We are at the dawn of a robotics revolution, which has already begun to transform the landscape of manufacturing, reconnaissance, surgery, and modern warfare. But what of the human psyche?
Charon is a physical embodiment of the tension between humans, robotic autonomous agents, and the virtual models which these agents rely on to understand the world. An object was created from the flightpath of an autonomous quadcopter while it interacted with me in a motion tracking lab. Both physical and virtual forces exerted their influence on the drone, creating a two-way boundary crossing between the internal world-model of the drone, and its external physical surroundings. This form can be considered as the shadow of this boundary crossing, fueled by the complex exchange between a sentient human and a robotic proto-lifeform.
Charon is the ferryman on the river styx, the mediator between the physical world and the underworld. In Greek mythology Charon was born from Erebus (darkness) and Nyx (night) who were two of the first five primordial beings to come into existence, created by the source of all existence, Chaos. The name of Charon comes from the Greek word charopós, “of keen gaze”. The drone wirelessly receives its vision and thoughts from an array of cameras and computers which act as an extension of its being. The lab when considered as whole a system is akin a living creature’s biological functions. This system is the flagellum of a global organism just beginning to awaken.
As a civilization, and as a species, we have crossed the river Rubicon into uncharted territories from which we cannot return. These intelligent agents both embodied and disembodied, visible and invisible, physical and virtual, are surveilling, contemplating and evolving among us. The tension between the human, the Technological-Other and the alloself will define the 21st century. How will these entities reach beyond the limits of symbolization, and how will their emotional, psychological, and spiritual frameworks emerge?
On a sunny Monday morning, over the open fields of Baylands Park in Sunnyvale, California, an unmanned aerial vehicle was turning heads — and it came with a cargo of carne asada.
World, meet the Burrito Bomber.
The Bomber is the beans and rice-filled brainchild of two engineers at popular reviews and recommendations website, Yelp.
Their ultimate goal is to send the Burrito Bomber into the wild, blue yonder, wait for a customer to place an order through a mobile app, then have the tortilla-toting plane do a fly-by delivery based on GPS coordinates.
Entrepreneurs and investors are betting on a future full of flying robots that can be programmed to do anything from survey crops or wildlife to delivering vaccines to remote villages in Africa.
It may sound a little like something out of an episode of The Jetsons, but the reality is the Federal Aviation Administration is required to implement regulations to integrate commercial drones into the national airspace by 2015, meaning flying robots are going to become a lot more common in the U.S.
But entrepreneurs aren’t waiting for the FAA deadline before building their startups. The moment is too ripe with opportunity to not jump in the commercial drone business now, those in the burgeoning space say.
“It’s just one of those moments,” said Chris Anderson, co-founder and chief executive of 3D Robotics, which makes unmanned automated vehicles (UAVS). “It’s the economy at scale. Those technologies that used to be incredibly expensive are now very cheap and getting better and faster than any other technology in history.”
For their senior capstone project, Northeastern electrical engineering students Cameron Olean, Ben Leathe, Tim Hickson, Chase Hathaway, Dan Petrillo, and Andrew Barada, developed TRAQ—an autonomous quadcopter that uses a unique four-element antenna array to locate and navigate to the source of a radio signal. The quadcopter’s potential applications include disaster relief, surveillance, search-and-rescue, and stolen goods recovery. The quadcopter’s autonomous nature also enables multiple crafts to coordinate their movements and provide greater location accuracy. The team developed TRAQ under the guidance of faculty adviser Bahram Shafai.
Here’s a video from a UK viral ad campaign shared with us by one of the Adafruit community members, Gary Mortimer.
The vid is fun, quite a technical feat, and also interesting considering how sincerely it behaves as an advertisement compared to projects like the Tacocopter and sillier, DIY-centric Burrito Bomber that inspired it. Great gear, but does this project have the “toppings” necessary to reach — and make a lasting impression — upon a viral audience?
Here’s a perspective on this entry in the drone-delivery trend from Suasnews.com:
Tacos, burrito bombers, beer and now pizza. A me too viral ad campaign from the UK arm of Domino’s pizza. Shoreditch ad agency T+Biscuits didn’t think too far out of the pizza box when creating this one.
