How JediBot Got Its Sword Fighting Skills

Stanford roboticist Torsten Kroeger takes us through what's going on in JediBot's brain as it attempts to kill people with a foam light saber

1 min read
How JediBot Got Its Sword Fighting Skills

JediBot, which we saw in action back in July, was a brilliant final project conceived by a group of students for an experimental robotics course at Stanford University. Kuka spotted the video on YouTube, and shortly thereafter, JediBot found itself with a new job as the main attraction at Kuka's booth on the expo floor of the IEEE International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems last month. We caught up with Stanford roboticist Torsten Kroeger, who took us through the brains programming behind JediBot's unquenchable thirst for the blood of Sith lords:

It's worth mentioning that due to a slight miscalibration, JediBot was not acting as aggressive as it could have been when we shot this demo. I took some whacks at it myself a little later on, and the robot was having a great time going for my throat every time I let my guard down. I have to say, it's really quite an experience to be on the other end of a robot with a sword doing its level best to separate your head from your body, but considering all the dull, dirty, and dangerous tasks that we tend to saddle robots with, can you really blame them for being overly enthusiastic when we ask them to take a few good-natured swings in our direction?

[ Stanford Robotics ]

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
Horizontal
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
DarkGray

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?

Keep Reading ↓Show less