Friday, 16 August 2013
Thursday, 15 August 2013
Friday, 2 August 2013
The Draganflyer X4-P helicopter is a professional quality, powerful, easy to fly aerial platform delivering high quality aerial photography and video. The aircraft is reliable because it's constructed using high quality carbon fiber and injection molded components, meaning that when you need to fly, the aircraft will perform.
Thursday, 1 August 2013
This is one of those projects that, while not necessarily a true robot, still warrants an entry on the list. It's not every day that you see a real-life working giant robot inspired by those seen in Japanese animated TV shows and video games. The Kuratas is mainly an art project, but it does contain its share of real robotics technology, such as its V-Sido (pronounced like "Bushido") software – that can be used to program and control hobby robots. And it can be yours – all 9,900 lbs (4,490 kg) of it – if you've got US$1.5 million dollars to spare.
There you have it – just a sampling of the memorable robot stories of 2012. If we missed some of your top picks, please let us know in the comments!
Toyota reveals Human Support Robot
Toyota has been working on helpful "partner" robots for about a decade now, and while they began with extravagant technological showpieces, such as their robot band, they're now looking towards the health care sector.
Rethink Robotics unveils inexpensive and user-friendly Baxter robot
Industrial robots aren't nearly as glamorous as the other robots on this list, but they remain some of the most productive and practical examples of robotics technology today. Rethink Robotics, led by iRobot founder and former MIT professor Rodney Brooks, unveiled their solution: a pick-and-place robot called Baxter. This robot costs a fraction of its competition, and can be programmed in hours rather than days or weeks. This makes it ideal for smaller companies that normally couldn't afford to use this sort of technology.
Just five teams managed to qualify for RoboCup's TeenSize League in 2012, mainly because building a bipedal humanoid robot that stands over three feet tall (95 cm) is a difficult proposition for most universities. However, a pair of commercial options may lead to bigger and better robotic soccer matches. The first one, from the University of Bonn, builds on the success of their award-winning platform. The second option from hobby kit makerRoboBuilder, which is something of the new kid on the block, may prove to be a worthy competitor.
The DARPA Robotics Challenge asks teams to build and program a robot that can drive a car, open doors, use tools, negotiate uneven terrain and stairs, and find and shut valves in a smoky environment. Some of the teams will get a bipedal robot built by Boston Dynamics while others will have to build their own from scratch. In late 2012 we got a glimpse of what those robots will look like, but we'll have to keep watch over the next two years to see how they come together and fare in the challenge itself.
A number of Japanese companies and institutions revealed robots aimed at cleaning up the damage done by 2011's earthquake and tsunami. Among them were a handful of remotely-operated robots from Toshiba, Mitsubishi, and Hitachi that can perform inspection and rubble removal tasks in a variety of conditions. However, by far our favorite of the bunch was the reconfigured HAL exoskeleton developed by University of Tsukuba spin-off Cyberdyne. The robotic suit carries the burden of heavy radiation shielding, and should see deployment later this year.
The LS3 is much slower than the Cheetah, but it can carry 400 pounds (181 kg) of gear for up to 20 miles (32 km) without stopping. This Northern Hemisphere autumn Boston Dynamics took it out into the woods, where it was able to follow a leading human through treacherous terrain. And unlike a real pack mule, which may not always behave the way you want it to, this one can follow verbal commands and find its way to GPS coordinates on its own. In 2013 it will be put through further tests with a real squad.
The team at Boston Dynamics, known for their BigDog quadruped, is hard at work on multiple challenges set forth by DARPA. The Maximum Mobility and Manipulation (M3) program seeks a legged robot that can run at least 25 mph (40 km/h), and the Cheetah robot is well on its way there. So far the robot has been clocked at 28.3 mph (45.5 km/h), but it's currently powered by an off-board hydraulic pump and requires a boom to stay steady. We should find out how the latest version fares without these conveniences later this year.
Built by NASA and General Motors, the Robonaut 2 (R2) finally began doing some work aboard the International Space Station (ISS) in 2012, having arrived there in early 2011. The R2 is the first humanoid robot in space, but will be joined later this year by a Japanese communication robot that will keep the astronauts company. Currently the R2 isn't doing anything too mind-blowing, but the project is paving the way towards permanent robotic helpers in space.
The U.S. military's drones – or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) – were probably the most talked about robots of 2012. Every other week it seemed there was some story or other that grabbed headlines around the world, giving them a rather nasty reputation. However, robotics technology is about much more than just killing machines and here are ten noteworthy examples from the past year that prove it.
Mercedes has been looking into the future lately, sharing its "crystal ball" visions with the world. In addition to forward thinking production vehicles like the SLS AMG E-Drive, it has gone even deeper into the future, providing a look at what off-road utility vehicles might look like in a decade, for instance. Now, it's gone a little smaller, giving its vision of the golf cart that might be buzzing around local country clubs in a generation or two.
