DARPA Developed One of The Fastest Robots Around – The Cheetah

According to Business Week the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is funding Boston Dynamics’ development of a prototype robot called the Cheetah. The robot managed to set a new land speed record at 18 mph for legged robots on March 5.

Marc Raiberts, the head of Boston Dynamics, believes the cat robot should be able to clock speeds up to 40mph after “key design and technical features are further refined.” Raibert also believes this kind of technology can be beneficial in a battlefield to operate as a “scout.” The company also believes that it can be useful during civilian disasters although no such time frame has been released for when this sort of technology could be used.

Right now the Cheetah runs while “tethered to a hydraulic pump for power and relied on a boom-like device to help maintain power.” Raibert referred to this set up as “training wheels.” He also said that later this year the company would start testing a free-running robot that will have a gas-powered engine and software capable of running 3D movements.

The main problem for getting this type of robot working on the ground is the battery. There is very little room for a battery on this machine, so the battery must not only be small but has to be strong enough to power it.

Raibert told Time, “Our approach is to get the basic concept and scientific solution working in the lab in a simplified setting then do the system integration needed to get the machine outdoors.”

Conroe TX Police Drone Crashes Into Police

The Examiner reports that the Montgomery County (Conroe TX) Sheriff’s Office had a small mishap with one of their new toys. A $300,000 dollar toy to be exact. According to the report, the sheriff’s SWAT team suited up with all their fire power. They brought everything, including the “Bearcat,” which is a large APC they use to transport the officers to different locations. While they were getting ready, they launched the experimental drone developed by Vanguard Defense Industries to take pictures and video of the police in action – then it crashed onto the police vehicle.

According to Vanguard CEO Michael Buscher said his company’s prototype drone was flying about 18-feet off the ground when it lost contact with the controller’s console on the ground.   It’s designed to go into an auto shutdown mode, according to Buscher, but when it was coming down the drone crashed into the SWAT team’s armored vehicle.

Luckily no police officers were injured during the crash, and to be honest, it wouldn’t of crashed if the armored vehicle was on the way. Most drones now days have the ability to “glide” or to return to a pre-programmed location. The only problem is that these drones don’t have the ability to see towers, trees, power lines, people, vehicles, or any other thing around them. Once they lose connection to their ground unit, they instantly begin to fly or glide to a safe area hoping that nothing is going to be on the way.

Don’t get me wrong, as you can see from the video above, these drones can really make the difference in battle, or just patrolling the city from above. If a criminal went out the back door while they were conducting a raid, the drone is cheaper to fly around than a helicopter. Also, if the drone gets shot at, no officers are in danger of getting hurt – unless it crashes on top of them.

They have been unable to figure out what caused the disconnection error, but small problems like these need to be fixed before we start patrolling the streets with drones, last thing you want is to have a 7′ foot drone landing on top of your car on your way to work.  [Examiner]

The WiRC Controller Lets You Operate Any RC Toy Using Your iPhone

Toy Fair 2012 was pretty bad ass this year, they had a whole bunch of new gadgets and toys that made us wish we were kids again. But one of the toys that really called out to me was more of a gadget than anything else. The Dension’s new WiRC controller allows you to control any RC vehicle using your iPhone.

The controller unit can easily be integrated into the RC vehicle, this can be a race car, boat, plane, robot, or any other device that can be remote controlled. The device uses a Wi-Fi Signal – enhancing the name Wi-RC- which lets you connect at a longer distance, additionally, the kit allows you to control up to 8 different servos at the same time – which can come in handy when flying RC planes. You do need to take into consideration the fact that unlike radio signals, Wi-Fi signals don’t connect instantly. If your plane goes out of range, and somehow manages to float towards your signal again, you may have trouble saving it from a crash.

The kit also allows you to tweak, the controls and sensitivity levels for the touch screen joysticks. If you’re using an iPhone, you can use the gyro motion sensors to control your RC vehicles.  The best thing about the kit is that it comes with a webcam to allow you to see where you are driving, sailing, or flying to straight onto your iPhone’s screen.

If you’re an RC aficionado, then this gadget is definitely for you, with a $179 price tag, it certainly isn’t a cheap upgrade to your Toys R Us RC car. But, if you live and breathe RC, then this is an awesome addition to your hobby. Check out the image gallery at the bottom: – via Hobby Media

Scientists Created A Machine For Printing Houses On The Moon

The main problems that we face when were trying to colonise another planet, or the moon, is that our Mooninites are not going to have a place to live. Then we have the whole problem with gravitational forces, if you remember the videos of the astronauts jumping around and falling all over the place then you can see that building a home is going to be more of a hassle than anything else. Then you run into yet another problem, this one is a bit more economical than anything else, it is very expensive to lift things off the ground and throw them into space. The more material you need to send up there, the more prohibitively expensive your problem is. But lets say that Gingrich get’s elected as president and we must build a moon colony – How do we do it?

For starters, we can solve the whole “carrying supplies” problem by making the concrete out of the moon itself.  Then you send out robots that resemble large 3d printing machines and quite literally print out an entire military base. When the base is complete, THEN, you send out Gingrich to colonise it.

