Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 Power Edition stays in the air longer, lands in the US this month

Parrot  ARDrone 20 Power Edition stays in air the longer, landing in the US this month

We'll say this about the AR.Drone's battery life up to now: it always seemed perfectly suited to our short attention spans. For those able to focus on flying objects a bit longer, however, there's the AR.Drone 2.0 Power Edition. The quadricopter's already gotten some love abroad and is set to hit our shores this month, priced at $370 over at that fine purveyor of massage chairs, Brookstone. This time out, the limited edition phone-controlled device brings 36 minutes of flight time (not the first boost we've seen from the company), thanks to two 1,500mAh lithium-polymers. Also new are sets of color blades (including black for when you're feeling a bit stealthier).

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Source: Brookstone

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Researchers’ robotic face expresses the needs of yellow slime mold (video)

DNP Slime mold robopocalypse yall

Apparently, slime mold has feelings too. Researchers at the University of the West of England have a bit of a history with Physarum polycephalum -- a light-shy yellow mold known for its ability to seek out the shortest route to food. Now, they're on a quest to find out why the organism's so darn smart, and the first in their series of experiments equates the yellow goo's movements to human emotions. The team measured electrical signals the mold produced when moving across micro-electrodes, converting the collected data into sounds. This audio data was weighted against a psychological model and translated into a corresponding emotion. Data collected when the mold was moving across food, for instance, correspond to joy, while anger was derived from the colony's reaction to light.

Unfortunately, mold isn't the most expressive form of life, so when the team demonstrated the studies results at the Living Machines conference in London, they enlisted the help of a robotic head. Taking cues from a soundtrack based on the mold's movements, the dismembered automaton reenacts the recorded emotions with stiff smiles and frowns. Yes, it's as creepy as you might imagine, but those brave enough can watch it go through a cycle of emotions in the video after the break.

[Image credit: Jerry Kirkhart / Flickr]

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Via: The Verge

Source: New Scientist

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Level UP: inside Chicago’s mall-based teen makerspace

Level UP Chicago's mallbased teen maker space

In 1947, the Tucker Car Corporation opened shop at the Dodge Chicago Plant, the one-time world's largest building located on the city's southwest side, a stone's throw from Midway Airport. Half a decade before, construction workers lovingly nicknamed the site "Hitler's Headache," a title it earned for being the birthplace of most of the engines for World War II's B-29 bombers. After Tucker's notoriously brief tenure, Ford took over, again devoting the massive structure to the construction of military aircraft, this time for the Korean War. Look to the left of the entrance when you arrive at Level UP's subterranean storefront, and you'll spot a model of Tucker's 1948 Sedan sitting atop a glass case. Jackie Moore keeps the little burgundy Tucker "Torpedo" for some small sense of history of the space her program occupies. "You know they made these right here," she explains, holding a plastic version of Tucker's stillborn dream. "All 51 of them."

Level UP is located in the basement beneath the food court of the Ford City Mall, a sprawling shopping center that opened up on the lot in 1965, borrowing its name from the third car company to take up residence here. Once upon a time, these underground tunnels housed cafeterias and machine classes for factory workers. These days, however, this particular wing stands more as a testament to the state of the American shopping mall in the early 21st century. Down here, there's a hairstylist and shop devoted to eastern herbal remedies, but not much else to speak of beyond employee locker rooms and several empty storefronts. Moore apologizes for the mess when we first arrive. It's clearly a well-loved space, with various tools of the trade scattered all over the tables and floor. Nearly every wall in the converted storefront is papered with writing -- charts, diagrams and instructions for tinkering with electronics.

In the middle of the space is a strange four-wheeled vehicle, with exposed circuitry and a small chute with a spinning wheel that sends Frisbees flying at high speeds. On a nearby table sits a huge orange Pac-Man-shaped cutout on wheels and a nearly finished CNC machine. There are a number of deconstructed Roomba-like iRobot open-source platforms, including two that serve as the base for anthropomorphic banana and grape characters built from PVC piping that are, admittedly, a bit worse for wear. Toward the front, beneath the Tucker Torpedo, is a glass case loaded with trophies and certificates from competitions with names like Botball, all testaments to the work that goes on here. Jackie Moore has devoted this space and her life to teaching kids how to build robots.

