Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Yeah I have a fondness for robots that may be a bit abnormal. It is ok because although my wife is not a robot herself, she enjoys robot extra-curricular interests as well. Most of the robots we are involved with are actually kind of beefy and quite large driven by wheels or tracks. The dream of robot designers is autonomous control – that is the robot is given a variety of input data and it in turn makes decisions and operates independently of a human operator. Take it from me, this robot Nirvana is a very difficult task and takes lots of time to perfect, so most of our robot adventures are remotely controlled by humans.

I always wanted to build a remote controlled airplane. With easy build fast kits, this goal has become far simpler now than when I was a kid. With new miniature gyroscopic circuitry you can now even amaze and terrorize your friends with small easy to fly indoor helicopters. To robot lovers, these little remote controlled marvels are truly amazing. Just a few years ago, to re-create the functionality of these micro copters would have cost thousands of dollars and endless hours of training to fly.

Now, not to be outdone, the Robo-folks over at the University of Pennsylvania decided to design a 4 rotor helicopter that is amazingly, small, agile … and are you ready - YES, autonomous. This is a pretty big deal actually so have a look. Beyond the obvious military and clandestine uses, such a device could be awfully fun around the school yard playing ‘Duck Duck Goose’. Maybe if I’m good this year, my wife will build me one of quad copter things for Christmas? I don’t know of course because I’ll have to ASK her. You see, despite my wife’s sophisticated programming and extensive training – as her husband, after all these years, I’m still not AUTONOMOUS!

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