USC Professors Behrokh Khoshnevis (Engineering), Anders Carlson (Architecture), Neil Leach (Architecture), and Madhu Thangavelu (Astronautics) completed their first robot to do exactly that. A robot arm extrudes concrete while automated trowels smooth the material into place. On earth, the promise it gives is low-cost, individually customized house construction–the same promises that 3-D printers give to object creation, but on an architectural scale.

On the moon, the basic idea is enhanced fully mobile crafting bots and by on-site quarrying and processing–as it turns out, moon rock has almost all the basic ingredients for concrete. “We will melt the lunar sand and rocks and extrude, the same way some rocks are made naturally on earth from volcanic lava,” says Dr. Khoshnevis.

Check out the video above to see how all of this works out, now we just need to find a way to get this project in motion, OR we could use this same robot to help the people in Africa make houses, either way, this technology takes our dream of colonising other planets and moons a step closer to reality. [Fast Code Design]

The Coolest Toy Ever An RC Robot Bird That Atually Flies

Who said robots couldn’t fly by flapping a set of wings? I know this is probably the most inefficient way of making something fly, but it’s definitely something that’s cool and awesome. The reason “bird like” planes are difficult to get off the ground is because of the way the wings move. When a flat wing moves up, it creates pressure to the top of the wing that pushes the object down, when the wing comes down, it makes the pressure on the bottom side of the wing that pushes the object up. So you can see how this would be difficult.

Engineers have long given up on the whole “let’s fly like a bird design” and focused on the more traditional, more effective, more durable designs that we’re used to now days – the ones with the turbine and flat steady wings. This doesn’t mean that other people didn’t keep on trying, but the majority did. Mainly because of the video I posted on the right where this poor man completely destroys his invention in a matter of minutes.

The video from above is actually an original Sean Kinkade (SK) Park Hawk! Version 1! It truly is an amazing machine. Its hard to believe when you first see it, but it is the easiest thing to fly and has proven to be quite robust. Robert, the guy flying the bird, found this gem hanging from the roof of one of their local hobby shops and had to pick it up. Surprisingly, the bird flies better than the “much older human size counter part” if you’re interested in buying one go directly to the source – http://www.flappingflight.com/ Via: RCUAV

Giant Lego Sorting Plant Made Out Of Legos

The Lego Sorting Machine in the video above was made by the the folks at BrickIt, this is a small but impressive, Lego sorting factory to demonstrate the firm’s manufacturing execution system. And they are damn good at executing that system. They used over 37,000 pieces of Lego, 28 different types of motors, 22 different, color and ultrasonic sensors, and 7 Mindstorm NXT controllers.

They then added a couple of conveyor belts to add to the effect and when they finally got it started, all systems work together to effectively sort 2×4 and 1×2 bricks by size and color. When the box of assorted Legos gets full, a robot will automatically remove it, replacing it with an empty container so the plant can continue working away.  And all this time I thought you couldn’t use Legos to do anything to creative… [via The NXT Step]

These Humanoid Robots Fighting and Playing Soccer is Strangely Amusing

You may not see sparks flying out of these robots after every hit, and the robots may not have elaborate weapons like their bigger and faster counterparts – Battlebots, but these are actually pretty interesting to watch fight.

The event took place in Japan on Christmas day at the Buddhist Hall in Tsukiji, Tokyo in a Robot Pro Wrestling Event. The two robots on the video above are the Nagare Gold and the Thunderbolt. The robot in the background is the referee. The video was uploaded by Robots-Dreams and is one of the many videos they have on their youtube channel. They have everything from running, to soccer playing robots – the video at the bottom is an embed of their soccer match.

Okay so the fight is a bit slow, there were no swords flying around, and the robots weren’t as cool as transformers, but one of the bots did have a secret weapon – a canon that KO’d the other bot out cold.

I love how the referee gets don on one knee and gives the count down when the robot when down. Here is a hint, if you’re rooting for the gold guy, you may want to wait till the 5:50 mark in the video to see Thunderbolt pull out his cannon. I’m not exactly sure where he shot it from, but I’m guessing it was from one of his eye balls. Regardless, he totally owned Nagare Gold!

Then in the video below we had a classic soccer match final, it was just as amusing as the fight. In this match, they paired up in teams of 3 and went head to head. The 3:3 robot soccer competition came down to the US vs. Japan in the match to determine who would go home with the gold medal. At the end, the Japanese dominated the game with their superior leg splitting robots. There were a few intense moments in the match though – the US even had the crowd going for a while but the other team played with pride and took the Medal.

This is how Santa Trains for his Global Flight Around the World

Going around the globe in a single night, means that Santa needs to be flying at well over 2000 times faster than the speed of sound, and that’s not taking into consideration getting out of the sled down the chimney and back out and taking off.

But this video found on Youtube shows you how Santa trains for this epic flying journey. He actually puts in some time in the Universal Motion Simulator in the Centre for Intelligent Systems Research located in Australia’s Deakin University – that makes sense – Sweet, we can believe in Santa again thanks to YouTube