Robotic Sloth Haunts Your Dreams

robotic sloth

Have you ever seen a wet sloth? They’re pretty scary. If that’s not bad enough, how do you feel about a robotic one?

Named the X-4 “Sloth”, this is one of [222Doc’s] hardest projects to date — a highly experimental quadra-ped that can climb up and across ladders. It makes use of a Lego Mindstorms NXT controller, 8 servo motors for the joints, 4 Power Function Motors for the hands, and a whole lot of Lego. Due to the number of motors, he also had to multiplex the Power Function servos to make it all work!

Sure, it’s Lego, but it was far from an easy project, as [222Doc] estimates he spent well over a hundred hours on it, and it still isn’t complete. He says he’ll never say to himself “this will be easy…” ever again.

Stick around after the break to see it scale this ladder — we wish they sped up the video though, it appears the movement speed is modeled after a real sloth…

[Via Make]

52 thoughts on “Robotic Sloth Haunts Your Dreams

    1. When will Germany learn to not be a stick in the mud?

      The whole idea of copyright restrictions is unethical in the first place, as it’s simply an artifical restriction that defines something as having inherent value that doesn’t – for the purpose of limitless profiteering from something that isn’t creating any value – like selling sand on a beach after putting up a sign that says: “Sandpicking lisence required” – which of course only you can grant, because you say so.

      The real value of something like music is in the making of it – not in the actual end product. All intellectual “property” is like that: once it’s out there, it’s infinite – it never runs out – and therefore any individual copy or reproduction can’t be worth a penny more than what it cost to produce that copy. Granting monopolies to make those copies so you can demand for more is arbitrary and unjust.

      1. Here are some hard facts, as a professional songwriter/musician if you don’t sell product then you don’t eat. Its as simple as that. How many other people would be expected to go to work and just give their product away to customers for free?

          1. The sums don’t work. In your world a musician gets paid say £1000. The song might only make £500 so the publisher loses, and drops the musician. Alternatively the song sells well, the publisher makes a huge profit and the musician doesn’t see any of it. Either way the musician loses.

          2. In the world without copyright, the musician first proves himself to be talented by performing and advertizing himself, and then the public commissions him to do more. Many would probably start as something like orchestral players before embarking on solo careers. (which would mean you’d generally have to know more than four chords to succeed)

            It’s no more a question of selling X number of albums to make ends meet, because you’re no longer selling albums. Why would you, since anyone can copy them anyways. The publisher becomes redundant as well – in fact they already are redundant but the law keeps them around.

        1. The sand at a beach comparison is supposed to present a thing that is not in short supply, because there’s sand everywhere on a beach and it’s extremely simple to get – just bend down and grab a handful. There’s absolutely no reason why someone should pay to do that, and no reason why someone in particular should be paid for it.

          Of course the analog breaks down when you start carrying the sand off the beach, but that’s where the similiarities with intellectual property end anyhow.

      2. Since all software, like music, can be copied without anything actually being removed from the original author, so that makes it just fine to copy, correct? Of course the time spent on such a worthless task as programming should have been spent in a line of work that makes a tangible physical product instead! Maybe the people who create the software should go to public shows, giving their product away, and make their money on selling tee shirts and other merchandise!

        You type of people make me sick. Keep it up and there will be nothing left BUT these “cookie cutter” creations you despise because they’re the cheap, safe, and eventually ONLY bet that anyone is willing to put time or money into making. You aren’t “sticking it to the man” by not paying for the time spent by someone else creating what you feel entitled to take, no, you are in fact being a part of the problem.

        Time is not worthless; yet in your eyes no one should receive any benefit for services rendered or even physical products created. All materials were already present on earth, owned by no man, and people spent time processing and configuring them into items.

        You pay for time invested. This is why most wages are rated by time.
        Get that through your thick skulls!

        1. You’re confusing the original work with the copy. Of course work is valuable, and should be paid for – as far as it is something worth the candle. The copy is not.

          Simply because there are infinite number of copies possible and therefore potentially limitless pay. As a consequence, time invested and money paid do not meet, therefore the two things are not measuring the same thing. It is like determining the salary of a plumber not by his working hours and output, but by how many people take a dump in the toilet he installed. It’s as if every single bathroom in the world, private or public, had a coin slot in the door.

          It’s a flawed model that is unjust towards both the artist and the customer.

          >”there will be nothing left BUT these “cookie cutter” creations you despise because they’re the cheap, safe, and eventually ONLY bet that anyone is willing to put time or money into making.”

