Xenomorphs: they’re just misunderstood aliens that want to rock out, not kill. Case in point: this small animatronic xenomorph built by Danny Huynh that jams out on guitar. Free Bird! Admittedly, I would still have a hard time feeling comfortable being a groupie.
The animatronic’s basic tempo is controlled via knobbed servos, with its finer movements operated via radio controls so Danny can make the xenomorph’s motion correspond to the song it’s performing. Most impressive. Still, when reached for comment whether she’d ever attend a live concert, Ellen Ripley replied, “Only in an exoskeletal P-5000 Powered Work Loader.” Smart thinking.
Below is a video of an earlier iteration of the rocking alien performing Metallica’s ‘The Unforgiven,’ an appropriate song considering I doubt all those Colonial Marines have forgiven and forgotten what the aliens did to them. Now Danny just needs to build a Predator that can play drums and this duo can take their music on tour!
Sure Old MacDonald had a farm, but did he have an Autonomous Weeder robot from Carbon Robotics? I think not. E-I-E-I-O indeed! The Autonomous Weeder, designed to kill weeds without harming the soil or water, scans the ground with its 12-camera array, identifies weeds via onboard AI, then kills them with high-powered carbon dioxide lasers. Pew pew pew!
The tractor-size Autonomous Weeder can kill approximately 100,000 weeds an hour and between 15 and 20 acres a day, compared to about a single acre by a human laborer, and without the damaging effects of herbicides or the inexact nature of killing them with fire. Plus the robot can work autonomously both day and night, with no need for food or bathroom breaks.
Carbon Robotics CEO Paul Mikesel mentioned the Autonomous Weeder costs “hundreds of thousands of dollars,” but could pay for itself in a few years based on the scale of a farming operation. There are also lease options available. Me? I was torn between buying and leasing before ultimately deciding to not get one at all since I don’t own a farm. Fingers crossed I don’t regret that decision.
Presumably envisioned in a eureka moment complete with a lightbulb going off over his head, incredibly talented pastry chef and chocolatier Amaury Guichon constructed a realistic desk lamp entirely out of edible ingredients. At first, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I saw those little springs and I thought ‘no way.’ But, as Amaury proves in the video, ‘yes way.’
The lamp base was constructed with a sesame streusel, black sesame Japanese roll cake, crunchy sesame tuile, a sesame praline, and a black sesame mousse. Sesame everything! The lamp’s upper armature was constructed from molded chocolate, and the light bulb was filled with crunchy caramelized sesame, which Amaury releases when he purposefully breaks the bulb in the video like a piñata.
Below: a chocolate spring being made before painting…
Obviously, this is the perfect cake for anyone who’s ever fantasized about taking a bite out of that hoppy little Pixar lamp, Luxo Jr. And who hasn’t, right? Come on, who hasn’t… right?
Constructed entirely of LEGO Technic pieces by builder Akiyuki, this is ‘Five Titled Rings,’ an incredibly impressive LEGO Great Ball Contraption (GBC) consisting of five tilted rings that continuously pass balls up from one ring to the next higher one in the tower. My mind is blown. Granted it doesn’t take much, but still.
In the video, Akiyuki slowly builds the two bottom rings of the tower and adds balls to demonstrate the movement of the rings and the mechanics of their ball-passing, then finishing constructing the rest of the tower. The amount of ingenuity it must have taken to build something so impressive – I can’t even imagine. For reference, I still struggle with the LEGO sets sold in the little plastic bags in the checkout lanes at Target.
Nicely done, Akiyuki. If only passing basketballs was so soothing to watch in the actual game of basketball, then maybe I could take a nice relaxing nap while watching a game instead of yelling at the television and foaming at the mouth. My doctor says sports could kill me. Watching them, not playing them, just to be clear.
Turning unwanted drone surveillance into an impromptu surprise party, the US Department of Defense’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is developing a new anti-drone countermeasure that fires confetti-like streamers to entangle a spy-copter’s rotors, bringing it back down to earth like a drone-shaped rock.
The Mobile Force Protection system is “part of a larger initiative where X band radar is used to detect, identify, and track unmanned aerial threats.” If deemed a threat, a reusable drone can be launched from a moving vehicle, where it will intercept the target and launch its payload into the drone’s blades. Of course, this is assuming the enemy doesn’t have anti-ANTI-drones that already intercepted this one.
