Archive for July, 2017

Article: Defcon hackers find it’s very easy to break voting machines

July 30th, 2017 No comments

Defcon hackers find it’s very easy to break voting machines

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Article: Here’s what happened when that security robot drowned

July 23rd, 2017 No comments

Here’s what happened when that security robot drowned

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Salto-1P Is the Most Amazing Jumping Robot We’ve Ever Seen

July 18th, 2017 No comments

From IEEE Spectrum

By Evan Ackerman
Posted 29 Jun 2017 | 13:00 GMT

Last December, Duncan Haldane (whose research on incredibly agile bioinspired robots we’ve featured extensively in the past) ended up on the cover of the inaugural issue of Science Robotics with his jumping robot, Salto. Salto had impressive vertical jumping agility, and was able to jump from the ground onto a vertical surface, and then use that surface to change its direction with a second jump. It was very cool to watch, but the jumping was open-loop and planar, meaning that two jumps in a row was just about all that Salto could manage.

Haldane mentioned to us in December that future work on Salto could include chaining together multiple jumps, and in a paper just accepted to the 2017 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), he and co-author Justin Yim at UC Berkeley’s Biomimetic Millisystems Lab, led by Professor Ronald Fearing, show the improvements that they’ve made over the last six months. Thanks to some mechanical fine-tuning and the clever addition of a pair of thrusters, the new Salto-1P is jumping longer, faster, and higher than ever. Prepare to be amazed.

We’ve seen other jumping robots over the years, but Salto-1P takes the cake. Watch this:

Salto is short for “Saltatorial Locomotion on Terrain Obstacles,” a reference to saltatorial animals, which are adapted to locomotion by jumping. Kangaroos and rabbits are a few saltatorial animals that you’re probably familiar with, but Salto was particularly inspired by the galago, or bushbaby, which has a vertical jumping agility that no other animal can match. The galago is able to manage this thanks to a rather clever bit of leg design which uses variable mechanical advantage, leveraging the shape of their leg to amplify the force that their muscles can deliver. For all the details on the jumping ability of the original Salto (and how it’s different from other jumping robots), be sure and read our very in-depth article about it, because this article is focused on the new and upgraded Salto-1P.

The original Salto was able to control its pitch through the use of a rotating inertial tail: By spinning the tail one way, the robot could pitch itself in the other direction. This worked very well, but only in one plane, which made Salto difficult to control. Salto-1P is, according to Haldane, essentially “Salto with half of a mini-quadrotor glued to it.”

Those two little thrusters are able to control Salto-1P’s yaw and roll: When they’re thrusting in different directions, the robot yaws, and when they both thrust in the same direction, the robot rolls. Combined with the tail, that means Salto-1P (which only ways 98 grams) can stabilize and control itself in three dimensions, even in mid-air, which is what allows it to chain together so many jumps. Other hardware modifications include a deeper crouch than the original Salto, which allows more energy to be transferred from the jumping motor into the spring, giving it the highest vertical jumping agility of any battery powered robot at 1.83 m/s.

Haldane says one issue that came when they redesigned the leg mechanism to allow the robot to jump higher is that, as he puts it, “Salto lost its friendly and forgiving nature.” The robot would occasionally “fire pieces of itself across the room when the motor tore the leg-mechanism apart.” They had to do revise the design to keep everything in one piece. The video below is a compilation of Salto-1P’s “little acts of self-destruction”:

The software that Salto-1P is running to make all of this work is an adaptation of Marc Raibert’s hopping controller from 1984. Raibert’s 3D One-Leg Hopper weighed 170 times more than Salto-1P, and can’t jump nearly as high, but fundamentally the algorithm works just as well on Salto as it did on Raibert’s hopper more than 30 years ago. However, controlling Salto-1P involves some unique challenges, because the robot spends so little time on the ground. In fact, 92 percent of the time, the robot is in the air, which means that you really have to control it in the air, which is why the tail and thrusters are necessary (as opposed to control through the leg and foot).

