Video Friday: Exploding Soft Robots, Chatbot Movie Scripts, and Quadrotor Demos

Man, what I wouldn't give to have the opportunity to poke a quadrotor with a stick and have it not immediately crash into something. I always wonder if the incredible people who work in these robotics labs get up every morning and go into work and are like OMG ROBOTS!!! all day. Maybe it wears off, but every once in a while, I hope they get to take a step back and realize how jealous the rest of us are. Every Video Friday, we get even more jealous, and this week is no exception.

Chatbot programs are a lot cleverer than they used to be, but getting them to make sense consistently over more than a few sentences is still, uh, a challenge. This is what happens when you try to get one to write a movie script with you:

Film by Chris Wilson, script collaboration by Cleverbot.

 


 

At ICRA 2011, we met some microrobots from UMD that used explosive microrockets to make giant leaps. George Whitesides' group at Harvard has been working on something similar, except with robots that are soft. By igniting a mix of oxygen and methane in this robot's legs, it can jump over 30 times its height:

[ Whitesides Research Group ] via [ New Scientist ]

 


 

That absolutely crazy CrazyFlie nanoquadrotor (it's just 10 centimeters on a side) is now up for order for just $150 for a complete kit that you can put together with just a little soldering. $175 gets you a 10 DoF version with heading and altitude control.

[ CrazyFlie ]

 


 

If wiping the screen of your smartphone or tablet is just too much work for you, how about giving the job to a robot that can spent several minutes doing the job not quite as well:

Via [ Robots-Dreams ]

 


 

We have yet to match the sensing systems that can be found on insects, so if you're in desperate need of tracking down something like the sex pheromone from a female silk moth (and seriously, who isn't), a practical approach is to just set up a robot to be driven directly by a male silk moth, who is probably just as invested in success as you are:

[ Paper ] via [ Engadget ]

 


 

Our think piece for this week features Raffaello D’Andrea from ETH Zurich talking quadrotors and giving live demonstrations with robots flying around on stage. If you're a Spectrum reader, you may have seen most of these demos before, but it's still a fantastic talk, and well worth 20 minutes of your time on a Friday.

[ Zurich.Minds ] via [ RoboHub ]

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