Robotic falconry: winged unit lands on you!

It doesn’t have four rotors, but this advanced-glider is every bit as impressive as the most complicated of quadrotor offerings. It’s the first glider that can successfully perch on your arm. We can’t help but think back to the owl in the original Clash of the Titans movie.

The team at the Aerospace Robotics and Control Lab of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is happy to show off the test flights they’ve been conducting. We’ve embedded two of them after the break which show the unit landing on this person’s arm, and on the seat of a chair. The image above shows a montage of several frames from the flight, and gives us a pretty good look at the articulated wings. You can seen them both bent in the middle of the flight to zero in on the landing zone. In addition to this there are flaps on the trailing edge of the wings and tail. The flight path is a bit wandering since the glider has no vertical tail to stabilize it.

Now if they can make it harvest power from overhead electrical lines they’ve got a spy-bird which can be dropped from a plane (or from a drone).

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Balancing inverted pendulums

The robot above can balance an inverted pendulum. But wait, it gets better. It can balance an inverted pendulum that is articulated in the middle like the one seen above. Wait, wait, wait… it gets even better. It can start with the pendulum hanging below the sliding carriage, flick back and forth to get the two segments swinging, and then come to equilibrium with the pendulum as seen above. Once there, it can recover from a bit of a shove, like some of the big boys. Very impressive, even when compared to two-wheeled balancers. See for yourself after the break.

We don’t have very much information on how this works. We do know that it was a seminar paper from a student at the University of Stuttgart but the rest is pretty much a mystery. Does it use visual processing? What kind of controller is driving this thing? We want to know the details but haven’t yet found a copy of the paper. If you know where we can get our mitts on it please leave a comment below.

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Five concept mice add multi-touch control

Microsoft is showing off five concepts for added mouse functionality. All of them seek to replace traditional move-and-click with touch sensitivity through either capacitive sensing, video recognition, sensor articulation, or laser scanning. We’re excited about the prospects of some of these features but at the same time wonder what this does to the price of this much-abused peripheral. After the break we’ll touch on each of the devices, along with time references for the video embedded above. Continue reading “Five concept mice add multi-touch control”