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Video Friday: Death Defying Vacuums, Tate After Dark, and Taranis Takes Flight

Wow, where'd all these videos come from, anyway? Oh yeah, it's FRIDAY!

3 min read
Video Friday: Death Defying Vacuums, Tate After Dark, and Taranis Takes Flight

What's the craziest thing you've ever done with a robot vacuum? Personally, it's this, but LG gets some points for upping the risk beyond a few scratches from a taped-on butter knife. If that's not dangerous enough for you, we've also got a new robotic drone from Britain, and a quadcopter competition where you have to sign a waiver acknowledging the potential for death. Your death. Happy Video Friday!

Big news this week from BAE Systems, as their Taranis drone made its first test flight. Back in August, apparently. But that was secret. So we only just found out.

Test pilot Bob Fraser said everything went according to plan. But if you ask him how high or fast it flew he is not allowed to give a precise answer.

He will only say Taranis flew at least "twice as fast" as any other drone he has operated from the ground. Eventually it is supposed to fly faster than the speed of sound.

What we do know is that Taranis is the prototype for Britain's first stealth combat drone.

It is low profile and acute angles are not just designed for speed, but also to avoid detection by radar.

The goal here is to develop an unmanned plane that that can fly into "contested airspace" and deliver its weapons deep behind enemy lines.

Taranis might be built in the U.K., but having been to the U.K., my guess is that the test flight was probably somewhere sunnier and warmer and a little more in the middle of nowhere. Like Australia, probably.

Via [ BBC ]



How extreme is robot vacuum? If you have a Roboking from LG, it's exactly this extreme:



Your move, iRobot!

[ LG ] via [ Engadget ]



You're not allowed into London's Tate Gallery at night, but robots are. Pretty soon, you'll be able to log into a website and take them exploring:

I didn't actually see the robot in this video, which is a little bit weird. Or maybe it's just 2AM Friday morning and my eyes aren't working. Seems like it would be a great way to use some of those new Beams, right?

[ Tate ]



With leftover bits from a 3D printer, a camera, and enough cleverness to impress virtually the entire Internet, you can build an absolutely rockin' air hockey robot:

I especially like how, for just a second, the robot was challenging us to eat it.

[ Project Blog ] via [ Hack a Day ]



Cool Hunting went and interviewed the NYU roboticists behind the flying robot jellyfish sea jelly from earlier this year:

[ Cool Hunting ]



If you spring for a REEM-C from PAL Robotics, this is how to get it out of the box that it'll arrive in:

You MUST follow these instructions or, REEM-C will come out of the box angry. And you don't want REEM-C to get angry. Trust me. It's bad times.

[ PAL Robotics ]



Here's a new take on light painting with robots, featuring phosphorescent paper and UV lights:

[ Chiprobot ]



Not news: girls are awesome at robots. But we'll happily keep on posting about it anyway, in the hopes that more schools will implement programs like this:

[ Sphero ]



"I acknowledge that this drone event carries with it the potential for death." That's the kind of waiver we like to see!

It's awesome that drones are cheap and durable enough now that you can get a critical mass of people together to actually do this.

[ Game of Drones ]



For a hobby robot, this thing has some absolutely astonishing balancing skills:

[ DrGuero ]



BattleBots! Two full episodes! Mayhem, destruction, mayhem, and more mayhem. And things get destroyed, too.

[ BattleBots on YouTube ]

The Conversation (0)

How the U.S. Army Is Turning Robots Into Team Players

Engineers battle the limits of deep learning for battlefield bots

11 min read
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

“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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