The Vision Golf Cart includes many features that would certainly make it a quick favorite among golfers should it ever move past design study stage. Mercedes answered the widespread call for stowage space heard throughout its competition, equipping the cart with a split rear compartment for two golf bags, two dashboard storage compartments, a center console storage area for golf balls, scorecards and sunglasses, and a lower rear storage trunk.
Other features that golfers are certain to appreciate include a small refrigerator, heated/cooled cup holders, a floodlight function on the LED headlamps for night play, and an illuminated vanity mirror. A "fore button" also notifies other course users of a misplaced shot.
The electric hub motor-driven Vision utilizes an element often overabundant on the links – sunlight – for recharging. In addition to the roof-mounted solar panel, the golf cart design includes a port for manual charging.
Inside, the driver is surrounded by a level of technology that might be par for the course on a luxury vehicle but definitely surpasses the average golf cart. The rotating iPhone/iPad multimedia dock allows for touchscreen control of many of the cart's functions, keeping physical buttons and dials to a minimum. That minimum includes a center console-mounted joystick that allows either of the two occupants to drive and steer the cart.
Thanks to the connectivity powered by the iPhone/iPad dock, cart occupants can send emails, place food and beverage orders with the country club, view weather information, and share their scores, photos and other game info via social media. The cart also includes Bluetooth connectivity for making calls over the loudspeaker system. When the cart is parked, the head-up display can be used to view course layout, game information and weather.
The Vision cart includes a good amount of luxury inspired by Mercedes' production line. The ergonomic seats have heating, ventilation and electronic adjustment. The Mercedes Airscarf heating system, used in Mercedes cars like the SLK Roadster, routes heating to neck and shoulder level, allowing driver and passenger to enjoy the open-air experience even in cooler weather.
For days that are too cold or inclement, a pair of snap-in doors creates a full enclosure. A retractable lightning rod adds some safety, while automatic windshield wipers start when the rain does. During warmer and brighter weather, occupants enjoy air conditioning and push-button window tinting.
Mercedes does not appear to have plans to make the Vision Golf Cart reality anytime soon, but maybe there's a chance it will be ready by the time I'm ready to retire and spend more time on the course.
Mounts for iPad are thick on the ground, but the creators of MagBak are looking to stand out from the crowd with a slimmed down approach to attaching the tablet to any surface that also keeps the Smart Cover closed and provides a convenient grip. In fact, the MagBak so thin, it doesn't even look like it's meant to mount an iPad at all, which is exactly what the designers were aiming for. Check out the video here
One of the more annoying behaviors in Windows 8 and 8.1 is that all of your files are set to open in native Metro-style apps. For instance, if you're working on the desktop and view a picture or PDF, it opens full screen in the associated app. If you're working on a traditional computer without a touchscreen, this is frustrating to say the least. Especially if you're on a laptop with a single screen. Here's how to take control of your Windows 8 system and make your files open in the desktop programs you want them to.
Change default program file associations
Note: Here I am using the Window 8.1 preview but the process is virtually identical in Windows 8.
From the Windows start screen type: default programs and select the Default Programs icon under results.
The Default Programs windows will open on the desktop. Here you have a couple of ways to change the default programs that open your files. The easiest is to click "Set your default programs."
Now select the program you want to set as your default for your files. Here I'm selecting Windows Photo Viewer because I can't stand it when I want to view an image and the Photo app opens up. This way it will open on the desktop like it used to.
If you want to customize which files a program opens, choose the second option "Choose defaults for this program." That allows you to select each individual file type you want the program to open. Just scroll through the list and uncheck the file types you don't want the program to open. Remember to save your changes when you're done.
Setting up file associations can take a while, but once you have it set up, you're good to go. If you want to temporarily open a file in another program, simply right-click it, and select the program or app from the context menu.
Changing these file associations allows you to stay in the desktop more like you're used to and lets you to get things done faster. When you're a deadline, you just need to get work done and not fight between the desktop and Metro environments in Windows 8.
Setting file associations is one of the first things I do when I set up a new Windows 8 system. And if you like to stay on the desktop as much as possible, you'll want to change these associations too. Of course, in Windows RT, you can't run desktop apps, but you can use the same procedure to change the metro-style apps your files open in.
The Viteo Shower is a portable outdoor shower unit designed by Danny Venlet that features a simple base made from a mix of non-slip plastic and stainless steel. Once placed in a suitable position, the user connects the Viteo Shower to the mains water supply via a hosepipe. With the water turned on and under pressure (a minimum of 2 bar is required), they then simply step onto the non-slip base to start the shower running.
The Viteo Shower pushes water up through nozzles positioned around the outer edge of the circular base, with the water streams rising to a height of up to 4 m (13 ft) before falling down on the user standing in the middle of the device. It's simple to set up, and requires nothing more than a piece of flat ground, a hosepipe, and a mains water supply. The pressure-sensitive method of operation also keeps moving parts to a minimum.
You could, of course, just buy a sprinkler attachment, position it in the middle of your lawn, and enjoy a similar upside-down shower experience while watering the lawn at the same time. But I suspect Venlet is targeting a more mature consumer with his shower.The Viteo shower costs US $850 not including vat or shipping