DefconBots is returning again this year with their shooting gallery robot competition for Defcon 16. They’ve decided to leave the rules unchanged from last year. It’s a head to head competition between fully autonomous guns. The first gun to shoot all the targets on their side of the board wins. The rules aren’t very strict on design; as long as you use nonlethal nonmessy amunition and include a safety switch you’re pretty much good to go. The DefconBots site has a reference design to put you on the fast track to competing. Defcon 16 is August 8-10, 2008 in Las Vegas.
Related: [Aaron Rasmussen]’s sentry gun we covered back in 2005
[photo: Bre Pettis]
[Mr G] in London sent in his pin sentry hack. He wasn’t pleased that the device looks like an old calculator, so he rigged up a SMS board to send him his pin on demand. He multiplexed the output of the display driver to the SMS board. When he authenticates from his phone, the board sends a message with the latest code.
Reader [aaron rasmussen] and his brother Ezra built this awesome robotic sentry gun. The gun is an airsoft replica of an FN P90 and fires 6mm BBs. Pan and tilt are controlled by two hobby servos using a simple controller. Aaron wrote custom software to watch the usb webcam and track targets. There is a video on the site of it being tested
Within the past two months we’ve covered two separate incidents of 3D printing-related fires. One was caused by an ill-advised attempt to smooth a print with acetone heated over an open flame, while the other was investigated by fire officials and found to have been caused by overuse of hairspray to stick prints to the printer bed. The former was potentially lethal but ended with no more than a good scare and a winning clip for “Hacking’s Funniest Home Videos”; the latter tragically claimed the life of a 17-year old lad with a lot of promise.
In light of these incidents, we here at Hackaday thought it would be a good idea to review some of the basics of fire safety as they relate to the home shop. Nowhere was this need made clearer than in the comments section on the post covering the fatal fire. There was fierce debate about the cause of the fire and the potential negative effect it might have on the 3D-printing community, with comments ranging from measured and thoughtful to appallingly callous. But it was a comment by a user named [Scuffles] that sealed the deal:
“My moment of reflection is that it’s well past time I invest in a fire extinguisher for my workstation. Cause right now my fire plan pretty much consists of shouting obscenities at the blaze and hoping it goes out on its own.”
Let’s try to come up with a better plan for [Scuffles] and for everyone else. We’ll cover the basics: avoidance, detection, control, and escape.
Continue reading “Hack Safely: Fire Safety in the Home Shop”
Ever since the Roomba was invented, humanity has been one step closer to a Jetsons-style future with robots performing all of our tedious tasks for us. The platform is so ubiquitous and popular with the hardware hacking community that almost anything that could be put on a Roomba has been done already, with one major exception: a Roomba with heat vision. Thanks to [marcelvarallo], though, there’s now a Roomba with almost all of the capabilities of the Predator.
The Roomba isn’t just sporting an infrared camera, though. This Roomba comes fully equipped with a Raspberry Pi for wireless connectivity, audio in and out, video streaming from a webcam (and the FLiR infrared camera), and control over the motors. Everything is wired to the internal battery which allows for automatic recharging, but the impressive part of this build is that it’s all done in a non-destructive way so that the Roomba can be reverted back to a normal vacuum cleaner if the need arises.
If sweeping a just the right time the heat camera might be the key to the messy problem we discussed on Wednesday.
The only thing stopping this from hunting humans is the addition of some sort of weapons. Perhaps this sentry gun or maybe some exploding rope. And, if you don’t want your vacuum cleaner to turn into a weapon of mass destruction, maybe you could just turn yours into a DJ.
It’s overkill, but it’s really cool. [Bob Bond] took an NVIDIA Jetson TX1 single-board computer and a webcam and wirelessly combined them with his lawn sprinklers. Now, when his neighbors’ cats come to poop in his yard, a carefully trained neural network detects them and gets them wet.
It is absolutely the case that this could have been done with a simple motion sensor, but if the neural network discriminates sufficiently well between cats and (for instance) his wife, this is an improved solution for sure. Because the single-board computer he’s chosen for the project has a ridiculous amount of horsepower, he can afford to do a lot of image processing, so there’s a chance that everyone on two legs will stay dry. And the code is up on GitHub for you to see, if you’re interested.
[Bob] promises more detail about the neural network in the future. We can’t wait. (And we’d love to see a sentry-turret style build in the future. Think of the water savings!)
Via the NVIDIA blog, and thanks [Jaqen] for the tip!
Killer robots are a mainstay of science fiction. But unlike teleportation and flying cars, they are something that we are likely to see within our lifetime. The only thing that’s stopping countries like the USA, South Korea, the UK, or France from deploying autonomous killing machine in the very near term is that they’re likely to be illegal under current international humanitarian law (IHL) — the rules of war.
But if you just sighed in relief that the fate of humanity is safe, think again. The reason that autonomous killing machines are illegal is essentially a technicality, and worse, it’s a technicality that’s based on the current state of technology. The short version of the story, as it stands right now, is that the only thing making autonomous robotic killing weapons illegal is that it’s difficult for a robot to tell a friend from an enemy. When technology catches up with human judgement, all bets are off.
Think I’m insane? The United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG), the folks who bring you the rules of warfare, started up a working group on killer robots three years ago, and the report from their 2016 meeting just came out. Now’s as good a time as any to start taking killer robots seriously.
Continue reading “Taking Killer Robots Seriously”