Dropping Science: The Greatest Lego Machine

 

I received some of Lego’s robot building kit for Christmas last year and succeeded in building a little car that drove forwards, turned left and then got stuck under the coffee table. Japanese robot fan Akiyuki has gone one better than that (and then one better again and then about a million better on top of that) by constructing a lego machine that gives small toy balls the kind of epic journey usually reserved for Greek mythological heroes. It’s kind of a Rube Goldberg machine except it’s entirely self sustaining and so doesn’t require any components to be manually reset.

It’s an incredible feat of pointless yet wonderful engineering and I absolutely love it.

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(We’re down at Demoncon in Maidstone tomorrow so if you’re about, feel free to pop along and say hi!)

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Dropping Science: Rise of the Nano-Copters!

 

Remote controlled Quadrocopters (aircraft powered by 4 rotors) have been cropping up around the world for a while now. The combination of stability and manoeuvrability  makes them perfect aerial toys but at heart they are essentially robots and wherever there are robots, there are robotics scientists.

A team from KMel Robotics, in conjunction with the University of Pennsylvania have developed a swarm of nano-quadrocopters which can accept some scarily advanced programming. In this video the team demonstrate how the little bots can fly in formation and even alter their flight patterns to navigate around objects, contracting and expanding like some kind of creepy, flying mecha-water.

It’s a brilliant bit of robotics and an excellent demonstration. I just hope that somebody has John Connor’s number to hand.

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Dropping Science: Chatbot Meets Chatbot, Confusion Ensues

 

Most of us are familiar with the concept of a chatbot. It’s basically a piece of software designed to listen to questions and generate plausibly “human” answers from a set of pre-assigned responses. Much like the famous man vs machine Chessbot contests, Chatbot designers are always striving to create a bot that is able to pass as human.

By adding enough variables it’s possible to create bots that can put on a pretty good show of answering anything a human can throw at it. This of course leads to the question of what happens when you point two such dark mirrors at one another. Well, some folks at Cornell Creative Machines Lab decided to put it to the test and it turns out that the result is a mixture of philosophy, petulance and unicorns…yes, unicorns.

The Cylon war is still a ways off, I fear.

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Karakuri: The first Japanese Clockwork Robots

Karakuri from Matthew Allard on Vimeo.

The Japanese have had more than a passing interest in robotics for generations. Well before the term robotics was coined the fine art of engineering Karakuri was developed. The patient and refined art of creating small clockwork models move in an almost unimaginably natural and refined way. Check this out to see a lady robot right a tiny Japanese symbol and then nod suggestively at you. Beautiful and a testament to fine artists and engineers and designers who slave everywhere to bring pieces of rare and unimaginable beauty.

New Trailer takes the Battleship to another level

Games adaptations have a chequered past in Hollywood but this might be the one that breaks the rule. Why worry about computer games? Look at the classics of the day and go back to boardgames. After all Clue did alright didn’t it? Kerplunk: The Movie will no doubt be on its way soon.

Destroy All Robots 1: Eve

Trading Card design introducing one of the characters from Destroy all Robots by Darrin Grimwood, a novel in which a disparate group of robots specialised for specific industries are pitched against each other in a televised fight to the wrecking yard on an isolated Island on the South China Sea. Completed in 2010, Darrin is currently pitching the idea in the US. More info is available at http://www.destroyallrobots.com.

Destroy All Robots 2: Dumpmaster

Trading Card design introducing one of the characters from Destroy all Robots by Darrin Grimwood, a novel in which a disparate group of robots specialised for specific industries are pitched against each other in a televised fight to the wrecking yard on an isolated Island on the South China Sea. Completed in 2010, Darrin is currently pitching the idea in the US. More info is available at http://www.destroyallrobots.com.

Destroy All Robots 4: Blast Furnace

Trading Card design introducing one of the characters from Destroy all Robots by Darrin Grimwood, a novel in which a disparate group of robots specialised for specific industries are pitched against each other in a televised fight to the wrecking yard on an isolated Island on the South China Sea. Completed in 2010, Darrin is currently pitching the idea in the US. More info is available at http://www.destroyallrobots.com.

Destroy all Robots 5: Steel Shark

Trading Card design introducing one of the characters from Destroy all Robots by Darrin Grimwood, a novel in which a disparate group of robots specialised for specific industries are pitched against each other in a televised fight to the wrecking yard on an isolated Island on the South China Sea. Completed in 2010, Darrin is currently pitching the idea in the US. More info is available at http://www.destroyallrobots.com.

Destroy All Robots 6: Redneck’s Revenge

Trading Card design introducing one of the characters from Destroy all Robots by Darrin Grimwood, a novel in which a disparate group of robots specialised for specific industries are pitched against each other in a televised fight to the wrecking yard on an isolated Island on the South China Sea. Completed in 2010, Darrin is currently pitching the idea in the US. More info is available at http://www.destroyallrobots.com.