This results in enormous accelerations (on the order of 14 g’s), and to put this in context, Haldane compares Salto-1P to a cheetah: The robot has “a lower duty cycle than a single cheetah limb at top speed,” he says, adding: “Imagine a cheetah running at top speed using only one leg, and then cut the amount of time that leg spends on the ground in half. That’s the duty factor of Salto-1P.”
“Imagine a cheetah running at top speed using only one leg, and then cut the amount of time that leg spends on the ground in half. That’s the duty factor of Salto-1P.” —Duncan Haldane, UC Berkeley

It’s important to note that when you see Salto-1P bouncing around in the video, it’s doing so untethered, but not completely autonomously: There’s a bunch of stuff going on in the background to get it to perform the way it does. The path it follows relies on motion capture, with an offboard computer (though not a particularly powerful one) receiving tracking data and wirelessly sending control commands to the robot.

“Motion capture is an easy way to track the robot that freed us up to work more on the robot mechanics,” co-author Justin Yim explains. “It’s also useful for gathering performance data since we can very closely track Salto-1P throughout its hopping.” It’s also worth noting that Salto-1P isn’t doing a lot of sensing on its own, and it’s still able to handle all those obstacles at the end of the video, which is impressive.

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Robot Magazine is no more

July 15th, 2017 No comments

From Robot Magazine insert:

We are sorry to inform you that Robot Magazine discontinued publication after March/April 2017 issue.

Ed note: I was sorry to get this note. I have been reading the magazine for years….now where will I get my fill of robot news?

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Bill Gates 11 Rules You Will Never Learn in School

July 10th, 2017 No comments

Rule 1: Life is not fair – get used to it!

Rule 2: Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one.

Rule 3: If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.

Rule 4: Your parents weren’t as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were.

Rule 5: Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT.

Rule 6: Life is not divided into semesters. You don’t get summers off.

Rule 7: Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

Rule 8: The world won’t care about your self-esteem.

Rule 9: You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school.

Rule 10: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your Grandparents had a different word for burger
flipping: they called it opportunity.

Rule 11: If your born poor, it’s not your mistake. But if you die poor, it is your mistake.

Bonus Rule: If you mess up, it’s not your parents’ fault, so don’t whine about your mistakes, learn from them.

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Orpheus – The Saddest Music Machine

July 10th, 2017 No comments

Saw this little guy on ThinkGeek and had to show it here:

Click on link above to order…..

He even has his own video:

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Watch: This short film shows robots working endlessly, stuck in a vicious cycle. Or is it us?

July 10th, 2017 No comments


Watch: This short film shows robots working endlessly, stuck in a vicious cycle. Or is it us?

Maybe it’s the story of our lives, not the machines’.

Your job may not feel as boring or predictable as the work that assembly-line robots perform, but Michael Marczewski’s animated short film Vicious Cycle will make you think again.

Be warned, though, the film gets progressively darker, even if with humorous notes, as tasks such as chopping wood or even playing baseball are broken down to reveal their monotonous essence.

“I’ve always been intrigued by intricate mechanisms,” Marczewski said. “And I began to play around and make some in Cinema 4D. Then the idea of connecting them to helpless robots came, and it evolved from there. My initial idea was to make a fake instructional video with the robots acting out various tasks to demonstrate how to do them, but then everything starts to go wrong. I think the malfunctioning allows for a lot of comedic moments in the film.”

The robots are pushed to work harder and faster, stuck in vicious cycles, until they eventually buckle under pressure and suffer a massive breakdown. Sounds familiar?

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At GenCyber Boot Camp, Memphis students get lessons in coding — and exposure to hot careers | Chalkbeat

July 6th, 2017 No comments
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Article: Robot ‘uses initiative’ to save little girl’s life as she is about to be crushed by shelving unit

July 6th, 2017 No comments

Robot ‘uses initiative’ to save little girl’s life as she is about to be crushed by shelving unit

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