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Autonomous Balloon Destruction Wins Stanford Drone Games

Students teach AR Drones to seek and destroy balloons in less than 24 hours

2 min read
Autonomous Balloon Destruction Wins Stanford Drone Games

One of the very first U.S. National Robotics Week events took place on Saturday at Stanford University. It was a two day AR Drone hackathon hosted by the Stanford Robotics Club, and the winner project involved balloons and giant needles. AWESOME.

The event actually started on Friday, and each team was given an AR Drone along with about 18 hours to come up the coolest idea ever. Or, we should say, they had to come up with the coolest idea ever and the successfully implement it. That second bit being the tricky part, of course.

The winner was team Nifty (Sam Fok, Ann Han, Wendy Nie, YooYoo Yeh, Rohit Pohitpandri, Adrian Spanu), who taught their AR Drone to fly a search pattern and then destroy balloons with optical tags on them:

Nicely done! Now let's just release one of these drones at the next Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade along with some clandestinely planted optical tags and have some fun.

Judges included Matt Ohline, a professor of mechatronics at Stanford University, Chris Anderson, CEO of 3D Robotics, Star Simpson, founder of Tacocopter, and Andreas Raptopoulos, CEO of Matternet. Here they are with all of the participants:


After the event was over, we were treated to a couple quick demos, including an AR Drone getting controlled by a Leap Motion:


And some DJI Phantom GoPro-carrying drones with Skycatch stickers on them:

If you like what you see, this setup is under $700, not including the GoPro.

And as far as Skycatch goes, we'll just have to wait and see what they're working on.

Oh, and the next Drone Games will be at Maker Faire next month. We'll be there!

[ Stanford Drone Games ]

The Conversation (0)

The Bionic-Hand Arms Race

The prosthetics industry is too focused on high-tech limbs that are complicated, costly, and often impractical

12 min read
A photograph of a young woman with brown eyes and neck length hair dyed rose gold sits at a white table. In one hand she holds a carbon fiber robotic arm and hand. Her other arm ends near her elbow. Her short sleeve shirt has a pattern on it of illustrated hands.

The author, Britt Young, holding her Ottobock bebionic bionic arm.

Gabriela Hasbun. Makeup: Maria Nguyen for MAC cosmetics; Hair: Joan Laqui for Living Proof

In Jules Verne’s 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon, members of the fictitious Baltimore Gun Club, all disabled Civil War veterans, restlessly search for a new enemy to conquer. They had spent the war innovating new, deadlier weaponry. By the war’s end, with “not quite one arm between four persons, and exactly two legs between six,” these self-taught amputee-weaponsmiths decide to repurpose their skills toward a new projectile: a rocket ship.

The story of the Baltimore Gun Club propelling themselves to the moon is about the extraordinary masculine power of the veteran, who doesn’t simply “overcome” his disability; he derives power and ambition from it. Their “crutches, wooden legs, artificial arms, steel hooks, caoutchouc [rubber] jaws, silver craniums [and] platinum noses” don’t play leading roles in their personalities—they are merely tools on their bodies. These piecemeal men are unlikely crusaders of invention with an even more unlikely mission. And yet who better to design the next great leap in technology than men remade by technology themselves?

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