“At Dominos we’re always looking to innovate and find new ways to deliver our pizza and a DomiCopter could fit the bill perfectly,” said Simon Wallis, sales and marketing director at Domino’s. “We are the number one pizza delivery company and we are committed to staying in that position.
“What better way to totally avoid the traffic than to fly – if anything this will now make us even quicker! We think it’s a great way to reinforce that Domino’s go to more lengths than anyone to deliver great pizza.”
In Yosemite with a DJI Phantom and a flashlight. I’ve got a lot of work to do on my flying skills or getting pre-programed flight paths working, but it’s fun to experiment with this. Lottta potential options with light painting on a massive scale. Next up I’d like to do some more water or some sky-scrapers with glass exteriors.
In a jaw-dropping feat of engineering, electronics turn a person’s thoughts into commands for a robot. Using a brain-computer interface technology pioneered by University of Minnesota biomedical engineering professor Bin He, several young people have learned to use their thoughts to steer a flying robot around a gym, making it turn, rise, dip, and even sail through a ring.
The technology may someday allow people robbed of speech and mobility by neurodegenerative diseases to regain function by controlling artificial limbs, wheelchairs, or other devices. And it’s completely noninvasive: Brain waves (EEG) are picked up by the electrodes of an EEG cap on the scalp, not a chip implanted in the brain.
You might recognize Chris Anderson as a world renowned journalist. Former editor-in-chief atWired, author of The Long Tail, and recent author of Makers, he has traded in his pen to become CEO of 3D Robotics, a manufacturer of unnmanned aerial vehicles (UAV).
So when I saw he was speaking at the annual Hardware Innovation Workshop, I was intrigued. Just how does someone go from being an editor to CEO of a robotics company? I knew he was an awesome writer, but seriously, a CEO?
Chris’s story starts five years before he quit his job at Wired. Passionate about hardware, Chris was spending his weekends building products with his kids, hoping they would gain his same affinity for science and technology. Like any Dad he wanted to impress his kids, but unfortunately most of his projects ended with them saying, “Is that all it can do?”
Wanting to step up his game, Chris decided it was time to build a robot that could fly!
In the latest work presented at ICRA 2013 in a paper titled “A Perching Mechanism for Flying Robots Using a Fibre-Based Adhesive”, the AirBurr V11 is shown attaching on walls using a deployable perching mechanism with gecko adhesives. Robots, similar to the AirBurr, capable of exploring cluttered indoor environments have many applications in search and rescue missions: they overcome ground obstacles easily and provide a high point of view. The new perching mechanism allows a flying robot to extend its mission time by turning off its motors while it scans the surroundings.
The video shows the perching mechanism that allows indoor flying robots to attach to vertical surfaces. The gecko adhesive pad is optimized for maximum attachment force and is mounted on a mechanism that stays within the structure of the robot during flight and that can be deployed for perching. The perching maneuver is very simple; the robot starts on the ground, takes off in the middle of the room, and when a perching maneuver is initiated by the pilot, the adhesive pad is deployed and the robot flies directly towards a wall. Once the robot is attached to the wall, the motors are shut down to save energy.
Perching on several surface orientations using a micro-quadrotor at UMD’s Autonomous Vehicle Lab (Dr. Sean Humbert) with directional adhesives and attachment mechanism from Stanford’s Biomimetics and Dextrous Manipulation Lab (Dr. Mark Cutkosky). The mechanism converts the kinetic energy of the quadrotor into opposed forces to load the gecko-like adhesives. The surface is a sheet of acrylic. This project was completed by Stanford’s Morgan Pope and UMD’s Andrew Kehlenbeck partly under ARL MAST.
Drone Dudes are a team of filmmakers and designers who use RC copters to capture stunning aerial cinematography. In this video we interview Andrew Petersen and Jeff Blank, who operate a radial octocopter capable of lifting cameras up to 12lbs. on a 2- or 3-axis gimbal. All the gear stows away inside their Transit Connect, which doubles as a camping vehicle when they are on the road.