This robot can beat you at pointless games

We already know that robots can be smarter than us as evidenced by Watson beating [Ken Jennings] at Jeopardy, or Deep Blue beating [Garry Kasparov] at chess. Now [E024576] is striving to build a bot to compete at physical games.

For the challenge, he’s chosen one of the games from a television game show called Minute to Win It. This challenge is called Mad Dog, and lends its name to this robot. The goal is to pick up a ruler with two tic tac containers glued to it, then shake it until all of the candies are ejected from those containers. Check out what he’s come up with in the clip after the break. The machine is driven by a PIXAXE microcontroller, with input from an IR remote control. It reaches out, grips the ruler tightly, and shakes like there’s no tomorrow. Quite impressive, even if there’s very little purpose in its operation. That makes it the perfect task for robot, right?

[Read more...]

RSA SecurID breach leads to intrusion at Lockheed Martin

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It looks like Lockheed Martin is the latest victim in what seems to be an endless string of security breaches. This time however, it does not look like a lack of security measures led to the breach. In fact, it seems that Lockheed’s implementation of a widely-trusted security tool was the attack vector this time around.

Last month we reported on the apparent compromise of RSA’s SecurID product, and while many speculated that this intrusion could lead to subsequent attacks, the firm downplayed the breach. They stated that the stolen data was unlikely to affect their customers, but as usual, the problem appears to be far larger than originally estimated.

The breadth of the intrusion is currently unknown, and with both RSA and Lockheed officials keeping mum, it may be some time before anyone knows how serious it is. When military secrets are in question however, you know it can’t be good!

Robot juggler sure handles a lot of balls

This robot juggler, pictured above during its appearance at Amper 2010, can keep five balls in the air at once. It was designed by the Department of Control Engineering at the Czech Technical Institute in Prague. We know it doesn’t look like much in that still image, but the two videos embedded after the break are pure gold.

To arms on vertical tracks do the juggling. They can move up and down on said tracks, and circular grippers attached to each can pivot horizontally. A third actuator resides at the bottom of the machine, collecting any balls that might drop, and launching them back into the realm of the juggling hands. A high-speed camera facilitates object tracking in much the same ways that it’s been used for quadcopter control.

The objects being thrown around in that protective enclosure are billiards balls. We guess the added mass helps to dampen any small irregularities in the throw or the catch.

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Quadruped military vehicles from back in the day

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While Boston Dynamics’ Big Dog is pretty impressive, check out this video of the US Army’s first attempt at a quadruped vehicle. Created in the early 1960s with the help of GE, this Army experiment was the first successful attempt of replicating a four-legged animal with a mechanical machine.

This “Walking Truck” was driven by a single operator who moved each of the vehicle’s legs using force-feedback hydraulic levers. Choreographing the machine’s movement was quite complicated, and during testing the Army found that the operator needed a mental break after only 15 minutes of use. As you can see in the video, the vehicle flexes some serious muscle. It kicks a Jeep out of its way with little effort, but it is still able to gently step on a light bulb without breaking it, due to the level of tactile feedback received by the operator.

If it weren’t for government budget cuts, we could be living out [George Lucas’] dream of AT-AT based combat right this minute!

[via Gizmodo]

Wireless controller operates your CNC mill

[Darrell Taylor] wanted to add a CNC control pendant to his mill but didn’t want to foot the bill which can often run several hundred dollars. These pendants are basically a physical remote control that operates the CNC software that controls the machine. Since he was already using a Linux box running EMC2, it wasn’t too hard to figure out how to operate the mill with a PlayStation controller.

To get the controller talking to his Linux machine he uses a package called QtsixA. The package identifies and loads the control through Bluetooth pairing. From there it can be used to map the buttons and joysticks as keys on the keyboard or as a mouse. In the video after the break [Darrell] demonstrates how he has his shortcuts set up. He’s able to move the machine head, and even start or step through the programmed routine. As he mentions, this is pretty nice if you’ve got dirty hands; just throw the controller in a zipper bag and you’re set to go.

[Read more...]

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