Robots are the stars in a new Disney animated movie, a National Geographic 3D film, and a sci-fi action thriller with Hugh Jackman. Turn off your cellphone and enjoy the show—it’s Video Friday.
Today is the premiere of Big Hero 6, a new movie from Disney featuring a big, soft, huggable robot named Baymax. And here’s the cool part: Baymax is actually based on real (and awesome) research out of Carnegie Mellon University. The excitment has apparently inspired some equally real robots to get dressed up in big white inflatable suits, and until you’ve seen Atlas try to walk in one of these things, you have not lived. Or something.
Big Hero 6 co-director Don Hall visited several robotics labs, but it was at CMU that he saw a demonstration of a soft, inflatable robot arm that really impressed him. “I just thought, we’ve found a huggable robot,” he said. “Everything about Baymax’s character, personality, and design stemmed from that trip.”
CMU robotics professor Chris Atkeson [right], who helped the Disney producers with research for their movie, is thrilled that a real robot inspired the Baymax character. Now he wants to advance the field of soft robotics so researchers can build a real Baymax.
Can they do it? Sure they can! CMU has a Center for Soft Materials and Machines, as well as a Center for Assistive Robotics, and members of these groups are working on a variety of soft assistive robots. The basic idea is to build a rigid robotic skeleton, and then stuff it inside an inflatable suit, just like Team WPI-CMU did with their Atlas DRC robot:
Okay, maybe not just like that, but you get the idea. To learn more, check out Prof. Atkeson’s page on Big Hero 6.
[ CMU ]
While we were at the DRC Trials late last year, we kept on running into dudes from National Geographic with huge 3D cameras. Here's what they were working on: Robots 3D!
What does it take to make a “humanoid” robot – a robot who can do anything we can do but without the benefit of a human brain? This is the challenge for scientists now as they create robots who are becoming eerily like the people who are making them. Fascinating and fun, Robots 3D shows the latest developments – the success and the failures - from robotic labs around the world and proves it’s not easy being (or creating a) humanoid!
Look for the full length feature next year.
If you’re not one of the 11,702,569 people who has already seen the latest OK Go music video (filmed by either a very well piloted drone, or Superman), now’s your chance:
[ YouTube ]
While we’re at it, let’s get a few other drone vids out of the way. You can file this one under “absolutely do not ever try this at home, especially if your home is an active international airport:”
The Mexican Air and Space Navigation Services (SENEAM) directly contacted Postandfly, in order to create a video. SENEAM personnel, the General Administration of Civil Aeronautics and Postandfly working in conjuction with the control tower and pilots managed to take necessary precautions, in order to create this shots.
[ Postandfly ]
Our final drone video for the week (only three!) is very cool, and not just because it happens in Greenland. Jason Box has been studying how changes in ice reflectivity in Greenland can drastically speed up glacial melting, and he’s been doing it with drones:
There’s a great story at the link below, and Jason is currently working towards crowdfunding a 2015 expedition.
[ Dark Snow ] via [ Motherboard ]
Chop Shop made it big in 2008 with their celebrity robots t-shirt, and they're now crowdfunding some excellent artwork featuring three of the most epic robots ever:
The posters are funded already, but you’ve still got a few days left to put in an order and help them reach their stretch goals, which would mean two extra posters of the Mars Exploration rovers and of Sputnik.
[ Kickstarter ] via [ io9 ]
[ Hinamitetu ]
I’m not sure exactly what these robots are helping to build, but the relevant bit is that it’s taking them just a few months to do what humans would spend years on:
This is cute:
It’s a $20 accessory for Sphero, but if you’re super clever, I bet you could figure out how to make one yourself.
[ Sphero Chariot ]
Basketball, like most sports that involve simple ballistics, are pretty easy for robots (as long as they don’t have to, you know, move):
[ Comau ]
Last this week, something to look forward to for next year. This is a trailer for a movie called Chappie, and it actually looks pretty darn good:
[ Chappie ]
Evan Ackerman is a senior editor at IEEE Spectrum. Since 2007, he has written over 6,000 articles on robotics and technology. He has a degree in Martian geology and is excellent at playing bagpipes.