Obviously, the next logical development in the government’s anti-drone countermeasures is a t-shirt cannon. And, God willing, I’ll be there to catch one, probably eating a hot dog with a mustard stain on my shirt and waving a giant foam finger.
Because one can never have too much whimsy, Taiwanese carpenter and automata maker Chi-Chun Yin constructed the ‘Ark III’, a wooden submarine automata crewed by a bunch of different animals. With a turn of a crank (cleverly doubling as the sub’s propeller), the entire crew is brought to life. It’s absolutely bursting at the seams with whimsy!
Yin says it took about six months to complete the project from conception to completion, which is impressive considering the wooden birdhouse I started constructing six months ago is still in pieces, one of which is glued to my arm.
I’ve always wished I was better at carpentry and woodworking, but I’ve come to realize they require some amount of skill and patience, two things I have in very short supply. I did make a ship in a bottle once though. Okay, I bought a ship in a bottle once.
Currently on display at the Nina Mall in Hong Kong, China, what you’re about to witness is the construction of the Guinness World Record holder for the largest Rubik’s Cube, measuring a very respectable 2.503 m x 2.505 m x 2.502 m – or about 27 square feet. So it’s not exactly square, but it’s very close. Or the measurements weren’t accurate. They used a tape measure, not laser beams.
I liked it better before they put all the colored stickers on the blocks. It looked way more…solvable. Now not only am I going to feel stupid for not being able to solve the cube, but I’m going to feel small too. Talk about adding insult to injury.
I remember the first time I ever solved a Rubik’s Cube. It was four years in the future from now, and I really felt accomplished. I mean more about building the functional time machine than solving the Rubik’s Cube, but still. It’s the little things.
Sandwiches: what would I do without them? Probably starve, or at least go hungry for lunch. Well, now mechanical engineer Yuto Kuroki of Meiji University in Tokyo has made the entire sandwich-making process easier, thanks to a 3D printer that’s been modded into a 3-axis robotic manipulator. Extra cheese, please!
The robot is capable of picking up and placing a piece of bread, picking up and adding meat, slicing and dispersing cucumber, then adding a top piece of bread and cutting the whole sandwich in half. Unfortunately not diagonally, making the sandwich almost inedible as far as I’m concerned.
I particularly liked how the robot regularly detaches and attaches a different functional head to its arm depending on its current task (e.g. picking something up, cutting, etc.). That’s a clever design. Now it just needs mustard and mayonnaise squirting capabilities and I won’t have to beg my mom to make my lunch for me every morning, although I will miss the encouraging handwritten notes.
Because it was inevitable we reach the pinnacle of human achievement at some point, researcher Marc Teyssier has developed the Eyecam, a webcam that resembles a moving, blinking human eyeball. One thing’s for certain: it’s going to be nearly impossible to look away from the camera during Zoom meetings now.
Developed at Saarland University’s Human-Computer Interaction Lab, the Eyecam was designed to make us “speculate on the past, present, and future of technology.” And, I think I speak for everyone when I say if this is the future of technology, maybe 2020 wasn’t as bad as we’re all making it out to be.
The Eyecam uses six servos to replicate the human eye muscles, and the autonomous eye can move both laterally and vertically, with the eyelids closing (and webcam briefly going dark as a result) and eyebrow moving. Per Dr. Ian Malcolm in Jurassic Park: “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, that they didn’t stop to think if they should.” Truer words have never been spoken, particularly in the case of human eyeball webcams.
The brainchild of maker Greg Daville, this is an LED icosahedron crafted using a total of 2,400 LEDs, all placed individually by hand. Wow! I’m not sure if I would have had the patience for that, but I definitely don’t have the know-how to build an LED D20.
The panels of the oversized die can be programmed with different animations, and Greg mentions that in the future he may add wireless capabilities to sync the D20’s patterns and animations with other devices in the room. I smell an LED dance party soon!
So you’re not actually supposed to roll it, but I imagine you could use a random number generator to simulate a roll. That would be cool. Me? I don’t even have a D20, so whenever we play tabletop games at my house we have to roll three regular six-sided dice and flip a coin (heads is one, tails is two) to add up to 20. I think it goes without saying people don’t like playing games at my house.
Check out Greg’s blog for an in-depth read about the build, and if you’re interested in making on yourself Greg has made all the files available on Github here.