alive and kicking today. Well supported by The LOGO foundation (Figure
1) and other vendors, LOGO is still
used to teach the basics of programming around the world. Typically, the
user writes commands in the language
to control an on-screen avatar, affectionately known as the “turtle.” On
their website, The LOGO Foundation
has many resources and download-able implementations of the language,
as well as tutorials and documentation, most of which is free to use.
I downloaded MSWLogo for
Windows by George Mills and Brian
Harvey and had my little turtle moving
about the screen in no time (Figure 2).
The best part about LOGO is that it’s
possible to graduate from virtual turtles,
to real turtles (okay, real robotic turtles).
So, once you’ve learned how to
make your virtual turtle turn some
tricks, you can use your skills to
program small, physical, battery-operated robots to do your bidding.
■ FIGURE 2. MSWLogo for
to enable students with no programming skills to experiment
with 2D robots. More recently,
it has acquired an ‘eTutoring’
dimension in the form of the
built-in Mission Tutor. This sits
on top of the main system
suggesting missions to the user
and giving feedback on any
progress made. Credit is calculated internally and a log can be
emailed to a named tutor at the
BugWorks is a cute little
emulator and would be good for
experimenting with basic robotic concepts. The BugWorks
online applet is free to use, but
if you want to run it off line, they
ask for a $15 payment to download a copy for your personal use.
IT’S A BUGWORKS LIFE
JUICING UP FOR 3D
it’s something fun to play with. You
can use it to create robots that walk
(if they fall down, you can call them
In searching for robot simulators, I
found “Bug Works” — a neat little 2D
robotic simulator that is JAVA based.
Simply point your browser to www.
bugworks.org and select “Free
Applet.” A moment later, you’ll have a
fully interactive 2D robotic simulator
on screen (Figure 3). The description
from their website reads:
One of the first 3D simulators I
stumbled across in my quest for a
virtual robotic world was JUICE.
Created by Nate Waddoups of
Redmond, WA, JUICE is a cross
between a CAD program and a toy
set. His own website couldn’t even
settle on a single description:
“Bug Works was originally developed
When I first started to play with
this program, I was pretty amazed it
was available for free. It allows you to
experiment with virtual components
in a virtual world and see some pretty
amazing representations of how your
device would function if you were to
actually build it. (Figure 4). I was able
to make a little hexapod robot and
experiment with its walking gaits in
just a matter of moments. Cool!
■ FIGURE 3. Bug Works
“It’s a skeletal animation
workshop, with realistic physics. It’s
like a virtual Erector set. It’s sort of like
a box of LEGO widgets. It could be a
really cheesy CAD program. Mostly,
■ FIGURE 4. JUICE with
simulated hexapod robot.
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