Mark Rober Builds World’s Longest Hot Wheels Track

Because records were made to be broken, Mark Rober recently constructed the world’s longest Hot Wheels track in his new CrunchLabs warehouse. The track measures over a half-mile long and utilizes a series of switchbacks and boosters to achieve the record-setting length in a warehouse that isn’t anywhere close to a half-mile long. Me? I would have gone with a long straight track down a steep hill.

How much does a half-mile of Hot Wheels track cost? No clue, but I’d definitely buy the off-brand stuff to save on construction costs. Kind of like when my wife and I had our house built, and I opted for no windows. Is it day or night right now? Beats me, but I’m tired regardless.

Mark filmed the Hot Wheels action with some cool drone flying, which really adds an element of excitement that the otherwise boring track was missing. I mean, not even a single jump or loop-the-loop?! For shame, Mark. For shame.

[via The Awesomer]

Golfi Robotic Golfer Putts Like a Pro

After the robotic uprising, all sports will be played by robots, reducing humans to mere spectators of our own demise. And ready to compete in the robotic PGA is Golfi, a robot designed to be able to sink putts with the very best of them. The very best of them being me at miniature golf, just to be clear. You should see me putt right between those windmill blades!

Golfi uses a Microsoft Kinect 3D camera to create a depth map of the putting surface, then uses its 3,000 putt neural network training database to make a shot based on a physics model. It takes additional factors into consideration before swinging the club as well, including “the rolling resistance of the turf, weight of the ball, and its starting velocity.” It probably does not take into consideration me rushing the green and kicking the ball into the rough yelling, “Robots suck!”

Well, at least it’s can’t drive or chip balls yet; at least there’s that. Also, I would love to see this thing try to maneuver itself into a sand trap without falling over and rendering itself incapacitated in the sand. Now that’s something I would tune in to watch on television.

[via TechEBlog]

MIT’s Self-Assembling Assembler Robots: Builders of the Future

Researchers at MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms have developed an autonomous robot capable of assembling new versions of itself, as well as other building structures. Not only that, multiple robots can transfer both power and data modules from one to another, allowing the newly constructed bots to begin performing tasks on their own. The future, ladies and gentlemen! I’m pretty sure this is how Terminators are built.

The robots are also capable of determining the best building sequence to perform to minimize effort. Even I don’t have that capability! I always do things the long and hard way and am usually exhausted halfway through. I’ve never successfully finished a project.

The researchers imagine future versions of their robots constructing even larger versions of themselves, buildings, and even vehicles. Will it actually happen? Only time will tell. It wouldn’t hurt to have John Conner on speed dial though, just in case.

[via TechEBlog]

LEGO Ferris Wheel Great Ball Contraption

Designed and built by Berthil van Beek for the Eurobricks T23 competition (where I’m sure it will be a contender), this LEGO Great Ball Contraption (GBC) is a massive functional Ferris wheel, with a diameter of a 91cm (~36″). For those of you unfamiliar, Great Ball Contraptions are modular machines built to move LEGO soccer or basketballs from one place to another in unique and unusual ways. A Ferris wheel definitely fits the bill. So would a tilt-a-whirl or a gravitron.

Berthil built the ferris wheel GBC using 128 strings, 63 pods, 2.5 meters of 3 mm rigid hose, and is 100% LEGO. For reference, my nephew is always around 1% LEGO depending on exactly how many pieces he’s eaten in the past few days. He takes after his uncle.

I can still remember the first time I got a LEGO soccer ball stuck in one of my nostrils. I panicked and went to the doctor. What an idiot I was! Now I just leave them there and wait for a good sneeze.

[via GeeksAreSexy]

‘Pocket Miku’: A Synthesizer That Sings

The Pocket Miku is a tiny synthesizer that turns its key presses (or audio input) into Hatsune Miku’s voice. For those of you unfamiliar, Miku is a Vocaloid software voicebank created by Crypton Future Media and its official anthropomorphic mascot, a Japanese idol with long, turquoise hair. And now I can make songs with her! I guess I can go ahead and add Music Producer to my résumé.

In the video below, YouTuber David Hilowitz Music actually does a fantastic job using the synthesizer to create a song with Miku on vocals. I probably don’t have the necessary musical talent to do the same and suspect my song would end up sounding like Miku yelling for me to take her batteries out.

If you’re seriously interested, some Pocket Mikus are available on eBay, but they’re going for around $400, so I guess you’ll have to be SERIOUSLY interested to buy one. Me? I’m not really that serious about anything besides what’s for dessert. I’m hoping for a berry crumble with ice cream!

Creepy Tentacle Robot Can Carefully Grasp Fragile Objects

Because what good is a robotic gripper if it breaks everything it touches, researchers at Harvard’s John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have developed a robotic gripper that can carefully grasp and pick up objects with its creepily long tentacles. Just imagine that thing slithering up your pant leg!

