"Water striders don't really stride, they row on the water. But their legs are spindly and don't seem good for paddling. David Hu, mechanical engineer at Georgia Tech, wanted to understand the basic physics of how water striders glide. By filming them stride on food coloring and building his own robotic strider, he found out that the secret to the stride is in the paddle."
It's Friday. Yes, I know I missed it last week. But it's time for a new Science Friday video.
"The latest on the bug beat: To survive floods, fire ants band together to form a raft. They can sail for weeks. But how does the raft stay afloat? Researchers report the answer in PNAS this week. Plus, engineers at Tufts are looking to the caterpillar for inspiration for soft-bodied robots. The problem is that squishy bodies make it difficult to move quickly--but some caterpillars have developed a workaround."
This video shows the evolution of coordinated behavior of simulated robot soccer players. In the simulation, each soccer player is controlled by a neural network. The neural networks are evolved using an evolutionary algorithm, so generation after generation the strategy improves.
The corresponding paper "Evolving neural network controllers for a team of self-organizing robots" is available at http://www.demesos.tk
"Based on mathematical models of the movement of fish, Maurizio Porfiri, an engineering professor at Polytechnic Institute of NYU, designed a robotic fish. When Porfiri puts the robofish in the lab pool with real fish, the minnows (golden shiners and giant danios) will mill about the robot and even follow it around.
The Japanese government has announced plans to create a self sustaining base on the Moon. The downside? It doesn't include accommodations for meatbags like you and me. The base will be constructed by and for robot explorers.
Courtesy Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency
The plan is multi-phased, starting with a robot arriving around 2015. The robot will use HD video cameras to survey the area in preparation for the construction of the base. As far as I know, this will be the first high resolution video of the lunar surface (that is, taken from the surface).
By 2020, the robot will establish a power supply along with the rest of the base. The details of what this base will actually be comprised of is unclear at this point, but there are plans to be able to send interesting specimens back to Earth.
You win this round, robots.
Robotic hands that can dribble ping pong balls, manipulate tweezers, tie knots, throw and catch things will amaze you in this video (via Engadget).
Courtesy Vic EllisUsually it's the fan that chases the band around, checking up on its every move, emotionally connected to the music and members. But, have you ever heard of a band obsessed with its fans? So much so that it constantly checks up on its popularity and changes its music based on its mood. On top of that make it a robot band. Yes, a musical robot with feelings...
This self-conscience robot is called the Cybraphon. It was built by three musicians in an antique wardrobe using instruments, motors, and a computer. Checking in on websites such as facebook and twitter, it counts hits and compares the usage over a one to two day time frame. Using this information it calculates its popularity and adjusts its mood appropriately, displaying it on a 100 year old galvanometer.
The interments in the wardrobe include an organ, cymbals, and all the way from India, a Shruti box. All of the instruments have been modified to be played electronically using motors and solenoids. If the robot is in a good mood it can be heard playing an upbeat tune. Vice versa, in a lonely mood the music will be slow and sad.
Not only is this robot picky about its social standing but even though it is always on it will only play it's music aloud if there is someone to hear it. Using infrared sensors the robot will start to chime whenever there is an audience to listen.
Cybraphon is going on display in Edinburgh, Scotland starting on Aug. 5th. You may not be able to go see it for yourself but, you can track it's progress and boost it's ego on twitter, myspace, and facebook.
Boston Dynamics has created a robotic four legged pack horse named Big Dog. The Pentagon has given them $10 million in funding. I especially like how it recovers when they give it a big kick.
Think you could swim 2,484 nautical miles
(1 nautical mile = 1.15 miles) across the Atlantic Ocean? This month, Spray, will embark on its mission to swim from the southern tip of Greenland to the coast of Spain. Spray is an autonomous underwater vehicle, AUV for short, created by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in California.
Spray will act as an “aquatic sentinel” collecting data on temperature, currents and salinity. This information will assist scientists in furthering their knowledge base pertaining the role oceans have on global climate. Dr. Russ Davis, from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego stated "The key is that Spray can stay at sea for months at relatively low cost, allowing us to observe large-scale changes under the ocean surface that might otherwise go unobserved." If Spray completes this mission, the robot will break its personal record of 1,864 nautical miles for the longest distance ever traveled by an AUV. GO SPRAY!!!
Check out this graphical representation of Spray in action.