Boston Dynamics’ SpotMini Robot Wants to Uptown Funk You Up

Boston Dynamics continues to crank out creepy robots of questionable value to humanity. We’ve seen its SpotMini robot navigate around a warehouse before, looking for human souls to consume and heads to wear. Now the quadruped is doing something even more scary – dancing to Uptown Funk.

As the robot dances its ass off to Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’ megahit, I can only assume this will be the victory dance SpotMini breaks out after it rips off your head. Behold your dancing robot overlord’s shiny yellow ass as it twerks its bunless rear towards the camera.

I wonder why they can’t wrap this thing in some sort of cutesy costume, so it doesn’t look like part rabid dog and part cobra.

[via Geekologie]

Salto-1P Robot Hops Around Like Crazy, Knows Exactly Where It’s Going

The Salto-1P Robot is a small monopedal robot that looks happy as heel as it jumps for joy. It’s either happy or crazy; I’m not sure which. It is capable of continuous high-power hopping and it takes that job seriously.

 

The video here demonstrates a new control algorithm that can land Salto-1P’s foot at precise locations on the ground like jumping on stepping stones or playing one-legged hopscotch. It’s pretty impressive stuff. I can imagine a tiny robot like this relentlessly hopping after you and never ever giving up until it catches you. And then, of course, it will probably hop into your chest, stabbing you, as it hop-stabs you over and over again.

In fact, put a knife foot on this thing and let it play five-finger-fillet with your hand. This little crazy ‘bot is frightening on so many levels. It just seems so happy, but is soooo creepy. Stuff like this makes me fear for our world. If you pay attention to the beginning of the video it says, “This work is supported by Army Research Office Grant…” Oh man. This thing is obviously designed to kill. Hop and kill. Then hop and kill some more. Oh man.

You can read more about how Salto-1P works its hopping magic in this paper by its creators Justin K. Yim and Ronald S. Fearing.

[via iEEE Spectrum]

This Ladder-Climbing Snake Robot is Creepy as Hell

How about a game of chutes and ladders? Uh, I mean snakes and ladders. Look, snakes are nature’s creepiest creation and robots are man’s creepiest creation. So naturally, scientists had to combine them both for maximum terror. While we’re at it, let’s make these robotic creepy crawlies climb ladders, cause you know, we wouldn’t want humans getting away.

Seriously though, a snake is a great design for robotics. They can slither in and out of small spaces to look for damage in structures or rescue someone trapped under rubble, plus they can handle all kinds of terrain. But just because we can do it, doesn’t mean we should. Because now researchers have taught robot snakes to climb ladders. There goes your second story escape plan.

Researchers from the Kyoto University and University of Electro-Communications have developed a robot snake that can bend and twist its segmented body, allowing it to slowly wrap itself around each rung as it climbs a ladder.

Good job researchers. Now, where are we going to go to escape robot snakes? I built a treehouse specifically to escape them and I just know that when I go up there next, now I’m going to find a bunch of robot snakes up there reading dirty mags, which is my job.

[via iEEE via Gizmodo]

The Lunch Feeder Rube Goldberg Machine Feeds You a Meal

You know how it is. You’re working hard at the office, and then you get hungry. But if you stop your work to get some food, your productivity will suffer. What can you do? You either go hungry or fall behind on your tasks. Well, that’s not the case if you have The Lunch Feeder.

This Rube Goldberg machine is genius. It was built by Joseph of Joseph’s Machines and feeds him a four-course meal. Specifically a brussel sprout, hotdog with ketchup, asparagus spear, and soup. Now, this guy can work and eat at the same time like a productive worker ant.

Never forget to feed yourself again. And since we don’t have robots that will take care of that task for us, this is the next best thing. I mean, yeah, it’s a lot of work to put into something just to avoid falling behind in your work but nevermind that. It’s a machine that feeds you and that’s all that matters. Great job Joseph. Hopefully, that asparagus spear doesn’t poke you in the eye though.

[via Laughing Squid via Geekologie]

This LEGO Machine Blows Soap Bubbles

Great. Now I hear that “Tiny Bubbles” song in my head. All because of this LEGO bubble blowing machine built by Sariel of Sariel’s LEGO Workshop. I like it. Bubbles make the world a happier place, and I’m not just talking about that guy from Trailer Park Boys.

This sweet LEGO machine uses soap to blow bubbles. So basically, this thing blows. Get it? He built it on top of a LEGO boat hull, and powered the track-style drive mechanism with a Power Functions motor, and an off-the shelf motor for the blower fan. Seriously, it’s pretty cool. Though as the video goes on, it pops bubbles way too often instead of releasing them into the air. Maybe he was using the wrong kind of soap.

LEGO should really market one of these so that kids can build it and then enjoy blowing some bubbles with their creation. Because as it stands right now kids can’t make bubbles and play with LEGO at the same time, and that’s sad. This is the 21st century. Let kids build their own bubble blowing machines. They have fun and it gets them out of the parent’s hair for a bit. Of course them parents have to clean up all of the spilled bubble formula and clean slippery bubble residue off of everything.

[via The Awesomer via Geekologie]

Guy Makes a Giant-sized Soundwave Boombox

Everyone has their favorite Transformers from the original animated series. For some it’s Optimus Prime, for others it’s Bumblebee or Grimlock, but for many Soundwave is the best Transformer ever. For those fans, this custom Soundwave-shaped boombox is everything.