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HyQ quadruped robot makes its first public appearance in London, steps up with new feature (video)

DNP HyQ learns how to avoid obstacles, coming to London

Unless you actually work in robotics, you probably don't get to see too many mechanical masterpieces in person. If you live in London, however, you've got at least one chance: the Italian Institute of Technology is slated to showcase its Hydrolic Quadruped robot (HyQ) in public for the first time. Starting August 1st, the four-legged assemblage of metal will be on display at London's Natural History Museum as part of the Living Machines Conference. It's the original model that's going to be part of the event, though, so visitors won't be able to watch the latest model's new trick: stepping over obstacles like a boss. The new HyQ's step reflex algorithm was developed to help it navigate rugged terrain by reacting to physical barriers. Because the unit's legs feel out obstacles, the robot can now avoid stumbling in low-visibility areas -- potentially preventing saving millions of dollars in limb repair. Although you can't see the upgraded HyQ out in public, you can watch it conquer 11-centimeter planks in the video after the break.

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Source: IEEE, HyQ

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RHex robot uses leaping ability to do ‘Parkour’ (video)

RHex robot now has 'Parkour' talents to go along with leaping ability video

It's easy for a robot to perform in a sterile lab environment, but only a select few devices -- like Boston Dynamics notorious AlphaDog -- have proven themselves in the wild. However, the University of Pennsylvania's X-RHex Lite has also made that leap, as it were, and a new video shows just how talented it's become. In it, the droid puts all of its running, jumping and grabbing talents together to perform flips, chin-ups and even Parkour-like moves over campus obstacles. The researchers hope it'll perform rescue missions or research in tough environments one day, but until then, gaze in awe at the video after the break.

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Via: Gizmag

Source: University of Pennsylvania

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Tokyo’s IBIS robot promises cheaper surgery, throws a shade at da Vinci (video)

Tokyo's IBIS robot promises cheaper surgery, throws a shade at da Vinci video

"Anything you can do, I can do cheaper," says the Tokyo Institute of Technology while jabbing a rude elow in the ribs of Intuitive Surgical. The Japanese institute is showing off IBIS, a surgical robot that is expected to cost between a third and a tenth of the $2 million it takes to buy one of Intuitive's da Vinci droids. Unlike its electrically-powered American rival, IBIS is pneumatic, making it significantly cheaper and able to provide force feedback to surgeons when the arms touch something. The team behind the 'bot is hoping to produce a practical version within the next five years, and we're already thinking about inviting both machines along for a fight at Expand 2020. In the meantime, you can catch IBIS in action in the video after the break.

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Source: Diginfo

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UK to test driverless cars on public roads before the end of 2013

UK to test driverless cars on public roads before the end of 2013

While Americans have seen a few driverless cars on the open road, their British counterparts have had to settle for demos on private circuits. They'll get a better glimpse soon, though, as the UK Department for Transport now expects tests on public streets by the end of 2013. The initial trial runs will be gentle -- Oxford University's Nissan Leaf-based RobotCars will drive only on lightly trafficked roads, with humans tagging along in the event of a crisis. We haven't yet seen a timetable for more aggressive experiments, but we're not exactly in a hurry to compete with early autonomous cars during rush hour.

[Image credit: Oxford University]

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Via: BBC

Source: Gov.uk

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Intuitive Aerial takes the Oculus Rift on its first FPV drone flight (video)

DNP Intuitive Aerial takes the Oculus Rift's on its first FPV drone flight

The Oculus Rift: it's not just for gaming. Erik Torkel Danielsson, one of the co-founders of Intuitive Aerial, decided to put his shiny new Rift through its paces this week by pairing it with his company's Black Armor Drone. The hexacopter is designed for aerial photography, and the payload is pretty hefty -- attached to the rig are two cameras simultaneously recording video and an onboard laptop. The video is encoded by the laptop and transmitted to the land-based computer via WiFi for display on the Rift. It all sounds pretty nifty, but it's not quite a perfect system yet. There's a latency of about 120 milliseconds, which is feasible for FPV flight, but not ideal. That being said, it's still fun to see the Rift being put to new, innovative uses. To watch Intuitive Aerial's first flight, check out the video after the break.

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Via: Hack A Day

Source: Intuitive Aerial

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DARPA’s Atlas robot will be taught to save you if the sky falls (video)

DARPA's Atlas robot doesn't care if the sky falls, will be taught to save you if it does

DARPA and Boston Dynamics seem bent on engineering the robot revolution, and it's while wearing a suspicious smile that they introduce us to Atlas, their latest humanoid creation. Inorganically evolved from Petman and an intermediate prototype, Atlas will compete in DARPA's Robotics Challenge (DRC) Trials in December, where it will be challenged with "tasks similar to what might be required in a disaster response scenario." The seven teams that made it through the Virtual Robotics Challenge stage, held in a simulated environment, will massage their code into the real 6' 2" robot, which sports a host of sensors and 28 "hydraulically actuated joints." Also competing for a spot in the 2014 DRC finals are six "Track A" teams, including a couple of crews from NASA, which've built their own monstrous spawn. Head past the break for Atlas' video debut, as well as an introduction to the Track A teams and their contributions to Judgement Day.

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Source: DARPA

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