TIME Innovation

Watch a Swarm of Drone Boats Protect a Larger Vessel

The Navy tests a new way to protect ships

Here’s a unique solution to piracy… autonomous swarms of drone ships to “overwhelm” the enemy. According to the report from IEEE Spectrum, “The system not only steered the autonomous boats but also coordinated its actions with other vehicles—a larger group of manned and remotely-controlled vessels.” No humans were on the boats.

(via IEEE Spectrum)

 

 

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Innovation

Watch a Snake Robot Turn Its Head and Tail Into Legs… And Walk

Yikes

(via IEEE Spectrum)

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Innovation

See Drones Draw Shapes in the Night Sky

Recently, we saw drones dance with Cirque du Soleil. In this video, you can watch drones paint the sky with light. Ars Electronica Futurelab calls them “Spaxels”:

Spaxels (a portmanteau word from space pixels) are LED-equipped quadcopters. They make up a drone swarm that can “draw” three-dimensional figures in midair. They create an extraordinary visual experience and open up an unprecedented new dimension of aesthetic expression.

According to the website: “Swarm size for outdoor performances starts with 30 Spaxels, larger swarms on request.”

(via Flowing Data)

 

 

TIME Innovation

Watch These Beautiful Drones Dance With Cirque du Soleil

Flying lampshades come alive

Forget annihilating terrorists and spying on people surreptitiously—drones can dance. According to this recently released video’s description:

Cirque du Soleil, ETH Zurich, and Verity Studios have partnered to develop a short film featuring 10 quadcopters in a flying dance performance. The collaboration resulted in a unique, interactive choreography where humans and drones move in sync. Precise computer control allows for a large performance and movement vocabulary of the quadcopters and opens the door to many more applications in the future.

How else might drones change art and culture?

(via IEEE Spectrum)

TIME Innovation

Watch a Swarm of 1,000 ‘Kilobots’ Assemble Into Different Shapes

A thousand-robot swarm created by Harvard researchers can self-assemble into different shapes

From the editor’s summary in Science:

When individuals swarm, they must somehow communicate to direct collective motion. Swarms of robots need to deal with outliers, such as robots that move more slowly than the rest. Rubenstein et al. created a large swarm of programmed robots that can form collaborations using only local information. The robots could communicate only with nearby members, within about three times their diameter. They were able to assemble into complex preprogrammed shapes. If the robots’ formation hit snags when they bumped into one another or because of an outlier, additional algorithms guided them to rectify their collective movements.

This may still be some time away. But I wouldn’t get too comfortable with human civilization in its current form.

(via IEEE Spectrum)

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Innovation

Watch This Crazy Drone With Arms Fly and Turn a Wheel in Mid-Air

I, for one, welcome our new armed-drone overlords

Sure, drones can take videos of Martha Stewart’s farm and maybe even save the environment. But… can they unscrew a bottle cap? Play Twister? Spin a dreidel? Do anything that involves having arms? Well, now we have a drone with arms—that can fly and turn a valve wheel mid-air.

Above is the video, and here’s the paper’s title and abstract (flip to 1:00 in the video to see the really cool stuff):

“Towards Valve Turning using a Dual-Arm Aerial Manipulator,” by Christopher Korpela, Matko Orsag, and Paul Oh, from Drexel University.

We propose a framework for valve turning using an aerial vehicle endowed with dual multi-degree of freedom manipulators. A tightly integrated control scheme between the aircraft and manipulators is mandated for tasks requiring aircraft to environmental coupling. Feature detection is well-established for both ground and aerial vehicles and facilitates valve detection and arm tracking. Force feedback upon contact with the environment provides compliant motions in the presence of position error and coupling with the valve. We present recent results validating the valve turning framework using the proposed aircraft-arm system during flight tests.

I, for one, welcome our new armed-drone overlords.

(via IEEE Spectrum)

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Innovation

New Robot Cheetah Can Run (And Jump) Without a Tether

'Our robot can be silent and as efficient as animals. The only things you hear are the feet hitting the ground,' says researcher.

(via MIT News)

TIME Foreign Policy

Kasparov: ‘Carter looks like Churchill in comparison’ to Obama

From left: Sasha Mordovets—Getty Images; Pablo Martinez Monsivais—AP

For running commentary on Russia and the vote in Crimea, you might want to follow chess champion turned democracy activist Garry Kasparov: @Kasparov63. Tonight, amid his usual barrage of criticism leveled at Vladimir Putin, he’s turning his fire on President Obama and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton.

Discussing President Carter’s foreign policy, he compliments the former President’s “Very tough stands on human rights.” President Obama, however, he gives lower marks. In response to another tweeter, he writes that when it comes to the crisis in Ukraine, “so far, Carter looks like Churchill in comparison.”

Hillary Clinton, the presumed frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, doesn’t get treated much better. “Hillary was the captain of the Titanic that was US-Russia relations as Secretary of State. Her as admiral of whole fleet makes me nervous!” Kasparov tweets.

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