So what genius made this geek masterpiece? That would be Bob from the YouTube channel I Like To Make Stuff. He makes all kinds of cool stuff so that the rest of us can be inspired. To create this awesome boombox, he used a combination of MDF for the speaker’s housing, foam for the buttons and other non-functional details, and there is also a pair of Bluetooth speakers hidden inside.

Okay, technically Soundwave wasn’t a boombox, but maybe he should have been. It was the ’80s after all. Sadly this thing doesn’t transform, but that’s okay. It is completely awesome just the way it is. It is a non-transformer that will blast tunes wirelessly streamed from your smartphone. Especially if those tunes are from any of the Transformers soundtracks.

Bob really did some great work on this, and all of the details are just perfect. Now if he can just make it transform, it would be absolutely perfect. Get on that Bob.

[via io9]

Finally, a Rubik’s Cube That Solves Itself

We’ve watched many a nerd solve a Rubik’s Cube in like 4 seconds flat and we’ve also seen our share of robots that can solve it quickly as well. But until now, a Rubik’s Cube has never been able to solve itself. Hell, humans can’t even solve themselves, which is why there are so many buttholes out there. This robotic Rubik’s Cube is filled with electronics and motors making it a puzzle that solves itself. Does this mean it’s alive?

The self-solving cube needs no assistance – aside from a human messing it up before it starts. It was created by hardware hacker “Human Controller.” It can’t solve a puzzle that was pre-scrambled though – it just records the moves a human makes, then undoes them.

Despite the stuff crammed inside that creates the magic, it is the exact same dimensions as the cubes that you and I throw at the wall in frustration.

So how did he squeeze all of the electronics, motors, wiring, and batteries inside? Well, that called for a custom 3D-printed core, but and unique versions of the individual cube sections that can twist and rotate.

It’s pretty weird watching a Rubik’s Cube solve itself. This makes it much smarter than me. It may not be the fastest at solving the puzzle, but this thing IS the puzzle, so you can’t beat that really.

[via IEEE Spectrum via Gizmodo]

This Rube Goldberg Machine Takes 9 Minutes to Pour a Glass of Lemonade

When you could just walk over to the fridge, nine minutes seems like a long time to wait for a glass of lemonade. In this case, it’s totally worth it. What you are looking at is a ridiculously long Rube Goldberg machine that spans the entire house just to pour a few glasses of lemonade. I mean, I would have poured you a glass if you just asked. There’s no need to build a huge machine. Geesh.

This overly-complicated contraption was built by a team of talented machine builders: Sprice MachinesDoodleChaosTheInvention11Hevesh55MadMovieMakersDrComplicated, and SmileyPeaceFun. Needless to say, they really, really like lemonade. This was their first ever house-wide machine project and probably their last if anyone’s wife lives in this house. The machine travels through the kitchen, a kid’s room, bathroom, office, parent’s room, living room, patio, and backyard while using everyday objects to eventually achieve its goal.

This machine is one of the cooler ones I’ve seen in some time and superbly designed, except for, you know, the fact that you have to wait nine minutes to get a drink. This must have taken a long time to set up, and lots of trial and error. But the promise of that sweet and tart lemon drink must have driven them forward. Minute Maid? Meh. We can beat that with Nine-Minute Made lemonade!

[via The Awesomer via Geekologie]

Cat Rides His Own Electric Skateboard

Kim Pimmel is an engineer who also happens to be a filmmaker. He has a cat named “MIDI”, clearly the geekiest cat name ever. His cat does something many don’t – he doesn’t flip out when something unexpected happens, such as giving him a ride on a motorized skateboard.

The cat-customized electric skateboard has a throttle lever on it, and when Kim drops a treat into a hole on the lever, MIDI paws at it. That action not only delivers the om-noms to Mr. Kitty, but it also activates the electric motor, taking tabby for a ride. Check out the video of MIDI cruising around the house on the slick contraption.

Clearly, kitty needs to hit the halfpipe. Our dog hates cats. Say the word “cat” and he has to go patrol the backyard to ensure the sanctity of his domain. I wonder how he would feel about cats tooling around on skateboards.

[via Laughing Squid]

This BMW Motorcycle Can Drive Itself

I’ve been excited about the prospects for autonomous cars since Herbie the Love Bug raced around on his own back in the day. I often wonder why with all the tech out there today, no one has shoehorned autonomy into a classic Bug. Seems like a no-brainer to me. And the size of the systems certainly shouldn’t be an obstacle, as BMW proved with their autonomous bike concept design.

BMW GS series adventure bikes like the R1200 are more common than Harleys here in Colorado, and the bulk of them only get ridden once in a blue moon to the coffee shop on a Saturday morning and then back home. The BMW motorcycle shown here is a testbed that BMW Motorrad has cooked up that can take off, navigate corners and curves, and stop all on its own.

This isn’t a way to replace humans in the motorcycling equation, that would just be stupid. BMW Motorrad says that this is a testbed to help it developed safety tech to make motorcycling safer. The technology could help riders retain control in an emergency braking situation, navigate around an obstacle, and prevent riders from drifting out of their own lane. Cars already have this sort of tech, so why not motorcycles?

The video showing a motorcycle cruising around on its own is interesting. It rather reminds me of the glorious time in the ’80s when I’d jump off my three-wheeler while it was cruising along just to see what happened.

[via Road and Track]