          If so, at least they will be actually cheap due to free competition, instead of collectively paying millions to the record label for every turd they graciously decide to drop. 99% of the cost of pop music is feeding the record industry that isn’t serving any purpose anymore.

    2. In fact, the original reason why copyrights were invented was because printing houses wanted to secure monopoly rights to works of certain authors, but they couldn’t argue the rights directly to themselves because that would have been just too transparent, like, “Really, you want to put into law that no other printer can print Shakespeare? And what right do you have to him?”

      Instead, what they did was to argue that the author himself has this fundamental right to determine who makes the copy, and in so doing the author can transfer this ability to the party of his choice. Therefore the competing printer is not breaking any sort of monopoly law, but infringing on the fundamental right of the poor author who no longer gets paid because of the infringing copies.

      Though of course the situation is like that only because the author is forced to grant the monopoly to his works to the particular printer to get published in the first place! No publisher would agree to print unless they get all the profits, so the only way the author could get paid was by selling the monopoly to a publisher, often on very poor terms.

      And through various stages of legislation and propaganda, here we are today where you may get served hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines for copying a piece of music instead of giving ten bucks to a company that had almost nothing to do in the making of it and really doesn’t deserve any of it.

      1. I have the feeling that you kind of dodged rainsbury’s question.
        If there was no such thing as copyright how would an artist or author earn any money? (And I am asking without any sarcasm – I am really interested if there exists an alternative)

        1. No one has a right to earn any money. It is not society’s concern if a profession fails to bring in money.

          Really if there needs to be the full force of the justice system for someone to make a living, that profession is probably a drain on society.

          1. He isn’t. You on the other hand are begging the question that the creation of music MUST be paid for by the society.

            Good art always has its patrons, and without enforced copyright we’d all get to enjoy it no matter who pays for it.

          2. To expand on my previous post:
            You’re making the classic mistake of conflating money with the concept of value. You’re tacitly assuming all value can be measured in currency, and thus that nothing that isn’t naturally profit-generating can have value. More importantly you’re assuming that money itself has inherent value. It does not: money is fundamentally a *representation* of value, an intermediary for bartering that is backed up by a combination of mutual consent and men with guns.

            Consider this: corporations, companies, and contracts are all, like copyrights, legal constructs that have no inherent binding force aside from, once again, mutual consent and men with guns.

            Both you and dex give off the impression, accurate or not, of teenagers who think themselves very clever for formulating an innovative new internally-coherent philosophy. You have some thinking left to do.

          3. Sorry, but that sounds very much an irrelevant argument, and you’re trying to top it off with a tu-quoque fallacy; just because we have other similiar legal constructs cannot be used to argue for any one of them. They each have different reasons to exist, and stand or fall on those reasons.

            The fact that people are willing to pay per copy is nothing more than ignorance of the masses, which the copyright system abuses. A dollar per copy doesn’t sound much when you don’t consider that a million other people have also paid a dollar, and so a perfectly mediocre artist gets a million even though you couldn’t justify spending a million to create yet another cookie cutter pop song. People quickly get bored of it, and so another song is made, and another million spent. In that way, the society ends up giving disproportionate amounts of wealth to artists for their services, or more precisely – and this is important – to those who hold the copyrights, which is not necessarily and not often the same thing as the artist himself but simply people who have been made important by the copyright system, who really contribute nothing to art nor the society.

          4. I am pleased that I started an interesting discussion.

            To restate my initial point, if something has value then it does not need a law to enforce that value. It just is. If something does not have value, enforcement through law does not add value, but becomes a net loss for society.

            It is akin to the overused words ‘the fact that’. If it is a fact, then it does not need to be pointed out. If it isn’t a fact, then your impact is being diluted by hamfisted force.

        2. Money can be made if you try hard enough. People spend money to go to concerts where music is played live once each time. (ignoring replays and such). Even if the band doesnt make much money playing at the concert they could still sell shirts and other items. Their producers might complain if they dont give most of that money to them though.

          1. That’s how it works for most recording artists anyways. The label tosses them a couple percentage points, which doesn’t bring in any appreciable amount of money because they aren’t selling millions of albums a year, so all the money they actually make comes from concerts and paraphrenelia.

          2. Yeah! Sell shirts! Except good luck doing that when [major corporation with economy of scale] prints up the exact same shirt and sells it for cheaper and you can’t do anything about it because you don’t have any way to protect your designs from other people profiting off them, even though you did the work of creating them in the first place.

