in a Darty shop in France at La Défense, 2016.

  • Height: 1.20 metres (4 ft)
  • Depth: 425 millimetres (17 in)
  • Width: 485 millimetres (19 in)
Weight 28 kilograms (62 lb)
Battery Lithium-ion battery
Capacity: 30.0Ah/795Wh
Operation time: approx. 12hrs (when used at shop)
Display 10.1-inch touch display
Head Mic x 4, RGB camera x 2,3D sensor x 1, Touch sensor x 3
Chest Gyro sensor x 1
Hands Touch sensor x 2
Legs Sonar sensor x 2, Laser sensor x 6, Bumper sensor x 3, Gyro sensor x 1
Moving parts Degrees of motion
Head (2°), Shoulder (2° L&R), Elbow (2 rotations L&R), Wrist (1° L&R), Hand with 5 fingers (1° L&R), Hip (2°), Knee (1°), Base (3°)
20 Motors
Platform NAOqi OS
Networking Wi-Fi: IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n (2.4GHz/5GHz)
Ethernet x1 (10/100/1000 base T)
Motion speed Up to 3 kilometres per hour (2 mph)
Climbing Up to 1.5 centimetres (0.6 in)


What Robots Work Best On Mars?

Humanoid robots are now used as research tools in several scientific areas.  Bob Barboza wants to train robots to care for astronauts taking the long journey to MARS.

Researchers study the human body structure and behavior (biomechanics) to build humanoid robots. On the other side, the attempt to simulate the human body leads to a better understanding of it. Human cognition is a field of study which is focused on how humans learn from sensory information in order to acquire perceptual and motor skills. This knowledge is used to develop computational models of human behavior and it has been improving over time.

Bob & Pepper Jan 13.png440px-Atlas_from_boston_dynamics.jpg

It has been suggested that very advanced robotics will facilitate the enhancement of ordinary humans. See transhumanism.

Although the initial aim of humanoid research was to build better orthosis and prosthesis for human beings, knowledge has been transferred between both disciplines. A few examples are powered leg prosthesis for neuromuscularly impaired, ankle-foot orthosis, biological realistic leg prosthesis and forearm prosthesis.


Besides the research, humanoid robots are being developed to perform human tasks like personal assistance, through which they should be able to assist the sick and elderly, and dirty or dangerous jobs. Humanoids are also suitable for some procedurally-based vocations, such as reception-desk administrators and automotive manufacturing line workers. In essence, since they can use tools and operate equipment and vehicles designed for the human form, humanoids could theoretically perform any task a human being can, so long as they have the proper software. However, the complexity of doing so is immense.


They are also becoming increasingly popular as ente340px-Nao_humanoid_robot.jpgrtainers. For example, Ursula, a female robot, sings, plays music, dances and speaks to her audiences at Universal Studios. Several Disney theme park shows utilize animatronic robots that look, move and speak much like human beings. Although these robots look realistic, they have no cognition or physical autonomy. Various humanoid robots and their possible applications in daily life are featured in an independent documentary film called Plug & Pray, which was released in 2010.

Humanoid robots, especially those with artificial intelligence algorithms, could be useful for future dangerous and/or distant space exploration missions, without having the need to turn back around again and return to Earth once the mission is completed.


A sensor is a device that measures some attribute of the world. Being one of the three primitives of robotics (besides planning and control), sensing plays an important role in robotic paradigms.

Sensors can be classified according to the physical process with which they work or according to the type of measurement information that they give as output. In this case, the second approach was used.

Proprioceptive sensors[edit]

Proprioceptive sensors sense the position, the orientation and the speed of the humanoid’s body and joints.

In human beings the otoliths and semi-circular canals (in the inner ear) are used to maintain balance and orientation. In addition humans use their own proprioceptive sensors (e.g. touch, muscle extension, limb position) to help with their orientation. Humanoid robots use accelerometers to measure the acceleration, from which velocity can be calculated by integration; tilt sensors to measure inclination; force sensors placed in robot’s hands and feet to measure contact force with environment; position sensors, that indicate the actual position of the robot (from which the velocity can be calculated by derivation) or even speed sensors.

Exteroceptive sensors[edit]

An artificial hand holding a lightbulb

Arrays of tactels can be used to provide data on what has been touched. The Shadow Hand uses an array of 34 tactels arranged beneath its polyurethane skin on each finger tip.[3] Tactile sensors also provide information about forces and torques transferred between the robot and other objects.

Vision refers to processing data from any modality which uses the electromagnetic spectrum to produce an image. In humanoid robots it is used to recognize objects and determine their properties. Vision sensors work most similarly to the eyes of human beings. Most humanoid robots use CCD cameras as vision sensors.

Sound sensors allow humanoid robots to hear speech and environmental sounds, and perform as the ears of the human being. Microphones are usually used for this task.


Actuators are the motors responsible for motion in the robot.

Humanoid robots are constructed in such a way that they mimic the human body, so they use actuators that perform like muscles and joints, though with a different structure. To achieve the same effect as human motion, humanoid robots use mainly rotary actuators. They can be either electric, pneumatic, hydraulic, piezoelectric or ultrasonic.

Hydraulic and electric actuators have a very rigid behavior and can only be made to act in a compliant manner through the use of relatively complex feedback control strategies. While electric coreless motor actuators are better suited for high speed and low load applications, hydraulic ones operate well at low speed and high load applications.

Piezoelectric actuators generate a small movement with a high force capability when voltage is applied. They can be used for ultra-precise positioning and for generating and handling high forces or pressures in static or dynamic situations.

Ultrasonic actuators are designed to produce movements in a micrometer order at ultrasonic frequencies (over 20 kHz). They are useful for controlling vibration, positioning applications and quick switching.

Pneumatic actuators operate on the basis of gas compressibility. As they are inflated, they expand along the axis, and as they deflate, they contract. If one end is fixed, the other will move in a linear trajectory. These actuators are intended for low speed and low/medium load applications. Between pneumatic actuators there are: cylinders, bellows, pneumatic engines, pneumatic stepper motors and pneumatic artificial muscles.

Planning and control[edit]

In planning and control, the essential difference between humanoids and other kinds of robots (like industrial ones) is that the movement of the robot has to be human-like, using legged locomotion, especially biped gait. The ideal planning for humanoid movements during normal walking should result in minimum energy consumption, as it does in the human body. For this reason, studies on dynamics and control of these kinds of structures has become increasingly important.

The question of walking biped robots stabilization on the surface is of great importance. Maintenance of the robot’s gravity center over the center of bearing area for providing a stable position can be chosen as a goal of control.[4]

To maintain dynamic balance during the walk, a robot needs information about contact force and its current and desired motion. The solution to this problem relies on a major concept, the Zero Moment Point (ZMP).

Another characteristic of humanoid robots is that they move, gather information (using sensors) on the “real world” and interact with it. They don’t stay still like factory manipulators and other robots that work in highly structured environments. To allow humanoids to move in complex environments, planning and control must focus on self-collision detection, path planning and obstacle avoidance.

Humanoid robots do not yet have some features of the human body. They include structures with variable flexibility, which provide safety (to the robot itself and to the people), and redundancy of movements, i.e. more degrees of freedom and therefore wide task availability. Although these characteristics are desirable to humanoid robots, they will bring more complexity and new problems to planning and control. The field of whole-body control deals with these issues and addresses the proper coordination of numerous degrees of freedom, e.g. to realize several control tasks simultaneously while following a given order of priority.[5]