■ FIGURE 6.
Download page for
Simbad is obviously designed with
researcher or programmer in mind.
It’s a definite must-have application for
a long plane flight
as it allows you to
■ FIGURE 5. Simbad simulator.
SAILING ON WITH
For fans of open FOSS, Simbad is
the way to go for robotics simulation.
Hosted on Source Forge and distributed under the GNU public license,
Simbad’s JAVA roots make it compatible with a plethora of platforms. I used
the JAVA version under Windows XP
with no trouble at all and was delighted
with the capabilities of this product
(Figure 5). This is serious
simulation software for
doing advanced robotics
research. From their website:
■ FIGURE 7. Google
Sketchup with SCARA
robot arm simulator.
“Simbad is a Java 3D
robot simulator for scientific
and educational purposes.
It is mainly dedicated to
who want a simple
basis for studying Situated
Artificial Intelligence, Machine
Learning, and more generally
AI algorithms, in the context
of Autonomous Robotics
and Autonomous Agents. It
is not intended to provide a
real world simulation and
is kept voluntarily readable
and simple. Simbad enables
programmers to write
their own robot controller,
modify the environment,
and use the available
sensors. Don’t think of it as
a finite product but merely
as an opened framework to
test your own ideas.”
If serious three dimensional
drawing is what you’re after, Google
has made available an amazing CAD
tool called Google Sketchup that can
be used to model all kinds of objects.
Though available as a free download
(Figure 6), they also offer a pro version
for $500. Since Google has such a vast
presence on the Internet, the user base
for this program is huge, and the
libraries of free models is simply stunning. Sketchup can support plug-ins that
expand its functionality. One such is the
“Google Sketchy Physics” module. This
plug-in allows you to apply Newtonian
physics to your models in real time.
One of the first models I found in
searching for robotics was a complete
SCARA (Selective Compliant Assembly
Robot Arm) model with real physics
(Figure 7)! And this was just the beginning. If you go to the Google Sketchup
3D Warehouse, you can search through
tons of models (Figure 8) so you don’t
have to re-invent the wheel. (Literally!
you can download models of wheels!)
Lots of other robotic parts and even
complete robotic systems have also
already been modeled and are ready to
be downloaded and assembled into
your own virtual bot (Figure 9).
THIS IS THE
DROIDQUEST YOU ARE
■ FIGURE 8. Google 3D
Warehouse with pre-made
For those of you who remember
the Apple ][ computer, you may be