          3. That’s very true and most live bands certainly get by like that, which is fortunate as they produce some of the best music we have. However it doesn’t cover all cases, my son writes music for commercials and TV, he gets paid a flat fee and a small residual for repeat airings. He isn’t allowed to play those songs live as they now belong to the TV company.

          4. >”He isn’t allowed to play those songs live as they now belong to the TV company.”

            And that is only because the TV company now owns the /copyright/ to the music – without which he would be able to perform those tunes as much as he wants because the company would have no legal way of stopping him.

        3. “how would an artist or author earn any money?”

          By making and performing music instead of selling copies. If your are so talented and your music is so good that it’s worth giving you $100,000 a year, or whatever you’re asking for it, then so be it. When the product is good, there’s always someone willing to pay for it. If not an individual, then the fans can pool their money together and buy the next album collectively.

          You know, like a kickstarter?

          The point is that a whole lot of the current artists wouldn’t be able to earn much money, becuse frankly they aren’t all that good. The record labels are able to make money because they abuse the ignorance of the consumers who are taught by the media and by the very law that it’s just to pay a dollar per copy or $20 per album, which is a completely arbitrary price that hasn’t got anything to do with anything. It’s just a market failure arising from artifical scarcity enabled by artifical monopoly.

          1. Writing and performing are different skills, why should somebody be good at both to be able to be paid for either? Its like saying that a car mechanic needs to win a race to get paid.
            Your kick starter solution doesn’t work either. If 100 people pay for an album to be made then great, but what if another 100 people want a copy? Do they expect it for free, after somebody else has had to pay? Or do the band refuse to publish more copies?

          2. >”but what if another 100 people want a copy? Do they expect it for free, after somebody else has had to pay?”

            Put simply: yes.

            There’s no reason why they shouldn’t get it for free – or just for the cost of copying – after the work is paid for and out there. If the people who pay for the album want to pay less, let them recruit more people to chip in. They could also cover some of their cost by being the first to offer the copies to their friends.

            I didn’t mean to use exactly the same system as a kickstarter. It was simply an example of crowdfunding.

            Imagine an online marketplace with millions of users, and 250,000 of them state interest in a new Coldplay album. Coldplay says they want ten million for it. Great. Do the math – do you want to pay $40? No? Then don’t, or find a friend or two who are interested to increase the pool. If the price is not met, they either back it up, or they don’t release the album.

          3. >”Writing and performing are different skills, why should somebody be good at both to be able to be paid for either?”

            Making and performing music is a list of things – not a requirement to do both.

            A songwriter does not often sell directly to the public these days, but is commissioned by multiple performing artists to write music for them. They get a fraction of a fraction of the copyright royalties anyhow.

          4. The real point is this: if you look at other people and jealously think “well, he doesn’t have to pay for it, so neither should I.” then what you’re really saying is that in your opinion nobody should pay for it – that the music isn’t worth paying for, since it would be rather unethical to force everyone to pay for it just so you can have it.

            If on the other hand you place some value on it being made while other people don’t, you pay for it, and other people don’t. The other people, even when they get it for free, don’t derive the same value out of it so there’s no problem.

            There will be some people who gain, some people who lose, and some people who cheat, but overall it’s the people who really want it and derive value out of it who are going to paying for it, and if not enough people want it that much then it shouldn’t be made. Tough luck.

  1. The thing that puzzles me about the actual sloth is, that muscles are really inefficient at maintaining static force, yet the whole point of the sloth is to move slowly to conserve energy.

    So it’s spending large amounts of energy in an inefficient way to lift itself around because it’s so slow that it has to spend minutes just reaching for the branch, holding its arm up all the while, and then it pulls its body up just as slowly. How does that add up?

    I mean. You try standing up from a crouch, but only lift yourself up by an inch a second. It’s really hard work!

    1. “You” does not count here, “you” are not a sloth. Sloths do have very strong tendons which keep the hanging on nearly no expense on muscle-power. Their body is totally boptimized for hanging. Their Triceps is not very developed, but the Biceps is. This is also why they are very ineffective on the ground.

  2. About the music in these videos of our creations, I wish they would just drop the music so we can hear the gears whirring and other noises! We are hear to see and hear the hacks and everyone’s music tastes differ.

  3. My son is in the Lego club at school and I keep trying to find fun stuff for him to read about robotics. When we were kids, everyone called my brother a sloth – yes, he was slow-moving and lazy. This would be a cool gift for him – and a reminder of days he probably wants to forget now…

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