Drawing inspiration from nature (specifically octopuses and jellyfish), the SEAS researchers created a soft gripper that uses thin tentacles to “entangle and ensnare object, similar to how jellyfish collect stunned prey.” A rather unsettling image when applied to robotics. The tentacles are powered by air alone and don’t require any sensing, planning, or feedback control to operate. The individual pneumatic tentacles contract when air is removed, causing them to curl up and grab any objects they run into. Again, unsettling.

Fine, but if these things make their way to the doctor’s office, you can count me out. I can’t help but play with all the equipment after the nurse leaves, and I’m waiting for the doctor; there’s no telling what sort of trouble I’ll get into with one of these. I really don’t want to have to change doctors again.

[via adafruit]

The Baby Flask Is the Best Way to Sneak Booze

Pure genius Instructables user mikeasaurus has created step-by-step instructions detailing how to create a Baby Flask, a doll baby in a chest-mounted baby carrier you can fill with booze. A lot of booze too. Goodbye, hip flask, hello, Baby Flask!

The Baby Flask consists of a baby carrier holding a doll with all its stuffing removed and replaced with a 2-liter hydration bladder. The straw from the bladder comes out of the baby’s forehead, so it looks like you’re just kissing your baby on the head whenever you’re drinking. As far as genius inventions go, this might actually rival the wheel or inclined plane.

As Mike points out, if anyone asks to see your baby, you can just dismiss them with a “Shhhh, she’s sleeping.” Of course, that may be easier said than done, considering I already had a baby carrier and hydration bladder but no doll, so I had to use a Godzilla toy instead. Fingers crossed that everyone just thinks it’s a really ugly baby.

[via Instructables]

Star Wars Landspeeder Ride-On Children’s Toy Modded with Jet Engine

Because almost every mode of transportation is improved with more horsepower, inventor and YouTuber Joel Creates replaced the pathetically underpowered 12-volt motors of a children’s Star Wars Landspeeder toy with a small jet engine. And, I think I speak for every speed-lover here when I say, where was this when I was a kid? Also, where the heck was the Bigfoot Power Wheels that was on the top of my birthday list every year?

The modding included locking the back wheels in place to prevent the landspeeder from only doing donuts and adding an R/C controller so the person riding in it (or somebody else you trust with your safety) can steer. Now that looks like fun. I wish my friends did fun stuff like this on weekends. Or maybe they do, and they just don’t invite me.

I was just thinking of adding a jet engine to my nephew’s Radio Flyer wagon; now, I can show this to my sister as a proof of concept. Will she actually let me add the engine? Of course not, but that won’t stop me from telling my nephew I was going to, but his mom wouldn’t let me. I really hope he takes that into consideration while casting his ballot for World’s Greatest Uncle.

[via TechEBlog]

Robotic Dog Uses AI to Learn to Walk in Under 20 Minutes

A group of researchers at the University of California Berkeley have trained a dog to walk on various terrain in under twenty minutes using machine learning. Using a ‘deep reinforcement’ form of artificial intelligence, the robot can quickly acclimate to traversing almost any ground cover it finds itself on. Obviously, there’s never been a better time to build a treehouse.

Using a Q-learning algorithm, the robot doesn’t require any prior knowledge of the terrain; it just immediately starts the learning process from the ground up, being rewarded for successful actions. Wait – what are they giving it, digital dog treats? How do you reward a robotic dog? I’m so confused right now. Granted, I’m confused most of the time, but right now included.

For reference, it took me a solid three years to learn how to walk. Before that, I could only crawl in reverse and get stuck under the sofa. You never heard my parents complaining, though; apparently, it made me incredibly easy to babysit.

[via TechEBlog]

Building and Riding a 297-Pound Bike Made Entirely Out of Concrete

Apparently firm believers that no ideas are bad ideas, the YouTube channel Play To DIY constructed a bicycle almost entirely out of concrete. The behemoth bike weighs an incredible 134.5 kg (~296 lb), and actually balances and rides pretty smoothly, all things considered. Those things to consider are it being made entirely out of concrete and weighing 296 lbs, just to be clear.

I like how it doesn’t have a brake. I feel like with the momentum you could gather on a 296 lb bike headed downhill, brakes might be important. I guess maybe that’s why they decided to construct a concrete bike helmet instead. Fight fire with fire! Or, in this case, concrete with concrete.

For reference, my street bike weighs 19 pounds, so this thing is almost 16 times heavier. Wow! And it’s already hard enough to get motivated to exercise on my bike; I can’t even imagine trying to convince myself to get on this thing. But you can rest assured it would 100% end with me easily talking myself out of it and taking a nap on the sofa instead.

[via TheAwesomer]