Robots and Fireworks

It's the fourth of July, and we'll show you just how much robots like fireworks

1 min read
Robots and Fireworks

Today is July fourth, when we here in the States celebrate the day that George Washington surrendered Fort Necessity to the French. Hrm, maybe that's not right... Are we celebrating the day that the French gave us the Statue of Liberty? No? Maybe it's celebrating the day that we bought the Louisiana territory from the French. Well, in any case, July fourth may or may not involve the French, but it definitely involves things exploding, so today we're going to check out a bunch of robots and fireworks.To start, that top pic is one of the orbs of Orb Swarm that someone decided to stick some fireworks in while it was rolling around at Burning Man.

Cy Brown mounted a first person video system on an R/C aircraft and equipped it with remotely launched weapons to defend itself from anti-aircraft fireworks.

 

 

Time for the drones to fight back, this time against balloons filled with hydrogen. Lots more info on this project here.

 

 

This is an excellent example of what not to do with robots and fireworks, and as such, the video won Sparkfun's 2010 Antimov competition.

 

 

And we'll finish off with this helpful tutorial on how to build yourself a little Lego NXT robot that can light fireworks for you.

 

 

Have a safe and fun fourth of July from all of us here at Automaton!

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Robot with threads near a fallen branch

RoMan, the Army Research Laboratory's robotic manipulator, considers the best way to grasp and move a tree branch at the Adelphi Laboratory Center, in Maryland.

Evan Ackerman
LightGreen

“I should probably not be standing this close," I think to myself, as the robot slowly approaches a large tree branch on the floor in front of me. It's not the size of the branch that makes me nervous—it's that the robot is operating autonomously, and that while I know what it's supposed to do, I'm not entirely sure what it will do. If everything works the way the roboticists at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) in Adelphi, Md., expect, the robot will identify the branch, grasp it, and drag it out of the way. These folks know what they're doing, but I've spent enough time around robots that I take a small step backwards anyway.

This article is part of our special report on AI, “The Great AI Reckoning.”

The robot, named RoMan, for Robotic Manipulator, is about the size of a large lawn mower, with a tracked base that helps it handle most kinds of terrain. At the front, it has a squat torso equipped with cameras and depth sensors, as well as a pair of arms that were harvested from a prototype disaster-response robot originally developed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory for a DARPA robotics competition. RoMan's job today is roadway clearing, a multistep task that ARL wants the robot to complete as autonomously as possible. Instead of instructing the robot to grasp specific objects in specific ways and move them to specific places, the operators tell RoMan to "go clear a path." It's then up to the robot to make all the decisions necessary to achieve that objective.

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